Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study a dream from the Book of Daniel. Daniel was a faithful young Jewish man working for the Babylonian government. We studied a story from this time period last week, about three similar young men who were attacked by those in power for not worshipping a golden statue, and maybe you’ve heard the story of Daniel and the Lions Den – about a time when Daniel met and survived a similar fate. You can probably tell, these were times of fear and uncertainty for the Jewish people as they’d lost all they held dear.
God used prophets, like Daniel, to both challenge and encourage his people to remain faithful in these difficult times. He wanted them to trust in him, and that he would some day return them to their own land, with their own rulers, and the freedom to worship their own God.
In the dream Daniel had, which is described in very poetic and dramatic language, there were terrifying beasts, predators given authority and power. This might have sounded like Daniel’s world – all kinds of monstrous dictators were competing for territory and resources, and the people of Israel seemed to be like pawns. But then, his dream continued with this hopeful news:
“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
“I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. (Daniel 7:9-11 ESV)
Daniel saw a set of rulers’ thrones, and one he describes as the Ancient of Days rules there. This sounds like God – the one who existed before any of us, the most ancient and wise one possible. You can see how much popular imagery of God this dream has informed – the idea of God as an old white bearded man dressed in white is all over.
He’s surrounded by thousands of attendants, and demonstrates his power with fire. And, he destroys one of the beasts, and takes away the others’ power.
Question: What parts of this dream gave hope to a terrified, oppressed, and exiled people who felt they’d lost everything? What parts do you not understand?