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Daniel's Son of Man and the Messiah

Ron Elkin
Ammi Ministry


Daniel lived in the 6th century B.C. and was one of the young Israelite exiles brought into Babylon. It appears he was part of the royal families or one of the noble families. Though he foretold many future events, he is not considered a prophet because his writings were not directly given to the people of Israel in the land of Israel. His book in the Jewish Bible is in the Ketuvim or Writings section along with Job, Psalms, and Proverbs.

Many of the remarkable prophetic details that Daniel wrote appear to describe the actions of Antiochus Epiphany in 2nd Century against Israel and the worship of the God Israel. Some commentators therefore insist that this book was written in or after 164 B.C. However there are several points that support a 6th century composition by Daniel.

  1. The Dead Sea Scrolls are carbon dated to have been written in the 2nd Century B.C. In the Scrolls, Daniel is revered and referred to as Scripture.
  2. Aramaic Persian words used in Daniel are of a 6th century origin.
  3. Daniel is referred to in Ezek. 14:12-20 as being righteousness and in Ezek. 28:3, by implication, as being wise. Ezekiel is also a 6th century prophet who wrote about 6th century events.
  4. Jesus referred to Daniel as a prophet in Matt. 24:15.
  5. References to Daniel's writing occur in 133 verses of the New Testament from almost all of the New Testament books.

All these facts give credence to the super-natural prophetic nature of Daniel's writings.

Daniel was a faithful believer in God. He and his three of his companions were trained to become officials in the service of King Nebuchadnezzar. Even though they had the opportunity eat the rich non-kosher food of the Babylonians, they chose to eat only simple food that would keep them within the Mosaic laws. God blessed their faithfulness and gave them robust health.

They were trained in the language and the customs of Babylon. After their training was completed, the king questioned Daniel, and he excelled ten times greater in knowledge and wisdom than other officials.

The Elevation of Daniel: The Interpretation of the King's Dream

In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and wants his wise men to reveal it and interpret it. Because none of them are able to do this, he issues an order to kill all the wise men of his kingdom. Daniel is able to delay being killed by telling the King he can interpret the dream. Daniel seeks the Lord and is given understanding by God. Out of gratitude he proclaims his praise of God:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. Daniel 2:20-21.

This praise of Daniel reminds us of James 1:5:"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

Daniel goes to the captain of the king's guard and intercedes for the wise men of the land and explains that he can interpret the King's dream.

Practical Implication

This action shows God's Spirit working through Daniel. Instead of lifting himself above the wise men, the same men who later try to have Daniel killed, he pleads for their lives. May we also maintain a humble attitude when God enables us to excel at something.

Interpreting the King's Dream

Daniel approaches the king, giving glory to God for his ability to reveal and interpret Nebuchadnezzar's Dream. The King dreamed of a large image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, abdomen and upper thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, with feet a mixture of iron and clay. Then Nebuchadnezzar saw a stone from heaven appear that was not carved from human hands. It smashes the image's feet, followed by the remainder of the image. The image is broken into pieces like the chaff from wheat that is carried away by wind and no trace of it is left (Dan. 2:31-35). Finally, the stone becomes a great mountain and fills the earth.

Daniel tells the King the head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Kingdom. Murdak, the chief god of Babylon, was called the god of gold. Babylon also used gold extensively in their buildings and shrines.

The silver section of the image, the chest and arms, represented the kingdom that would replace Babylon, the Medo-Persian Kingdom. In that time, silver represented money. The Medo-Persian Empire was known for its heavy taxation and based part of its power on the accumulated wealth.

The bronze part of the statue, which includes the abdomen and the two thighs, represents Greece. Greece used bronze extensively in their weapons.

Greece was succeeded by a Rome, which is represented by the legs and feet of the statue. Rome used iron in its military weapons. Iron is stronger than gold, silver or bronze and is able to crush these other metals. The Roman Empire was known for its brute force when it invaded countries. The two legs could depict the fact that the empire was ultimately divided into two major divisions, the eastern and western. By A.D. 364, each had its own capital, Rome in the west and Constantinople in the East.

The feet of clay and iron mixed together represent a weak unity. Neither can really adhere to one another. In chapter 7, Daniel receives a vision of four beasts that represent the same four kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar's image. In this vision, ten kingdoms arise from the fourth beast, which represents Rome. In the known history of the Roman Empire, there was never a notable division of the Roman Empire into ten kingdoms. Therefore, the feet appear to represent the remaining empires that will develop in human history and that derive their roots from the Roman Empire.

Whatever they exactly represent is not the main point. The main point is that these first four empires represent human effort to rule the earth and that they will ultimately disappear and be replaced by the fifth kingdom that comes from heaven. All these earthly kingdoms represent man's effort for glory. They will be destroyed and reduced to nothing like thin chaff is blown by the wind.

