Daniel Episode 8: The Vision of the Son of Man
January 31, 2024 | Andy Davis
Prophecy, Jesus Christ, Christ and the Old Testament
Daniel had one of the most significant prophecies of the Old Testament about Jesus, the Son of Man. The vision also tells about world history with the four beasts from the sea.
- PODCAST TRANSCRIPT -
Welcome to the Two Journeys Bible Study podcast. This podcast is just one of the many resources available to you for free from Two Journeys Ministry. If you're interested in learning more, just head over to twojourneys.org. Now on to today's episode. This is episode eight in our Daniel Bible study podcast. This episode is entitled The Vision of the Son of Man, where we'll discuss Daniel 7:1-28. I'm Wes Treadway, and I'm here with Pastor Andy Davis. Andy, what are we going to see in these incredible verses we're looking at today?
How can I even begin to answer that question? What we're going to see is we're going to see the rise of four empires like beasts up out of the sea, and they will reign one after the other. And then in the middle of that terrible reign of the beast, the fourth beast, in the middle of the discussion of that we have a vision of the heavenly throne, the throne of Almighty God, the Ancient of Days. And we have, I think, arguably, the most significant prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament as one like a Son of Man who comes on the clouds of heaven into the presence of the Ancient of Days and receives from him sovereign glory and power and dominion over the entire earth, so that all the peoples and nations and men of all languages should worship and serve him. This I think may be the most significant prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament because Jesus consistently called himself Son of Man, and I think it refers back to this. Also, the citation of this prophecy is what got him executed by the high priest as he charged him with blasphemy. So, this is a very significant prophecy, I say up there with Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, those three as the most significant prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament.
Well, let me go ahead and read Daniel chapter 7:
"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, 'I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, 'Arise, devour much flesh.'
"After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this, I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And 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 one that shall not be destroyed.
As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 'These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth, but the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.'
Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the 10 horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
Thus he said: "As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.'
"Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart."
Andy, what were the circumstances of Daniel's vision, and what does Daniel mean when he says he wrote down the substance or sum of the matter?
Right, so it's the first year of Belshazzar's reign. Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon, and we talked about him in Daniel chapter 5. Of course, he was there when the writing and the wall came, and that very night he was slain and his kingdom was given over to Darius the Mede. And so this is the last king of Babylon. So, this is a key moment. And Belshazzar who was an inept and immoral and corrupt man began his reign. So that was the timing.
And Daniel had an overwhelming series of visions or one dream and it says he wrote down the substance of it because there's no way that his words could capture exactly what he saw. And so there is a sense of the inadequacy of human language. And Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 13 when he talks about tongues and prophecy, seeing through a glass darkly and thinking like a child and reasoning like a child, et cetera. We do the best we can to put our understanding of God into words, but there's a limit to the words. We see the same thing in Ezekiel 1 where he says, "This was the image of the likeness of the glory of God, and I fell face down." So, there's only so much that language can capture. So, he wrote down effectively the sum of it, but the Holy Spirit enabled him to do his work so well that we get what we need to get out of his vision.
What's the first thing Daniel saw in his dream and what does this represent?
He sees the four winds of heaven churning up a great sea. And I think what this refers to is- the sea refers to the nations, planet earth with tribes and languages and peoples and nations, people of every culture. And the turbulence of the sea implies great power and great disorder, it seems, chaos and mystery. Especially mystery, you think about the great sea beasts that are below the surface of the sea and people are terrified of them because they can't see them. I remember when Jaws came out, everyone was afraid because you just don't know where it is. There's mystery, so you can't see down below the surface of the ocean. And so, the ocean I think represents the world with all of its peoples, and the four winds of heaven churning them represents the turbulence of the nations. As Isaiah says, "Oh, the turbulence of many nations, they churn like the churning of the sea." So that's an image that we have here.
So, we think about sinful men divided into subgroups by their tribes and languages and peoples and nations, pockets of nations, and there's turbulence and there's churning and the winds are blowing on them. So, it's a picture of chaos and distress and power.
What does Daniel see next in his dream and how does he describe what he sees in verse 3?
