September 20 – Daniel 7:13-14


In the next two weeks we’ll be starting up book studies through Dr. Eric Mason’s Woke Church! If your group wants to read together, whether some or all of you, you can get discussion questions and other resources over at any questions? Email Eric.

This week concludes our series in Daniel, and I always think it’s helpful to give a backwards look at the end of a series to better remember what the Lord has been saying to us through it, so leave some time for the last question in the discussion below. And heads up, Daniel chapters 1-6 are narrative episodes from Daniel’s time in the Babylonian and Persian courts, but chapters 7-12 recount Daniel’s prophetic visions, which read very differently. So keep that in mind this week as we delve into Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man—it won’t be anything like the past five weeks, though they’ll still inform the way we read Daniel 7:13-14.

Our passage is an excerpt from a longer vision, the Vision of the Four Beasts, which occupies all of chapter 7. Give it a read for some context, especially for understanding why Daniel might see this vision of the Son of Man and yet be anxious and alarmed (7:15). Since we’re focusing on verses 13-14 we won’t get too deep into the beasts, why they’re so weird, and what in the world is going on with all these horns. But check out verses 17-18 for a really quick interpretation of the vision: “These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.” These beast-kings are so repulsive and offensive because, compared to the Kingdom of God, so are the kingdoms of men, at least the oppressive kingdoms that are envisioned here in Daniel and were on the minds of the exiled Israelite community. The coming of the Kingdom of God is glorious not only because God is glorious but also because its dominion puts a permanent end to human oppression.

Verses 9-10 describe God, the Ancient of Days, surrounded by the people of the earth and seated on his throne for judgment. This is a really important aspect to the end of human kingdoms; not only will they end, but God will sit in judgment of them. Thus their oppression won’t just be buried and forgotten, but they will have to answer for it. As much as judgment might make us squeamish to talk about, its incredibly important to God’s character, knowing that he won’t turn a blind eye to human oppression. And it’s an important aspect to the authority given to this Son of Man figure in verse 13.

Now, when we come across this Son of Man our minds will immediately jump to Jesus, as well it should. When it comes to the unfolding revelation of the Messiah throughout Israel’s history, this example in Daniel’s vision is a primary installment, confirming that the Messiah would reign over God’s Kingdom and would in some way be divine (the “coming on the clouds” here really connotes deity). Plus “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for himself in the Gospels—check out Mark 14:61-62, “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ 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.'” This is most certainly a prophecy about Jesus’ second coming and the fulfillment of his eternal Kingdom.

But keep in mind that Daniel and his contemporaries didn’t know all that (at least, the passage doesn’t lead us to believe so). So for Daniel this would’ve been pretty new. Based on his point in history he likely would’ve been aware of other scriptures that pointed to this coming Ruler, like Isaiah 9 or Micah 4-5. But details about the person of Jesus and his incarnation, atoning death, and resurrection were likely veiled to Daniel. So we read this as a clear indicator of a coming hope, but Daniel clearly wondered, “What does all this mean?”(7:16) And for us, that place of confusion and unknowing is relevant. While we look forward to Jesus’ coming Kingdom and the end of failing human kingdoms, we truly don’t know when that will happen or what exactly it’ll be like. We’ve got a few more details to the picture than Daniel did, but there are still some really fuzzy parts. All of that to say, we can simultaneously commit our hope to the sureness of this message, knowing that one day Jesus’ Kingdom will come forever, and commit our trust to God in the midst of turmoil, knowing that between now and then we might still look at the world around us in alarm and wonder, “What does all this mean?”

Questions for Discussion

Be sure to check with your group to see who might be interested in reading Woke Church together.

• Would someone read Daniel 7:13-14 for us?

• What stands out to you from this passage?

• When we read this vision we might immediately jump to Jesus, but Daniel saw this hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. What do you think he thought about this vision?

• How do you think this vision was significant to the exiled Israelite community?

• How do you related to this passage? What does it stir up in you?

• This week concludes our series in Daniel. What’s something that has stuck with you from this series?