Daniel 7: The vision of the four beasts, Final
Jun 15, 2015
Daniel 7:13, 14 says,
13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
Here Daniel’s vision reaches it climax, for the series of beast nations culminates with the final kingdom. Unlike the previous kingdoms, this one is permanent. It is not pictured as a beast but as the kingdom given to the “one like a Son of Man” who was presented to the Ancient of Days.
This is the passage that Jesus cited when the high priest adjured Him to speak the truth in Matthew 26:63, 64,
63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless, I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
By the law of public adjuration (Leviticus 5:1), Jesus was required to speak the whole truth. Previous to this, He remained silent to fulfill Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.” But when adjured by the high priest, He confirmed that He was indeed the One prophesied in Daniel 7:13 who was to come “with the clouds of heaven” to receive a kingdom from the Ancient of Days. He was to sit “at the right hand of power,” that is, at the right hand of the Ancient of Days.
The Challenges to the Throne
Jesus lived on earth during the time of the Roman beast, which God had authorized to hold the Dominion Mandate. Jesus knew that it was not time yet to overthrow the beast or to receive the kingdom that was rightfully His. The people’s messianic expectations were that the Messiah would set Jerusalem free from Roman rule, but because He did not do this, Jews have used this argument since that time to show that Jesus was not the Messiah. However, Rome’s time had just begun in 63 B.C. and was yet to last more than 400 years.
Other prophecies were being fulfilled at the time of Christ’s first appearance. Insofar as the kingdom was concerned, Jesus had to fulfill the sacrifices that were being prophesied twice a day in the temple. He had to fulfill Isaiah 53. He had to play the role of His father David, whose throne was usurped by Absalom (2 Samuel 15:10). The chief priests played the role of Absalom in that story, and Judas played the role of Ahithophel who betrayed David (2 Samuel 15:31).
Whenever authority on earth is challenged, the proper venue is to appeal to the One from whom the authority came. The chief priests challenged Jesus’ authority in the same prophetic manner that Absalom challenged David’s right to rule. David left town and went into a far country to await God’s decision before returning to reclaim His throne. So also did Jesus go to a far country (heaven) to appeal His case to the Ancient of Days, or the Transferrer of Days, the One who had the power to transfer authority from one to another.
Jesus told a parable to illustrate this, beginning in Luke 19:12,
12 He said therefore, “A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.”
When Jesus ascended to the Father to make this appeal, “He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him” (Daniel 7:13). He was recognized immediately as the One called to occupy that throne, as Daniel says. Hebrews 1:3 says that “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” and this is confirmed in Ephesians 1:20, 21. However, the divine plan was to allow the iron beast to rule yet for many centuries.
For this reason, we read in Acts 3:20, 21 that heaven had to “receive” Christ “until the period of the restoration of all things.” That time of restoration could not begin as long as the Roman beast carried the Dominion Mandate. The Western empire collapsed in 476, while the Eastern empire (“New Rome”) collapsed in 1453.
It should be pointed out that Christ could not come in 70 A.D., as the Preterists claim, for the iron beast still ruled at its height of power. If Christ had been allowed to come to earth in 70 A.D. to set up His kingdom, it would have undermined the divine plan set forth in Daniel 7. But God had judged Jerusalem and the line of David for their continual lawlessness and had raised up these beast empires to rule, even though they were not ultimately called to rule the kingdom. That contract was to last “seven times,” but in the time of Jesus (33 A.D.) and even in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the “seven times” was not even half spent.
For this reason, it would have violated the divine plan—as well as the rights of the iron beast—for Christ to interrupt the rule of Rome before its contract had expired. That is why the heavens had to hold Jesus Christ until the time of the kingdom’s restoration. He could rule in heaven, but not on earth, and His kingdom was thus put off for another day.
Daniel 7:14 ends with the promise of His kingdom, prophesying of the day when “all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.” But it is left to the angel to explain more details of this in the rest of the chapter. As for Daniel’s reaction, we read in Daniel 7:15,
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed [kara, “grieved, pained, sorrowful, pierced through”] within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.
Daniel was “distressed.” The Aramaic word kara used here corresponds to the Hebrew word kara, which means “to dig through, by the idea of piercing, such as to dig a well.” The Hebrew word is used in Psalm 22:16, prophesying of Christ: “They pierced my hands and my feet.” Daniel’s vision was very real to him, and as a type of Christ, he identified with the Son of Man who was to be given this dominion.