So up out of this turbulent sea representing the nations, come four great beasts, and it's very clear in this chapter- the angel that interprets it says the four beasts are four kingdoms or four empires. So, they're not just regular kingdoms, they are like king of kings type empires. The type where a major king like the king of Assyria or Babylon or these other empires, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks and the Romans would come, and they would conquer more minor kings and kind of absorb them into the empire and allow them to keep their thrones as puppet kings. So these are massive empires, these four beasts. I think they're symbolized by beasts because there's a mindless destructiveness to them other than the first beast which changes and the mind or the heart of a man is given to it. I think that represents the transformation that came over Nebuchadnezzar when his mind was changed from that of a beast to that of a man.
And so, the idea of these empires is that they are savage, they're bloodthirsty, they're like mindless killers. Like again, going back to Jaws, you think about the eyes of a great white, it's just there's no compassion. It's like they're dead eyes. And they just eat because the shark eats because it's designed to eat. It's designed to destroy. And so also these four beasts, it seems to represent mindless killing machines. That's what the empires are like.
You just spoke of the first beast in verse 4, and you would say that that refers to Nebuchadnezzar and his both humiliation and his restoration as a king and representative of an empire. How does Daniel describe the second beast? What was it commanded to do and what does this represent?
Yeah, okay. First of all, lining up the beasts with actual empires is something that most interpreters do. We do this also from Daniel 2, with the statue of the man, remember, with the head of gold and the chest and arms of silver, and belly and thighs of bronze and legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly clay. And we're told that each of the sections of this statue represents empires, one after the other. So, it seems it makes sense that these beasts would represent also a succession of massive empires, and then we line them up with history.
So, the first must be the Babylonian Empire, and as I mentioned, it's transformed. And I just want to say big picture as you listen to this. What we Christians need to do in the 21st century is realize the timelessness of these lessons, not just in terms of the Antichrist and the end of the world, but of God's sovereign control over every era of human history and over every seemingly insurmountably, powerful and destructive tyrannical government. That God's sovereign over them, and that we should not live in fear though we may suffer. The saints are given over to the fourth beast, and he dominates them and defeats them and kills many of them.
So, we understand that there's a lot of suffering involved with this, but we need to see that God is sovereign. Sovereign over the American political system, sovereign over presidential elections, sovereign over every nation, over nations like Russia invading Ukraine, God rules over all of these things. So, we need to keep that in mind.
And you could ask, well, can Christians be involved in government? Well, Daniel was involved very much in the government of both the Babylonians and later the Medo-Persians, and he was a tremendous counselor to the king. And in chapter 4, he gave advice, strong advice to Nebuchadnezzar before his mind was changed to that of an animal. And he said, "Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your wickedness by doing what is right, and your tyranny by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue."
And so that's the role that Christians can have. We're salt, we're light. We can speak truth to governing officials and maybe mitigate their beast-like tyrannies as every human government seems to go after the same thing, which is money, power, pleasure, domination, this kind of thing. It's natural. And so therefore Christians can be involved in government in many settings and give that kind of counsel.
And so, in the case of the first beast, its mind is transformed. It's not beast-like anymore. It's raised up on two legs like a man and it's able to think and reason like a man and it's less like a beast. So, I think that represents the influence that a man like Daniel can have over a ruler like Nebuchadnezzar. That's the best-case scenario. We're not going to do better than that as Christians with secular government.
Anyway, so the first beast, a lion with wings of an eagle represents Babylon. And the second beast is like a bear, and it's raised up, it says on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth, and it's told, "Get up and eat your fill of flesh." And so, this is the very picture of what I said of a beast that is mindless. It's a mindless killer, a destroyer of peoples, and it's just in it to eat. It's like nature "red and tooth and claw," as one poet put it. And so, this is a bear, and it represents the Medo-Persians and the Persians were much stronger than the Medes. They tended to dominate. And so, we generally think of it as the Persian Empire when Alexander the Great defeated... He was defeating the Persians, so the Medes kind of receded. So, you got that sense of an unequal, twofold kingdom.
Then the third beast comes along, and that beast is a leopard. Now, when you think of a leopard... I don't know Wes, what do you think? What's the attribute that you ascribe to a leopard?
Agile. I don't generally think of wings which are introduced in verse 6.
Yeah, I think so. I would say similar to a cheetah. What would you think of a cheetah? What's the primary attribute of a cheetah?
All right, and I think leopards are like that too. Only this leopard has wings, so it's superfast and I think this must refer... Of course we know it refers to the Greek Empire, but it must refer to the rapidity with which Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire. And in chapter 8, the next chapter, we're going to see him moving across the ground without touching it. Again, it's the image of speed. He comes instantly and within a series of shattering battles, he ends the Persian Empire. I mean, he died at age 32, so he was a young man, he was like a teenager, 18 or 19 years old when he began conquering, and he's done by early 30s. So that's a very, very fast conquest. And so, it's an image of speed, a leopard with wings on its back, and it also has four heads.
