At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him. But the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. He shall advance against countries and pass through like a flood. He shall come into the beautiful land, and tens of thousands shall fall victim, but Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites shall escape from his power. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the riches of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train. But reports from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with no one to help him.
As visions often are, there is something poetic about this one; the beauty of the writing almost throws you off the scent of the horror of this apocalypse. As you read through it, however, the formula is familiar, and it’s almost obvious that the last line is going to read “yet he shall come to his end, with no-one to help him”. I often wonder about despotic leaders today –can they not see how things are going to end for them?
Someone once told me that a prophet is someone who ‘tells it like it is’. Sometimes for us all, despotic leaders or not, we have missed the truth of our own story, and we need the voice of a prophet telling it like it is, reflecting it back to us, so that we may see it in truth.
Who might be speaking into your life or church with a prophetic voice?
I, like the kings who sought Daniel’s interpretation of their dreams, would have trusted him. There’s something about him and the way he lived, a prophet of impeccable qualities, not just a seer of visions, but a servant of God, through whom Gods’ power shone, whilst he was seemingly at the mercy of ruthless kings.
Are we as church a prophetic voice? It’s surely something we should be concerned with, but do we have the same impeccable qualities that Daniel did. Are we a humble and vulnerable enough community for God’s power to shine through us?
Perhaps we need to see our own truth in a new light. Listen out today for the voices who ‘tell it like it is’. Those whose experience of racism, sexism, disability, poverty, the ‘hostile environment’, the benefit system, hatred and abuse, speak challenge to our privilege. Is there an obvious conclusion to our story?
Challenging God, speak truth to our lives, through those we meet, live and work with.
May we also ‘tell it like it is’. Give us courage to speak our own truth, that it might influence others to examine their stories.
Then give us the wisdom, humility and courage to live that truth together as your church, no matter how hard or life changing it may be. Amen
Liz Kam, Church Related Community Worker, Levenshulme Inspire, Manchester.