The On-Line Commentary
on the Book of Daniel

By Brother Given Blakely.

The Prophecy of Daniel

Lesson Number 20
TRANSLATION LEGEND: ASV=American Standard Version (1901), BBE=Bible in Basic English (1949), DRA=Douay-Rheims (1899), ESV=English Stand Version (2001), KJV=King James Version (1611), NKJV=New King James Version (1982), NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible (1977), NAU=New American Standard Bible (1995), NIB=New International Bible, NIV=New International Version (1984), NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version (1989), RSV=Revised Standard Version (1952), TNK=JPS Tanakj (1985), YLT-Young’s Literal Translation (1862).
7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. KJV (Daniel 7:9-12)
Daniel has been given to see the rise of four great empires – global governments. The sight has been awesome, and hardly one that could be easily forgotten. How will the Lord proceed with His revelation to Daniel? How will He move Daniel to consider the kingdoms to which he has been introduced. The manner in which the Lord unfolds these things to His prophet is critical. In it we behold not only the Divine way of making truth known, but the great care that is taken to maintain proper Kingdom priorities.
One of the great weaknesses of contemporary religion is its proneness to lose Divine perspective. It is too easily drawn aside to political and social issues, and too inclined to passing fads. This tendency (which is heavily promoted) causes men to live so close to the earth that they become unaware of who governs the world, as well as their personal accountability to Him. This is why much that comes in the name of Christ actually speaks very little of Him or His Father. During the past few decades there has been a marked absence of Christo-centricity –
Christ-centeredness. With this absence has come a devaluation of such books as Daniel and Revelation, to say nothing of doctrinal treatises like Romans, Hebrews, and the other Epistles. The purpose of God as made known in Scripture is scarcely known. Further, the considerations of man’s strict and inevitable accountability to God, and “eternal judgment” are subjects that are rarely expounded these days.
The effects of this have been staggering. There is a tidal wave of Scriptural ignorance that is sweeping over the professing church. We now have an entire Christian generation which, with few exceptions, is incapable of handling the Word of the God to whom they have been reconciled in Christ Jesus.
Let it be clear that these observations are not mere theological contentions. The text before us provides an example of spiritual thinking – of the manner in which the Holy Spirit directs our minds. He will not allow us to linger long upon historical or future earthly events without bringing us to consider heavenly ones.Ponder what has been made known in Daniel’s vision thus far. Four winds of heaven strove upon the sea (7:2).
Four great beasts came up from the sea, each one different from the other (7:3).
The first beast was like a lion and had eagle’s wings (7:4a).
The wings of the first beast were torn off (7:4b).
The first beast was lifted up from the earth, made to stand like a man, and given a man’s heart (7:4c).
A second beast rose out of the sea that was like a bear (7:5a).
The second beast raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth (7:5b).
A word was given to this beast to “Arise, devour much flesh” (7:5c).
A third beast rose out of the sea that was like a leopard, having four wings of a fowl on its back, and four heads (7:6a).
Dominion was given to this third beast (7:6b).
A fourth beast rose out of the sea that was dreadful, terrible, and exceedingly strong (7:7a).
This fourth beast had teeth of iron (7:7b).
This beast devoured what he grasped, breaking in pieces, and pulverizing the residue with its feet (7:7c).
This beast was different from all of the other beasts before it (7:7d).
The fourth beast had ten horns.
As Daniel pondered the ten horns, a little horn came up among them (7:8a).
Three of the ten horns were pulled out by the roots to make room for the little horn (7:8b).
The little horn had eyes like a man, and a mouth speaking great things (7:8c).
As you can see, the things that have been cited thus far tend to awaken human curiosity. Indeed, many a soul has read these things and forthwith been immersed in all manner of profitless research. With great care, the Spirit keeps us from going into meaningless bypaths. He has no sooner related this remarkable vision until He projects us forward to the end of time.
