CDPCKL · An Expanded (Future) History of the World (Daniel 7:15-28)

An Expanded (Future) History of the World (Daniel 7:15-28)

So, last week, Daniel received a vision of truly terrifying dimensions: he saw a great sea, churned up by the four winds of heaven. And out of that sea crawled four mutated beasts, monstrous predators that devoured everything in their path. But then, out of nowhere, an army of angels arrived — numbered in the billions — an army led by a young warrior riding in a cloud chariot, an army followed by a wise and ancient king seated on a throne carried by a chariot of fire. 

And as Daniel watched, the four beasts were captured and brought before the king’s throne. Three of the monsters submitted to the king’s authority and were allowed to live for a period of time. The fourth monster refused to acknowledge the reality of its defeat. So the king had it executed, its body burned to destroy every source of infection. 

Then young warrior handed the kingdom he had won over to the ancient king. The ancient king responded by giving that kingdom back to the young warrior. The new young king took his place alongside the ancient king, and then all nations and peoples 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. 

And that last sentence — about how God’s kingdom is going to go on forever after the young king has been crowned — made us realize that Daniel has just witnessed the end of mankind’s history on this earth. 

The story of our species began way back in the first chapter of Genesis, when God said, “let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Last week, through Daniel’s vision, we saw how God’s ultimate purpose for mankind will be fulfilled by this young man’s rule over all creation — including these four monstrous beasts. 

In other words: last week we realized that we have just been given a preview of Judgement Day. 

Which left us with some questions, of course. 

Like: what are these four beasts that Daniel saw? Are they literal monsters that will appear on earth just before Judgement Day? — or are they symbolic? If they are symbolic, what do they symbolize? And how will we be able to recognize them in their actual forms? 

And what about these two human figures, the ancient king and the young one? Clearly the young one really is a man, a human being, otherwise he could not fulfill God’s original design for mankind by subduing the beasts. At the same time, this young man is worshiped as if he is God himself: equal in substance with the ancient king…how does that make sense? 

And at least part of the reason we have these questions is because we are all very interested in when Judgement Day will take place. We are all very interested in when all this is going to end. And so we are all very interested in what warning signs we should be looking for. 

Well, the good news for us is that Daniel is asking the same questions. He is just as interested as we are in an interpretation of what he has just seen. 

So, picking up in verse 15, here: I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. [16] I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.” 

Daniel is not just seeing this vision from a distance, like we might watch a movie. He is involved — like in a video game, perhaps? — he is there, standing among God’s angelic clerks and bodyguards. So he talks to one of them. And the angel gives him the interpretation of these things: [17] “’The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. [18] But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’” 

So that’s great! The angel’s answer is really very simple — and, really, he is just confirming what we have already figured out: these four beasts symbolize four great civilizations, four great empires, that will each try to conquer the world. But then God’s Messiah will arrive at the head of God’s army and take them captive, binding them or destroying them, depending on their response. And then: earth will be an eternal paradise! 

Basically, the angel has just preached the Gospel to Daniel. In essence, he has just said, “What you are seeing here is proof that God is in control of everything, and therefore you have nothing to worry about. So relex la brader!” 

But, just like us, Daniel is not relaxed. He wants details! He especially wants “to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. [20] I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” 

And now here, in verse 21, we find out why Daniel is especially upset by the fourth beast. Because: 

[21] As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, [22] until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” 

The angel’s explanation focused on the Good News: that in the end, God will bring all things into perfect order. 

But Daniel’s response is, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that part! And that is wonderful! But what I’m really interested in here is this part that happens just before God arrives: this part where the fourth beast goes to war against God’s holy people and defeats them…okay? What does that mean? Can you give me some details?” 

So the angel explains further: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.’ 

Okay! Now we are starting to get somewhere: the first sign that Judgement Day is almost here will be the appearance of a new kind of empire that will conquer the whole world. 

And that is a very useful detail, isn’t it? Because a world-conquering empire is not the sort of thing we would overlook. 

But that’s not all: [24] ‘The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom.’ 

Okay. This is even more useful: after conquering the whole earth, this monstrous empire will be ruled by a coalition of ten kings, probably ruling over ten provinces. 

Now, we can all count to ten, can’t we? So this should be easy to recognise! 

