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Posts Tagged ‘Antiochus’


Daniel 8The King’s Business

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Written on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . . Even when – and perhaps especially when we are in the midst of darkness, we  must arise to be about the King’s business . . .

In the vision I was looking and saw myself . . . I looked up and saw . . .  

The symbols in this oracle were understood by the ancient people; we will need a bit of explanation.  Scholars tell us that the two-horned ram is the combined kingdoms of Medes and Persia, and these were destroyed by Alexander the Great.  The swiftly advancing goat is the Macedonian army; the horn between its eyes is Alexander.  The little horn in verse 9 represents Palestine.  The host of the heaven is either God’s people or angels, and the prince is God himself.  The sin here is the placement of the statue of Antiochus – the abomination – in the Jerusalem temple; the end time is the day when God will judge the nations.  The beautiful land is Judea.  It is clear that the pagan ruler Antiochus is seen as challenging heaven itself.  Daniel is to keep this vision secret for a time; further emphasizing the mystery already engendered by the many symbols.

As I was watching . . .

In the book of Daniel we have a series of oracles and stories along with the appearance of the Son of Man, the one who prefigures Christ and whose title is used to describe Jesus.  This particular oracle is laden with symbolism and foretells without equivocation the future of Daniel’s people.  It foretells our own future as well.

When I had seen the vision I tried to understand it . . .

When we dream, either in our sleep or in our waking, we envision the life we wish to have, the person we wish to be.  Sometimes our imaginings are close to reality and other times not so much.

I was overcome . . .

We carry the vision of our possibilities within, expecting that the goodness comes to fruition, hoping that the darkness does not overcome the small aura of light we manage to engender.  Conserving our energy and working from the synergy created by our solidarity with other faithful we arise.  We unite with one another in Christ to go about the business of building the kingdom . . . knowing that the king has taken us all well in hand.

And then I arose and went about the king’s business. 


A re-post from September 27, 2011.

Image from: http://www.rajeshsetty.com/2008/10/27/diwali-wishes-and-a-related-thought/ 

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Revelation 3Superficiality, Fidelity, and Mediocrity   

Tuesday, May 30, 2017    

To the church in Sardis . . . I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead . . .

sardis

A Greek temple in Sardis

To the church in Philadelphia . . . You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name . . .

To the church in Laodicea . . . I know that you are neither hot or cold . . .

Today we read the greetings to three of the seven churches addressed by John in the last book of the Bible.  The seven represent the universal church.  Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea have something special to tell us.

Notes will inform us that Sardis was once a capital city and was noted for its immense wealth at the time of Croesus in the 6th century before Christ.  It had a fortress with the fame of being impregnable, yet it was taken by surprise by both Cyrus and Antiochus.  This church gives the appearance of being unassailable . . . but is warned to be on its guard.  Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete . . .

We will also learn that Philadelphia was rebuilt by the Emperor Tiberius in C.E. 17 after a different quake.  It may be for this reason that there are references to its royal nature.  Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come . . .

Laodicea IMG_5913 - Copy

Ruins in Laodicea

Laodicea was a wealthy industrial and commercial center eighty miles east of Ephesus that exported beautiful woolen garments.  It had a famous medical school and was known for an eye salve that could be purchased there and the people had so much money that they were able to rebuild after a devastating earthquake about sixty years after Christ.  And they did this with no outside help.  They were able to stand in their own and were beholding to no one.   For you say, “I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,” and yet you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see . . . (Senior 403-404)

ancient philadelphia

Ancient Philadelphia

Here we have the faithful church sandwiched between the complacent, self-satisfied, self-protecting churches.  As we contemplate this juxtaposition, we might ask ourselves where we stand today.  Are content with doing just enough?  Do we tend to appearance and neglect the inner self?  Are we bothered by poverty of all kinds, or do we brush it away where we cannot see it?  Do we even allow ourselves to see suffering in any way?  If we do, how do we react?  We can spend time in Revelation 2 and 3 and wonder how our preparations for a guest compare with how we prepare ourselves to receive Christ.  Now we focus on three churches that bring us a special window we might open into our own souls.  Are we superficial?  Are we content with mediocrity?  Do we follow Christ faithfully even though the journey of life has taken its toll?