And so, we know that when Alexander the Great died, he had no successor, no son. And so, the empire was divided into four, his four generals taking each of them a fourth part of the kingdom. And so, we've got these four heads, and you're going to see the same thing in chapter 8 with the division into four. At the height of its power it is cut off, and it's divided into four. Four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven, it says in Daniel 8. So here you've got these four heads. And then we got the fourth beast.
Yeah, what kind of beast is the fourth? How does Daniel describe its appearance and what other details does he give about this beast's appearance and activity?
All right, first of all, it's not identified. It's not a lion, a leopard, a bear, an eagle. No animal is named. Just beast. And so, I think it's just different. And we know this is Rome, and so fundamentally, this fourth beast, terrifying, frightening and very powerful, still holds the record and will hold the record for the length of time of a cohesive domination. You're really talking about essentially if you include the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, about a thousand-year reign. Nobody's going to come close to that. Just the cycle of events is just much too fast for that these days. Nobody's come close. Generally the mighty empires last a couple of centuries at most, the Mongols, others, et cetera. But this was just...
There was an intelligence, a cohesiveness, a sense of pride of heritage that the Romans had, a system of law, of a genius of engineering, of building roads and aqueducts and cities and organization. It was this vast monster of power and destruction, so powerful that no one could topple it, no one could take it on. Their determination to rule and to dominate was unlike any other that had ever been. It had large iron teeth. So, the idea of iron teeth is its devouring, but it's not worn down by its devouring. It doesn't get tired as it devours, it just eats and eats. And it crushed and devoured its victims, trampled underfoot whatever was left, it was different from all the other beasts, and it had 10 horns. Horns represent centers of power or kings, rulers one after the other or all at the same time, depends on how you interpret it. Anyway, this was Rome.
And you think about the zealots, think about the Jews that rose up and decided to take Rome on in the year AD 70, and you have no chance. I mean this thing's going to last for another 900 years in the east, so you have literally no chance. And so that's what went on. So, it's the fourth beast.
What then happens in verse 8 and how does this fit in the broader scope of Daniel chapter 7?
Okay, so up comes a little horn and the little horn is, let’s just cut to the chase. A little horn represents Antichrist, it represents a blasphemous ruler who defies heaven and speaks words of blasphemy. We're going to find out much more about him later in this chapter and also in chapter 11. So, I think there are many antichrists. There's a Greek antichrist, Antiochus Epiphanes, there's a Roman antichrist, which I think is the final phase of the antichrist system, which is the Antichrist connected with this fourth beast. But all of them, all of the self-worshiping, god-like Roman emperors were antichrist to some degree.
What's the significance of the fact that we go from this description of these four great beasts to the heavenly throne room, and what do we learn in verses 9 and 10?
When I was preaching through Revelation, I got to chapter 4 and it says, "After this I looked and there was a door standing open in heaven, and the voice I first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I'll show you what must take place after this.' At once I was in the Spirit, and I went through the door and there was a throne in heaven with someone seated on it." And when I preached on that passage, Revelation 4:3, I said that throne is the central reality of the entire universe. It is a throne of Almighty God, and everything circles around it. Everything circles around it.
You think about earlier at staff devotion today we were talking about the blasphemies and the boasting of Assyria, and the Assyrians were boasting about all of their conquests. And God through the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 37, "Do you not realize that long ago I planned all of your conquests? I planned them, and I gave them to you. I'm the one that gave you the kingdom." The idea of many gods, polytheism, tribal deities and all that, it's completely false. There is one God and only one God, and he rules over the entire earth. And all of the nations, all of the nations, Isaiah 40 tells us, are like a drop from a bucket and dust on the scales. They're nothing to God. God rules over all of the kings of the earth as he pleases. Nebuchadnezzar said that at the end of chapter 4.
And so fundamentally this throne in heaven rules over everything. And this is I believe the central lesson and contribution of the Book of Daniel as a whole. God's throne rules over all nations. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We have nothing to fear from any government ever. So that's what I get out of Daniel 7:9.
"This is I believe the central lesson and contribution of the Book of Daniel as a whole. God's throne rules over all nations. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We have nothing to fear from any government ever."
