02 December 2010

Dec 2

Reference links:
Old Testament

Ugh. I am exhausted tonight. The holiday season seems to generate a lot of activity.

Daniel prays to God. He declares how wrong and sinful the Israelites have been and how just their punishment is. But he contrasts that with reminders of God's mercy and forgiveness. Daniel is also sure to point out that helping the Israelites would be in God's own best interest since the people and city bear his name. This is not a bad tactic since we have seen before that God does not like mocking and has been said to change his mind about murdering his people because it would cause his name to be mocked.

Daniel's prayer is answered with a message from the angel Gabriel. Rather prompt and direct, which is nice for the narrative flow. Gabriel's response takes us back into a discussion of the end times (but with less horns). Gabriel explains that "a period of seventy sets of seven" (no units provided) is the time allocated for the Jews to stop rebelling, end their sin, atone, and otherwise do good things. Seven of these sets of seven will pass before the Anointed One becomes ruler. 62 more will see the end of the Anointed One's reign. In the last set, the Anointed One will be killed and an evil ruler will arise, and then the evil ruler will meet his fate.

That is all claimed to have happened in the reign of Darius the Mede. During the reign of Cyrus of Persia, Daniel has another vision. After some time in mourning, Daniel sees a messenger who makes Daniel feel weak and afraid. The messenger would have come earlier but he was blocked by "the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia", whoever that is supposed to be. Fortunately, the archangel Michael comes to help the messenger. (Although we later learn that the messenger will have to return to help with this battle and then they will go on to fight the spirit prince of Greece. Also, apparently Michael is the spirit prince of Israel. We sure are getting a lot of angels and archangels and spirits in this book despite having barley seem them thus far. )

In any case, having arrived, the messenger says he will explain Daniel's vision of the future. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

New Testament

According to todays reading: The last hour is here! The Antichrist is coming! And many antichrists have appeared already!

And these already appeared antichrists are... people who left the author's church. In other words, disagreeing with the author is enough to get you labeled an antichrist. Also, by the author's definition I am an antichrist. Given how explicit he is about it, I am surprised I have not had that thrown at me as an insult more often.

The author encourages the recipients of this epistle to remain faithful to what they have been taught (so as to avoid becoming antichrists, I suppose) and to listen to the teachings of the Holy Spirit. On what basis does the author claim that the people who left his church did not sincerely think they were listening to the Holy Spirit?

Today's reading finishes with a discussion that all who do right are God's children and will someday be like Christ. All who sin does not know Jesus and is acting contrary to God. On its own, this discussion could be taken as support for a more universal Christianity, but given the previous context, it seems likely that the author considered a key aspect of doing right to be believing the right thing.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's first proverb praises giving to the poor as a path to prosperity. The second, which sounds very much like others we have seen, contrasts the wicked and the godly.