Superficiality, Fidelity, or Mediocrity . . . how do we choose to live?  What is our guiding principal?  Whom do we follow?  Why and how do we do what we do?  The Book of Revelation announces what Christ expects.  Whoever has ears ought to hear what the spirit says to the churches. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.403-404. Print.  

For more images of a pilgrimage to the churches, click on the images of Sardis or Laodicea above, or visit: http://www.farnborough-kent-parish.org.uk/recent_turkey.html 

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 27, 2011.

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1 Maccabees 5:11-27: The Holy Place

Wednesday, November 9, 2016antiochus_original

 A Favorite from November 4, 2009.

Puffed up in spirit, Antiochus did not realize that it was because of the sins of the city’s inhabitants that the Lord was angry for a little while and hence disregarded the holy Place.

Today’s reading is a frightening one and yet in verse 17 we find the key to all that baffles us when we suffer.   We become puffed up when things go well, thinking that we have achieved all on our own, forgetting that God is the source of every goodness that comes to us.  We, like Antiochus the hated pagan invader, pay no heed to holy places or holy people when we tumble head long in our belief that we have created our own good.  We, like Antiochus may succeed for a while and may even feel a certain pride in what we believe we have accomplished alone.  And we, like Antiochus will live a troubled and violent life.

Once, when I was at a low point in my life, I asked God why a particular holy place had been breached and the holy people routed.  My answer came immediately: All earthly temples are violated eventually.  All the faithful will suffer in God’s name.

When we feel squeezed.  When we feel oppressed.  When we feel unjustly condemned.  When our holy places are violated and holy people broken, we can be assured that the Lord has not chosen the people for the sake of the Place, but the Place for the sake of the people (verse 19).  We can rest in the knowledge that with or without the place, with or without the rest of the faithful . . . we can be holy, we can be constant, we can find within ourselves the Holy Place in where dwells the Spirit.  We can rest in God . . . for God alone is holy.

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Monday, November 26, 2012 – 2 Maccabees 9 – Giving Up & Giving In

We might eliminate a good deal of treachery and betrayal from our lives if we first find a way of doing all things through, and for, and with God alone . . . for God alone guarantees an honorable path for living.  God alone assures us a life spent in eternal serenity.  God alone makes promises that are fully and truly kept. 

These are the closing words from Saturday’s Noontime when we reflected on Chapter 8 of 2 Maccabees.  Today we look at The Punishment and Death of Antiochus: the stories of Antiochus’ illness and death.  Verses 8 – 11: Thus, he who previously, in his superhuman presumption, thought he could command the waves of the sea, and imagined he could weigh the mountaintops in his scales, was now thrown to the ground and had to be carried on a litter, clearly manifesting to all the power of God . . . Shortly before, he had thought that he could reach the stars of heaven, and now, no one could endure to transport the man because of his intolerable stench.  At last, broken in spirit, he began to give up his excessive arrogance, and to gain some understanding, under the scourge of God, for he was racked with pain unceasingly. 

After suffering the torment of his pain, he capitulates to the will of God.  He vows to restore all that he has ruined, and even vows that he will convert to Judaism.  This is a story of a fearsome ruler who surrenders to an even more fearsome Old Testament Yahweh, a God who is relentless in delivering justice.   The story ends sadly, with Yahweh apparently deaf to this sinner’s petitions for mercy.  So this murderer and blasphemer, after extreme sufferings, such as he had inflicted on others, died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land. 

We have no way on knowing how this man is ultimately judged by his maker.  In the context of the times he was seen as one who sinned so greatly that he became a lost soul, succumbing to the temptation of sin.  This is a man who would have done well by listening to the words of Psalm 36: Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of the heart.  There is no fear of God before his eyes.  He so flatters himself in his mind that he knows not his guilt.  In his mouth are mischief and deceit.  All wisdom is gone.  He plots the defeat of goodness as he lies on his bed.  He has set his foot on evil ways, he clings to what is evil. 