After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.’ 

Better and better! Now we know we are looking for yet another king to arise and displace three of the ten. 

And this king [25] ‘will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.’ 

[26] “’But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. [27] Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’ 

Now this is what I’m talking about! This is the level of detail we like! This means that all we have to do is pay attention, count on our fingers, and we should be able to predict almost exactly when Judgement Day will begin. 

First sign: a world-conquering empire. 

Second sign: ten kings, ten provinces, ten united nations, something like that. 

Third sign: three of those kings are displaced by another king. 

Fourth sign: that king tries to seize control of God’s people, he tries to force them to worship pagan gods in pagan ways. 

And once that fourth sign appears, that means we can start our countdown clocks, because according to verse 25, three and one-half years after this wicked king begins persecuting God’s people, God’s army is going to arrive with devastating consequences for that king and his monstrous empire. 

Amazing! — Amirite? Now we know exactly what we are looking for! 

Well…not so fast. 

We have to remember that, in many ancient cultures — just as in many Asian cultures today — numbers often have symbolic value. 

The number seven, for instance, symbolizes a completeness of quality. This number showed up back in Chapter 4, when King Nebuchadnezzar found himself under God’s judgement “till seven times pass by for him”. Remember that? This did not mean “till seven years pass by for him”, it meant “till the complete time of judgement has passed by for him.” 

So also, the number four has featured quite strongly in this vision here: in the “four winds of heaven” and the “four great beasts”, and in the third beast that has “four wings” and “four heads”. Four is associated with the four corners of the earth — north, south, east, west — and so the number four symbolizes a completeness of coverage, we could say. 

In the same way, the number ten here is more than just the number ten, it is a round number that symbolizes a completeness of…grasp. Because ten is two fives. One five is one handful; two fives is two handfuls — and once you have two handfuls you are done! because you can’t hold any more. 

So when the angel tells Daniel that this last world-conquering empire will produce ten kings, Daniel understands that he is not supposed to sit around literally counting kings or provinces or united nations or anything like that — the idea here is that this empire has not just conquered all the four corners of the earth, it also exercises total domination: it has a complete grasp of kingly power. Rebellion is just not an option. 

Except in one case: this one horn, this one king, this one minor governor who somehow manages to work his way up through the ranks until he displaces three of the former kings. 

But surely that gives us some detail to watch for, doesn’t it: some kind of government official who either assassinates three kings, or takes over three provinces, something like that? 

…Sorry. Even the number three has symbolic value. Because three is the minimum number needed to confirm a pattern, to establish the truth of something. 

For instance: if I go to a restaurant and get food poisoning…that could be just a coincidence. If I go back and get food poisoning a second time…now I have my suspicions. But if I go back a third time and get sick — well, now I am certain. 

So the most we can say for sure here is that this small horn — this minor government official — is going to gain significant power, but he is going to do it in such a clever way that the pattern will not be clear until it is complete. One day the people of that empire will wake up and discover that the balance of power has suddenly shifted in some unexpected direction. 

Okay. That’s disappointing. None of these signs are turning out to be as clear as they seemed to be at first. 

But still, we have this thing about God’s people being deliberately persecuted for three and one-half years, right? Surely, when some world-conquering empire begins to persecute God’s people all over the earth, surely then we will be able to start our countdown to Judgement Day…? 

Again: I am so sorry. 

First of all, this passage does not actually mention “three and one-half years”, it says “a time, times and half a time”. This is just like back in Chapter 4 when Nebuchadnezzar was under God’s judgement for “seven times”. The word “times” did not mean “years” in Chapter 4, and it does not mean “years” here. 

But there is more. The number “seven” in Chapter 4 symbolized completeness: Nebuchadnezzar would not be released from judgement until the complete time of judgement had passed by for him. 

Now: what is seven divided by two? 

Three and one-half. 

So if seven symbolizes completeness, then half of seven would symbolize…incompletness. 

When the angel tells Daniel that the holy people will be delivered into this rebellious king’s hands for a time, times and half a time, this means that their time of persecution will not be completed. It will be cut short. They will be redeemed before “seven times” have passed by. 

Okay…but why so complicated? Why not just say, “God will cut this terrible time short”? 