How about verse 10? This describes thousands upon thousands that attend this heavenly throne and the 10,000 times 10,000 that stood before him. What does this mean, and what does it mean that the court was seated, and the books were open?
Yeah, it's a terrifying image. It's called the Ancient of Days, and I think that ties back to Psalm 90. Before the mountains were formed or anything was made in the universe, before all of that, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. God is the Ancient of Days. He's the eternal, unchanging creator of all things. That's God the Ancient of Days. He takes his seat, he's on a throne and from his throne flows a river of fire. Now that fire represents his wrath and his judgment. We have the same image in Ezekiel where the angels, the cherubim scoop up fire that's moving between them and they hurl it down to the earth. We have the same thing in Revelation as well. The fire represents judgment poured out from the righteous throne of God on the wicked sinners of the earth. A river of fire is flowing from God's throne.
"God is the Ancient of Days. He's the eternal, unchanging creator of all things. That's God the Ancient of Days. He takes his seat, he's on a throne and from his throne flows a river of fire. Now that fire represents his wrath and his judgment."
Isn't it beautiful that in Revelation we have a river of life flowing from the throne? The same throne, but that's not judgment for us, it's life, and we drink from it and we live. But this image is one of wrath and destruction, of a river of fire is flowing. A throne was flaming with fire. Its wheels were all ablaze. I believe that the fire, as in Ezekiel also, represents holiness. God is a consuming fire. And so that purity.
So, then you mentioned the thousands upon thousands attended him; 10,000 times 10,000 stood before him. Being the geek that I was, I did the math a long time ago, that's a hundred million. These are angels and it's just representative. There's more angels than can be counted, but let's just stick with a hundred million. What would that look like? A hundred million angels. And they're all around them. Then it says the court is seated, and the books are opened. And in Revelation we also have this idea of books. The books represent the deeds and actions and words of humans. So, everything's recorded. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." So, these are the history books of God and on the basis of what is written in the books, judgment happens. So, this is the heavenly court, and God is going to bring judgment on the nations and on the rulers and on the peoples for what they have done.
Why do you think Daniel interrupts his vision of the heavenly courtroom with the boastful words the horn was speaking? And what happened to the fourth beast and the other beasts?
Yeah, it's interesting that 11 and 12 just interjects, and then we've got the Son of Man vision coming into the throne. So, we're still up in the heavenly realms. I think what the Holy Spirit's doing through Daniel here is saying this is relevant. The throne in heaven is relevant. God is tracking and intensely interested in what's going on earth. Some Greeks had ideas of a god who couldn't care less. He's like the Stoics side of that. The gods are too pure to even care about us. All right? Same thing with the Deus. The idea of God who made everything and walked away. Just let it run. The God of the Bible is not that way. He's intensely interested. Like you think about Exodus where it says, "The Lord saw his people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in bondage in Egypt, and he heard their cries by reason of their taskmaster, and he looked down on them and was concerned." God is tracking what's going on with his people and with the nations.
And so this interjection of verse 11 and 12 in the midst of the heavenly throne shows the heavenly throne is intensely involved with and interested in what's going on on earth. Now, meanwhile, the horn is speaking blasphemous, boastful words in reference to the throne of fire. It's really laughable. It's like Psalm 2, "The one enthroned in heaven laughs." You can't even come close to touching me, and you're blaspheming and boasting. And so, it's again, a way to comfort us who are dominated by the tyrants generally.
As I've said many times before, the saints on earth are generally not the movers and shakers but are the moved and shaken. We are the ones trampled by the fourth beast. We're the ones crushed by the tyrant. So, the boastful, arrogant words of the tyrant are terrifying for us because he's so much more powerful than we are, but they're laughable to God and they will be the basis of God's judgment on that arrogant blasphemer. So, he watches, the boastful words the horn is speaking are laughable compared to the power of Almighty God. And then as it turns out, the beast on which this horn was based is slain and its body is destroyed. So, God effortlessly puts an end to these empires.
And then we have this sidebar, other beasts have been stripped of their authority, were allowed to live for a period of time. I think what ends up happening is, let's go back to away from the visionary dreamlike aspect here. We're talking about peoples and nations, and when a people loses power, they don't cease to exist. Think about the Spanish Empire. They were the most powerful dominant empire on earth after Columbus and on for the next couple of centuries, Cortez and all that. They lost power, but they still exist, right? There are still Spanish people. The Egyptians lost power, but there's still Egyptians. The Romans lost power, there are still their descendants, et cetera. The same thing with the Mongols. You can see effects of Mongol peoples all over Central Asia, et cetera. They're still around, they're mingled in. So, they're part of the tapestry of human experience. So, they're allowed to live and to exist, but they don't have power. They're not beasts anymore. They're part of the mosaic of human history.