The psalmist does not try to solve the riddle of evil into which souls enter when they begin to love lies and deception; nor may we for these are the inscrutable ways of Yahweh.  Instead, we might look at this man and ourselves with New Testament eyes, and we might continue with Psalm 36 as we sing to God: To both man and beast you give protection.  O Lord, how precious is your love.  My God, the sons of men find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  They feast on the riches of your house; they drink from the stream of your delight.  In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.

Superhuman presumption, excessive arrogance . . . a broken spirit, a believer in love.  Nicanor and Antiochus . . . Paul and Abraham.  Those who trust only power and self . . . those who trust only God.

Even if – and perhaps especially when – the path directly before us is shrouded in mystery, we are given a clear direction by the source of all life itself so that we might orient our journey.  When we suffer from a broken spirit, we will want to see this sorrow as what it is . . . a giving up of presumption and arrogance . . . and a giving in to goodness and light.

Written on November 26, 2010.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For an interesting post about journeying, click on the image above or go to: http://journeyintomidlife.com/contact.htm

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Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Daniel 9 – Gabriel and the Seventy Weeks

“I was still occupied with this prayer when Gabriel came to me in rapid flight”.

“A pressing theological question asserts itself.  Does the writer of Daniel think God’s purpose in bringing history to its end can be changed merely by uttering human prayers?” (Mays 631-632) Commentary will enlighten this passage for us further but if time is brief today we might reflect on this one question: How do we react when we discover that a period of trial will last longer than we had first believed?  How do we manage pain that endures not seventy years but seven times that number?  Do we reject God in anger or do we go to God in faith?  Do we sink into private despair or do we turn to God in universal hope?  Do we lash out against those who bring us truth or do we react in love . . . even toward our enemies?  What do we do when we find out that our seventy years of pain are seven times that number?   How do we endure?

Daniel provides us with a model, a plan, a pattern we can follow when we receive the news that life is a string of trials interspersed with little triumphs.  Chapter 9 lays out a simple map.

I turned to the Lord, pleading an earnest prayer . . . We turn to God and pour our fears into God’s ear.  We tell him our worries with honesty.  We do not hide any of the details for God already knows them.

With fasting, sackcloth, and ashes . . . We make an outward sign to our inward selves that we have given over all control to God.  We put aside all pride.  We place ourselves fully into God’s hands for God already holds us firmly.  

I prayed to the Lord my God, and confessed . . . We enter into an open and straightforward dialog with God.  We say all that is on our minds, all that weighs down our hearts.  We admit that we have erred and have sometimes adored false idols. 

And we can turn to God because God is good.  We can be truthful with God because God is forgiving.  We can put away our fears, our defenses and our weapons because God is love. 

Know and understand this . . . Jerusalem was to be rebuilt . . .

When we discover that our suffering will not be ending when we first believed it would . . . we can follow Daniel’s model and remember that God always loves, God is always present, God always forgives and welcomes his tired ones home.  God does, indeed, respond to human prayer . . . and he sends his messenger to bring us the news that God is with us.

More notes on Daniel 9: “The prophet Jeremiah (25,11; 29,10) prophesied a Babylonian captivity of seventy years, a round number signifying the complete passing away of the existing generation.  Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus and the subsequent return of the Jews to Palestine.  However, the author of Daniel, living during the persecution of Antiochus, sees the conditions of the exile still existing; therefore in his mediation, he extends Jeremiah’s number to seventy weeks of years (v 24); i.e., seven times seventy years, to characterize the Jewish victory over the Seleucids as the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy”. (Senior cf. 2, 1100-1101)

To re-visit our reflections on other portions of Daniel 9: We begin with Daniel seeking Ultimate Fulfillment in God; Daniel intones a Prayer in the Desert; then suddenly Gabriel Comes to Daniel in rapid flight.  A vision ensues through which Daniel understands that an end will come to the anguish he and his exiled nation suffer . . . but this end is further off than anticipated. 

To read more about this prophecy, go to the Daniel – God Calls the Faithful and Faithless page on this blog. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 631-632. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1100-1101. Print.   

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