May 212013
 
This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The One Who Is To Come

Part 3 of this series looked specifically at the title of “the one who is to come” along with its implications found in Psalm 118:26.  For this next part of the series I will take a look at how the title appears in Daniel 7:13-14.  As we will see, the one who is to come was not only to be God himself, but God in human form.

Daniel 7:13-14 is a part of the visions that the prophet Daniel receives of the four beasts.  Chapter 7 in its entirety deals with these visions along with their interpretations given to Daniel by one of the angels in attendance, possibly Gabriel.1  Since our purposes here are only dealing with the title of ‘the one who is to come’ I will simply be focusing on verses 13 and 14.  The ESV reads:

13 “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.[Emphasis mine.]2

The Greek erchomenos (ἐρχόμενος) is behind the bold in verse 13.  This particular instance lacks the definite article ho (ὁ) but is no less important.  Both the Septuagint and MT rendering offer very little variance but I’ll note that the LXX has the one like a son of man coming on the clouds rather than with them.

Identifying The Son Of Man

Much is debated over the identity of who this person is that is coming on the clouds and is presented to the Ancient of Days but there are 3 primary views that should be addressed.  The first is that this being is the archangel Michael and the “holy ones” or saints in verses 18 and 27 are his followers.3  While the angel view as a whole simply doesn’t work as will be presented, the idea that the “holy ones” are angels is specifically defeated by the text in Daniel 7:27 which reads:

27 and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The bolded item there would be better translated as “holy people.”  The saints, or “holy ones” are not distinct from the people in this verse.

The second view is that the one like a son of man is the personification of the Jewish nation.  The reasoning is given primarily due to the believers receiving the kingdom in verse 27 as was quoted just above.  While there are several difficulties with this view the primary one stems from verse 14 itself.  In that verse it states that “all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.”  The problem is that him (can be he/she/it) is singular and all people are to serve, or worship, the singular him.  But Revelation 19:10 is very clear, one shouldn’t worship anyone but God.  This not only gives us further implications of this beings deity but also hints at the nature of the Godhead.

And that brings us to the third view which has the one like a son of man as none other than Jesus Christ.  This view is not only the oldest but is the most prevailing in historical Christian opinion, not to mention Jewish commentary which attributes the being as the Messiah himself.4  That the New Testament holds this view is undeniable from numerous sources but perhaps the most important one comes from John 12:34 which reads:

34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

In this verse both “the Messiah” (the Christ) and “the Son of Man” are used interchangeably.  This demonstrates that the most common view at the time of Christ would have been that “the Son of Man” was a title for the Messiah.  Further emphasis can come from Mark 14:61-62, 64 which reads:

61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” … 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

Many argue that this passage is one of the strongest passages demonstrating that Jesus not only ascribed Deity to himself, but that this would have been the earliest Christian view.5  We can see this because Jesus affirms the question – he is the Messiah, the Son of the Most High, attributes himself as the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds.  Their response was that this was blasphemy and punishable by death.  He can be referring to no other Old Testament passage of Scripture but Daniel 7:13-14.6

The Son of Man

While the title “The Son of Man” is no doubt messianic with divine implications it also foreshadows something that many might incidentally overlook.  The title itself is one that demonstrates the humanity of Jesus.  The Messiah was to be God himself, as I’ve already demonstrated both here and in Part 3 of this series.  But he would also be the human representative.  The “one like a son of man” is alluding to the human form of this being but also that he is a representative of mankind.  In fact, the LXX renders the line as “a being like a son of mankind.”7

This is important for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the nature of the Godhead.  If the “one like a son of man” is Christ and Deity and the Ancient of Days is clearly Deity, why are they presented as distinct and yet the same?  The Messiah is God in human form.

But as a representative of mankind, Christ is then the just judge as Jesus alludes to in Matthew 16:27-28.  This is only solidified in Matthew 19:28, Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 25:31.  And this authority to judge is not exclusive to the New Testament.  It can be seen in Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 9:6-7, most of Isaiah 11 and Ezekiel 34:23-24.  Hebrews 4:15 notes specifically that our High Priest is one who was in all ways like us, but did not sin.

Conclusion

The title “the one who is to come” is rooted in Psalm 118:26 and hinted at in Daniel 7:13-14.  Through these passages we can see that the Messiah was to be God himself in human form.  Jesus clearly associates himself as the “one like a son of man” who is to rule as the righteous judge under full authority of God the Father.  In the next few posts I’ll look specifically at the deeds which Christ points to as the witness of who he is.

  1. See Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21.
  2. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, use: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  3. This view is presented by J. J. Collins in “The Son of Man and the Saints of the Most High in the Book of Daniel,” JBL 93 (1974): 50–66.
  4. Miller, S. R. (1994). Vol. 18: Daniel. The New American Commentary (209). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  5. Mark is regarded as the earliest written Gospel narrative and a source text for both Matthew and Luke.  See Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  6. Ibid. footnote 4.
  7. The Lexham English Septuagint. 2012 (R. Brannan, K. M. Penner, I. Loken, M. Aubrey & I. Hoogendyk, Ed.) (Da 7:14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

May 282012
 
This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Eschatological Types: A Pre-Trib Rapture

The book of Daniel is certainly no stranger to eschatology.  With ample dreams, visions, cryptic riddles and symbolism, it is a fascinating book to study and interestingly becomes a key and anchor to understanding much of the timeline of Scripture in regards to the first and second coming of Christ.  Scholars argue endlessly about it and attempt to late-date its authorship due to the fact that its accuracy in prophecy is so sharp.  They claim it couldn’t possibly have been written at the time of the Babylonian exile.  For the Christian, this sort of attempt is meaningless since Jesus spoke of a key event prophesied by Daniel in Daniel 9:27; 11:31 and 12:11 and refers to Daniel by name as the author in Matthew 24:15-18 (also Mark 13:14).

