Dn2:31-45; Dn3:57-61; Lk21:5-11
This psalm of praise found in the book of Daniel ascends from the depths of the universe to the very heights of the cosmos. Those, who praise and exult the LORD above all forever, are invited to see his glory in all that He has made from the least to the greatest. All you works of the LORD, angels of the LORD, you heavens, waters above the heavens, and hosts of the LORD tremble before the splendor of the LORD God Almighty. As they tremble they praise, exalt, and adore the source of all creation and the fulfillment of every creature. The entire cosmological model of the ancients is seen in faith as the great revelation of the Maker of all. Daniel, the exile, could see into the depths of the human heart and reveal the mysteries of the future for all who would listen. The Lord Jesus, the new Daniel, was able to see into the future of the temple in Jerusalem and the people of Israel. They were bound and determined to admire the earthly glory of the Jerusalem temple while failing to see the new temple of the LORD in the One who spoke with such power and vision. These readings unfold the painful irony of a pagan king listening to the Jewish exile, and the believers of Jesus time not listening to the truth he preached while he was an exile among them in the temple area.
Nebuchadnezzar was exhausted and fearful from a night full of visions and dreams. Upon waking from a fitful and inadequate sleep, he trusted no one—not even his closest advisors. They had to prove to the king their power to predict the future. This impossible task was made even more impossible by the king’s command to tell him his dream and then giving it an interpretation. These so-called wise men tried to reason with the king, “How can we interpret your dream if you do not tell us what you saw?” Their complete lack of competence forced the king to call upon the Jewish exile, Daniel. By the power of the true King of the Universe, Daniel the visionary was able to reveal to the king both the nightmare he had and its meaning for the future of his empire. Daniel was not afraid to tell the king what the king feared most to hear. In the future the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that will rival the empire of Nebuchadnezzar and his descendants. This Kingdom of God would break into pieces all other kingdoms and it shall stand forever. Not only did Daniel speak with complete confidence and in absolute truth, he concluded with these bold words, “The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future; this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.” As it has been said, with an advisor like this who needs enemies? Daniel’s vision revealed wherein resides true power and real kingship in the very face of pretend power and no kingship.
Unlike the first Daniel, the New Daniel, Jesus the Lord does not attempt to raise up fear in the hearts of those who listen to his visions. The Lord Jesus offers great comfort even while challenging every generation when he preaches, “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Even to those of his own age the Lord Jesus offers a warning not a threat. While they are admiring the costly stones and votive offerings in the temple building the Lord warns them that not a stone will be left upon a stone after the second temple is destroyed. When they asked for a date and year for such future events the Lord Jesus warned them against those who would provide such false information. The exact day or time is unknown so that at every moment we will be expectant and ready to receive the gift of future glory, the kingdom yet to come fully. In the hearts of those who long for his coming there is no fear of wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues or awesome sights and mighty signs from the sky. These earthly signs only reveal the truth of the Lord’s prophecy. These signs do not evoke fear in our hearts, rather they evoke breathtaking anticipation and passionate longing.