Chapter I / Hope
Long ago, Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt and out of slavery. From that time onward, Jews believed that God would soon send someone to deliver them in triumph from their captors.
They called this someone the Messiah. The Anointed One.
They went through many tumultuous and tragic times after the glory days of the United Hebrew Kingdom and the rule of David and Solomon. Following the disappearance of the Lost Tribes of Israel and the enslavement of Judea, they were scattered and held in bondage by various leaders and empires over the next several centuries. There were respites, there were better kings than others (thank you, Cyrus and Darius). But always they were in bondage.
And their hope was never greater than during Augustus Caesar’s rule over the Roman Empire, approximately 100 years before Palestine was fully conquered by Rome.
They needed hope, and they received it in the form of a book less than 30 pages long called the Book of Daniel.
Daniel wrote of many strange dreams he had. They all involved terrifying beasts of some sort. Lions with eagle’s wings. Four headed winged leopards. Creatures with iron teeth and horns sticking out all over that had eyes and mouths. The stuff of nightmares. And Daniel had no idea what they meant. Until an angel came to him and explained.
The gist of it was this. I’m going to skip over, for now, the interpretation of what each of the monsters represented. The basic idea was this, the angel said: the Son of Man, from the House of David, is coming soon to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and bring peace and joy to everyone.
The angel, however, forgot, neglected, or simply chose to not reveal the timeline for when this would be happening, except to vaguely pass along that it would be happening after “a time, and times, and half a time had passed.”
This is a great concept to use with children, and I freely acknowledge that I use it frequently: when they start begging to do something, simply tell them that they’ll be allowed to do it soon. Specifically, in a time, and times, and half a time. It is maddening, and then you can send them to bed.
Also, it was revealed that there would be a great time of trouble, such as had never been before, before the Messiah would come.
Many Jews were certain that things were so bad that it was a sign the return of the Messiah was imminent. Many gave away their possessions, left their homes and families, and began fasting and praying to prepare themselves.
This was a hot topic. People wanted to know. There were many conjectures about how the Messiah would appear. Most involved glorious arrivals from someplace up high, like on a cloud, and surrounded by retinues of of angels.
There might not be agreement on precisely where or how he would arrive, but everyone knew that it would be soon.
Messiah, Augustus Caesar, Book of Daniel, revelation/Revelation,