Now in verses 13 and 14, we get this Son of Man vision. We began speaking in the introduction about the significance of these verses. I wonder if you might speak to the significance of the Son of Man being worshiped in verse 14 and talk more about how this relates to even Christ's statement that, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Yeah, so I'll say it again, Daniel 7:13-14, I would say arguably the most significant prophecy in the Old Testament. The only reason I say arguably is Isaiah 53 explains substitutionary atonement and the significance of the death of Jesus and how he saves our souls. What could be more significant than that? And the answer to what could be more significant than that is who it is that died for us and for what purpose did he die. And right in these verses, we have the purpose, the reason that Jesus came to earth. The reason that he does all things is so that all nations and peoples would worship him.
Now here's the thing. I want to say something very, very important. Your translation ESV, like most translations uses the word serve. In verse 14, "he was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language served him." But the Aramaic word used here and this section of Daniel is an Aramaic. The word used here is a religious word and it's very similar to, "I'm the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me." Or as Jesus said to Satan, worship the Lord your God and what? Serve him only. So that means worship.
So basically, what's significant about the Son of Man vision is first of all, he's human. Son of Man means a human being, but he's riding on the clouds of heaven, coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days, who is God the Father. He's allowed right into his presence, which no created being would ever be. He receives from him, the text says, authority, glory and sovereign power. So that directly ties to the famous statement in the Great Commission, "All authority and heaven and earth has been given to me." This is the giving right here. He gives him power over the world. Jesus has that power. Authority, glory and sovereign power. Look at those words. He has authority. He has the right to rule. All right? John 5, he has the right to be the judge because he is the Son of Man. Jesus said that. "I'm the Son of Man. I get to judge everyone." I think that might derive from this passage.
And glory is given to him, like the glory of God is given, the radiant, shining glory, sovereign power, and peoples, nations and men of every language worship him. That happens as a result of the Great Commission of people hearing the gospel and believing in Jesus. And in the end in heaven, we'll all be worshiping and praising Jesus. And that is very significant, the worship aspect, because Jesus did say to Satan... When Satan said, 'I'll give you the whole world, all the kingdoms of the world in their glory if you'll bow down and worship me," Jesus said, "Away from me, for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." And yet after he is raised from the dead, and he appears to the apostles and appears to specifically doubting Thomas, and Thomas sees that he has risen from the dead. He sees the nail marks and the wound in the side and all that. And he says, "Stop doubting and believe." What does Thomas say to Jesus? "My Lord and my God." That's open worship. He's worshiping him as God. Based on Daniel 7:14, that's completely appropriate. And others worshiped Jesus as well. They fell down before him and worshiped him, and Jesus accepted that worship.
And then it says of his kingdom, his dominion is an everlasting dominion that will never pass away. His kingdom is one that will never end. It will never be destroyed. So all right, putting it all together, I believe this is why Jesus called himself Son of Man over and over. This was his name for himself, Son of Man. And so therefore he's pointing to this prophecy as super significant. Furthermore, on trial before the high priest, the high priest getting nowhere with all of his false witnesses charged him under oath. He said, "I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you're the Christ, the Son of God." He said, "I am." And then he said, "In the future you'll see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven." A direct connection here with Daniel 7.
Verses 15-18 really give us both Daniel's reaction and somewhat of a quick summary of the dream. And what we've seen thus far. It says, "As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things." So, Daniel is overwhelmed by what he's seen and he's asking for some help. "I want to understand." And then interestingly, we get this brief summary here in 17 and 18. "These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever." We get the longer explanation and the attention that's given in verses 19-27 to the fourth beast is striking. Why does Daniel do that? And what does he unfold here as this dream, this vision is interpreted?
All right. First of all, I think this is marvelous, verse 17 and 18, the ability to summarize the whole thing. I think I've had a number of books published, and when you make a proposal to a publisher, they want you to be able to explain your book in one sentence, one paragraph, three paragraphs and one page. And it's like, all right, different levels of detail. And so here he's basically summarizing the whole thing up.
