Monday, October 16, 2023

Signposts and the Muddy Middle

No doubt with daily headlines from the Middle East, many Bible readers will run to chapters we read with one eye on events and the other eye on the mysterious images with various analysis, positions, and propositions.

This post will be a reminder to me about some of the principles I lean on regarding Biblical prophecy in  study that has now spanned many years. This includes a deep  2 year study I did on the Book of Revelation and many OT references, including the Book of Daniel.

It is almost comical to read all the ping pong points Biblical scholars make when they come to passages that involve visions. At times it reminds me of that scene in the movie, The Princess Bride- "It could be that cup based on fact A- but you know that I know fact A so it is now cup 2 because of fact B.. and so on and the answer ended up being "all of the above".

The 2nd chapter of Daniel contains the first dream that Daniel reveals and interprets to King Nebuchadnezzar. The Book of Daniel is so remarkable in its prophecy that critics (who reject the supernatural) reject Daniel on face value because it would have to be supernatural prophecy for it to be true. I always worry about human reasoning when it throws out a possible theory before the debate even begins.

Back to  Chapter 2- Daniel relates the dream to the King by predicting four kingdoms- Golden Babylon, Silver Persians led by Darius- Bronze Greeks led by Alexander- Iron/Clay Rome divided into two and then into 10. I am skipping a lot of the reasoning and debate here to get to my points.

Take any Biblical vision and read the comments by any true scholar and you will now see the endless debate begins, but we all acknowledge it never quite fits. In this image the Rock of Ages smashes these kingdoms and becomes God's Holy Mountain (again jumping to a general overview here). So most of the time there are left views that have strong points and weak points and the scholar will tend to lean toward one and live with the weaker points in humble acceptance. We all do this- I do this.

But there are larger points here to be made that we can all agree on. Let me use this passage to pull out some of these.

1) God's truth is multi-layered and true from many angles and through many cross-sections and dissections. There is often multiple fulfillments of prophecy that show shadows in the Old Testament- applications in the New Testament and pointers to the Kingdom of God which is an alternate reality but just as true- in fact MORE true than the reality we occupy now. The hardest part in all of Biblical visions is to keep reminding yourself "symbol, symbol, symbol- figurative language"- the Bible images of heaven and hell are figurative and point to a reality beyond our comprehension. Still true, but related in a way that humans of all times and cultures can relate to.

2) We have a hard time making it all fit 'clean' because we are still missing a final overview of the end of time. When we see unrest in the Middle East we rush to the Scriptures and want to make sense of it. The problem is that we are in a time period of waiting. All that is in play now is the competition of the City of Man ( figurative Babylon) with the City of God (figurative Jerusalem) and whether we will be citizens of Christ's Kingdom or the Dragon's Kingdom. Citizenship in Christ's Kingdom is an open invitation to repentance and faith in the God of Mercy. But to do so means that you will incur the wrath of the un-holy trinity The Dragon, The Beast, and the False Prophet. One day, God will say, NO MORE DELAY- and we will watch the final scene brought to the close- and then there will be a massive "OH- I see now- THAT is what was meant by.....". We had a little taste of this when Christ came the first time. All the prophecy was there- but all the scholars missed it. IN the end- our human pre-suppositions make us miss the future narrative. Thankfully, we are not saved by being right on our own ability.

3) There are a couple of BIG picture points to this amazing dream in Daniel 2. All human kingdoms are REGRESSIVE not PROGRESSIVE.  Do you see the value drop? Gold sank to silver, silver sank to bronze, bronze sank to iron. We always take pride in how far we have been elevated. But sadly, man is less glorious today. One world order will not be glorious, it will be dark and destructive. Study the art and architecture of any civilization and you will see it fade in excellence over time. And I think the vision points to the fact that all kingdoms have 'feet of clay'- faulty foundations built on the sand of hubris and not the Rock of Ages.

Conclusion: When you come to Biblical prophecy or visions, throw yourself into them- draw pictures- they are amazing- and then get lost in the mystery of God's world. It is more mesmerizing than anything Tolkien ever imagined. And the WOW factor is that it is true. Instead of 'Where's Waldo?" look deep into these images and see Christ. He is right there... pointed to by the prophets thousands of years before His arrival. And let that give you great hope to keep fighting the joyous battle of life with Him as we eagerly await His glorious return. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. Hold on, my brothers and sisters..... Be patient and prayerful.

As of today- we see in a very dim glass.... a part of the muddy middle. We have hope of the end which is the fruit of our faith; but little beyond that.

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