Daniel discusses The End. A series of visions reveals how it will all go down. Four kingdoms will rise from four corners of the Earth and battle. The Redeemer will be martyred in horrible fashion. Another leader will arise – this one evil in purpose and deed – who will actively lead the world astray. He will be held accountable. He will perish, and the kingdom of God will reemerge, never to be destroyed again.
These messages come in the form of harrowing dream sequences of impenetrable metaphors. A lion, a leopard, and a bear meet a shrouded, dark animal with large iron teeth battle until the latter is set on fire. Kings slay one another after years of war. Times and days ticking down, numbers upon numbers and dates, prophesy, mumbled phrases of dread, and pitch. All these are dominoes falling in a row until the last one drops, ending the activity. Stillness and fright.
“This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.” (7:28)
But this will not do, because we demand permanence. God birthed man with a severe defect, a desire a fear an apprehension. Nothing lasts. It is so much more than death – some mistake it as a dread of death, but it is not. It is permanence, it is transience. Do not let yourself become addicted to permanence, for you will find yourself disappointed, even distraught, at the transience with which we live.
So what will the end look like? Sulfur and horsemen and judgment, but no no it is just plain old destruction of what we have grown accustomed to, this life all of it. It is justice. Since when has justice felt any good? It is the time that we are stacked up against one another and the spiritual yardstick measures us from the top of our wisdom down to the floor. For all are unworthy, except some. And all have fallen short, but some have dug in by the nails of their fingertips.
Some will end. Some will not.
I never had an issue with the end. Endings tend to be the best part for the ability to leave us in want of more. And this existence has made us addicted to continuity – a series of moments strung together to form a narrative – a life. The ending of that is okay; it does not boggle my mind. It is after, that guaranteed after. Eternal and unending happiness – but is that life? No it is something else entirely, and we are told it is better. But it is not life. It is not continuity what is it?
It is something else entirely.
That is the leap of faith. Not that you need to change your life now to access the after; it is that you have no idea what the after is. Because it is not life.