Daniel 7:1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed.
The second half of the book of Daniel recounts a series of the prophet’s dreams and visions, and the chronology backs up several years. This particular dream took place around 552 BC, when Daniel was old. As he was lying in bed, he saw four beasts, which probably represent the Babylonian empire (625-539 BC), the Medo-Persian empire (539-331 BC), the Greek empire (331-63 BC), and the Roman empire (63 BC-AD 476).
These four empires were important to the Jewish people because they would be governed by each of them. Difficult times were ahead, but God wanted his people to know that he was in control, and that his kingdom would be established.
Daniel 7:9 As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
The eternal God is the Ancient of Days, without beginning or end. The day is coming when he will hold court and judge his opponents. Their kingdoms will come to an end, but His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14), wrote Daniel.
Empires rise and fall as kings compete for dominance in a world that does not belong to them. But the day is coming when God will take back his world and give it to his people. Then the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever (Daniel 7:18), wrote Daniel.
Daniel 7:13-14 In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him.
This is an important passage for understanding Jesus Christ, since his favorite title for himself was Son of Man. It is a confusing title because there are two ways to understand it. Ezekiel was called son of man to emphasize his humanity. But Daniel’s son of man is clearly divine, since he rightly received worship. Jesus’ listeners would have to decide whether Jesus was merely human or also divine.
When he was on trial for his life, Jesus was clear about which son of man he was. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? I am, said Jesus. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:61-62), he said.
Since Jesus identified himself as Daniel’s son of man, he was claiming to be divine. Since the religious leaders did not believe Jesus was divine, they considered his words to be blasphemy. You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? They all condemned him as worthy of death (Mark 14:64).
Daniel 7:21—22 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
This horn probably refers the antichrist who will appear at the end of the age. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people (Daniel 7:25), wrote Daniel. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God . . . . whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 4, 9), wrote Paul.
The kingdoms of this world are in revolt against the kingdom of God, and will oppress God’s people until the end. We should not be surprised by persecution, nor should we try to establish the kingdom of God here and now. We should faithfully evangelize and wait for Christ’s return to establish his kingdom forever.
Daniel 7:27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High.
The kingdom of God will not be completely different from the kingdoms of this age. There will be similarities, but without any death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4), wrote John. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid (Micah 4:4), wrote Micah. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox (Isaiah 65:25), wrote Isaiah.
The kingdom of God will be filled with love for God and neighbor, and there will not be any curse (Revelation 22:3). The potential for human and social development will be unhindered, and we will enjoy the world as it was meant to be forever–yes, forever and ever (Daniel 7:18), wrote Daniel. This is the Bible’s view of the future, and it will surely come to pass.
Reflection and Review
Why is God called the Ancient of Days?
How is Jesus like Daniel’s son of man?
What should we expect in the age to come?