Well, because there is yet another layer of meaning to this phrase. This is not just a way of saying that the evil king’s rule will be cut short, this is also a way of describing how his rule will be cut short: suddenly. Unexpectedly. 

See, just as this king is going take power in a clever way — so that no one knows what is going on until too late — once he is in power he is going to rule in such clever way as to look unstoppable. At first he will rule for ”a time”, meaning that he will successfully consolidate power over God’s people. Then he will rule for an unspecified number of “times”, meaning that he will successfully extend his power, looking more and more invincible as time goes by. Then he will rule for “half a time”, meaning that he will look like he is heading for ”seven times”, complete and total victory — only to come to a sudden and messy end. 

So…I think we can understand now why Daniel finishes here in verse 28 by saying: 

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.” 

The angel explained things to him, but the explanation did not really help him feel better. 

When Daniel first asked what this vision is all about, the angel tried to keep him focused on the Good News at the end of the story, the Big Picture: God wins! But Daniel insisted on a more detailed look at the fourth beast and this time of defeat for God’s people. So the angel filled him in, and — again — at the end tried to redirect Daniel’s focus back onto the Good News, but…too late, right? Now Daniel knows what is coming, and that is — in some ways — worse than not knowing. 

Especially since the angel did not give him a fixed end-date. That is probably the most frustrating thing about this whole revelation! Because, as human beings, we can handle quite a lot of discomfort and suffering if we know when it will be over. It is not knowing that drives us crazy, right? 

For instance, last year, when the MCO was first announced, we all said, “Two weeks of total lockdown? Are you crazy?!” But we endured, because we thought we had a fixed endpoint. Then they kept changing the end-point! — and that was worse, wasn’t it? After a while we were saying, “Come on, guys! If it is going to be three months just tell us, so we can prepare ourselves mentally!” 

But now, try to imagine how we would have felt if, one year ago, an angel had appeared in our midst and said, “This global pandemic will consume the earth for a time, times, and half a time — meaning it will get started, and then go on, and then go on some more, and then last for longer than anyone thought possible, and then — suddenly — end with a vaccine.” 

Now that would have been even more frustrating, right? And just like Daniel, we would have pestered that angel for more details, like, “What do you mean by this word ‘times’? Is this going to be a month, months, and half a month? A year, years, and half a year? A decade, decades, and half a decade? Just tell us so we know what to expect!” 

And the angel would have said, “Hey, sorry, that’s all I’ve got for now. I was not commissioned to give you a fixed end-date.” 

I think, like Daniel, we would have been deeply troubled by our thoughts, and our faces would have turned pale also. 

We all tend to have this idea that, if we could just have a detailed checklist leading up to Judgement Day, we would feel better about it. 

But, apparently, God does not think so. Apparently God did not want his people to have a detailed checklist of signs leading up to Judgement Day. 


And this brings us to that question we like to ask every week: why? Or, in this case: why not? Why would God give Daniel this vision full of details — lions, eagles, bears, leopards, wings, heads, horns — if he did not intend for his people to try to match these details to the various empires of history? Why would God give Daniel this vision full of numbers — four beasts, ten kings, three kings, one king, a time, times, half a time — if he did not intend for his people to start counting on their fingers and trying to set a date for Judgement Day? 

If this vision is not meant to give us a Judgement Day checklist, then what are we supposed to learn from this vision? 

And to answer this question we have to remember that this is a special kind of prophecy that we now call Apocalyptic prophecy. Apocalyptic prophecy is very visual, it is a prophecy communicated through images. And like most higher art forms that try to communicate through images, apocalyptic imagery is meant to be very symbolic. 

But this just leads us to yet another question: why is apocalyptic prophecy meant to be so symbolic? Why doesn’t God just come out and say clearly what he wants to say? 

Here is the answer: symbolic imagery is more flexible, and therefore more broadly applicable. The reason God is using apocalyptic prophecy here — instead of more “normal” prophecy — is because he wants to give his people a broader, more flexible understanding of future history. 

Most “normal” prophets in the Old Testament — guys like Isaiah and Jeremiah — are focused on Israel’s history in particular, which means they are able to speak more clearly and directly to particular situations. But there is a trade-off with that: more clarity means less flexibility. Isaiah’s prophecies and Jeremiah’s prophecies, for the most part, cannot be directly applied to us. 

