It is a lovely twist of irony that I, the one who said I’d never blog, am blogging first about a book I never wanted to study.
I have spent most of my adult life successfully avoiding the Old Testament book of Daniel – a success only matched by my avoidance of the New Testament book of Revelation. Growing up in the era before the Left Behind books, I was a victim of the dispensational Thief in the Night movies of the early 80s. Visions of a really creepy guy with a handlebar mustache and of a white “UNITE” van prowling the streets of Anytown, USA, hunting down people without the mark of the beast branded on their hands (or was it foreheads?) are bad enough, but what I’ve realized really stuck with me from those movies was the purpose of Daniel and Revelation – namely, to help us construct detailed timelines of the End Times, complete with mutant animals, gargantuan scorpions, and a mysterious something called Wormwood. But every other year or so, somebody needed to revise the charts and predictions because, er, the earlier ones proved wrong. I finally stopped paying attention and started avoiding the books because I had no desire to muck through the mess of competing interpretations.
If you love the book of Daniel, dispensationalism, and the Left Behind books, and I have just offended you, I apologize. Let me affirm that I still have a little (progressive) dispensational blood flowing in my veins and that I have grown to love the book of Daniel. (However, I still have not read a Left Behind book.) I’m also currently taking a class that’s helping me love Revelation. But I still don’t love the detailed charts. What’s more, I’ve decided that the purpose of Daniel (and Revelation) is actually something quite other than helping us determine End Times timelines.
In the coming months, I’ll be blogging through the book of Daniel – trying to recover its relevance for today, not just for some time yet to come. Come along for the ride!