I have just finished reading Dale Ralph Davis’s commentary on Daniel in the “The Bible Speaks Today” series. It is a very inspirational read. In the last chapter of the commentary, Davis asks the question:
“Will the people of God endure when evil does its worst? Will they endure to the end, in the very last and most severe period of suffering? The answer is positive, because of what we have or will be given.”
Really, history gives us the series of trials that are meant to show all the worst that Satan and mankind bring to bear on God’s people and this will increasingly continue to be the case until the very end of this last age. And in Daniel and the New Testament, the faithful who endure until the end are not focused on the personal rewards of “the good life” as the world sees it — a life consisting of things going one’s way, good health, a large and close family, a lucrative profession, and plenty of money in reserve — that is, God’s people are not looking for personal benefit; but they are following God because they love God and because of how Jesus has demonstrated and presently expresses that love to us. Part of the reason Gabriel came to Daniel in Daniel 9:23 was to tell him that he “is deeply loved.” Davis was keen to bring this point out and to elaborate on how much it cost Daniel to do his part in bringing us the word from God that shows that love. It occurs to me then, that the end-times scenario in the book of Daniel is previously pictured for us in the life of Job who was tested to see if this kind of disinterested discipleship — disinterested in personal gain — is really the motivation for his faith. And then when it is in fact pure in its motivation, God affirms and restores Job out of his love.
“Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’” (Job 1:9-10)
Job passes the test. At the end God addresses Job’s “comforters” with an affirmation of Job, “For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” God says this twice (see 42:7-8) as if to make sure that the four comforters (and us) do not miss it.
In the next to the last chapter of Daniel we have an unnamed king who is worse than any before mentioned in the book of Daniel. This king is the epitome of what to expect at the very end of time. If we were to live into the last of the days of history we will indeed get the chance to show how sincere our faith really is. And it will be the kind of trying time that matches those described in the sobering visions of Daniel.
W. Stephen Williams
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