By contrast, this apocalyptic prophecy is designed to provide flexibility at the expense of clarity. Daniel’s vision here is not just a prophecy about the future of Israel as a nation, this is actually a prophecy about the future of all nations. 

We touched on this a bit back in Chapter 2, during our first, very gentle, introduction to apocalyptic prophecy. If you remember, that was the episode where Nebuchandezzar had his dream about a statue with a head of gold and feet of clay. 

Now, Daniel told us then that each of the four sections of the statue symbolized four different empires — just like the four beasts in this chapter symbolize four different empires. But then we discovered that it is actually impossible to figure out which four empires the statue represents. 

And so, in the end, we discovered that the point of that statue was actually to give God’s people a general idea about the flow of history: empires will rise, empires will fall, and in the end God’s kingdom will fill the earth. That’s it! 

Daniel’s vision here in Chapter 7 is simply a slightly more detailed development of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Chapter 2. These four beasts, just like the four parts of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue, are meant to symbolize four distinct ancient empires — but they are also meant to symbolize every possible empire from every possible corner of the earth: that is why there are four of them, to symbolize the complete history of mankind. 

For instance, let’s look at the first beast: it is a lion with eagle’s wings. So, it is a predator that can also fly, it is strong and fast. Terrifying, right? But then it is redeemed of its predatory nature: it becomes human. It becomes more civilized, more reasonable, closer to God’s expectations for human society. Now, does this beast symbolize the Babylonian empire, just like the head of gold did back in Chapter 2? Sure! We have to notice that Nebuchadnezzar himself was a beast for a time, and then God gave him the mind of a human, so it makes sense that God would give his empire the same honour. We should also notice that winged lions were one of the symbols of the Babylonian empire. 

But is that all this first beast is meant to symbolize? Are there other empires in history that began as strong, fast-moving predators that then became more humane, more civilized, more godly? 

What about the bear? This is also a predator — not as fast as a lion, but stronger, hungrier. And this one has three ribs between its teeth, which is either a mutation or the ribcage of its last victim. Is this a reference to the three kings of the Medes’ empire, or a reference to three kingdoms the Medes gobbled up to form their empire? Sure! Why not? 

But is that all? Have there been other slow-moving empires in history that had this reputation for devouring their neighbors…? 

What about this leopard with four wings? Leopards are weaker than lions, but much faster — and a flying one would be faster still. Do the leopard’s four wings and four heads symbolize four kings, or do they symbolize how this empire can see in every direction at once, how it can fly quickly in any direction at once? — like the Persian empire, which was famous for its fast-moving armies, its far-sighted conquests? Sure! That sound’s right! 

But, again, are there not also other empires in history that had these far-seeing, fast-moving qualities? 

And this fourth beast, with its iron teeth and bronze claws, more monstrously terrifying even than a lion, crushing its enemies under its feet: what is this all about? Apparently this is a monster so strange, so different, that Daniel does not even have a name for it, he can only describe it. But his readers, 300 years later, would have said, “Oh, we know what this is: he is describing a war elephant!” Because, more than 200 years after Daniel died, the Greek empire was the first to introduce war elephants from India. And the war elephant was like the nuclear bomb of its time, no army could stand against them, and very quickly the elephant became the symbol of the Greek empire, just as winged lions were the symbol of Babylon. So: is this fourth, most terrible beast meant to represent the Greek empire? Sure! 

But is that all this fourth beast represents? Are there other empires in history that have suddenly introduced unbeatable weapons that allowed them to dominate the world? Are the Greeks the only ones in history to invent a nuclear bomb? 

