Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God. His holy mountain is fair and lifted high, the joy of all the earth. On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place, stands the city of the great king. In her palaces God has shown himself to be a sure refuge.
For behold, the kings of the earth assembled and swept forward together. They saw, and were dumbfounded; dismayed, they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in labour, as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish. As we had heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, the city of our God: God has established her for ever.
We have waited on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple. As with your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is full of justice. Let Mount Zion rejoice and the daughters of Judah be glad, because of your judgements, O Lord. Walk about Zion and go round about her; count all her towers; consider well her bulwarks; pass through her citadels, That you may tell those who come after that such is our God for ever and ever. It is he that shall be our guide for evermore.
Why do you glory in evil, you tyrant, while the goodness of God endures continually?
You plot destruction, you deceiver; your tongue is like a sharpened razor. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than the word of truth. You love all words that hurt, O you deceitful tongue. Therefore God shall utterly bring you down; he shall take you and pluck you out of your tent and root you out of the land of the living.
The righteous shall see this and tremble; they shall laugh you to scorn, and say:
‘This is the one who did not take God for a refuge,
but trusted in great riches and relied upon wickedness.’
But I am like a spreading olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the goodness of God for ever and ever. I will always give thanks to you for what you have done; I will hope in your name, for your faithful ones delight in it.
When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I tried to understand it. Then someone appeared standing before me, having the appearance of a man, and I heard a human voice by the Ulai, calling, ‘Gabriel, help this man understand the vision.’ So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I became frightened and fell prostrate. But he said to me, ‘Understand, O mortal, that the vision is for the time of the end.’
As he was speaking to me, I fell into a trance, face to the ground; then he touched me and set me on my feet. He said, ‘Listen, and I will tell you what will take place later in the period of wrath; for it refers to the appointed time of the end. As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. The male goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn between its eyes is the first king. As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.
At the end of their rule, when the transgressions have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance shall arise, skilled in intrigue.
He shall grow strong in power, shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does.
He shall destroy the powerful and the people of the holy ones. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall be great. Without warning he shall destroy many and shall even rise up against the Prince of princes. But he shall be broken, and not by human hands. The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. As for you, seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.’
So I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I arose and went about the king’s business. But I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.’
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.
But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Heavenly Lord, you long for the world’s salvation: stir us from apathy, restrain us from excess and revive in us new hope that all creation will one day be healed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.