Daniel 7 Bible Study The Times of the Gentiles, The Heavenly Scene

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Book of Daniel Bible Study Commentary Chapter 7 Part 2

The Times of the Gentiles - The Heavenly Scene

by I Gordon

We looked last time at the major kingdoms that would arise and rule on this earth as presented to us in Daniel chapter 7. We saw that the major focus in this chapter was upon the last kingdom and upon a king with a big mouth that will arise in the last days. This king, we saw, will hate God and hate God's people and will change the laws of the land to persecute and kill the saints.

Now, if that was all that the chapter gave us then it would be pretty grim! Thankfully, it's not! You see, the chapter also shows us the plan of God during this time. As well as showing the conditions on Earth at this time, we are given a far greater and more important glimpse into the heavenly scene where the Judge is taking His seat One called 'the Son of Man' is about to begin His rule and reign over this Earth! Now that's what we want to hear so let's look at that now.

The thrones hot'n up!

Dan 7:8-9 'While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.  '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.

Book of Daniel Bible Study Commentary Chapter 7 While big mouth makes his move for dominance on earth, we see a whole different scene emerge in heaven. We read first of all that 'thrones are set in place'. So what thrones are these? What is being setup? What do you think? The setting before us is one of a heavenly courtroom and the thrones are for judgement with one central throne for the judge!  [1] 

Now, what would you say stands out in the scene before us? Two things stand out to me. One is the 'whiteness' of the Judge. And no, we are not talking race here! We are talking about the Judge's nature and character. The other is the fire that seems to engulf the throne He sits on. As types, His appearance as white as snow stands for the absolute purity and righteousness of His character. His title of 'Ancient of Days' indicates His eternal nature - One that has always been and seen all things. Hence, He is someone truly qualified to act as Judge. The fire however stands for the judgement of God. The scene before us is not one that you would call 'friendly'. This is a terrifying scene for those that come before it.  [2]  This is what the writer of Hebrews spoke about when he said 'Our God is a consuming fire... It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.' But how good is it to be 'in Christ'? It is the only safe place in this world. He is the One who has already experienced and taken the wrath of God so all those who are in Him are free from condemnation and wrath!  [3] 

God's library...

Daniel 7:10 '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.'

So we read that thousands upon thousands attend the one on the throne and await His judgement. Remember as you read this, that this is the Heavenly scene as the Antichrist wreaks havoc upon the earth. Innumerable angels stand at God's side waiting to execute the sentence that God announces. And as the court sits, the books are opened. We are used to the 'books being opened' even in an earthly sense. Whenever there is a problem or financial failure in a company you hear 'let's get the books out. We're going to have to do a full audit'. Well, God has His books. They are a record (for our sake, not His!) of those who have eternal life and of those that don't. They are also a record of deeds done in this life of all that have ever lived. I would encourage you to read the inspiring words concerning the Book of Remembrance in Mal 3:13-18. But also take note of the start contrast for unbelievers in Rev 20:11-15 concerning those not found in the Book of Life:

Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (12)  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  (13) The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. (14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (15)  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 

This is, quite possibly, the most sobering passage in all of scripture. It portrays the day when the unsaved from all generations will come before the One whom they had denied, ignored, blasphemed or ridiculed. On that day there will be no way to talk their way out of it. They will stand alone before the Judge see has recorded everything and has missed nothing. Revelation 20:12 speaks of multiple 'books'. There is a book of life mention as well as many books that contain a record of the deeds done by individuals. Nothing escapes God's notice. Beliefs in evolution, reincarnation and universal salvation will be found to be completely worthless. Try to imagine what it would be like to come before this judgement throne knowing that you stand guilty and the punishment is the lake of fire! The Christian church doesn't like to talk or even think about these things much anymore. But they are a coming reality nonetheless. Before moving on, please take some time to think of those you know who do not know the Lord. Please ask the Lord who you should be praying for and speaking to.

Enter 'One like a son of man!'