It is essential that we view these governments from the proper perspective. As great and impressive as they are, they are in strict subjection to the Kingdom of God – even though they are not aware of this circumstance. However, there is an appointed time when their subordination will become very apparent. Daniel is now shown that time – a time which precious view souls were given to see prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. It has to do with the consummation of the ages, and will assist us to properly consider the kings and kingdoms of this world.
It is essential to remember that the earth view is a blinding one. By contrast, the heavenly view is a clarifying and invigorating one. It has more of an appeal to faith and its manner of reasoning than to human rationality – and there is a vast difference between the two. This text will summon us to a higher way of thinking.
“ 7:9a I beheld till the thrones were cast down . . . ” In a grand panoramic vision, the prophet is propelled beyond the time during which these four kingdoms – one at a time – would be prominent. Remember, these are Babylon, the Medo-Persians, Greece, and Rome. As great as they are from earth’s perspective, however, Daniel is to consider them from a higher point of view. They are temporal, and the time of their domination is wholly inconsequential as regards the Kingdom of God and eternity. The saints of God, or those who live by faith, are the real objects of Divine attention. All other will be thrown down, and their purposes utterly frustrated.
“I beheld . . . ” Other versions read, “I watched,” NKJV “I kept looking,” NASB and “As I looked.” NIV
Here the matter begins to unfold as Daniel watches the vision intently. He refuses to be turned from the vision, or to be occupied with other things. As Daniel gazed upon the scene, the whole picture began to change. Suddenly there was a shift from earth to heaven, and from the kings of this world to the King of heaven. Before any more is shown to Daniel of these four kingdoms and their exploits, he will be given to see afresh that “the heavens do rule” (Dan 4:26).
A Principle to Be Seen
There is a kingdom principle to be seen here. It is as we look intently into the truth, that insight is granted to us. No person grows in spiritual understanding who has a divided mind, or who does not concentrate on the things of God. A double minded person is “unstable in all of his ways” (James 1:8), and the Lord will not grant such a person to be a custodian of His truth. This is why Peter affirmed, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet 1:19).
This circumstance is precisely what prompted David to pray, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psa 119:18). These “wondrous things” are perceived as we look into, ponder, and meditate upon the Word of God. Even the holy angels desire to “look into” the glorious Gospel that is preached to the world (1 Pet 1:12).
There has never been a person with spiritual understanding who did not extend himself to think upon the Word of God. This accounts for the remarkable level of Scriptural ignorance that exists in our country. The Christian masses are not occupied with the Word of the Lord. They are not pondering it, meditating upon it, or looking into it. Further, multitudes of them are hearing sermons and lessons that do not encourage them to do so. It is a most tragic situation, and should provoke lamentation in discerning hearts.
Daniel was not such a person, and neither should we be so identified. Daniel was given to behold high and lofty things that make for peace because he kept looking, kept beholding, and continued to consider.
This Is NOT Mere Precognition
It is vital to see this prophecy is not mere precognition – or God seeing what is going to happen on the earth. I use the word “precognition” because the Spirit applies the word “foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23; 1 Pet 1:2) and “foreknow” (Rom 8:29) in a unique way. “Foreknowledge” is associated with God’s “determinate counsel” and “purpose.”
However, there remains a tendency in students of Scripture to see prophecies as God merely seeing what is going to happen, and declaring it. In order to subscribe to such a view, prophecy must erroneously be divided into two categories.
First, there are matters God declares He will cause to happen. On the side of calamity, there are the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. On the side of blessing, there is a nation springing from Abraham (Gen 12:2), the birth of the Savior (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7), the making of a New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34), and the second coming of Jesus (Heb 9:28). These events, the calamities and the blessings, are generally perceived as wholly the working of the Lord – the Lord affirming what He Himself was going to do. That is, indeed, altogether true. No thinking person will affirm these things happened independently of Divine intervention.
