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The Son of Man (Dan 7:9-14)

We all have dreams don’t we? During our sleep we sometimes dream about things that are pleasant, things that are scary and sometimes things that are strange. In our Bible reading today, we heard about a strange dream Daniel had in his sleep one night. As he laid in his bed in Babylon, Daniel had a dramatic dream involving an old man and a ‘son of man’. A vivid dream featuring an ‘ancient of days’ and a coming king.

As we try to understand Daniel’s dream this morning, we’ll see a Power and a Puzzle, and face a Question and an Answer.

A Power: The Ancient of Days!

Daniel’s dream began with the sight of a great Power. He looked and saw a powerful person he calls “the Ancient of Days” (v.9). An old man seated on a flaming throne, with clothing as white as snow, hair as white as wool, plus thousands and thousands of angels all around him. It’s an amazing scene. A scene that shows us God’s character and his courtroom, God’s personality and his power, because this ‘Ancient of Days’ is God himself.

By calling him the Ancient of Days, Daniel is reminding us that God is eternal and everlasting. God has always been around, and always will be. He was around before we were born and even before the world was made. History is his story.

God’s character is symbolised by his hair and his clothes as well as his name. They are vivid white – whiter than any washing powder could ever achieve! This striking brightness shows us that God is perfect and pure. He is completely good and totally loving. Compared to him, even the nicest people we know would look rather grubby!

Daniel’s dream also shows us God’s courtroom, as well as God’s character. Daniel sees God take his seat on a throne (v.9). A throne which reminds us that God rules the world and is the judge of everyone. God will one day weigh up everything that is ever said and done, and judge fairly and justly. In his dream Daniel saw God opening some books. Books that recorded what had taken place on earth – books containing the evidence for God’s judgement.

Daniel then actually sees God deliver a verdict and pass a sentence. Some ugly-looking beasts with horns are stripped of their power, condemned and destroyed by fire. These beasts represent evil human kingdoms. Kingdoms like Babylon, which had oppressed and persecuted God’s people. Daniel’s dream is telling him – and us – that one day God will get rid of evil, and put all things right. Goodness will win in the end.

A Puzzle: The Son of Man?

But the next part of Daniel’s dream is a puzzle, really quite confusing. An unknown man takes the stage. A man Daniel calls the ‘son of man’. What’s particularly puzzling is that this is clearly no ordinary human being. This ‘son of man’ seems to be on very friendly terms with God. He seems to be literally “God’s right hand man”. In fact, he even seems to be a lot like God himself. For example:

  • The Son of Man arrives on the scene “coming with the clouds of heaven” (v.13). Elsewhere in the Bible (e.g. Ps 68:4) we are told that riding on clouds is something that only God does. Cloud-surfing is not a normal human activity!
  • What’s more, when he does arrive on his cloud, this Son of Man is led straight into the presence of God, right up to the Ancient of Days (v.13). That is remarkable, when you remember how holy God is. What kind of man could walk confidently and easily into the presence of our perfect God? Not a normal fallible, fallen person like you and me, for sure!
  • What happens next is even more amazing. The Son of Man begins to be “worshipped” by “nations and peoples of every language”. Surely only God can be worshipped? What on earth (or, to be more precise, in heaven!) is going on?
  • At the end of Daniel’s dream, God gives this astonishing ‘son of man’ a kingdom. He makes this man a king and gives him “authority, glory and sovereign power” forever. His kingdom will never end, it is an “everlasting dominion”. Our great Queen has recently died, but this king’s reign will never end!

An Answer: Christ has come!

So just who is this son of man? And if he really is the ruler of the world and God’s right-hand man, we really would be wise to get to know him.

Thankfully there is an answer to our puzzle – our confusion can be lifted! Because the New Testament, written hundreds of years after Daniel’s dream, gives us the solution. The son of man that Daniel saw was Jesus – the king promised in the dream was the Christ to come.

During his life Jesus repeatedly called himself the Son of Man – both in public and in private, in the countryside and in the city. It was his most common self-description.

Above all, Jesus called himself the son of man at his trial in Jerusalem. On that first Good Friday, Jesus was asked directly if he was the Messiah. And he replied: “I am…and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven”.

A Question: Who will be your king?

So Jesus clearly claimed to be the Son of Man that Daniel foresaw in his dramatic dream. But the question is, do we believe his claim? Normally a question comes before an answer, but not today. Because if Jesus really is the Son of Man, if he really is God’s promised King, then we all face a really big question: Will Jesus be our king? Will we let him rule over every aspect of our lives?

Because if we have made Jesus our King, if we have submitted to his rule in repentance and faith, then we can approach God’s throne with total confidence. We will be welcomed as a friend of God, able to enjoy his presence and his paradise forever. We will be in an eternal relationship with the Ancient of Days. It’s literally a dream come true, an opportunity not to be missed – and its great news we should share with others!

Phil Weston

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