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with Rick Henson
Daniel 9:20-27; 12:9-13
Many people today long for the past. This probably is just a human condition. I am sure that people in the 1880s longed for the 1850s. Surely people in the 1740’s talked about the good old days in the early 1700s. Even in the dark ages in Europe from 400 to 1,500 AD I’m sure many said, “Things were so much better in my day. I don’t like all these changes going on today. Scrolls worked fine. Why do we need these new books?” Maybe some said, “I liked telling time from my sundial. This clock fad will never last.”
I wonder if in the New Testament times there were shops where you could buy old lanterns, ancient scrolls or old furniture from decades before. Were there antique shops in the early American colonies? Maybe some preferred the old European continent type furniture to that newfangled Queen Ann style. Or perhaps some liked hanging on their walls old maps without the new world. Certainly when somebody invented the Piano, many didn’t like that new instrument. “Why would anyone ever want to play more than one note at a time?”
Maybe when the early church sang hymns, somebody said, “Let’s sing some of the older songs that were written twenty years ago when the church was founded. If those songs were good enough for Paul and Timothy, they are good enough for us today.”
In my youngest memory, old people talked about how it was better in their day, calling them the good ole days. Many today post on Facebook how great it was in the 1950’s and 60’s. Maybe it was good, if you we’re Caucasian. African Americans lived a second-class existence back then and that wasn’t right. Many died then from illnesses we easily treat today. I remember reading in the paper every summer that some elderly people would die from what was then called heat stroke. You actually want to go back to the time when we didn’t have air-conditioning? New tires purchased in the 1970’s would last about 10,000 miles and now they last four times that. I also remember when a car that had 50,000 miles on it was late for the junk yard.
Looking back for many is an escape for not looking forward or facing the trials of the present. I once saw a church marque sign that read, “Use the past as a guidepost, not a hitching post.” Hebrews 13:8 reads, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever,” (KJV).
Daniel saw a terrifying vision of the days to come. He saw tribulation and destruction everywhere. Daniel 11:31 reveals about one king to come, “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate,” (KJV). The angel revealed to Daniel that in the end days some would turn to the Lord and many would turn away. Daniel 12:1 reads, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book,” (KJV).
The visions that Daniel saw revealed that the days ahead would be terrifying. Though the Temple would be rebuilt, it would again be destroyed. Yet it would also be a time of service to The Lord. Daniel 12:3 reads, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever,” (KJV).
Part of the Lord’s message to Daniel was that he could trust in God, no matter what would happen. God is the Lord of right now as well as the past and future. We need not look backwards to find comfort. We can rest in God’s mighty strength right now. We may learn from the past but we must live in the present, even if we see a frightening future. Remember that today will be the yesterday of your tomorrow, so make it a good one by trusting Jesus today.
Henson is pastor of Oakdale Church, Brandon.