Now I want to circle back to what I said a moment ago to American evangelicals -people that are very anxious about who wins the White House and who's concerned of all that? Let's look at the summary here. All right? Verse 17 and 18, "The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will arise from the earth, but the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever. Yes, forever and ever." That's the final end of us and governments. So be at peace. I'm not saying don't vote, I think we should vote, we should be involved, we should be Daniels and have roles to play, et cetera. But just know where we're heading in all this. So, it's very, very beautiful.
Now, Daniel though wants more detail, and the Holy Spirit wants to give us that detail. So, he zeroes in specifically on the fourth beast because it was just so terrifying and so incomprehensible. And also because it's very, very important for us to understand the reign of the Antichrist, which Jesus himself will specifically destroy by the splendor of his coming and by the breath of his mouth, 2 Thessalonians 2. So, he zeroes in on that fourth beast and on the reign of Antichrist.
What does the little horn do to the saints? And why was this so shocking to Daniel?
Okay, so in verse 21, it is shocking. It says, "As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them." That's very, very important. And then verse 25, he'll speak against the Most High and oppress saints, all right. Then it says in verse 25, "The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time." This is nothing short of martyrdom. There's no other way to understand that. The saints are defeated by the horn and by the fourth beast, by dying. And we know that the blood of martyrs is seed for the church, Tertullian said, and I believe that the over-overwhelming majority of martyrs, that in the end will have literally laid down their life for Jesus have not yet died. All right? So, the big number of martyrs is coming at the very, very end of history when the Antichrist rules.
And so, we need to understand, and it's true during the Roman era, all right, when the Roman Empire was fulfilling this vision directly, the Roman Empire was killing Christians at a huge rate. But it's not just the Romans. The Soviet Union and Stalin were killing Christians. Mao Zedong in Communist China was killing Christians. Pol Pot and the killing fields in Cambodia were killing Christians. Muslim nations killed Christians. Every generation martyrs have had to pay the ultimate price. And what we have to do is understand that though that may not be directly in view here in Daniel 7, it is largely in view. The domination of secular, wicked godless governments over saints needs to be understood. We need to be ready ahead of time for the death that happens to many of us.
What enables the saints to triumph over the little horn in the end? And I guess a connected question would be what ends the career of this little horn?
Okay, so specifically the horn is waging war against the saints and defeating them, verse 22, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment on them in favor of the saints of the Most High and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. So, it's a happy ending every time, but suffering first.
And so, then there's this specific detail in verse 23 and following. The fourth beast of fourth kingdom that will appear on the earth, different than all the other kingdoms, will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. Now Rome didn't devour the whole earth, all right? But ultimately the Antichrist we're told in Revelation will rule over the entire earth. All the peoples and nations and men of every language will be given to the beast from the sea. The beast from the sea in Revelation 13 is the final form of this fourth beast.
So, they trample down the whole earth and crush it. The 10 horns are 10 kings that come up from this kingdom. And then this other king arises different than the earlier ones who subdues three kings. This is the Antichrist. He speaks against the Most High. That's that consistent blasphemy aspect. The arrogant boasting that we get in verse 8. And then verse 11 again, the boastful words. He will claim to be god and defy God. And he's going to verse 25, speak against the Most High, and he's going to oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. So what does that mean? I don't know, but I think he's going to try to elongate his own rule.
Now it says in Revelation 12 that the dragon Satan is filled with rage because he knows his time is short. So I wonder if this individual's like, "No, no, no, my time's not short, I'm going to lengthen this." Nope, he's going to reign ultimately in this form for a time, times, and half a time. Now that's very interesting statement. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. Most interpreters say that's a year, two years, and half a year. Added up, that's three and a half years.
What's fascinating about that length of time is it is given three different ways in multiple places in the Bible. We've got a time, times and half a time, several times in the Book of Daniel. We also have 1,260 days. Keep in mind that the Jews used a 30-day lunar calendar back then. And so that's basically 42 months. And that also is given 42 months. You have 42 months, 1,260 days, and time, times, and half a time. And so basically that's three and a half years, interestingly, half of seven years, which some people link to the 77s of Daniel 9, which we'll get to God willing later. At any rate, for half of that seven-year period or three and a half years, he openly oppresses and destroys the saints. And I believe it provokes and brings about the Second Coming of Christ.
So if that leads to the Second Coming of Christ, is that what brings about the end of the career of this little horn?
