Lord, You are the seat of all power.
Read DANIEL 7:1–14
Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts
7 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
4 “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a human being, and the mind of a human was given to it.
5 “And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’
6 “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.
7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
8 “While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
9 “As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.
11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
a Daniel 7:13 The Aramaic phrase bar enash means human being. The phrase son of man is retained here because of its use in the New Testament as a title of Jesus, probably based largely on this verse.
New International Version (NIV)
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Jesus said: “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).
As we have seen, the first six chapters constitute a set of narratives describing how Daniel and his companions were faithful to God in an alien and pagan environment. These narratives give inspiration to Christians facing persecution and also to Christians with influence in situations where God is not acknowledged or is specifically rejected. But there is a major gear change at chapter 7, where we begin the second half of the book, which describes Daniel’s dreams and visions, their interpretation, and his response in prayer.
Chapter 7 ushers us back to the reign of Belshazzar (1). Daniel’s dream/vision describes the beastliness (3–7) and arrogance (8) that often characterize humans in power. As I write these notes, the world’s news is full of bloody conflicts in many places. I get sickened by the callous way in which warring leaders pursue power, seemingly indifferent to the suffering inflicted upon ordinary citizens: beastliness and arrogance indeed! We will return to the four great beasts tomorrow; today, we focus on the new and encouraging visions which Daniel recounts in verses 9–14.
First (9,10), we see where power truly lies: with God. Our youth-obsessed western culture may regard the phrase “Ancient of Days” as implying the frailty of old age. However, in Israelite and Babylonian culture it denotes someone respected and wise, never taken by surprise, and someone who has been present long before these temporary empires: the God who in fact has existed from eternity. Second (11,12), we are shown the folly of the little horn’s boasting, seeming almost comical against the backdrop of God’s throne room, authority and power. Third, true “authority, glory, and sovereign power” (14) are given by God to “one like a son of man” (13), someone who is all that humans were intended to be.
Imagine yourself in the throne room of God (9,10,13,14). Pray again, perhaps with new intensity, “Your kingdom come.”
Lord, I thank You that I am not some high and mighty sovereign but rather a lowly servant of the Most High God.