- Micah Smith
Advent Devotional Day 21: Daniel 7.13-14
The King in all His Beauty
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)
The book of Daniel is a prophecy written by an Israelite in exile. The exile and judgement prophesied in Isaiah has come to pass, and the great men of the kingdom of Judah have been carried off to Babylon, Daniel included. Throughout this prophecy there are accounts of Daniel and other prominent Israelite servants remaining faithful to the Lord in the midst of severe persecution and idolatry by the pagan empire, and remarkable accounts of God’s faithfulness. In the midst of the upheaval of the Israelite kingdom, and exile amongst foreign, godless peoples, the question could arise: “Where is Yahweh?” The Lord gives Daniel several visions in order to instruct His people about the His purposes in the exile and ultimately for all of world history. The vision above that Daniel sees is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the visions Yahweh shows him, because in the midst of a foreign land and pagan kings, Daniel catches a glimpse of the future King who will reign over all nations.
In the previous two devotionals, we looked at the prophetic and priestly offices of Christ. The prophetic office is that by which Christ reveals to us who God is in all of His work. The priestly office is that by which Christ makes atonement for His people as both their High Priest and Sacrifice for their sins, interceding for His people. Today, we will take up the awesome picture of Christ in His kingly office, utilizing one of my favorite passages in all of the Old Testament. This chapter of the prophecy opens with a depiction of four mighty beasts that the Lord shows Daniel. These beasts are terrifyingly mighty and they exemplify some form of authority. They also present a bleak picture to those who would fall prey to them. No matter how exactly one interprets the meaning of the beasts, in some way they represent powers of this world who are under the control of Satan. Then, in verse 9 and 10 the Lord changes Daniels visual perspective and Daniel’s eyes are lifted. He sees “thrones placed,” and the “Ancient of Days” took His seat. This is a thematic Name for God, who transcends the beasts as the Eternal One who reigns over all things. As ten thousand ten thousands stand before Him in judgement, the beasts are judged, and Daniel’s perspective changes again. He sees this vision of a “Son of Man” approaching the Ancient of Days “with the clouds of heaven.” The cosmic authority that the Ancient of Days rules with on His throne is approached by One who is a Man! “And He was presented before Him,” is imagery that depicts the Son of Man being examined by the Ancient of Days. He is One who has been given a task to accomplish and He is being examined regarding His faithfulness in that task. As a result of this examination, something magnificent happens: “to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve Him.” Because of this Son of Man’s worthiness, the authority that the Ancient of Days Himself wields over history, over the beasts, and over the nations is given to this Man!
This Kingdom that the Son of Man possesses is also an eternal kingdom that “shall not pass away.” In Daniel 2 there is a vision of a stone being cut from a mountain and smashing a statue to pieces which represents the kingdoms of the earth. Then that stone becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth. These are two pictures of this Kingdom that the Son of Man rules and reigns over. To put together the two pictures: There is a Man coming who will ascend the throne of the Ancient of Days and be judged worthy to receive authority over all nations. As a result of this authority that He receives, He smashes the nations that are in rebellion to Him, judges the world, and rules and reigns eternally with the power and authority of Yahweh. This is the Son of Man who is also the promised Davidic King.
Throughout this series we have made much of the reality of a coming Davidic King who would institute an eternal kingdom in accordance with God’s promises to David. We have seen that this Child “born to us” (Is. 9.6) will be called “mighty God.” We have seen in Psalm 2 that Yahweh says to His anointed: “You are my Son, today I have begotten You.” The consistent witness of the Old Testament until the coming of Christ is that this coming One would be Son of God and Son of Man. This God-Man is the One who approaches the throne of the Ancient of Days. It is His own Son. In Psalm 2 Yahweh also says “ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.” That is exactly the vision that Isaiah is seeing in Daniel 7! The Son approaches His Father and asks for all the nations, and because He was the faithful suffering Servant who bought them with His blood, the Father gives Him an eternal kingdom. When the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He approached the throne of the Father with he scars on His hands. He was presented before Him. The Father was well-pleased with His work.
This is why at Christmas we can sing with all our hearts “joy to the world!” It is because He has received authority over all nations, His Gospel is going forward into all the world and bring lost sinners from death to life, beginning the New Creation work. One day He will return to bring that kingdom to its consummate fulfilment. This is Christ’s Kingly work in His exaltation, but it only happens because He is the One who condescended to us. He is the One who took on the weakness of human flesh in the incarnation. Because of that the Father is pleased to give all things to Him.