Today, Daniel shifts from historical literature to apocalyptic literature. Keep in mind that God does not give apocalyptic visions so that we can predict the future. These cryptic visions usually contain strange imagery which is difficult to interpret. So as we breeze through Daniel’s visions, it will be difficult to invest time in all the many interpretation theories. But we can focus on what we learn about God! Daniel’s visions consistently teach: (1) God is sovereign over all of history, (2)There will be a final judgment, and (3) God’s kingdom will endure forever!
Especially poignant in today’s reading is Daniel’s prayer for mercy from Chapter 9. As Daniel is pleading to God for mercy for Israel as a whole, the angel Gabriel comes to show mercy to Daniel on an individual level. Gabriel says, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved” (Daniel 9:22).
What a comforting personal message from the angel, Gabriel! And even though Gabriel prophesied that Israel’s suffering would continue, his words proved that God had determined the duration of suffering. In other words, there is a predetermined end-date!
This is our hope and encouragement to persevere in the face of affliction!
Paul has much to say about the purpose of suffering in the opening chapter of 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians is an interesting letter. Opponents to Paul’s ministry had infiltrated the church and caused a large rebellion against Paul. Paul wrote a letter (which is now lost; 2 Cor. 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 7:8-16): pleading for the church to repent – which thankfully, most did. But some opponents still remained within the church. Consequently, Paul spends the first 7 chapters defending his apostolic ministry and indirectly refuting his opponents.
One argument against Paul being a true apostle was that he suffered too much! It is in this context that Paul addresses suffering in 2 Corinthians 1.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
God in his grace has designed suffering to produce good in our lives! God’s comfort in the midst of affliction transforms our hearts in a profound way. This enables us to share God’s comfort with others, and also share more in the person of Christ!
The ways of God are beyond understanding!
He controls all of history.
He has a plan to redeem a people.
There is an appointed time for suffering,
And in the end, God’s kingdom will stand in glory forever!