The fifth kingdom will never be replaced by another kingdom; it will last forever, The Babylonians also called their chief god, Murdak, "The Great Mountain." They made their temples to look like mountains. This was another way of letting Nebuchadnezzar know that this fifth kingdom was of divine origin.

This divine kingdom will come at the end of human power and shatter human efforts to rule the earth. As we know from history and our present governments, human efforts at ruling bring great trouble and often disaster.

Human empires ultimately try to rule without God. We can see how American, which included many Bible believing Christians among its founders, is gradually turning its back on God and believing it can survive through material wealth.

Psalm 2 is a picture of what we see going on today among human empires:

Why do the nations rage
And the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,

"Let us burst their bonds apart
And cast away their cords from us."

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
The Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
And terrify them in his fury.

Daniel's Vision in Chapter 7

Here is a more detailed look at the four beasts from Daniel's vision in chapter 7.

  1. The first of the four beasts is a winged lion, another national symbol for Babylon.
  2. The next beast is a bear, which represents the Medo-Persian Empire. Its body is high on one side. This could represent the fact that the Persian part of the empire was greater than the Median division. This empire was larger than the Babylonian empire but was slower, like a bear is to a lion, in its conquest and development.
  3. The third beast is a leopard with four wings and four heads, which represents the kingdom of Greece. A leopard is very fast and represents the quick expansion of the Greek Empire by Alexander the Great. When he died, his empire divided into four parts by his four generals.
  4. The fourth beast has terrible teeth of iron and represents Rome, like the legs of iron in Nebuchadnezzar's image. There is a division of the empire by the rising up of ten horns followed by a third phase of the empire during which an eleventh "little horn" arises and uproots three of the ten horns. This horn is a boastful being who speaks prideful utterances.
  5. Daniel receives an interpretation of these horns in 7:23-34. They represent kingdoms that arise from the Roman Empire. However, Bible scholars view the eleventh little horn in different ways. Some believe it is the Syrian ruler Antiochus, who hindered the worship of God in Israel in the 2nd century B.C. The Reformation Study Bible and other Reformed commentators see this horn as the first reference to the Antichrist and compare it to the oppressor of God's people seen in Rev. 13:7. It is also possibly both a prophecy of both Antiochus and the Antichrist of Revelation.

Since the evil eleventh horn comes out of the great Roman Empire with all its power and domination of the world, who can judge it and wipe the earth free of it? Praise God the horn is judged and destroyed according to Daniel 7:26 by Almighty God.

Judgment on the Kingdoms of the World

We see the beginning of the process of the judgment upon this evil, boasting oppressor of God's people as well as of all the human kingdoms in Daniel 7:9-14. Verses 9-10 read,

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. 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.

The Court Comes to Order

The Ancient of Days is obviously God. The white hair and clothes represent the purity of God, the righteous Judge. The river of fire represents the glory of God. At the wilderness tabernacle in Exodus, the presence of God appeared in the form of a pillar of fire at night.

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

In verse 10, the number of people worshipping God is 101 million and represents the innumerable angles mentioned in Heb. 12:18-23:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly´╗┐ of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect...

In Daniel's vision in chapter 7, the court sits and the books are opened. There are several verses in both the Old and New Testaments associated with God's books that relate to judgment. For example, in Exodus 32:32-33 Moses pleads for God to forgive sinful Israel and asks God to blot his own name out of God's book but to spare Israel. God declares that whoever sins against Him, He will blot out of His book.

In Daniel 12:1, God will deliver those written in His book. In Rev. 20:12-15, there is terrible punishment in hell for all eternity for those whose names are not written in God's book of life. Since all of us are sinners, we are already blotted out of God's book of life--unless by faith in God's precious Son, our names are written in His book.

Verse 11 of Daniel 7 brings us back to why the court of God is in session. The court is bringing the final judgment on the evil human kingdoms and on Satan. Psalm 8 declares that mankind was given dominion over the earth as deputies of God, but in our fallen and rebellious condition we have failed to establish God's righteousness. Thus man's kingdom is found guilty and the boastful beast is slain and thrown into hell. With the end of human kingdoms, God's kingdom will be fully realized, as we will see in verses 13-14.

"One Like a Son of Man"

In verse 13 "one like a son of man" comes on clouds to the Ancient of Days. The word "like" indicated that this being, while appearing as a man, is different than an ordinary man. We can see this understanding also in Romans 8:3, which states, "God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh." This means that though Jesus appeared as a man, he was more than the visible human body.

"Coming on clouds" is imagery in the O.T. that is reserved for God. Similar imagery is used in Ps. 104:3 and Isa. 19:1, an indication that this one like a son of man is a special being. Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, states that some ancient Jewish Rabbi's believed that Daniel 7:13-14 was a picture of the Messiah.

