Daniel 7-8: Glory and a Kingdom
November 23, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Some aspects of these next two chapters are difficult, and as we approach this part of Daniel perhaps we are tempted to think that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to reading them (let alone interpreting them). We may have sympathy with the great Bible commentator John Calvin who opted to skip over this part of Daniel. Nonetheless, there are truths here that are edifying, useful, profitable—as is all Scripture.
In particular, it is good to know—and humbling and edifying—that some parts of what God reveals, his purposes, are too much for us. Like watching Olympic gymnasts going through their routines, the mere experience of knowing that what they are doing is well beyond us helps us realize that there is more to life than we have before grasped. Sometimes we need at least to know what we do not know.
This seems to be where Daniel is left at the end of these two chapters: “I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it” (8:27). God is greater than we are, and his ways are not our ways, and to be thunderstruck by this realization is no bad thing. He is, as C.S. Lewis famously put it, no tame lion.
We are given a glorious vision of the “one like a son of man,” whose vision informs Jesus’ self-description as the Son of Man:
“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” (7:13-14).
There are many other specifics (“As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king,” 8:20-21), but overall is a sense of the truth that God knows the future, that it is working according to his plan, that it all centers on this “son of man,” and that his kingdom will last forever.
When we are at our worst—in exile, under pressure, facing endless controversies or difficulties—may these visions pull back the curtain of reality to see behind the ephemeral to the eternal, behind the material to the spiritual, and so bask in the glory of the one whose kingdom will never end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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