In our last study we looked at the overall message of Daniel 7. In Daniel 7 he sees a vision of what is going to happen in the days of the fourth kingdom, which is the Roman Empire. What is presented in this vision is a very calm picture in heaven in the midst of seeming chaos on earth. Beast after beast rises from the sea with the last beast the most terrifying of all. Further, there is a little horn that is uprooting other horns and has a mouth speaking great, boastful things. But the Ancient of Days simply sits on the throne, passes judgment, and destroys the beast. They are all given a time, but their outcome of destruction is certain. In particular we noticed that God’s eternal kingdom would destroy all evil kingdoms, nations, and people. But this does not mean that God’s people will not be given over to persecution and suffering for a limited duration.
There is a section in Daniel 7 that we did not look at in the last lesson: Daniel 7:13-14. As we saw in our study of the chapter, Daniel is concerned about the fourth beast because it is terrifying and different from the other beasts. He was right to be concerned about it because we are told that this fourth beast (the Roman Empire) would make war with God’s people and prevail over them (7:21). While Daniel does not focus on this paragraph, the New Testament does. So it is important for us to come back to Daniel 7 and look at this paragraph and consider what it means for the people of God.
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. (Daniel 7:13–14 ESV)
“Son of Man”
This seems like an insignificant image. One like the son of man comes with the clouds and is presented before the Ancient of Days. It is not difficult for us to understand that the Ancient of Days is God the Father. Back in Daniel 7:9 we see the Ancient of Days taking his seat on his throne, thousands serving him, the books opened, and judgment passed. But what is this “one like the son of man?” The challenge is that “son of man” is not previously used as a title in the Old Testament. It is always used as a term of lowliness. For example, in Psalm 8:
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)
Also, God calls Ezekiel “son of man” throughout the prophecy, which again indicates his humanity in contrast to the Almighty God. So we have a curiosity on our hands when this prophecy is given. But what is fascinating as we come to the New Testament is that we notice what Jesus calls himself. He does not call himself the Son of God, as we would expect. Rather, he calls himself the Son of Man. Was Jesus simply going around calling himself, “the Human One” like it is used in the rest of the Old Testament? By reading the gospel accounts it is clear that this was not his intention. Jesus never argued for his lowliness with this description but his divinity. But how does the title, “Son of Man” indicate properly who Jesus is? A closer examination of Daniel 7:13-14 tells us the answer.
Notice the vision ends on this information about the Son of Man. When he comes in the clouds and is presented before the Ancient of Days he is given dominion (rule/authority), glory, and a kingdom. The purpose is that all peoples, nations, languages will serve him. Notice that the shift is made to the Son of Man in verse 14. It is the Son of Man’s kingdom that has everlasting rule which will not pass away or be destroyed. We saw this in Daniel 2 that the stone that destroys the statue in that dream would be a kingdom that would never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44). Now when we read about this kingdom that God will set up in the days of the fourth kingdom (the Roman Empire), Daniel 7:14 adds on that this kingdom belongs to the Son of Man. The kingdom has been given to him by the Ancient of Days so that all the earth will serve him. It is this kingdom that the people of God are given to possess (Daniel 7:22,27)
Now we must consider how Jesus uses this title and applies it to himself. Turn to Mark 14:60-64. In this account Jesus is on trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin. The trial is to find some way to charge Jesus with blasphemy so that they can have him killed.
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. (Mark 14:60–64 ESV)
Notice what Jesus said to identify himself. The high priest asks if he is the Christ. Jesus calls himself “the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This is the exact description found in Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus basically quoting Daniel 7 and applying the contents to himself. Jesus is the Son of Man figure who has been given the kingdom so that all peoples and nations should serve him. In fact, Jesus challenges the high priest and tells him that he will see Jesus’ power on display. We do not have time to study this thought further, but Jesus is referring to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Jesus is the anointed king and any people or nation that does not serve him is destroyed.
I would encourage you to spend more time looking at this concept in how Jesus uses the Son of Man terminology on himself and how significant it is that he does this. But we need to move forward in our lesson to consider the truth of Jesus’ self-identification. When Jesus raises from the dead, listen to what he declares.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18 ESV)
Jesus validated himself with his resurrection from the dead. Jesus was given all authority from the Father, just as Daniel 7:14 prophesied. Even further, turn to Acts 1 and notice the visual representation of this.
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11 ESV)
This is the record of the ascension of Jesus back to the Father in heaven. Why is the ascension so important? Look again at the words. Jesus was lifted up in a cloud into heaven. Look again at Daniel 7:13. The Son of Man comes in the clouds to the Ancient of Days and is given rule and a kingdom, just like Jesus said to his apostles in Matthew 28:18. Notice that this is the very point Peter is making in his sermon the day of Pentecost.
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'” Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:32–36 ESV)
Notice that Peter is basically interpreting Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father. He was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, which he has poured this out which they were seeing and hearing. What did Daniel 7:13-14 say the Son of Man would receive? The Son of Man would receive dominion (rule/authority), glory, and a kingdom. What did Daniel see would happen then? The people of God would possess the kingdom (7:22,27) because it would be given to them. This is what Peter is arguing in Acts 2. What they have witnessed shows that the kingdom of God has been restored, Jesus has taken his rightful place as king, Lord, and Christ over all the earth, and all peoples and nations must serve him. Those who belong to him are given this everlasting kingdom to enjoy forever.
Given The Kingdom
It is staggering that Jesus did all the work, dying on the cross, bringing about victory through his power and might, and shares the kingdom with us. The kingdom is given to us (Daniel 7:27). The kingdom with its rule and greatness is given to us. Listen to this in the New Testament.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:5–7 ESV)
We have been given a kingdom through the glory and rule of Christ. Notice that Revelation connects this Daniel 7 also. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds.”
What does this all mean for us? The writer of Hebrews draws this conclusion:
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28 ESV)
We must live thankful lives for what Jesus has done and what he has given us. Further, let us worship Jesus by offering ourselves to him and glorify him with the praise and honor he rightly deserves.