Daniel 7:13-14 'In my vision at night I looked,and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion  that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

As Daniel continued to look into this Heavenly vision, he sees 'one like a son of man' coming before the Ancient of Days. You can imagine Daniel thinking as he saw this that 'God is giving all authority, power and dominion... to a man! Well, one 'like' a son of man!' Who is this one to whom God gives all authority? That's probably one of my easiest questions yet (I hope!) This is the first mention of Jesus as 'the son of man'  [4]  - a title He applied to Himself more than any other.  [5] 

Now what kind of scene is before us in Dan 7:13-14? It is a coronation scene.  [6]  The Ancient of Days is giving all power and authority over all the nations and peoples into the hands of this one like a son of man. It is the crowning of the King of kings as His rule and Kingdom are about to begin. I love how it says that every nation will worship Him. Finally the One who gave His life for the salvation of men will be receiving the glory from the nations of the world that He deserves. Now this glimpse of Jesus' coronation day has been given to us elsewhere in the word of God. Psalm 2 is a corresponding passage to this one which shows God's response to the rebellion of mankind on earth at this time...

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. 'Let us break their chains,' they say, 'and throw off their fetters.' 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, 'I have installed my King on 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.

For mankind to trust and live in relationship with its Creator is the most sane, logical and reasonable thing one can do. On the other hand, to disbelieve and defy the Almighty (as we see in Psalm 2) is about as irrational and stupid a thing a person can do. But, as we see from Psalm 2 and Daniel 7, the majority of humanity seems to be choosing the later and not the former in the last days. That will however not in anyway stop the 'son of man' from taking this planet by force when He returns! And just as Daniel saw Him coming on the clouds of heaven so Revelation 1:7 tells us that

 'Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.' 

Someone else is given power and sovereignty over the nations... 

Daniel 7:25-28 He (the Antichrist) will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints...''But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.  Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High  . His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.' 'This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.'

In concluding this passage I just want to draw your attention to the last words of the chapter. We have seen that the Antichrist will be persecuting the saints on earth and doing his best to lead a total rebellion against God and His anointed - the Messiah Jesus in the last days. We have also seen that the time will come for judgement as the court in Heaven sits and the books are opened. At this time all authority will be given to Jesus who will take complete control of this earth when He comes.

But look also at who is given sovereignty, power and the greatness of the kingdoms at this time... It says above that this will be 'handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High'. What a privilege that is! Does it not create a greater desire in you to live for Christ now? What about if things become more difficult to live as a Christian in the future? Will you still take your stand to serve and live for Jesus? Remember that as Daniel thought about what he saw he says he was 'deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale.' He was visible shaken. The things that Daniel saw that will come upon the earth are alarming. They are full on. Whether you believe in a Pre, Mid or Post Tribulation rapture  [7]  doesn't change the fact that difficult times lay ahead for Christians. We need to bear this in mind.

Conclusion - Utopia at last?

One last thought before we close this study... Men have always looked for paradise on this Earth. They have looked for the way in which the human race can live in peace and prosperity. Sir Thomas More wrote about such a place in 1516. He wrote of a place that was blessed with an ideal social and political state... a place where peace reigned. He called the place 'Utopia'. This word has come to mean 'a place or state of ideal perfection.' Mankind continues their search for Utopia thinking that through education, science and technology such a place can be formed. But unfortunately, despite mankind's search and endeavours, the world is sliding further and further away from it. Joel Richardson recently gave this warning:  

'The world is melting down around us. I live in the United States; my nation is melting down. If you're from Europe, Europe is melting down. The Middle East is melting down. The global economy is melting down. Morality, globally, is melting down.' 

It comes as no surprise then to learn that the Greek word 'Utopia' means 'No place'. There is no such place and nor can there be. Well, not until the King of kings returns and reigns that is! Daniel chapter 7 tells us that Utopia will come to planet earth. It will come when the only one capable of creating such an environment approaches the Ancient of Days and all power and sovereignty is given into His hands.

Hopefully we live to see that day.

'Now come the days of the King. May they be blessed!'