The Ancient of Days commissions the son of man to establish an everlasting kingdom on the earth, and for all the people of the earth to serve him. This and other sections of Daniel were written in Aramaic. The Aramaic word in verse 14 for "serve" occurs only in Daniel, where it is used seven times. In each occurrence it is used in connection with worshipping a god, either the true God or a pagan god. It is a synonym for worship. That is why the NIV (New International Version) translates the word worship in verse Dan. 7:14.

The first of the Ten Commandments reads as follows:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.

How can God commission this being like a son of man to be worshipped? Wouldn't this be a violation of His commandment? The only way this could be legitimate is if the "son of man" is also deity. Since there is only one God, this son of man is part of the mysterious plural godhead.

This son of man is also pictured as the Messiah. The work of establishing an everlasting kingdom is something Isaiah and others in the Jewish Bible attribute to the Messiah. One example is Isaiah 9:6-7:

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore, the zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

The son of man in Daniel has the authority to establish an everlasting government because he is divine deity and the promised Messiah, a descendant of King David.

Who Is Daniel's Son of Man?

Jesus used the title "son of man" in reference to himself more than any other title. In several verses he refers to the imagery used in Daniel 7:13-14. One example is Matthew 25:30-31. While speaking of the last days and the establishment of God's kingdom, he says in verses 30-31:

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

When Jesus was being interrogated in Matthew 26 by the Sanhedrin, we read in verses 63-64,

But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.

The son of man established a kingdom that is seen in Daniel 2 as the stone cut from heaven without human hands. He will be the one who brings an end to the kingdoms of mankind by establishing God's everlasting kingdom when he returns on the clouds of heaven. Jesus came preaching the good news of salvation and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He came to fulfill what we could not, a righteous kingdom.

By bringing the Kingdom of God, Jesus restores to the people that believe in Him our rightful place as deputy rulers of God's creation. In Psalm 8 God gives mankind dominion over the earth. But in our fallen condition, we botched our assignment and continue to fail. Instead of bringing godly order and productivity, many bring destruction and sorrow.

God re-establishes man's righteous dominion through Jesus by taking on flesh and being the ultimate Man/King who rules correctly. Jesus proclaimed he not only represented the Kingdom but also was the Kingdom. In the days of Daniel a king was both a ruler and the kingdom itself. Jesus showed his kingdom authority by healing the lame, raising the dead, and various other miracles.

For you see, the kingdom of God ultimately brings victory over death and disease. When Jesus died, it appeared at first that He failed to establish the Kingdom of God. However, when He rose from the dead, he showed that he truly was the door to God's kingdom.

Incredibly, Jesus, in Luke 22:28-30, told his disciples that they would share in the kingdom with him. Jesus told them as the Father God assigned the Kingdom to Jesus, he would assign it to his disciples to rule with him on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. In Romans 8:16-17 Paul, talking to all believers, tells us, "The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and if children then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ..."

Colossians 3:4 states, "...your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory..." In Daniel 7:27, we read; "the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the Most High God." Christ and his people are one.

When Saul was persecuting Jewish Christians, Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus. Did Jesus ask Saul why he was persecuting his followers? No, he said, "Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?"

So we not only escape hell by believing in Jesus, we inherit a part in the Son of Man's everlasting kingdom. Can you imagine the beauty of this kingdom? Picture the joy, peace, and energy that we will experience in our resurrected and incorruptible bodies.

The Implications of Psalm 2

Turning back to Psalm 2 and starting in verse 4 to the end of the psalm, we read how God feels about the rebellious nations:

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

"But as for Me, I have installed my King
Upon Zion, my holy hill."

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my Son; Today I have become your Father.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
The ends of the earth your possession.

You will rule them with an iron scepter;
You will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
Be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear
And rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way,
For his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

If God warns the rulers of the earth to be wise and worship the Lord and to show reverence to His Son, how much more should we commoners submit to Christ's authority? Jesus will return: He is the stone that becomes an earth-covering mountain in Daniel 2. His kingdom will cover the whole earth. He is the Son of Man in Daniel 7, who deserves to be worshipped and served by all people of every tribe and nation.

He is the rock of our salvation that cannot be moved. In Luke 20:17, Jesus says he is the cornerstone that the leaders of Israel will reject. He goes on in verse 18 to give a warning through the imagery of this stone. Since he is the head of the building of Israel, those who reject him face the judgment of God. He says,

Everyone who falls on that stone [meaning Jesus] will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Our sins will find us out; there is no hiding from the Creator of the universe who knows all our thoughts and intentions.

Kingdom citizens, rejoice in your future! However, if you have not submitted yourself to God's sovereignty and His rightful reign over your life through faith in the promised Son of Man, you will not take part his glorious kingdom future. Now is the acceptable time of your surrender to the Son of Glory, the Son of Man. Seek the Lord while He can be found. Submit to the King of kings and turn from your wicked ways.

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