I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.
Daniel 8:27 (NIV)
Daniel lived and served under the Babylonians, Medes, and Persian kingdoms just over 500 B.C. The fact that Daniel served under so many different rulers gives us an idea of just how volatile the political situation was. Over the following centuries that area and what is now northern Africa and southern Europe saw a steady stream of kingdoms, conquerors, wars, and usurpers before the Roman Empire rolled in and reigned for several centuries. Daniel’s vision was a word picture of what would transpire politically in the region over the subsequent centuries ending with the king who “set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down.”
That king was Antiochus Epiphanes (the name he gave himself which means “God Manifest”), a Seleucid ruler who around 170 B.c. who outlawed Judaism as a religion, ended daily sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem and desecrated the temple itself. Christian scholars view him as an ancient preview of the antichrist in John’s vision (Book of Revelation).
I find it interesting as I ponder it all this morning that Daniel’s vision was not for him. The events of his vision would be fulfilled over several hundred years, and only realized and valued long after his passing. I love his description of the vision as “appalling” and “beyond understanding.” So I have found it to be with life. Over recent years Wendy and I have struggled to accept that some things are given to us which we don’t understand, and some things are not for us. It is a weary business, as Daniel discovered. Nevertheless, I am beginning to value the lesson.