Friday

1 December 2017

Daniel 7:1-14

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away” (v. 14)

Psalm: Psalm 129


Background

We have to try to read the book of Daniel with the eyes of those for whom it was originally intended, Jews in Palestine suffering under harsh foreign rule in the second century before Christ. It is particularly difficult in this chapter because of what later New Testament writers made of it in their own times and in the light of the coming of Jesus.

Scholars generally agree that the four beasts represent the various empires that had ruled over the Near East in the centuries before Christ and that the little horn in verse 8 represents the current ruler of Palestine, the Greek Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Wild lions, bears and leopards were common in the Near East at the time, but we need not concern ourselves with their extraordinary attributes. Strange things can be seen in dreams!

The "Ancient One" in verses 9-10 is clearly God, who is judge of all the nations and their empires, however powerful. He is 'ancient of days', in contrast to the transient nature of the empires represented by the beasts. It is less clear who the "one like a human being" (v. 13) (in older translations "one like a son of man") represents. Later in the chapter, verse 27 speaks of "the holy ones of the Most High", faithful believers who are to inherit the world. Some scholars, however, think that in verse 13 the one like a human being is their guardian angel who represents them in the presence of God.

Overall the message is one of hope. The terrors of the present time will end and God's rule will come.


To Ponder

  • Verses 9 and 10 describe the grandeur of God in terms understood at the time. How would you attempt to describe God's grandeur today?
  • Is it more than wishful thinking for persecuted peoples to believe that the regimes that oppress them will collapse? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..