Second, it is thought there are things that occur upon the earth independent of the government of God. These fall into categories such as “natural disasters,” political upheavals, the spread of iniquity, and apostasy from the Lord. Scriptural statements concerning the rise of such things are thus viewed as God seeing they were going to happen, and inspiring men to write of them.
A Wholly Improper View
This view is wholly improper. God has spoken to the issue of things that occur upon the earth, emphatically declaring they do not occur independently of Him. “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” NASB (Isa 45:7). The appearance of Pharaoh the despot is said to be the result of God’s work (Ex 9:16). The success of Nebuchadnezzar is credited to the working of the Lord (Dan 2:37). The tragedies that occurred to Job were all under the direct administration of God (Job 1-2). God is said to harden hearts (Ex 10:1; Deut 2:30), raise up adversaries against a certain king (1 Kgs 11:14,23), call for a famine (2 Kgs 8:1; Psa 105:16), and have His way “in the whirlwind and in the storm” (Nah 1:3).
Additionally, the Lord is “the Governor among the nations” (Psa 22:28), and “His kingdom ruleth over all” (Psa 103:19). He is “a great King over all the earth” (Psa 47:2), and “the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3).
There Is No Question
There is no question about Who is ruling this world. God has made clear that He, and He alone, can change both times and seasons. It is He who removes kings and sets them up (Dan 2:21). The difficulty for the flesh is this: “how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” (Rom 11:33-35). The fact that men cannot decipher the ways and judgments of God is certainly no justification for saying things occurring on the earth are independent of His government.
A Fitting Conclusion
The Spirit’s fitting conclusion to the above affirmation is this: “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom 11:36). Confirming the accuracy and power of this verse, other versions read, “Everything there is comes from Him and is caused by Him and exists for Him. To Him be glory for ever! Amen,” NJB “For everything comes from Him; everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be glory evermore. Amen,” NLT and “ . . . For all things originate with Him, and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be glory forever! Amen – so be it!” AMPLIFIED NEW TESTAMENT
I understand this introduces all manner of difficulties for the human intellect. However, it presents no problem for faith! These are Divine affirmations, and they are to be believed. It is ever true that Divine power is realized through affirmation, not human explanation or carnal understanding.
The vision we will now consider takes us beyond casual interest. It moves us into an arena of thought that will demand all of our attention, and all of our ransomed powers. It is lofty, yet powerful. It is profound, yet practical. Here is a heavenly balm to sooth the heart troubled by the rise of beastly and consuming empires.
“ . . . till the thrones were cast down.”Other versions read, “till thrones were put in place,” NKJV “until thrones were set up,” NASB “thrones were set in place,” NIV and “till that thrones have been thrown down.” YLT
As you can see, there appears to be a significant difference in the various translations of this text. One view has thrones being cast down, the other has them being put in place, or established. This condition exists because the word translated “cast down” (remah) can mean to “put in place” as well as to “cast down.” Most later versions favor the latter reading: “put in place,” “set up,” “set in place,” etc.
At this point, we should not favor the language experts, although that may seem to be a wise course. The Hebrew word in this text is employed by Daniel ten other times – or more precisely, is used by the Holy Spirit in Daniel. The texts are as follows. I have underlined the translation of the word.
“And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace”. (Dan 3:6 and 11)
“Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Dan 3:15)
“And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.” (Dan 3:20)
“Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” (Dan 3:21)
“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.” (Dan 3:24)
“All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” (Dan 6:7)
“Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.” (Dan 6:12)
“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” (Dan 6:16)
“And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.” (Dan 6:24)
There is no question in any of these texts of the meaning of the word “cast” or “throw.” It certainly is not used in these texts to mean someone was established or set in place. Rather, it is a term of judgment that involved the denunciation and overthrow of the individuals in question. The first were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the second Daniel, and the third those who charged Daniel, together with their families.
