Today is the due-date for faculty to return library books, so I've been pulling out my little post-it notes from about 25 books that I'm returning. Some of them were books I used to write an entry on apocalypticism for a new reference work coming out from De Gruyter, The Encylopedia of the Bible and Its Reception.
One of my post-it notes had some of my thoughts on some Jewish midrash on Daniel 2:22, which states that "the light" (Aramaic: Nehira') dwells with God. The Jewish sages who wrote and later reflected on the midrash (Seder Olam 30; Bereishis Rabbah 1:6) were attracted to the special (kethib) spelling of "light" here, and took it as a hidden clue (remez) that the verse may actually refer to the Messiah!
Of course, this is pure midrash (homiletical playfulness), but it does point to a key facet of apocalypticism that I mentioned in a recent post (on the Neon Bible). Apocalypticism is about illumination. The advent of the Messiah will shed powerful "light" on God's purposes and processes in dealing with the world. Apocalyptic literature shows us a messianic vision of the world were events, disasters, and blessings finally make sense and add up, instead of appearing haphazard as they often do from the perspective of the mundane.