John Lennox “Against the Flow”
“A pattern beings to emerge in these first three sections of the second half of the book. First, Daniel records his own experience of the Medo-Persian law that was enacted in an attempt to force him into disobeying the law of his God. Next, he records an earlier vision which he had, of a fierce king in the fourth empire that things to change the times and the law.
Then he sees a further vision; another powerful king from the third empire stops the people of God obeying the law by banning their public ceremony of burnt offering. It is a pattern of deteriorating attitudes to God and his law on the part of pagan kings.”
John Lennox makes this comment:
“In order to consolidate his power in his vast multi-cultural empire Antiochus drove forward the process of Hellenization. Part of that process was to try to create one religion for all – by force if necessary.
He could not tolerate what to him was the narrow-minded exclusivism of Judaism’s devotion to one God, to the rejection of all others. In doing so, he was unconsciously following the path of many emperors before him, including Nebuchadnezzar when he constructed his golden image, and Darius when he proclaimed his edict. As we soon shall see, Antiochus was to go much further.
He shocked the Jews when he encouraged the people of the Mediterranean region to worship him as the Canaanite god, Baal – a nature god that had been decisively rejected by Israel as the idolatrous epitome of all that he stood against.
There were some Jews who accepted the compromise – indeed, welcome it.
They found Greek culture and lifestyle very attractive. It made far fewer moral demands than the law of Moses, for instance, and allowed them to give free rein to their impulses and desires. It also opened up a whole new world of entertainment and sport that had been foreign to them, to say nothing of the intellectual stimulation of the free exchange of ideas, without having to be committed to any particular world view. It was not only some of the ordinary people that welcomed the wave of Hellenization, but a group of leaders led by no less than Jason the high priest, who had abandoned any sense that their Bible (our Old Testament) was a definitive revelation from God.”
“It was a heady taste of freedom. And Antiochus was giving it to them. That concept of freedom is shared by many people today and given as their reason for abandoning God. They say that God is out to stifle them – their self-expression, their creativity, and their flourishing. They want freedom from any authority above that of man, and they think that secular society can deliver it to them. As it is from any today, the Greek ideal in life was the pursuit of the good (happiness); and they laid great emphasis on human reason as the vehicle for achieving it. For them, man was the measure of all things. And, just as there were many Jews who bought into it, today we have a Christianized version.
“A conscience soothing Jesus, with an unscandalous cross,
An otherworldly kingdom, a private, inwardly limited
Spirit, a pocket God, a spiritualized Bible, and an escapist
Church. Its goal is a happy, comfortable, and successful life,
Obtainable through the forgiveness of an abstract sinfulness
By faith in an unhistorical Christ. (Orlando Costas)
In traditional Jewish eyes Greek religion was a complete inversion of all they stood for. Its gods were only mythological (Freudian, we might say)
Projection of human desire, fear, greed, envy and anger. Orthodox Jews believed in revelation – a notion beyond the comprehension of the Greeks – as it is of many moderns.
Daniel was troubled, but he was not fearful. He was disturbed by what he just saw in the vision, but he was not willing to water down the truth revealed to him but wrote it down just as he saw and heard the details of the vision.
We do well to read the word as it speaks to us, not to water down the Revelation given to us by God Almighty. Everything will come to pass just as he said. The shadows of the past are growing stronger by the day.
May during these days God will strengthen your confidence in the Sovereign God who has everything in his hands. God has revealed his plan for the future to us long ago. It will all come to pass no matter what people say, thing, or do. His kingdom will arrive with Jesus Christ in the fullness of time just as the Father said it will. Hallelujah.