Scripture Focus: Daniel 11.36, 45
36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place…
45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
Reflection: Breaking the Rhyme Scheme
By John Tillman
Daniel’s visions of nations and wars most directly depict the near future for the region leading up to Antiochus Epiphanes.
Many texts Christians today see as pointing to a future Antichrist, Jews prior to Christ saw as having been fulfilled in Antiochus. He was the villain-oppressor whose desecration of the Temple inspired the Maccabean revolt and the holiday celebrated today as Hanukkah. Jesus and the disciples are separated from this conflict by only a few generations and would have been familiar with it.
Daniel sees the same events through multiple visions that use slightly different images. To many this implies that the visions can have multiple interpretations and apply to more than one moment in history. New Testament writers seemed to see more than fulfilled prophecies of the past, but a pattern for the future. They looked to Daniel, echoing his style and language in their writing about Christ’s second advent.
It can’t be proved that Mark Twain actually said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” However, he certainly expressed similar ideas. Behind this quote, there is a karmic concept of ever-repeating history that will never end.
Christians do not believe in this kind of cyclical, neverending, repetition. We know that an end is coming and a new beginning. However, we can see through Daniel’s and other apocalyptic prophecies, that history does rhyme. There is a pattern to oppression. There is a template for empires.
There have been many people biblical interpreters have thought followed the template of the Antichrist figure from Daniel: Diocletian, Nero, Hitler, etc. These men show us that there is a modus operandi for evil that will continue to repeat until Christ puts an end to history.
History does rhyme. It rhymes with oppression, suffering, violence, rape, racism, greed, destruction, and victimization of the most vulnerable.
The distinctive belief of Christianity is that Christ will break this rhyme scheme. The rhythms of oppression will be rewritten. The drumbeat of violence will be silenced. The time signature of terrors will give way to rest. There will be new music that sings ever-repeating refrains of the love and faithfulness of our God.
Nations always rage and shake tiny fists.
God always laughs; their victims he lifts.
Time will tock tick out, darkness will flicker out.
By God we’ll be kissed; our lightened souls he’ll lift.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lord, watch over us and save us from this generation forever. — Psalm 12.7
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Read more about Revelation of Love :: Love of Advent
Christ’s apocalyptic second Advent is about releasing God’s love and about releasing us to be received by God’s love.
Read more about Prepare for the End
Whenever and however “the end” comes, we can be soberly prepared, watchfully vigilant, and unwaveringly hopeful. If we suffer, let it be for doing what is right.