[1] ↩ You've probably all witnessed an earthly courtroom drama. You know the one... a man's on trial for murder but pleads repeatedly that he is innocent. The prosecution presents their case and you're yelling 'He's guilty! Lock him up! Throw away the key!' Then the defense brings forth their case and with tears streaming down your face you cry out 'He's innocent! You've got the wrong guy! This is a travesty of justice!' The fact is that human courts are flawed and manipulated by lawyers and others far too quick to exploit its frailties. (OJ Simpson was innocent right?) Well, this courtroom setting is before the ancient of days! This emphasizes that there never has been a time that He was not! There has never been a deed done that escaped His notice and no fast talking, slick manipulating lawyer can talk his way out of justice in this courtroom!

[2] ↩ We don't talk about this aspect of God very much anymore. I was reading a book recently called 'When God weeps' by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes. This caught my eye: 'What is it about lemonade that appeals on a hot August afternoon? Other drinks are just as cold, just as wet. Surely it's that winning combination of sweet and sour that we love. Imagine if someone handed you a frosty cold glass of sugar water. Sickening. Or envision sucking a raw lemon. Unbelievably tart. (We realise a few of you out there enjoy lemons like this, but we're talking about sane people.) Neither sugar-water or lemon juice tastes very good, but the mixture is a summer classic. For decades now many Christians have been sipping sugar water almost exclusively when it comes to thoughts about God. God's kindness, God's goodness, God's tenderness is all they know about. But there is rugged side of God, a masculine side, that's often avoided. - His holy, powerful, soverign, sin destroying nature. To come to grips with these will not make us hate Him; it will make us worship Him. It will have us on our faces in awe. It will make Christ's death for us a wonder beyond expressing.'

[3] ↩ H. A. Ironside once told the following:

"One of the first gospel illustrations that ever made a real impression upon my young heart was simple story that I heard a preacher tell when I was less than nine years old. It was of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely, and was coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have an understanding as to what should be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it. As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror. "Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?" The leader replied, "My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!"

The fires of God's judgment burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been!

[4] ↩ We need to remember that what makes sense to us now would have still puzzled those in the days of the Old Testament. For example, the truth that God would become and appear as a man is one that the prophets gave several clues about but it wasn't given complete light until Jesus appeared on this earth. Concerning the deity and humanity of the coming Messiah have a look at Prov 30;4, Micah 5:2, Isa 9:6, Zech 2:10, Psalm 110:1.

[5] ↩ Here is a tougher question for ya seeing my first was too easy... In what way did this verse (Dan 7:13) seal Jesus' fate and send Him to the cross? Any ideas? Read Matt 26:57-67 for a dramatic courtroom prosecution Jewish style. Jesus quotes a combination of Psalm 110:1 and Dan 7:13 concerning Himself before the High Priest... And for speaking the truth, they announce the death sentence! There is also a very interesting picture in this act from the High Priest. In recoil and disgust at what Jesus said (which was the truth) we read that the High Priest 'tore his robes'. You might think, 'ok, he tore his robes... so what?' You need to remember that this was the High Priest whose robes were specifically designed and instructed from God Himself. That is because each part of the robe spoke of Him who was coming who would be the true High Priest - Jesus Christ. That is why God gave the instruction in His word that the High Priest could NOT tear his robes (Lev 21:10). There is something very symbolic happening here. The High Priest (probably without knowing it) was invalidating himself from being High Priest. He was disqualifying himself from the role of High Priest. Why? Because there could only be one High Priest from God's perspective and that was Jesus! - the One who stood condemned before this false trial!

[6] ↩ One of my favourite movies is Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I just really like when Sauron has been defeated and Gandalf puts the crown on Aragorn's head saying 'Now come the days of the king. May they be blessed.' Whenever I see it, with evil defeated the true king on the throne, I can't help think of the Lord's return and the Millennium when His throne and rule shall be set up on this planet. Well, this Heavenly scene in Daniel is the precursor to that.

[7] ↩ My personal belief is in a Pre-Tribulation rapture which I have written about briefly on the website. I do not believe that the church will experience Daniel's 70th week which has been set aside for God's wrath and the drawing again of the nation of Israel. But that aside, no-one should think that they are immune from persecution and while the western nations of the world have had a long period of freedom from persecution, the majority of God's saints throughout all the ages since the time of Christ have experienced times of tribulation. Those of us in the western nations shouldn't think we will necessarily be spared persecution.