Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we looked at Daniel 7. Often this kind of Old Testament text is used to give stern moral warnings, strong messages of “You should do this…You should avoid that…“. But, really, is that what they’re all about?
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So what does Daniel 7 mean in context, what did it all mean to God’s people at the time it was witnessed, written, and recorded? Well, it confirmed for them that they ought to be looking ahead and waiting for the Son of Man as the ultimate source of hope, not looking to the earthly empire currently ruling. Their whole national history and identity was plagued with leader after leader who let them down. To look within for a future hope would be, ultimately, fruitless. This wasn’t a new idea for them, the Son of Man, rather, it would be the culmination of all of their Jewish Messianic hopes that were rooted in Scripture and that went as far back as the book of Genesis. This royal ruler who would come and rule on earth as in heaven, with all the Divine authority of the One true God.
For you and for me then, how does Jesus fulfil or improve or change what happened here? We’re not God’s people in exile, are we, so how does this look in our lives today? Well, in reading Daniel 7 we’ve already seen Jesus fulfil, haven’t we?
“I was watching in the night visions,
And with the clouds of the sky
one like a son of man was approaching.
He went up to the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.
Jesus repeatedly referred to himself as the “Son of Man”.
Given how He spoke of Himself, Jesus saw that the text we call Daniel 7 is about the point in the future to which we all should look to draw hope for the coming of a new humanity that will finally realise the ideals that God has for His creation.
That hope started right back at the beginning and here in Daniel 7 we see it’s future fulfilment. In between the history of Genesis and the prophetic future seen by Daniel, Jesus came and said, simply, “Look, this is me, I am how it is all going to come together: heaven and earth, past and present and future, Messiah, Christ, and human, God and man“.
As far back as Genesis 3, God made a promise (3.15) that a human, a man, would come one day. He would be the son of the woman, a son of mankind. He would crush the evil forces at work in the world, whilst at the same time being injured temporarily by them. This theme and motif then develops throughout the grand narrative of the Bible: we see glimpses of it in people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the Judges, David, Hosea, Esther, Boaz, in so many places! They were all the redeemer, the saviour, the leader for that season, but none of them were spoken about like this,
To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty.
All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him.
His authority is eternal and will not pass away.
His kingdom will not be destroyed.
And so God’s people were still waiting.
Daniel 7 is one of the most important Old Testament passages for our understanding of what Jesus is all about. Empires and earthly authority melt away before Him and He will join heaven and earth for all eternity.
What does this all mean for you today?
Daniel 7 shows you just how far into the future you need to be looking for hope. If you look at the next six months, the next year, the next ten years, it might look good or maybe even great.
It might look terrible. If you look a hundred years into the future, it will look very different.
If you look two hundred years down the line of time, none of us will be here. None.
Things then look very different, don’t they? How far into the future you look will determine, to a degree, what you do today.
If you take your eyes off the inevitable march of time and off the myriad of wonderings as to what will happen in six weeks, six months, a couple of years, a decade, or forty years, and you look beyond time itself, this is what you see: you see the events of Daniel 7. You see the events of the book of Revelation, you see all the things that you are told again and again and again when hearing the Word of God taught come to fruition. This then gives you a very different perspective on your ‘now’.
One big problem with modern day believers, with you and with me, is our short term mindset. We want things now, we are accustomed to instant gratification. If something cannot give us pleasure or serve our purpose immediately, we often discount it as not-quite-good-enough. Maybe you think you don’t have a short-term mindset: you know, “I’ve got a five year plan“. Great, good for you, but we are talking about eternity here, not five years. We are talking about when our abstract concept of time passes away and things just…are…We are talking about, as we read here today, forever and ever. Your five year plan will mean nothing to you then. So sure, have one now and be a planner: put plans and provisions in place should the worst happen. Be a good steward of all that God has blessed you with, but hold it all lightly, take your eyes off it all now and again and think bigger picture. As a believer your life is now eternal, so, believer, think eternally. Step back and see the bigger picture once in a while. In fact, do it more than once in a while. Do it often. Step back and see the panoramic view that is God’s plan for humanity and the immense hope that is at the pinnacle of that plan.
As Daniel (ch.7) and Nebuchadnezzar (ch.2) saw the same thing from different perspectives, how you look at the future will impact tremendously how you feel about it now, what you do about it, and how you live in the here and now.
How far into the future do I really need to look? To eternity.
How far away is your horizon? It should be infinite.
Why? Because the son of man has come on the clouds and has been seated at the right hand of God himself. There is a new way of thinking, of living, of doing life now.
Everything is going to be different as a result of this.N.T. Wright
We have recorded here in Daniel 7 (but bigger picture in the whole of Scripture) what will happen in the future. Study it, learn it, take immense hope from it. If you have put your faith in Jesus then you are a part of it. Your future is not a source of anxiety, of unknown, of fear and trepidation. In His great love for you God has already told you what will happen. Take immense and unshakeable hope from that.