04 December 2010

Dec 4

Reference links:
Old Testament

Last day of Daniel. After this, we are going to start whizzing through the rest of the OT books.

Today we continue with the "explanation" of Daniel's vision. I quote "explanation" because at this point it's more like a telling of future events that used Danie's vision as a starting point. Today's continuation focuses on persecution and on a future king who claims greatness for himself. Of that king it is said
He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god
Notice the phrase I highlighted above. One thing that has been a persistent minor thread throughout our Old Testament readings is that many of the people who worshiped alternate gods were women. This persistence indicates the inadequacy of Yahweh to fulfill the needs of all his people and also underscores how much the temple culture excluded women.

After that, we read about more war and destruction.

At the end of time, the archangel Michael (the one who helped the messenger get through to Daniel and who guards Israel) will arise and those "whose name[s] [are] written in the book of the dead" will also be brought back from the dead.

The messenger then tells Daniel to keep this message secret until the end times. I suppose that is the author's attempting to explain why this work did not appear until many years after it was set. This also adds strength to the implication that the author of Daniel believed that the end times were near (since the explanation had been revealed). As usual, I observe that the end times have sure been going on for a long time.

Amazingly, we actually get a concrete number on how long things will last:
From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!
Well, the first part has been true for much longer than a thousand and some odd days, but that's all we can really conclude since it is unclear what is meant by the "object that causes desecration".

And that's it. Tomorrow we start a new book.

New Testament

We finally get to the author's much anticipated tests for determining truth. The tests prove to be uninspiring: a true prophet is one who holds certain positions on certain topics. The people belong to God are also those who listen to the author and his community. Anyone who does not agree with them has the spirit of deception rather than the spirit of truth. In short, the criteria that these believers are supposed to use for determining whether or not to believe someone is making sure they already agree with the opinions of the community.

At least the author of this book is consistent about his emphasis on the importance of loving one another.  This time around, he reinforces those ideas of love by emphasizing the vastness of God's love.  The author also emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. I do have to say that anything positive this message of love might convey is pretty much washed out by the repeated assertions that this loving attitude only needs to apply to fellow believers.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs are all things we have heard before.