Familiar Stories and Puzzling Prophecies

The book of Daniel contains some of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament, ones learned by children in Sunday School in their earliest years – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace, Belshazzar and the Handwriting on the Wall, and Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  Few people give much attention to the second half of the book, however, because it consists of four prophetic visions that are both confusing and controversial and have puzzled interpreters since the early years of the Church.  Eschatological speculation is not healthy, yet the prophetic passages at the end of the book have much to encourage us when we consider the basic principles God is trying to communicate to His people.  I have now added an adult Sunday School course on the book in which the fundamental themes that unite it are emphasized, along with the ways in which it points to Christ and can be applied to our own lives today.

Love, War, and the Meaning of Life

Ernest Hemingway incorporated much of his personal experience into his writing, including the time he spent as a volunteer ambulance driver in Italy during the First World War.  He built on his experience to craft a novel, A Farewell to Arms, that asks serious questions about the meaning of life in the context of a brutal war and a brief love affair that grew out of it.  If there is no God and death is the end of everything, how should we deal with the joys and pains of everyday life, especially as they are intensified under the pressures of slaughter and devastation on every side?  Hemingway, sadly, has no answers, but this entry in the Classic Literature website asks the student to consider the questions in the light of God’s Word.