What we are seeing here, in this vision, is the Babylonian understanding of history. They saw human history as a series of civilizations represented by beasts. The pattern begins with a civilization that is immensely brutal and immensely glorious, that conquers vast territories but then becomes more humane. Then there is another civilization that is just plain brutal, and another that is not so strong but fast. And the pattern always ends with one last civilization that somehow combines all these brutal qualities into one, and absolutely tramples the earth. Sometimes these civilizations rise one at a time, sometimes they all exist at once in different corners of the earth — 

That is history! And that, really, is just plain common-sense. We do not need a revelation from God to know that human history is shaped by the rise and fall of civilizations. The Babylonians were right! And we can tell just by reading history and looking around our world today: all of these four beasts are present on the earth now, and they always have been. There have always been strong, fast, nations that later learn restraint. There have always been slow-moving but brutal nations, fast-moving but clever nations. And every few generations there is always some empire that rises up out of nowhere and threatens to crush the entire earth: Rome, Islam, the Mongols, Spain, England, Germany, Japan, Soviet Russia, America…Communist China? 

But what God adds to this broad, flexible understanding of history is the Good News at the end of it, the Good News that gets lost when we get distracted — like Daniel did — by the details in between. Yes, God’s holy people will be delivered into the hands of bestial civilizations from time to time, each cycle growing worse as the end approaches. Yes, that persecution will get started, and then go on, and then go on some more, and then last for longer than anyone thought they could stand! — but it will never complete its work. God will always cut that time short, rescue his people, and bring that bestial, persecuting nation to a sudden, burning end. 

The reason God does not just come out and say clearly, step by step, what is going to happen is because he does not want his people to live lives obsessed with tracking the next checkpoint in history. He does not want us to sit around watching our newsfeed and counting on our fingers, trying to set dates for the end of the world. He wants us to live with our heads lifted, our eyes fixed on the mountains beyond this dark valley. 

At the same time, the reason God does give us some general signs to look for is so that — when we see empires that match the details of these beasts — we are not surprised! He wants us to be able to recognize the currents of history, but he wants us to flow with those currents as they happen, not spend all our time trying to plan every movement in advance. We are supposed to surf the tsunami of history, but we are supposed to do so with our eyes fixed upon the shore that is our destination, not focused upon the wind and the waves. 

Daniel’s vision here is meant to be a general roadmap, not turn-by-turn directions. We are supposed to understand that there is a general flow to history: golden ages, brutal ages, fast-moving ages, ages that come along and crush all that came before. We are also supposed to understand that, all throughout history, this pattern will be repeated in large and small ways: one nation will be enjoying a golden age while another part of the earth is suffering brutality; some nations will be growing closer to God’s expectations for human society, some nations will be stubbornly continuing in their rebellion. We are supposed to understand that all this is normal. 

But above all, we are also supposed to understand that there will be an end. There will be, at some unspecified time, one final godless empire, one final godless civilization, one final godless king who will try to destroy God’s people once and for all. This boastful, usurping “horn” in Daniel’s vision is really our first glimpse in the bible of a figure that, in the New Testament, grows into the concept of the anti-Christ. 

Now, what will this anti-Christ look like? 

Well…come back next week. Daniel receives quite a detailed vision of the first anti-Christ, who appeared more than 300 years after Daniel’s time. For us, that first anti-Christ is now ancient history, so by looking back we can actually get a very clear preview of the anti-Christ to come. 

But God’s focus here today is not on how the anti-Christ will appear, but rather on how he will disappear. Throughout history we have seen that some nations submit to God’s rule and are allowed to live for a period of time. We have seen that other nations — usually the greatest ones — refuse to submit, and they have been destroyed, their portion handed over to another. Judgement Day will be the final and most beautiful end to this pattern, and that is the Good News our Father wants us to focus on today. 

And we can tell he wants us to focus on this Good News because the angel keeps repeating it to Daniel! “Hey, listen, this is what your vision really means: the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever! Isn’t that great?! …weesht! Hey! Hey! No, don’t look down. Don’t look over there either, look up here — it’s like trying to take a photograph of a small child, right? — look up here, follow the sound of my voice, Daniel: the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him!” 

So: okay then! Fine! Let’s close by focusing on this Good News the angel wants us to focus on: in the end, God’s kingdom will be handed over to the holy people. 

That is great! But…also confusing a bit. 

Because when we look back at the actual vision, the kingdom is handed over to this “one like a son of man” — the young human warrior who is also somehow equal with God. Last week we discovered that this figure embodies the concept of the perfect Man, the perfect Adam — God’s Son — who is destined to draw all of creation into God’s perfect order. So it makes sense that his victory over the bestial kingdoms of the earth should be rewarded in this way. He fought for his Father’s kingdom, so of course he should be rewarded with his Father’s kingdom. 

