Scripture Reading: Daniel 11:1-36 (skim through this first reading) and then read Ezra 9:5-15
Hold on to your hats and bare with me this week, I will attempt to share the history documented in Daniel 11, up until verse 36, and make it readable and relatable. We will explore a few kings north and south, some powerful women, and the ancient story of the Maccabees, some history of Marc Anthony, Shakespeare and the Romans, and take you all the way to Jesus’s birth with King Herod on the Jewish throne.
So Daniel chapter 11, the first 26 verses were a vision given to Daniel by God, the same vision we talked at length about last week, with the angel Gabriel and Jesus. The actual vision encompassed the time period before Jesus was born. Many believe that this vision has already occurred in history. The time period of this vision can be traced from the kings after Cyrus, to Alexander the Great, to the great battles of the Syrian and Egyptian kings, to the inclusion of Rome into the culture that Jesus experienced. As we know, Rome was the empire in control when Jesus walked the earth and ordered his crucifixion. So for this study we can assume that this vision given to Daniel, helps shed a light on the politics surrounding the culture during Jesus’s ministry and death leading to the Easter story.
Begin this week, skimming through Daniel 11. There are a lot of details, which can seem overwhelming. As the week goes along, we will pull it altogether. For now let’s focus on what was going on in Jerusalem with the Jews during the beginning of this time period. Daniel was no longer living when Ezra 9 was written. Remember King Cyrus commissioned the Jews to begin rebuilding the temple. When Ezra returns to Jerusalem, a new king is in charge and Ezra is frustrated. The jews have stopped working, there is corruption amidst the groups, and things have gone amuck. Heed the words above from Ezra. Those of us reading the bible do not identify as a surviving remnant, but his words ring true to us today in the United States, and any other country experiencing peace. We need to be grateful for this brief moment of grace, praise God, and thank him for this time.
Spend a little time in Ezra 9:5-15. Rewrite his words and make them your own. Again imagine our own world today and the impetus of what is happening in Ukraine. Their moment of peace is over. When the words of Daniel were written, a new unsettling was occurring in the world around them involving two empires and a battle for power. Are we beginning to see a new unsettling in our day? We need to make this time matter. Don’t get buried into the details of the passages we are to read. Just imagine our time of peace, and heed Ezra’s words, “O Lord, God of Israel, you are just. We come before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence.” Remember, we have all escaped from somewhere. Put your trust in the one true God.
During you time of meditation, I leave you again with the song and first verse of , Heal our Land.
“If my people will humble themselves
Humble themselves and pray
If they seek my face and humble themselves
And turn from their wicked ways
I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins
I will hear from heaven and heal their landLord, heal our land
Father, heal our land
Hear our cry and turn our nation back to You
Lord, heal our land
Hear us oh, Lord, and heal our land
Forgive our sin and heal our broken land”