With many visions and dreams come emotions that may be unexplainable, and yet these emotions have great effect upon the visionary. There was no logical reason for Daniel to be distressed over the fall of these beasts. Neither would he be pained to see the kingdom of God established. But as a type of Christ, he could feel the distress and pain of being pierced even as Jesus was pierced, in order to do the work of the Messiah and to qualify as the King.
In fact, as we will see from the angelic interpretation of the vision, it was actually to be “the saints” who would be given the kingdom. The body of Christ share in His sufferings. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:5, “the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance.” When Daniel asked the angel to explain the vision, the angel told him of the sufferings of the saints at the hands of the little horn. So Daniel’s distress foreshadowed the distress of those saints as the little horn “was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came” (Daniel 7:21, 22).
The Universal Kingdom
In Daniel 7:14 we see that this coming Kingdom will include people of all nations and languages. All will serve Him. This is not wishful thinking, nor even a longing of God, but a settled statement of divine intent, based upon the nature of the New Covenant. The New Covenant is based upon the promise of God (2 Corinthians 1:20; Galatians 3:29; 4:28). Promises, vows, and oaths must be kept, and this promise to Daniel is the outworking of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
All are blessed to serve Him, because He is not only a God of power but also of Love. His love is demonstrated to us in that He was willing to die for all men (Romans 5:8). He took the initiative in order to fulfill His promises to bless all families of the earth. In Acts 3:25, 26, we are given the definition of such blessing: “by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Hence, His Kingdom will indeed include all mankind, for He has the power, the love, and the wisdom to bring all men to repentance. He does not leave this to chance, nor even to the will of man, but vows to change the will of man so that they can indeed be saved. In the end, the Universal Kingdom, which is set up on earth after the beast empires have run their course, will grow until it fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35).
The reign of Christ with His saints will continue until death itself has been subjected to Him. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28,
25 For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
The establishment of the Kingdom of heaven begins with the first resurrection, as John tells us in Revelation 20:4-6. At that time, death will be abolished for the overcomers. However, it is evident that death is not abolished for “the rest of the dead.” A thousand years later, at the time of the general resurrection of ALL the dead, a “second death” continues into the Age of judgment (Revelation 20:14).
The Age of judgment is an age where the majority of humanity from the beginning of time are subjected to the overcomers and to the law of God in order to “learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). They will bow and confess Him as Lord at the Great White Throne, and this will begin their time of “subjection under His feet.” But these former unbelievers are not the “last enemy” to be subdued. The last enemy is death itself.
For this reason, there must be a Creation Jubilee at the end of time, after all of humanity has been subjected to Christ and have been “blessed” by the promise to Abraham. At that great Jubilee, death itself will be abolished, both the first death (mortality) and the second death (lake of fire; divine judgment).
Seeing that death is the last enemy is a key to understanding the restoration of all things. If death were abolished at the first resurrection—or even at the general resurrection—then it would not be the “last enemy.” If unbelievers were to be judged forever with no hope of exiting the second death, then death theoretically would never be abolished. But we know that the aionian judgment is not “everlasting,” as so many translations tell us, but rather it pertains to an aion (eon, age).
The former unbelievers who bow their knee to Christ at the Great White Throne are the beneficiaries of God’s promise to abolish death as “the last enemy.”
The dominion of the Son of Man, Daniel 7:14 tells us, “is an everlasting [alam] dominion which will not pass away.” But Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:28 that “the Son Himself will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.” This apparent contradiction is resolved when we see that it is the dominion—that is, the Kingdom itself—which will not pass away. Paul adds the detail that when all of humanity has been subjected to Himself, then He will subject the perfected Kingdom to the Father.
In other words, Christ’s own dominion is a temporary phase of the Kingdom. Its purpose is to subdue all things. This was the Dominion Mandate that was first given to Adam in Genesis 1:28. He failed, so “the last Adam” came to do the work (1 Corinthians 15:45) of subduing the earth. The original purpose of this work was not merely to give all men a “chance” to be saved, but to actually bring all mankind into the Kingdom of heaven.
Because God did not lack the power to do this, nor the wisdom to overcome the problem of justice, nor the love to motivate Him, His plan will be a smashing success, for it is not based upon the will of man (as was the Old Covenant), but comes directly from the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).
This is part 32 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones