For centuries, the Jewish people lived under the rule of empire: Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and then Greek rule. The book of Daniel was written during the period of Greek domination, under the particularly harsh rule of Antiochus IV (175-164 BCE) who forbade Jewish religious practice. He erected an altar to Zeus in the temple! This is “the abomination that desolates” in verse 11.
The book of Daniel is a cry of hope and an affirmation of faith in God in the face of oppression and suffering. The style of the book is apocalyptic, like the book of Revelation (written during persecution under the Roman empire). Apocalyptic literature describes the end of time imaginatively, affirming the ultimate victory of God and those who are faithful. It imaginatively describes the future, but arises from great crisis and suffering in the present. It gives hope to the faithful to persist in the present.
Truly apocalyptic faith does not seek to escape this world, but to persist in it, faithfully and justly with one another. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his historic “I’ve been to the mountaintop” and “I have a dream” speeches exemplified, in his struggle for racial justice, the transformative power of prophetic and apocalyptic faith.
God of past, present and future, be our source of hope and endurance. Amen. — TDW