Eternal Hope – Part 15

Eternal Hope – Part 15

Eternal Hope
Part 15


God grants assurance to the nation that He will not revoke His commitment to them. From Exodus forward, I know of no place where God makes that commitment to an individual, with the possible exception of people like Jeremiah (“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations”).[1] Elijah, caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot, may be another exception.

God promised David, who committed adultery and murder, “Thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever (olam) before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever (olam).”[2] Even though Moses struck the rock, God said of him, “And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”[3] Both men stand as conundrums: They are the only people, of which I am aware, of whom God charged them with willful sin, and still maintained a relationship with them. With all the others, such as Jeremiah, Elijah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God never charged them with a crime. God, if He comments at all, calls them righteous. For example Daniel says: “Then said Daniel unto the king: ‘O king, live for ever! My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me; forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.’”[4]

But God does hold the individual accountable, sending judgment when he does wrong, as illustrated by the following: “Then a spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward; and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; and I saw in the midst of them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And He said unto me: ‘Son of man, these are the men that devise iniquity, and that give wicked counsel in this city; that say: The time is not near to build houses! this city is the caldron, and we are the flesh. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man’… And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said: ‘Ah Lord GOD! wilt Thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?’”[5]

Reflections on Daniel

Daniel makes reference to life after death: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting (olam) life, and some to reproaches and everlasting (olam) abhorrence. And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever (olam) and ever (ad).”[6] He also references the “eternal” nature of God’s kingdom in passages such as when he interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and says, “And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never (alam)[7] be destroyed; nor shall the kingdom be left to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, but it shall stand for ever (alam).”[8] Again, when Daniel interprets his own dream, he says, “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever (alam), even for ever (alam) and ever (alam).”[9] Finally, when God gives Daniel the sequence of events surrounding the coming of Messiah, He says, “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting (olam) righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.”[10]

Daniel makes reference to his own sin,[11] when reminding God that the seventy years of exile prophesied by Jeremiah had come to an end, but apart from this, he doesn’t mention man’s alienation from God and the need for God to provide a way whereby man can spend eternity with Him. The “eternal hope” found in this book deals with the nation rather than the individual.

Later, when Daniel confesses the sins of his people, reminding God that the promised 70 years of captivity had come to a close, he says: “O LORD, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong compassions and forgivenesses; for we have rebelled against Him; neither have we hearkened to the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, and have turned aside, so as not to hearken to Thy voice; and so there hath been poured out upon us the curse and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God; for we have sinned against Him.”[12] Daniel identifies with the nation, saying that he rebelled and sinned against God, when in fact he had not. The nation sinned and Daniel was part of the nation. Daniel’s fate was inextricably tied to that of Israel. When God answers through His messenger Gabriel, He says: “At the beginning of thy supplications a word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore look into the word, and understand the vision. Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.”[13] After assuring Daniel that he is “greatly beloved,” God promises at a future time that He will “finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity.” What God will do regarding the nation has nothing to do with whether Daniel is righteous or sinful. Nothing in this prophecy, or any other in Daniel, suggests that Messiah must atone for the nation.

At the end of the book the angel says: “But go thou thy way till the end be; and thou shalt rest, and shalt stand up to thy lot, at the end of the days.”[14] Some interpret “stand up to thy lot” to mean “rise again for your allotted portion” (cf. NAS), in which case we have a clear promise of eternal life offered by God. As far as I can tell, this constitutes the sum of what Daniel says about the eternal hope of God’s people. Daniel does introduce the certainty that all men will be resurrected and stand before God in judgment. Thus, it seems that although the hope of the righteous Hebrew is tied to the Messianic hope of the nation, Daniel now promises that the unrighteous Hebrew will not partake of that hope. “It is most noteworthy that this doctrine of the resurrection of the wicked is attested only three or, at most, four times in Jewish literature prior to the Christian era… Although this book is the forerunner and herald of most subsequent apocalyptic developments, its own outlook is in the main confined to this world. Its hopes are directed, not to the after-world, with its retributions for the individual, but to the setting up of a world-empire of Israel, which is to displace the heathen, to an eternal Messianic kingdom on earth. Accordingly, it extends neither promise nor threatening to the individual as such, but only to those individuals who have in an extraordinary degree helped or hindered the advent of this kingdom… Thus the claims of the individual are only very partially recognized in the eschatological system of Daniel.”[15] Daniel contains no specific reference to Messiah or His ministry, with the exception of His being inferred in Daniel’s dream of the Seventy Weeks.[16]

