Scripture records many of the promises of Jesus. Two of those promises that have often brought me comfort and hope in the midst of challenge are seemingly contradictory, but time and time again they’ve proven themselves to work in unity. Take Jesus’s words in John 16:33: “You will have suffering in this world,” but “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Daniel lived in a time of exile. He was held captive in a foreign land as his home and countrymen were systematically dismantled and dispersed. He did not need many reminders that followers of God experience trouble in this world. And while his life predated that of Jesus by several hundred years, it seems that Daniel also understood clearly that God-fearers need not fear the powers of this world.
There are entire books written about our passage for today. And there are many, hotly debated interpretations that attempt to parse out various aspects of Daniel’s vision. One thing that interpreters seem to universally agree upon is that, in the end, God establishes His kingdom and kingdom people forever and ever. Daniel proclaims in no uncertain terms: “But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever” (Daniel 7:18). Amen. May it be so.
When all is said and done, when all the kingdoms have conquered and then in turn fallen, when all the histories have finally been written, God’s purposes and love will be perfectly and eternally established and experienced.
Daniel lived in exile, but Daniel hoped in the future kingdom. I think most of us can identify with that. Most days we experience life somewhere between exile and the fullness of the kingdom. We live in between the promise of suffering in this world and Jesus’s encouragement to have faith that He has more than conquered this world.
In almost any 24-hour period, we ebb and flow between the lows of “now” and the hope and healing of “not yet, but coming!” Kingdoms come and go but the City of God is forever (Revelation 11:15). It will outlast and overcome every oppressive system, every injustice, and every wrong doing. It will bring peace and freedom, wholeness and stability.
Daniel was greatly alarmed by his vision. He saw death and destruction at the center of every one of those kingdoms and their pursuit of power and control. But he knew the end of the story. And so do we. Take heart, saints of the Most High.
Written by Andrew Stoddard