History books intrigue me, especially the stories of kings and empires.
It is interesting to imagine yourself in another time, to try and picture life in those days.
Daniel lived in the 6th century B.C., yet he saw a view of the entire world history – especially the parts that had not happened yet!
Daniel’s first vision tells of the world empires. God had given the same message through pagan King Nebuchadnezzar over 50 years earlier (see here), but this time He sent His message directly to Daniel. While Nebuchadnezzar saw a beautiful statue composed of precious metals, Daniel saw four terrifying monsters.
The first monster was like a lion with eagles’ wings. The wings were plucked off, the monster stood up and was given the mind of a man. This was the same head of gold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and it depicted the Babylonian empire.
The second monster was like a lopsided bear. This was the same silver arms and chest in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and it depicted the Medo-Persian empire.
The third monster was like a four-winged leopard with four heads. This was the same bronze belly and thighs of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and it depicted the Greek empire.
The fourth monster was beyond description. It had iron teeth and was “terrifying and dreadful”. This was the same iron legs and feet in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and it depicted the Roman empire.
Daniel may have recognized this series of empires from when he was a young man. If the vision ended there, it would have been an interesting lesson in future history.
But then things got weird.
The final monster had ten horns. Then an eleventh horn grew up, pushing out 3 of the older horns. This new horn had eyes and spoke. It spoke against God. The horn fought against the people of God and won. All this time the horn kept boasting great things about himself.
The scene shifted. Daniel was no longer looking at the terrifying monster with the weird horns. The little horn’s ranting and expletives faded to background noise, and Daniel was in the throne room of God the Father. Who cares about that little horn when you are in the presence of God!
“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.
The little horn continued to curse until the Almighty God delivered the judgment. The monster was killed and its body destroyed.
But then, one is presented to God the Father. He is from mankind, yet he is eternal. He is given a kingdom that will never end!
“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.
Over 450 years later, a teacher rose up among the Jews. No one knew what to do with this new teacher, and he spoke like no one else. He taught that he was bringing a kingdom. He required total submission from anyone who would follow him. Above all, he had one phrase that he would use to describe himself:
“The Son of Man”
I don’t know if Jesus had a favorite verse, but this was one of the scripture references he used the most. When He talked about Himself, He would start with Daniel 7.
The world produces rulers and great men who fight against God. But the greatest of them is nothing more than a little, noisy horn.
While the little horn prattles on, the Ancient of Days sits in judgment. There will come a time when He will come and destroy the little horn.
The Son of Man – Jesus Himself – will rule a kingdom that will never end!
The message of Daniel always comes back to perspective. God is not shaken by world events!
Jesus Himself will return some day and bring in a kingdom that will never end! May we look forward to that day!
Are we focused on the little horn or the throne room? While people shake their fists at God, He is sitting on his throne of fire!
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