In the interpretation given by Daniel of the four beasts which came up from the midst of the sea (Dan. 7), Daniel was told these four beasts were four kingdoms that would arise out of the earth (Dan. 7:17). Daniel wanted to know more of this fourth beast, which was diverse from the other three. It had ten horns and a “little horn” which caused three other horns to fall and which made war with the saints and prevailed against them (Dan. 7:19-22).
In the dream (vision) which Daniel had seen there was a throne placed on “which the ancient of days didst sit” (Dan. 7:9), and judgment was made against that horn and the beast was slain, its body destroyed and burned with fire (Dan. 7:9-11). Then Daniel saw in the night visions “there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given unto him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, and nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).
Several questions arise from these verses. Who is this one called “the ancient of days”? Who is he who is identified as “like unto a son of man”? What was the judgment and who determined what was given to the fourth beast? Why was such honor and power given to the one identified as “like unto a son of man”?
Young’s Analytical Concordance lists only three occurrence of this expression “ancient of days,” and all three are found in Daniel 7 (v. 9, 13, 22). From the things said, there is no doubt as to the identity of the “ancient of days.” Daniel 7:9-10 says, “I beheld and the thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool: his throne was fiery flames and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him and ten thousand times ten thousand (100,000,000) stood before him.” In v. 18 one like unto a son of man was brought near to the “ancient of days” and in v. 22 the “little horn” made “war with the saints and prevailed against them UNTIL (my emphasis, jm) the ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints and they possessed the kingdom.” Clearly, He who is described as the “ancient of days” is the Eternal Father, the Almighty God.
But, who is this one described as “like unto a son of man”? Unlike “ancient of days” which appears exclusively in this chapter, “son of man” is a common expression found many times both in the Old and New Testaments. Both Daniel and Ezekiel are so identified. Yet, there was something significant about the “son of man” of Daniel 7:13-14 for him to have been given, from the “ancient of days,” dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom. The one “like unto a son of man” is Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Jesus so identified Himself in many passages (cp. Matt. 8:20; 16:13). The One who approached the ancient of days was like a son of man, but that did not fully describe His nature for “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God; and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). He was in such august surrounding because, while he was “like unto a son of man,” in reality the billons who ministered to the “ancient of days” were the work of His hands for “all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that hath been made” (Jn. 1:3).
What was the judgment that was given to the “little horn” and who determined it? When we read that “thrones were set and the ancient of days came and the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10), we are not to suppose we are reading of the final judgment. Instead, we are looking at the judgment of that arrogant “little horn” who spoke blasphemous words against God and persecuted (and overcame) the saints. The books which were opened were the deeds and atrocities that the “little horn” had wrought. The judgment was given to the saints who possessed the kingdom; the penalty against that “little horn” was that he was destroyed (killed), and the body of the beast of which he was a part was burned with fire. The destruction of the fourth kingdom was predicted in the destruction of the great image Nebuchadnezzar saw (Dan. 2). In that dream the image was destroyed by a stone cut out without hands from a mountain. This stone smote the image on its feet (the fourth kingdom) and brought about its end. While the implication in Dan. 2 was that the destruction of the image was a divine judgment, Daniel’s dream (Dan. 7) reveals the antipathy of the fourth beast against the saints of God, and leaves no doubt it was God who judged the beast, giving the saints possession of the kingdom by bringing about the end of the persecuting power of that kingdom and ultimately the end of the empire entirely.
But why was such honor (dominion, glory, and everlasting kingdom) given to “one like unto a son of man” who came near before the “ancient of days”? That will be the subject of our next article.