Daniel 7:13-14: “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. 14 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.”
The book of Daniel is a book of kings and kingdoms. Its main message is that the God of heaven is the true King who rules the kingdoms of men. Through the dreams and visions in the book God reveals that he is sovereignly directing human history toward the establishment of his everlasting kingdom.
Chapter 7 is both different from and similar to chapter 2. Whereas in chapter 2 it was Nebuchadnezzar who had a dream which Daniel then interpreted, in chapter 7 it is Daniel who “saw a dream and visions of his head” (v. 1) and who needed someone else to interpret what he saw (v. 15-16). The similarities, then, are in what the respective dreams were about: just as Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a composite statue which represented four kingdoms that were then destroyed and replaced by God’s everlasting kingdom, so Daniel dreamed of four beasts (v. 2-8) which represented four kingdoms (v. 16) which were followed by the everlasting kingdom of God’s people (v. 18). Readers, preachers, and scholars have long debated the identity of the four kingdoms represented in the dreams of chapters 2 and 7 (Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece, Rome?), but the real point of both chapters is the fifth kingdom which completes the series, for the fifth kingdom in both episodes is the Kingdom of God.
Another difference between chapters 2 and 7 is that whereas in chapter 2 we are only told that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed” (2:44), in chapter 7 we are given more information through Daniel’s vision of the heavenly courtroom. The Ancient of Days, God Most High, is the judge of the kingdoms of men (Dn. 7:9-12). The four beasts, representing the kingdoms of men, are terrible, twisted, violent, and devouring creatures. In contrast to those sinful human rulers Daniel then sees “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” (v. 13). The fact that this figure is “like a son of man” means that he is the representative of humanity, and specifically of God’s people, before God. The fact that this one like a son of man comes “with the clouds of heaven” points to his divine authority (he is heavenly rather than earthly, and clouds often represent the presence of God in the Bible), as does the fact that he will rule forever (v. 14, in contrast to the temporary rule of the kings of men).
When Jesus was on trial and the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” Jesus responded by saying, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk. 14:61-62). Jesus therefore clearly identified himself as the Son of Man who receives from God the Father the everlasting Kingdom of God’s people.
Jesus is the Son of Man in that he became human and lived among us. He is the Head of a new humanity and our representative before God (Heb. 1-2, Romans 8:34). Jesus is also the Son of Man in that as the Risen and Reigning Lord he now has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:16-20). One day He will return “on the clouds of heaven” to judge and defeat all his enemies and to bring the Kingdom of God in all its glorious fullness.
We therefore can rejoice because Jesus is our King. We can follow Jesus even though the kingdoms of men fight against us and persecute us (Dn. 7:21-22, 25). We can “be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus… offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started: “Lord Jesus, you are the Son of Man and the King of kings. Thank you that you fulfilled God’s word to Daniel. Help me to love and obey you. Thank you for bringing me into your kingdom. Use me to bring others into your kingdom as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”