Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

woodcut illustration, by Hans Holbein the Younger, c.1530 (hand-coloured later)

Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
Daniel 7:2-3

Having established Daniel as a true son of God, faithful and incorruptible, the second part of the book (chapters 7-12) describes Daniel's visions of the future, which because of Daniel's character the reader is able to trust as authentic predictions from God. Of course, these predictions of the future were written after the events occurred, the historical setting of the book making them seem predictive. The nation of Israel had lived through successive takeovers of their land from Babylon, Media, Persia and the currently ruling Greek kingdom under Antiochus IV. Daniel's visions describe a world in turmoil, redeemable only by the Ancient of Days through one like the Son of man.1 Whereas the invading kingdoms are likened to animals, Israel herself is liked to humankind, loyally serving God, the Ancient of days.

In times of turmoil it is our essential humanity we must summon. In todays climate of fear, where disdain, hatred, insult and othering are the beasts arising from our collective sea of discontent we need more than ever to each become one like the Son of man, a human spirit amongst the base tendencies seeking to engulf us, lifting us to heights of love and acceptance.

Daniel's visions are rich with metaphor for today's world. Far from being irrelevant in our secular, science-minded present, they are the narrative underlying the society we have forged over the centuries. Story doesn't disappear, it only reshapes itself for context. It is up to us to listen.

1 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. — Daniel 7:13