At the beginning of the Babylonian captivity we find Daniel and three of his friends receiving prominent status in the King’s service.  They are educated for three years upon arrival in order to learn of the literature and language of the Chaldeans (Danial 1:4-5).  All four of them receive Babylonian names and we end up knowing Daniel’s three friends by those names moreso than their Hebrew names.  They are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

In Daniel 2:1-6 we find King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that bothers him so much so that he commands the wise men of Babylon to not only give him an interpretation of the dream but to tell him what the dream was.  Of course, they ask the king to tell them the dream first and then they will interpret it but the king sees through this and demands they should be able to explain the dream as well.  When they are unable, King Nebuchadnezzar orders the wise men to be killed, among them, Daniel and his companions (Daniel 2:13).  When Daniel hears about the order he petitions the captain of the guard to give him an opportunity to fulfill the king’s request (Daniel 2:24).

Daniel is brought before the king and announced as a man from among the exiles from Judah who can make known the dream and its interpretation.  The king questions Daniel if he is truly able and Daniel responds:

“No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Da 2:27–28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Clearly, Daniel isn’t about to take any credit for explaining the dream and its interpretation.  He then goes on to explain the dream to the king in Daniel 2:31-35.  He explains that the king saw a great image that had a head of fine gold, a chest and arms of silver, middle and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and its feet of iron mixed with clay.  Suddenly a stone ‘cut out by no human hand’ struck the image on its feet and the feet shattered followed by the iron, bronze, silver and gold.  After the statue was destroyed, the stone that struck it became a mountain and filled the earth.

The dreams interpretation is the history of man followed by the setting up of God’s kingdom.  Daniel explains in 2:36-45 that the head of gold represents Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon followed by the silver representing a kingdom inferior to Babylon that will arise, followed by a third kingdom of bronze that will rule.  Finally a fourth kingdom that will divide and break into pieces until finally the stone ‘cut without hands’ destroys the fourth kingdom and sets up his kingdom that will never be destroyed which is God’s kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar is astounded and of all things, falls on his face and pays homage to Daniel recognizing that Daniel’s God is truly the God of gods.  Daniel is promoted ruler over Babylon (next to Nebuchadnezzar, of course) and chief of the wise men.  Daniel then promotes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be put in offices over Babylon while Daniel remained in the court of the king.

Daniel was raised up as the leader of the world (Babylon) second only to the king.  Back in Genesis 41 Joseph rose to power in a very similar scenario.  He had interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh and Pharaoh proceeds to promote Joseph as ruler over Egypt (Genesis 41:40-41).  In Revelation 5:9-10 the church is referred to as a kingdom of priests who will reign, some translations state ‘kings and priests’.  Revelation 1:5-6 also makes this statement.  It is with this idea in mind that Daniel becomes a picture of the church.

Nebuchadnezzar had an image of gold created whose height was 60 cubits and breath 6 cubits (Daniel 3:1).  This statue was all gold (probably wood overlaid with gold) and perhaps a reaction to the dream and its interpretation in chapter 2.  Of course in the dream, the head was of gold and Nebuchadnezzar was told that he was the head of gold.  The king to some degree figured better to make this image of all gold, not to let his pride be outdone.  In Daniel 3:4-6 he further commands that everyone is to worship this image whenever certain music is played and if they do not, they will be thrown into a fiery furnace.  Of course, any exile from Judah who worships Yahweh knows that this is strictly forbidden and this becomes a problem for Daniels three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They refuse to bow down and worship the image and the kings magistrates make this known to the king (Daniel 3:9-12).  Nebuchadnezzar has the three summoned to be interrogated and surely they answer the king that it is indeed the case, that they worship Yahweh and cannot worship the image (Daniel 3:16-18).

Of course the king isn’t happy about this response.  He has the furnace heated 7 times hotter than normal and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into it.  The furnace was so hot that the flames even killed the men who were taking the three in.  Once they were in, the king watched but to his amazement he counted four men in the furnace (Daniel 3:24-25), one with an appearance ‘as that of a son of the gods’.  Nebuchadnezzar orders them to be removed from the furnace and not a hair on their head had been burned (Daniel 3:27).  The king orders that no one is to speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego under penalty of death and promoted the three.

The fiery furnace is easily a picture of the tribulation and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are much like the remnant of Israel.  The question in all of this is: Where is Daniel?  The first two chapters wouldn’t exist without Daniel.  The rest of the book (except for chapter four) surrounds Daniels life.  Surely, Daniel must have been around at the time this had gone on, or perhaps he was on travel somewhere but the absence of him in Daniel 3 is peculiar and not unlike the absence of Isaac after he was taken up to Mount Moriah to be offered by Abraham.  It is with his absence that a picture of a pre-tribulation rapture can form.

Daniel (a picture of the church) is removed prior to the fiery furnace (the tribulation) while his three friends (the remnant of Israel) are being saved (or sealed) by God.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.