Monday, July 08, 2013

Daniel 7: Kingdom Visions

Daniel has a night vision of his own with multiple scenes about four great beasts that come out of the sea (Daniel 7:2-3), representing the same four kingdoms depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2). Pictured as being ferocious beasts, these kingdoms seek to dominate weaker nations and claim prey for themselves. These beastly kingdoms are symbolized by a winged lion (Babylon), a blood-thirsty bear (Medo-Persia), a swift-footed leopard (Greece), and a strong, ten-horned, iron-toothed monster described as “dreadful and terrible” (Rome), respectively. In the end, they are all toppled, although this time it is not by a rock but by a person (vv. 7-12). After seeing a heavenly court scene where justice is meted out to the beasts, Daniel witnesses the coronation of a king:

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

Notice, the “coming” of the “Son of Man,” is not about coming down to earth, but about going up to heaven and coming into the presence of God. The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in the Book of Acts when Jesus is “taken up” in the “clouds” to heaven (Acts 1:9). 

Daniel’s prophetic vision continues: "And to Him was given dominion, and glory and a kingdom.” His reign takes place in heaven but it is over the earth. Daniel then reveals the purpose: “That all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” Notice the people who serve him are on earth and they include others than Jews. They are Gentiles living in all nations and speaking all languages. But Jesus himself is in heaven. 

Daniel’s vision also speaks to the perpetuity of the kingdom. The one on the throne will rule forever. 

            His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
            Which shall not pass away,
            And His kingdom the one
            Which shall not be destroyed. 

While all other kingdoms will pass away, the one ruled by the “Son of Man” will never topple. 

Since Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” (see Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:10; 16:29; 24:30; 25:31), he likely views his kingdom mission in light of Daniel’s vision. This means he never intended to overthrow Rome in the way the people imagined, but to ascend into heaven and receive a kingdom over which he would rule.

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