Tag Archives: Book of Daniel

An Eternal Kingdom: Promised and Unveiled

Temple of Artemis remains, Ephesus

Temple of Artemis remains, Ephesus

When I was in Ephesus, Turkey, our tour group saw the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the famous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The site had one tall pillar and another shorter one. The pillars were not unearthed in this shape – they had been stacked with sections from pieces of sculpted stone that had been scattered around the site. Nothing besides these two reconstructed pillars were left from what was once one of the marvels of the ancient world. This was a stark visual reminder that even the most impressive structures do not stand the test of time. Only God’s kingdom will endure.

Daniel 7:9-14 describes this vision of an eternal kingdom. In this passage, which comes in the form of a heavenly vision, the prophet Daniel sees a judgment scene taking place, with the Ancient of Days (God) taking his seat as the judge. God judges a number of beasts, which are symbolic for powerful earthly kingdoms that have raised themselves up against God’s kingdom. One by one, these kingdoms, which seemed so permanent and dominant at the time, have their power removed from them by the One who has final and complete authority.

The scene shifts in verse 13. The Ancient of Days still presides over the proceedings, but instead of beasts, “one like a son of man” approaches God’s throne. In other words, Daniel sees someone who looks like one of us. When the son of man comes before the Ancient of Days, he is given “dominion and glory and a kingdom.” The passage says that all people and nations will recognize his authority, and his reign will be permanent. This is the one kingdom that will stand the test of time!

We learn several things about God’s kingdom from this passage. First, God’s kingdom has been opposed throughout the history of the world. But no kingdom ever prevails against God’s kingdom. Additionally, although God in some sense has always and will always rule over this world, he has designated a special representative, the son of man, to implement this kingdom directly on the earth.

In Mark 1:14-15 Jesus describes this kingdom as “good news” or “gospel” (these are the same word in the Greek language). This emphasizes again the idea that God’s good and perfect reign is cause for hope and celebration. When Jesus says that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (or near),” he means that according to God’s timetable the promised kingdom of God is ready to be unveiled. The kingdom was drawing near with the arrival of the King – the Son of Man – Jesus. In fact, in all four Gospels, “Son of Man” is Jesus’ preferred title for himself. Jesus understood that his ultimate calling was to rule over the world as God’s Anointed One.

Jesus makes it clear that the arrival of the kingdom rests in God’s hands alone. Jesus doesn’t tell his listeners to build the kingdom. Instead, he simply announces the coming of the kingdom. What did Jesus tell the people to do in response? He told them to “repent and believe in the gospel” (the good news he had just spoken about). God is bringing his kingdom to the world, but people cannot enter in their current state of resistance to God. They must humbly repent and believe.

The proclamation of the arrival of God’s long-awaited kingdom was and is good news for a world that needs God’s leadership and authority. In response, we must get on board with God’s kingdom agenda by repenting from our sin and our own agendas. We must humbly believe in God, his kingdom, and his king – Jesus.

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Son of Man – Judge of the World

Indiana Supreme Court

One of the “divine prerogatives” (divine rights) that Jesus receives from the Father is the right to judge the world. This is made clear in John 5:19-30, where Jesus states that he has the power both to give life and to judge:

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22, ESV). “And he (the Father) has given him (the Son) authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).

Here are two interesting observations to be drawn from this passage:

1) The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 1:36), is the same one who judges – Jesus. This fits into the two advent ministry of Jesus found elsewhere in the New Testament (especially 1 Thess 4:14-5:11 and Heb 9:27-28), in which Jesus comes to the world a first time as sacrificial Savior and a second time (in the future) as conquering King.

2) Jesus explains that the reason he has the authority to execute judgment is because of his identity as the Son of Man (John 5:27). This directs us to Daniel 7:13-14:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

The parallels between John 5 and Daniel 7 are intriguing. Jesus talks about the Father giving all judgment to the Son (John 5:22; 5:27). The same picture emerges in Daniel 7, where the Son of Man is presented with a kingdom by the Ancient of Days. In both cases, all people in the world answer to the Son of Man and his authority. The kingdom given to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 involves dominion over “all peoples, nations, and languages.” Jesus is given “all judgment,” so that “all may honor the Son,” according to John 5:22-23.

What are the implications of Jesus’ right to judge?

1. When we think of the kingdom of God – the kingdom given to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus in his earthly ministry, we should think of a kingdom that in the end will be displayed in all power and authority. As part of the worldwide recognition of Jesus as King, other kingdoms and powers will be crushed (as in the greater context of Daniel), and allies of those kingdoms will be judged.

2. According to John 3:16-17, Jesus came to the world the first time not to condemn but to offer himself as a sacrifice for his enemies. This offer of peace with the rightful ruler of the world is a demonstration of God’s great love for the world. Now is the season for declaring allegiance to Christ, now is the time to have sins forgiven through his sacrificial death. The one who will judge is providing the gift and opportunity of resurrection to life rather than resurrection to judgment (John 5:29; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus understood his ministry according to Old Testament categories. There is so much to be gleaned from a careful study of Jesus against this Old Testament context. And there is so much to be gained from trusting in Jesus as the Son of Man, who both offered his life for us and is coming again in glory.

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