Daniel 8:1-27; 1 John 2:1-17; Psalm 120:1-7; Proverbs 28:25-26
The True Light is Already Shining
Advent begins. Christ’s coming means “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).
Ministering from Babylon in the 6th century just at the rise of the Persian king Cyrus, Daniel receives a vision about the troubles that Israel will endure even after their return to “the Glorious land” (Dan. 8:9). Out of one of the four kingdoms that follow “the ram” (Media-Persia) and “the goat” (Greece) there will arise “a little horn” who will desecrate the Temple (which will have been rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah) and “throw truth to the ground” (8:12). These terrible things did happen under Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 B.C., nearly 400 years after Daniel’s prophecy.
Daniel’s dismay (8:27) makes sense. The fact is that a great homecoming isn’t enough. Until God’s own light shines, darkness keeps asserting itself. The psalmist’s lament of the “deceitful tongue” and “those who hate peace” (Ps. 120:3,6) will ring true until the darkness within us is finally overcome by the true light. And Solomon’s warning about the “greedy man” and the self-trusting “fool” (Pr. 28:25-26) will be necessary all the way to the end of history.
But then, as Advent reminds us, the end has begun. In the coming of the God-Man Jesus, Daniel’s ultimate hope has begun to be realized: the one who is simultaneously “The Son of Man” and “no (mere) human hand” (compare Dan 7:13 with 8:25) comes as our “advocate,” offering a “propitiation for our sins, and not only ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
The Rev. Reggie Kidd
Cathedral Church of St. Luke