First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3

The Day of the Lord

1 At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.

World English Bible

When the millennium approached, many people were concerned about the corruption of society and the pending end of the world. Such fears are not new; they extend back 2200 years to the book of Daniel. Before Daniel, Jewish prophecy was analogous; it could be clearly interpreted. Full of obscure symbols that can be interpreted many different ways, Daniel is one of the first books that includes "apocalyptic" visions as prophecy. And Daniel's concern focused on the "day of the Lord" (i.e., Judgement Day).

Even in a time of great stress, Daniel emphasizes God's protection in the person of Michael (the archangel) [1]. But, what of the righteous who died and did not receive protection? Here, Daniel introduces the concepts of the resurrection and the final judgement [2]. Notice, the evil would be shamed as their punishment, while the faithful would have reputations "like the stars in the sky," bright and forever [3]. The just (i.e., the faithful) have a place in the creation ("the firmament") like the stars. Daniel connected moral living with God's creation; at the end of time, everything, including morality, would be set "right."

Daniel saw the unity of nature and morality in a way that Western culture easily overlooks. But we should not make connection in terms of karma, the eternal payback. God's judgement is his mercy and his love; these are the divine qualities we believe in, not in moral retribution as a "law of the universe." Daniel saw the connection between creation and morality in God. The only way to live that connection is in a faith relationship.

How does your faith help you face the unknown and the frightening?