2 December 2023

Daniel 7:1-27

'I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.' (vs 13-14)

Psalm 33:1-22


Immediately, we should note that book of Daniel is not in chronological order. Daniel's dream in chapter 7 precedes the events of chapter 5 as it occurs in the first year of the reign of King Belshazzar. There are connections to the visions we considered in chapters 2 and 5 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It seems Jesus was influenced by this passage in how he understood himself and in his understanding of his mission and God’s kingdom. We especially see this in how he describes himself as 'the Son of Man' and in his use of imagery from Daniel, eg Mark 14:62 and Matthew 19:28

This has been a very significant passage to Christians from the time of Jesus and it was clearly very influential on John’s book of Revelation. The imagery has been used and understood, in a variety of ways, throughout the last 2000 years.

Today, there are elements of this prophetic vision where, among Christians, there is widespread common understanding and others where there is a wide divergence. There is probably widespread agreement that the first beast represents the kingdom of King Nebuchadnezzar and that the final kingdom is God’s eternal kingdom with the risen Christ on the throne. Some commentators shared very detailed matching of the other kingdoms in the vision with particular human empires, but there isn’t always agreement on this matching. Along with the book of Revelation, this vision is one that some analyse to try to put a timetable on the end-times. It's something that is always more popular when there is a war in the Middle East. In extreme cases we see Christians hoping for wars to show that God’s kingdom is coming closer.

Across many different traditions and theologies this passage has been a powerful source of hope for Christians in times of conflict, persecution and failure. It points to an eventual, final victory for God’s kingdom (a theme that's powerfully picked up in the book of Revelation). At the end of the day, God will triumph and those who have been faithful will be part of God's eternal kingdom.


To Ponder:

  • How do you relate to this prophetic vision? Is it helpful to go into a lot of detail, or do you prefer the big picture, or do you find it unhelpful? Why do you think that is?
  • The return of Jesus is a traditional theme for the beginning of Advent. How important is that for you and how influential on you is this vision? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in Wythenshawe, Manchester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism, sailing and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.

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