Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Sealed Scroll, stock image, common domain
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
— Daniel 12:8-9
The setting for Daniel's final vision is the third year of the reign of Cyrus the great, the conquering Persian king who releases the Israelites under the care of Ezra to return to Jerusalem.1 The time of writing was some four hundred years later, towards the end of the reign of Antiochus IV, the Greek king who had recently outlawed jewish worship.2 The future was uncertain during both periods, and the vision reflects that uncertainty. Throughout chapters 10 to 12 Daniel is portrayed as a man in confusion, seeking to understand but not quite getting the full picture. We learn that even God's chosen prophets, those leading impeccable lives, are not in full possession of knowledge of the future. Such knowledge belongs only in the realm of angels.
Our modern day soothsayers, the data miners and statisticians, attempting to predict the future based on the past are as much in the dark as Daniel, perhaps even more so. Future prediction touches us all. There is a great need to know, so we visit fortune tellers. consult astrologers, calculate patterns in the financial markets, and give great credence to the statisticians who seem to be the guardians of wisdom. But the book is sealed, and it is our folly to believe the words of any mortal.
Perhaps the future is determined, perhaps it is not; in either case it is unknown, and we cause ourselves much stress and anguish trying to second-guess it. We are spirits of the moment, creatures of Now. The world unfolds around us, in strange, beautiful ways which we most of the time miss because we try to look beyond, at hoped-for—or dreaded—outcomes. God, through his angel gives Daniel the best advice he can receive: Go thy way. This is the least, and the best we can do. Go thy way, let tomorrow occur as tomorrow chooses. This moment is all we have. Embrace the mystery.