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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 106 (Number Trouble)

[reaction to OYB's Nov. 30 - Dec. 4 readings]

Today's readings include the apocalyptic half of Daniel and a portion of the First Letter of John. The Letter of John is an interesting mix of sayings that are a big part of my faith, such as, "God is Love" (4:8), "God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us," and (4:12), "let us not love with words or tongue but actions in truth" (3:18). I believe it also contains the first reference to antichrist that I've read (2:18). It is interesting because John makes it clear that everyone has heard of the antichrist and he will be here very soon. The last major theme from the First Letter of John is that you can tell who is "in the light" or "knows Jesus Christ" by the fact that such people love their brothers. Anyone who hates his brother, does not know Jesus Christ. It's an aggressive formulation.

The readings from Daniel are challenging, and contain temptation to be over analyzed. The temptation comes from an abundance of very specific numbers. Daniel has a vision that says the new sanctuary will be reconsecrated in "2300 evening and mornings" (8:14); that "the desolation of Jerusalem will last 70 years" (9:2); "From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One the rule, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.'" (9:25). Now, when you read the actual numbers, and the quote at the end of Daniel when he is told "close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end," (12:4), it would be clear that these events are represented in the book itself as having already happened. But these type of things just make it so tempting to find a secret. One way to stretch these time lines out is to use the notion, found in the psalms for example, that a day is like a year to God. Obviously, so ridiculous to pull these unrelated scriptures together, but what can you do? It is unfortunately the source of so much nonsense. Indeed adding together the life spans of the ancients to date the earth is another example of this. It is ironic that the scientific notion that quantifying data gives power to it would be imported into the faith by the anti-science crowd.

3 comments:

Matt Dick said...

So here's something you didn't address, but I find interesting.

John 2:18 contains this phrasing, in almost the same language in all the translations I have seen:

...even now many antichrists have appeared...[1]

What is interesting about this, and where my question comes up, is that there isn't an antichrist. Clearly there are more than one, all the translations make that clear. So why is it common to describe "the" antichrist?

Why is it always a discussed as if "he" is some kind of terrible foe that Christ is going to have to defeat, Mortal Kombat style? I think 2:18 (and the fact that "antichrist" is mentioned so sparingly in general) makes it clear that an antichrist is a kind of person, not a big badass champion of Satan.

In fact if you read forward of there to maybe 2:24 or so, it makes it clear that *everyone* who doesn't know Christ's love is an antichrist.

So why this interpretation of a single antichrist as a Hebrew Hitler?

nonch

Matt Dick said...

.

JimII said...

Yeah, I think "the" antichrist comes from Revelation.