But why does the angel say the kingdom is given to the holy people? Who are they? Where did they come from? Why do they deserve to be rewarded with this gift of God’s kingdom? And how can God’s eternal kingdom be given away twice? 

Friends, this is the key: every Adam needs an Eve. Every husband — if he is going to have the name of “husband” — needs a wife. 

The holy people of the Most High is the bride; the young warrior is the groom. God’s eternal kingdom is not being given away twice, to two different people, it is being presented once to one couple, one flesh — male and female — bound together in a covenant that cannot be broken. Which means that this kingdom is not just a reward from King to victorious Commander, it is not just an inheritance from Father to beloved Son, this kingdom is also a wedding present from Father-in-law to beloved Daughter-in-law. 

And so, in a way, the bride does not really “deserve” to be rewarded with the rule of God’s kingdom: she is not ”one substance” with God like the young warrior is. The holy people are…merely human. They cannot rule God’s kingdom because they are not God! 

However, by virtue of the covenant of marriage, the holy people have now become one substance — one flesh — with the young warrior, the Son of God. Which means that whatever he deserves as Son, and as victorious warrior…she also now deserves, as his wife. 

But that is not the whole picture. Daniel’s vision shows us that God’s holy people are not simply passive bystanders in history, a bride just sitting around waiting for her wedding day. She is also given opportunity to fight, to prove her faithfulness in the face of temptation and persecution. It is clear that her great wedding day at the end of history is only going to come after a long and difficult engagement. 

And so, in a way, by the time that day comes the bride will “deserve” to be rewarded with the rule of her Father-in-law’s kingdom. He will happily entrust the management of his Son’s inheritance to her, because she will have proven by then that she will be a faithful wife to his Son no matter what. And so, after many centuries of living as a servant and a slave in the households of other men, other nations, other gods, she will finally be given a household of her own, children of her own, a husband that is hers alone — never to be shared with another, never to be taken away. 

Just as the angel said to Daniel, she will “possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever!” 

And that is truly Good News! 

Still…it can be hard to keep our eyes fixed on that great Day to come when the night feels so dark, so endless. How can we know for sure that we are not just…dreaming here? 

This is how we can know: because the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision has already won this victory. 

…okay. But there’s a problem: that is not what Daniel’s vision says! — is it? 

Daniel’s vision here makes it seem as if the bride has to suffer, the holy people have to suffer for a time, times, and half a time, while the groom just shows up suddenly at the end and rescues her without any real warning, without any real effort. So how can we say that Daniel’s Son of Man has already arrived and won this war? 

Well…I will admit that this truth — which is contained in Daniel’s vision here — is very very subtle; so subtle that it actually remained a mystery for all God’s people until a man named Jesus  of Nazareth finally appeared and fulfilled it. 

Again and again, this man Jesus told his disciples that he is the Son of Man that Daniel saw in this vision. And he kept on telling them that “the Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” And he kept saying that the Old Testament prophets predicted this. And his disciples kept saying, “where? Where is the scripture that says the Son of Man must be dead for three days?” And Jesus kept saying, “wait ah? Wait ah! I cannot explain it to you now, but you will see! And then you will understand.” 

And then it finally happened. Jesus was delivered into the hands of the most monstrously bestial civilization on the earth at that time: the Roman empire. He was defeated, executed, and buried. He suffered death for a time — the first day. He suffered death for timestwo days. He suffered death for half a time — the third day. But then, before the third day could be completed — before it could even properly begin — suddenly, he received his kingdom and his bride. 

There is so much that could be said about this — far more than we have time to say now. So I’m just going to close here with this small comfort that this great truth provides for us — and this is our application for today, this is what we are going to do: we are going to fix our minds on this simple truth — just as a husband and a wife have equal shares in their victories together, so also they have equal shares in their sufferings. This pilgrimage is long. This exile feels like it is too heavy to bear. But we do not bear it alone. Our King, our Bridegroom has passed through this valley before us, and he is here with us even now. He is the Adam who has already been made perfect; we are his Eve that is being made perfect. And just as surely as he was raised up to victory on the third day, so shall we. 

Scroll to top