Reflections on the Minor Prophets

Hosea – a contemporary of Amos, Isaiah, and Micah, he calls attention to an important component in a person’s walk with God, first articulated by King David: “For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.”[17] Isaiah emphasizes the same thing: God listens to a person’s prayers with a stethoscope.[18]

Israel, like the wife of Hosea, is a whore. Nevertheless, God commits Himself to her irrevocably: “And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever (olam); yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.”[19] As far as I can tell, this is the only reference to the eternal. “After two days will He revive us, on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence,”[20] refers to the nation, and this transformation may be similar to what Ezekiel says in his parable of the dry bones: “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O My people.”[21]

Joel – God promises a glorious future to Judah: “But Judah shall be inhabited for ever (olam), and Jerusalem from generation to generation.”[22] As far as I can tell, this is the only reference to the eternal in Joel. In Acts 2 Peter quotes the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”[23] Joel applies this prophecy to the nation: “And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is none else; and My people shall never be ashamed.”[24]

Amos – a book of judgment, nevertheless gives a word of hope to Israel: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations, upon whom My name is called, saith the LORD that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”[25] Like so often in the Old Testament, when God commits Himself to Israel, He blends the temporal with the eternal. I find no other reference to the eternal in Amos, with the exception of God saying that “His anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever (nesah).”[26]


In the OT if a nation such as Edom acts unjustly toward Israel, as depicted in Obadiah, God condemns the offending nation. Rahab the harlot betrayed her country into the hands of Israel in order to save her life, and because of this God records her in the “Hall of Fame”[27] and includes her in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.[28] I know of no instance where God rebukes Israel or holds her accountable for injustices committed against other nations. When Great Britain (and other nations as well) perceived itself as God’s chosen, inheriting the mantle of Israel, it encouraged the imperialism of the nineteenth century.

Grateful that “He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,”


[1] Jeremiah 1:5, JPS
[2] 2 Samuel 7:16, JPS
[3] Deuteronomy 34:10, JPS
[4] Daniel 6:21-22, JPS, emphasis mine
[5] Ezekiel 11:1-4, 13 JPS
[6] Daniel 12:2-3, JPS
[7] The word alam is the cognate in Hebrew, olam, and shows the Hebrew tendency to change an accented long “a” to “o.” Op cit, Harris, Theological Wordbook of the OT, p. 1055
[8] Daniel 2:44, JPS
[9] Daniel 7:18, JPS
[10] Daniel 9:24, JPS
[11] Cf. Daniel 9:20
[12] Daniel 9:8-11, JPS
[13] Daniel 9:23-24, JPS
[14] Daniel 12:13, JPS
[15] Op cit, Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, pages 133-134, 180-181
[16] Daniel 11:37: “Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers…” This reference to Antichrist seems to suggest he is a Jew.
[17] Hosea 6:6, JPS
[18] Cf., e.g., Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 57:15; 66:2
[19] Hosea 2:19, JPS
[20] Hosea 6:2, JPS
[21] Ezekiel 37:13, JPS
[22] Joel 3:20, JPS
[23] Joel 2:28-30, JPS
[24] Verse 27, JPS
[25] Amos 9:11-15, JPS
[26] Amos 1:11, JPS
[27] Hebrews 11:31
[28] Matthew 1:5