Read Daniel 8
And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end… 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it. – Daniel 8:19, 26-27
I was greatly helped by a fellow seminary student who taught me how to read. You read right: a fellow seminary student taught me to read; but not the “See Jane run. Run, Jane, run,” kind of reading. He helped me to become more aware of what I was doing as I was reading things far more complex than a grade school reader. I would read portions of a story, then zone out while I was supposedly reading, and then a bit later re-engage with the text. The process he showed me enabled me to get a better handle on my reading skills and become a faster reader with greater comprehension.
You do not need to know everything about God, however, in order to believe in him. Francis Rossow, a professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri is quoted as saying, “We know precious little about God, but the little we know is precious.”
This passage from the book of Daniel fits into the category of knowing precious little, but the little being precious. After all the explanations that Daniel is offered (first hand!) he ends up being sick and appalled. But even though he doesn’t understand what he has been told, he still went about his business. Sometimes we must walk by faith.
Martin Luther is to have said, “When you come to a passage of Scripture that you do not understand, praise God and go on reading.” I am not able to find a source for that quote, but the sentiment rings true to Luther. And it seems to be good advice here.
There is much in this chapter and other chapters of Daniel which are difficult to understand. But the little we do understand lead us well to praise God. Moreover, Daniel’s example of going about his business is instructive for us all. Even though this is a disturbing vision and Daniel fails to comprehend its full meaning, he will carry on. It brings to mind the WWII poster produced in England: Keep Calm and Carry On. We might say, Keep Calm, Praise God, and Carry On.