Although I will say to you that having the right tools to open the Book of Revelation renders thie Book reasonably easy to understand, most people will continue to see the Book as hard to understand … even if they had the right tools to interpret. Revelation is an evangelistic book, covering the period from the First Coming (Incarnation) of Jesus Christ to His Second Coming (Parousia). Apart from its evangelistic bent (because of the happenings between these two comings and the end of the world), it issue a great encouragement, motivation and instruction for the people of God to get ready for eternity. Yet, as said, most people including Christians believe the Book is beyond understanding. I suppose this would be true of a casual reading of Daniel too. Now we come to the last two verses of Daniel chapter 8.
Da 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” 27 I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.
1) An interesting fact about this vision Daniel has, is that it is part vision as in seeing and part vision as in hearing. The drama played out is seen. The interpretation is spoken. This is done so that the magnitude of the vision and the horror it reveals is explained orally so that even if Daniel does not understand the vision in pictures and even though he might not understand the actual or the reality of what would happen, he cannot say he never understood the interpretation of vision. God speaks to us through His Word. This is His primary method of communication, not pictures and visions and dreams. A study of John chapter 1:1-18 clearly reveals Jesus as the Word, who reveals the Father to us.
Jn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The point I am making in Daniel’s case is that God speaks words to him and He does the same to us in Jesus, God’s final Word.
2) The truth of the vision of evenings and mornings.
Da 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true …
And relates backwards to:
Da 8:14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”
Remember this 2,300 evenings and mornings has a symbolic meaning for a period of time, roughly, just short of seven years. It is more or less the length of the persecution (abominations) of Antiochus Epiphanes. This is the time frame God had set for the discipline of Israel, which included her punishment (being terrorized) and the desecration of God’s temple where sacrifices were made to pagan gods. It is true … what God says will be!
3) Now we are confronted with the sealing of the vision … “but seal up the vision”. This does not mean the content was secret and needed to be hidden. Rather the intent was that it be preserved … because it … “concerns the distant future”. Where the Book of Revelation is current, it also contains information about the Second Coming of Jesus, Judgment, the end of creation as we know it which includes our planet, Eternal Suffering and the New Heaven and New Earth, the Home of Righteousness. It has been preserved for us and is the most important message for God’s Church in the Last Days … the days in which we live. This was the message of Daniel’s vision … “but seal up the vision”.
4) Now after this vision we find Daniel in the worst possible condition.
Da 8:27 I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days.
Psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually Daniel was so drained, he literally fainted and lay on his bed for days. It is beyond us to picture or imagine the magnitude of Daniel’s vision experience. These matters were so weighty that if I might say so reverently, it was far more bloodcurdling, fearsome, appalling and awful than the most terrible horror or war movie Hollywood could produce … because this was real! If visions were still a reality today, why are such effects of visions not a reality today? But then we don’t need visions because all we need to know is contained in the “completed Canon of Scripture, commonly known as the Holy Bible”. We know what the end will be like and we know how to prepare for the end because we know the content of the Book of Revelation.
5) Then Daniel’s strength returned. “Then I got up”. I am certain the effects of this vision continued to run through his mind, however, he returned to health after a few days of bed rest to recuperate. From personal experience, doing ministry is very taxing on the mind, body, emotions and soul. This is why pastors, Christian workers and all Christians serving God in Gospel work need times of refreshment by resting, recuperating and once restored, return to active ministry. This might be a day off or it might be an annual holiday or a Sabbatical, but rest and refreshment are needed.
6) Daniel returned to his duties managing a country … “and went about the king’s business.” This reaffirms my pervious point. Christians don’t take off and stay off. There is work to be done. Jesus says:
Jn 9:4 “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
(a) Whilst it is day we must work for God because when the darkness comes it is too late, for then no one can work. Work has then ended.
(b) Jesus clarifies this by saying that whilst He is in the world, He is the light of the world. Once He is not in the world anymore, we His people are the light of the world in His place and need to do “the work of him who sent … Jesus”. As Daniel went back to work, so after we have rested awhile we return to Gospel Ministry because “night” is coming and then serving the world with the Gospel is too late!
7) This vision confused Daniel. He was perplexed, perhaps because these events were futuristic. He must have continued thinking through what happened … “I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” This does not mean we can’t understand the vision and interpretation it because we have the experience of seeing the fulfilment of it. There are many lessons and considerations in these verses such as God has spoken; periods of discipline; using God’s House for His glory, but chiefly, what God says will happen, shall happen. Are you ready for the end of the world (or your death)? It will happen. He says it will.
Father grant us greater insight into Your Holy Word. Amen.