Absolutely. It says in verse 26, the court will sit, his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. That is the Second Coming of Christ. And again, the best verses on this is 2 Thessalonians 2, where it says that the man of lawlessness will arise, who will oppose God and put himself in the place of God. He'll set himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. And this is the one who also will be able to do signs and wonders and do miracles. And it is the one whom the Lord Jesus will destroy by the splendor of his coming and by the breath of his mouth. And when it says breath of his mouth, interestingly in Revelation 19, with the depiction of the second coming of Christ, there's a sword coming out of his mouth. I think this is clearly metaphorical language and what it means is Jesus' weapon is his word.
"The man of lawlessness will arise, who will oppose God and put himself in the place of God. …And it is the one whom the Lord Jesus will destroy by the splendor of his coming and by the breath of his mouth."
And I think it just comes down to this. When Jesus says to any creature, created being, "Be dead," they're dead. It's just that simple. I think about the Syrophoenician woman's demon-possessed daughter, and Jesus drove the demon out without ever going, without ever touching the little girl, without saying any words. Just by thinking it, the demon was evicted. That's the power of Christ. So, he doesn't need a weapon in his hand, and he sure doesn't need an army of angels behind him. He could kill every one of his enemies instantly by willing it so. That's the power of Almighty God. For in him we live and move and have our being. And when he wants us to cease having our being, we stop having our being. And so, Jesus is going to come and destroy this blasphemous Antichrist and take away his power forever.
And verse 27 gives us another picture of what you mentioned a moment ago, this happy end for the people of God though there is much trouble and trial and tribulation along the way. Verse 27 says, "And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." What was Daniel's final reaction to this vision and what final thoughts do you have for us on this passage?
Yeah, all right. Let me say something about this. I think it's easy for us to have a very egalitarian view of heaven, but I think these verses do not teach that. I think the verses teach that created being, saints, will reign under Jesus's ultimate reign. He will be forever in heaven, a King of many kings and a Lord of many lords. And those kings must have people below them. As the centurion said, "I myself am a man under authority with soldiers under me." I think we'll have that same structure. We just won't have tyranny and oppression, and we won't have murmuring and rebellion either. To those above us in authority, we'll be glad for their authority and gladly submit to it. To those below us, we will not tyrannize them or dominate them or feel arrogant toward them.
And so, I think there'll be an order, an organization to the new heaven, new earth, with many rulers and sub-rulers just like there are archangels, which means ruler angels and then non-archangels, which are just regular angels. So also, I believe there will be many rulers and dominions and all that in the new heaven, new earth, but they will all worship and serve Christ. And he will be the sovereign ruler over all. So, I think that final statement of Jesus, his kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom and all rulers, my translation say, you said dominions, will worship and obey him. So, the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to who? The saints. That's a shock. I would've said handed over to the Son of Man.
Son of Man.
Right. It is, but we rule under his ultimate authority. So, we are going to reign with Christ, and it's just an amazing picture. The final analysis for me is to have absolute confidence in the sovereignty of God over every government on the face of the earth at every time. And to know where we're heading with all this. Christ is going to reign over perfected rulers, saints who will reign under him, worshiping and serving him. And all of the wicked rulers, ultimately antichrists or the ultimate Antichrist will be destroyed, thrown into hell forever and ever.
So meanwhile, while we have civic duties to do like voting. And while others may get even more involved by campaigning and by being directly involved in the American political process as they should,
So, what I'm arguing for is based on Daniel 7, let us have confidence in the sovereignty of God. Now I want to say one more thing about the great vision of verses 13 and 14. I don't understand how Jewish people can read Daniel 7 and not see the deity of Christ here. The question for unbelieving religious Judaism in our age is who is the Son of Man in Daniel 7? He's not the Ancient of Days, that's God. Well then who is he? Who is the Son of Man? I think Jesus would press that question in just like he pressed the question based on Psalm 1:10, "How can David call the son of David Lord? If David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" These are the kind of questions. So, I think Jesus would say to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the Jews, "Who is the Son of Man of Daniel 7?" Well, we both know who he is. He's Almighty God. He's Jesus. Second person of the Trinity. He's human, he's divine, he's worthy of our worship and service.
Amen. This has been episode eight in our Daniel Bible study podcast. We want to invite you to join us next time for episode nine entitled The Vision of the Ram and the Goat, where we'll discuss Daniel 8:1-27. Thank you for listening to the Two Journeys podcast. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.