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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Take 7

I don’t know if Daniel played an instrument – but there’s no question the man understood jazz.

That’s because Daniel 9:20-27 is an extended riff on Jeremiah 9:10-14. In Jeremiah, remember, God promised to bring back His people from Babylon when 70-years had passed. That’s good . . .

But it’s not good enough for Daniel. He’s not satisfied with the national restoration of Israel; no, he wants the spiritual restoration of the whole world!

So Daniel picks up Jeremiah’s theme and plays with it. Builds on it. Punches it up with motifs from Leviticus (the cleansing of the Temple), Isaiah (the coming Messiah), and some of Daniel’s own previous works (the Abomination of Desolation) – and then he multiplies it all by seven!

If the result is hard to follow . . . well, jazz isn’t always easy listening.

But in the process, we learn that prophecy is more than just a timetable – it’s more than just a series of rigid schedules that announce when God is supposed to arrive.

No, prophecy is creative. It’s singing the Lord’s songs in a whole new way; it’s taking the old, old standards and making them your own.

In short, Daniel has finally found a way to answer the question of Psalm 137 – the question of “how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

For as Daniel knows, you start by playing all the notes that are there.

Then you play all the notes that should be there.

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