In the first 8 verses of this chapter, Daniel was given a preview of the four world empires which have impacted, or will yet impact, Israel. This part of his vision reminds us of what he told Nebuchadnezzar in 2:28. Kingdoms come and go; they may go on a rampage for a while and ravage the earth, but watching over all things on earth, there is a God in heaven. This is a theme Scripture never tires of. Further, there is a kingdom coming which shall not pass away, and…which shall not be destroyed, v. 14. The interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream introduced us to this kingdom, 2:44. This vision expands on that vision. In the first part of this vision, there are three scenes:
1. There is a scene of unimaginable solemnity, vs. 9, 10.
From the confused mayhem on earth, we are suddenly transported into the measured order of a courtroom: “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated,” v. 9.
This isn’t a throne of fellowship, such as described in Exodus 24:9-11,
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they did eat and drink.
Israel had not yet rebelled against God and broken the Mosaic Covenant; once that happened, we read of no further such “fellowship.” In fact, they were shut out from the presence of God and had to come before Him through an intermediary – the tabernacle and the sons of Aaron and the priesthood.
Nor is it the throne of grace, such as is now available to the children of God for them to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16. It isn’t the throne of God’s providence, which Ezekiel saw, Ezekiel 1:26-28, nor of His glory, which Isaiah saw, Isaiah 6:1-3.
It’s a throne of judgment: the books were opened.
This description reminds us of a similar description in Revelation 20:12, where John records,
“I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books,” emphasis added.
In our apostate day, with its unScriptural and humanistic views of the “love” of God, we have forgotten the other side of Paul’s admonition in Romans 11:22, …consider the goodness and severity of God. People give no thought at all to the fact that they will stand before God and give an account of everything they’ve ever said, done or thought in their lives. Every bout of drunkenness, every act of immorality or perversion, every tiny lie or twisting of the truth “just a little bit,” every act of greed or injustice. Every commission, where they’ve done something they shouldn’t; every omission, where they didn’t do something they should have. Every secret thing. Every single thing….
Even Christians will give an account to God, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Some seem to have the attitude that, since God has forgiven them because of what Christ did on the Cross, it doesn’t matter what they do. They can live like the world and do what the world does, and it’s ok. I was working next to such a group of people one day. Their conversation was about the filthiest things imaginable. In the midst of this verbal sewage, somehow the conversation got around to religion and the grace of God, and one of them said, “God loves us unconditionally.” This is undeniably true, but I don’t think she meant it as the Scripture means it. There is most certainly nothing in us that can cause God to love us, no “condition” we can meet. The “reason” He loves us is always found in Him, never in us! At the same time, when we are taught by the Spirit that we are objects of His love, that knowledge makes us want to please Him, not ourselves. One of the other workers mentioned her enjoyment of a certain “gospel concert.” It’s a terribly sad, terribly frightening commentary on the state of modern Christianity that professed Christians can wallow in moral filth in one breath and talk about “the love of God” in the next breath and see no inconsistency.
The froth and frivolity of much of what passes for “church” in our day – the “mega-churches,” the “mega-personalities” – would disappear in an instant if we could but get a vision of that One who sits on an eternal throne, high and lifted up, Isaiah 6:1.
On the other side of the ledger, there will be the revelation of and reward for the good things the saints have done, the sacrifices, the service to God which are often ignored, ridiculed or forbidden in this world. Peter wrote to some people that believers have a living hope, not in this world, but in the fact that there is an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven….ready to be revealed in the last time, I Peter 1:3-5. Along this same line, Paul wrote that even the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now, Romans 8:21, 22.
Not forever, and, we believe, not much longer, will this world thumb its nose at its Creator God and His Christ, even as Daniel shows us in the next verses. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
2. There is a scene of unimpeachable severity, vs. 11, 12.
This is a continuation of the scene of judgment. The beast, certainly a man of great presence and power, has set himself against heaven, speaking pompous words, about which more will be said in a minute. For now, all his braggadocio will come a halt, and he himself is slain, and [his] body destroyed and given to the burning flame. He had been able to conquer some of his fellows, and had spoken great and proud things, but could not stand against the Ancient of Days.
3. There is a scene of indescribable majesty, v. 13, 14.
In my opinion, these verses form one of the most wonderful passages in the Old Testament.
a. The approach of One like the Son of Man, v. 13.
In contrast to the “beasts” of the earlier part of the vision, here we have One who bears the image of humanity. We have the advantage over Daniel here, because we know that this One is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. “Son of Man” was one of His favorite titles, used by Himself of Himself many times during His earthy sojourn. It’s a phrase which means so much more than just “human.” It carries with it a hint of the Divine. And of a truth, the Son of Man is also the Son of God. He is the God-Man, God manifested in humanity.
b. The ascendancy of One like the Son of Man, v. 14.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. What the “beasts” fought over and killed for will be freely given to the Lord Jesus in order that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. Universal dominion is granted Him, something coveted by the “beasts,” but never really attained. Not only will this kingdom be universal; it will be eternal. It’ll never disappear nor be taken away, as were the preceding kingdoms described by Daniel.