From: Sarah Haig
I first read Daniel 9:20-27 with disbelief. This confusing prophesy is God’s urgent and specific answer to Daniel’s fasting and entreaty, delivered through an angelic messenger who was dispatched to Daniel’s side even before his prayer was complete? And if we go back a chapter in context, this is God’s comfort delivered to a faithful servant that is still reeling from the disturbing vision of a rampaging beast with teeth of iron?
I’ve always had a hard time understanding the book of Daniel after we pass the awesome stories of Nebuchadnezzar in the wilderness and the disembodied hand delivering the writing on the wall. But even as I can’t grasp the mathematics of prophetic weeks and days, I can seize on the undeniable consistency: the Holy God of Israel is sovereign. He is ruler over the most powerful kings; He will speak the end to desolations and the prince of deceit and destruction.
Five minutes on the Google helped me see with more clarity that God’s answer to Daniel is actually a timing and vision of specific hope: the Messiah, who will “make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Commentaries helped me understand that the seemingly arbitrary number of weeks and days can be unwound into a timeline that takes us from the reign of Darius to the Passion week. Very cool!
Hebrews 11:3 reminds us, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Daniel’s prayer and God’s prophetic answer remind me that indeed, we live in a world of powers that are not visible, and God is present, superior, and victorious. Moreover, He gives comfort to His servants through the reminder of His power, even as we see destruction and injustice. And this reminder is the foundation of our hope, our "assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not yet seen."
I appreciate the stark simplicity of late-fall, before the bare and windy landscape is overwhelmed with the warm (sometimes cloying) atmosphere of cultural Christmas. That said, I'm also coming to terms with my delight in tacky Christmas lights—which are ubiquitous in my Somerville neighborhood!