Monday, August 29, 2011

Shining Like Stars Now and Forever

“And the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and some of the many righteous as the stars for ever and ever.” ~Daniel 12:3 (LXX).

There is always a hesitancy that’s to be duly noted in commentating the apocalyptic books, not to mention taking one single verse either in or out of context. But Daniel’s encouragement, via his vision, is something we can take helpful heart from.

Rather not unlike the proclamation in Philippians 2:12-18 to “shine like stars in the world” (verse 15b), this verse of Daniel commends not only the process of holiness, but the destination of eternity. Some of the “many righteous” may somehow brighten that place.

It’s enough of an encouragement to shelve our plans of moral mediocrity; the temptation of every ‘good person’ to believe in the right things, yet shrink from doing them.

Daniel 12:3 in Context

Treating this verse in context, at least via a passing mention, is to respect the text of the Lord. Daniel 12:3 is, in essence, a central part of the closing to the long prophetic passage in Chapter 11. This three-part prophecy concerns the wicked and contemptible king Antiochus Epiphanes: his coming, his career itself, and possibly Antiochus and the early history of the Roman Empire—but probably more appropriately, the actual end times that are still coming.

There are varyingly divergent approaches in deciphering, and concluding upon, Daniel’s Chapter 11 prophecies. That is beyond my scope here. But to honour a correct hearing of Daniel 12:3 we do need to bear the considered context(s) in mind.

What Daniel 12:3 Might Mean for Us Today

Given the above cautious disclaimer, we can still plunge further into a biblical interpretation of the profiled verse. It can be summed up in the following sub-heading...

The Righteous Do What the Righteous Do

Those who commend themselves to shining like stars—via the courage and wisdom of obedience to the Lord—shall “stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32b) when the great persecution comes, and have done so from ancient times.

Even the righteous will be tempted to, and may well, submit under the tyranny of evil, but when they recall that righteousness comes from God, the power of courage and wisdom to stand firm is unconditionally theirs upon faith.

This Power also appoints a starry destiny for those whom believe God and are, thus, reckoned as righteous by their faith.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference: James Montgomery Boice, Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker books, 1989), pp. 110-17. Boice offers his “cautious” thoughts on the latter prophecy; the one that is yet to come. Given that he published this commentary in 1989, it is intriguing that the nations of Egypt, Libya, and Nubia (Cush or Ethiopia: regionally southern Egypt and northern Sudan), as well as most likely Russia (the great northern power quoted in Ezekiel 38:1-6ff), are suggested as the protagonists for a World War that Revelation refers to as Armageddon. It’s at the end of this great turmoil that Christ is to return.

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