Yet, even though, up to this point, the Spirit has consistently used this word to depict an overthrow, some have chosen to believe here He uses the word to signify the setting up of thrones. In my judgment, there is no sound basis for such a conclusion. We need more than a lexical definition of a word to derive the meaning of Scripture.
Thrown Down
Using the meaning “thrown down,” or “cast down,” the “thrones” are the four empires that have been described under the figure of four beasts. They stand for all earthly governments, for they are earthly power in
its loftiest and most extensive form. The text, in this case, declares Daniel kept looking intently at the vision until all earthly powers were deposed. This would equate with all of Christ’s enemies becoming His “footstool” (Heb 10:13), or the kingdoms of this world becoming “the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ” (Rev 11:15).
In Apostolic language, this would be the time to which the Spirit refers in First Corinthians 15:24. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” No more beastly powers. No more ruthless authority. Never again will one kingdom yield to another, or one kingdom overcome another. This, I believe, is the time to which this text refers.
Set In Place
If one chooses the representation of thrones as being “set in place,” here is the meaning. These thrones belong to the saints of the Most High God, to whom the Kingdom will be given (verses 17, 22, and 25). In this case, the reference is to the time when the saints “judge the world” and “angels” (1 Cor 6:1-2), “inherit the earth” (Matt 5:8), and “reign with Christ” (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 22:2).
Not A Significant Difference
While it may appear on the surface that this is a significant difference, it really is not. By “significant,” I mean this is not a point that should issue in contention or endless controversy. Both of these – the casting down of earthly thrones, and the setting up of thrones for saints – take place at the same time. In fact, the dissolving of all worldly power is in order that the saints may”take the Kingdom,” possessing it “for ever and ever” (7:22).
A Contrast Is Seen
There is a remarkable contrast seen in this text. The first ten uses of the word translated “cast down”applied to human judgment. The first nine times represented the thorough frustration of political power. The three children of Judah were “cast” into the fiery furnace, but realized no harm whatsoever. They were delivered without any evidence on their persons or clothing they had ever been in that furnace. Daniel was “cast” into the lion’s den, but was also delivered without a solitary indication on his person or clothing that he spent the night with lions. The highest government, and most authoritative persons in the world, could not finalize their judgment against the servants of God. The only case where their judgment prevailed was when the accusers of Daniel were cast into the lions’ den, with their wives and children. That judgment, however, was a reversal of the kings former decree, and the result of Daniel’s deliverance.
Now, however, a kind of judgment is introduced that cannot be controverted. Here is an authority that is superior to the world’s most influential and seemingly successful power. The thrones of our text are “cast down,” never to rise again!
If someone still prefers to think of these thrones as being set up, the essential meaning remains the same. They are set up, never to be removed.
As we will see, however, the real point is not the thrones, but the One whose judgment will now be revealed. Our attention will now be turned to the Lord of glory. The Spirit will not allow our thoughts to be dominated by the rise and prominence of beastly powers. Or worldly empires. He will quickly move us to the consummation of the ages, and the time of judgment. Our hearts will now be turned to the Lord and His prevailing power.
“ 7:9b . . . and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool . . . ”
Our consideration is now lifted from four wild and ruthless beasts that rose up and fell, to One who has continued – “the Ancient of days.” Our attention is being shifted from the temporal to the eternal, from the
transitory to the everlasting. It is in His “light” that we will “see light” (Psa 36:9). That is, things that had to be illuminated by Him will now be made more clear by a consideration of His Person.
The “knowledge of God” is like a key that unlocks great mysteries, enabling us to see them correctly. In this case, seeing correctly is not being intimated or disheartened by the appearance of these four beastly empires. The sight of them is not to induce fear in our hearts, or cause us to be like those of whom Jesus said, “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26).
Such fears cannot be allayed by intellectual explanations. Human reason cannot effectively counteract the dominance of fear, even though men continually attempt this method. The ONLY effective way to still the troubled heart is to stand by faith in the presence of the Lord. It is only when we behold Him who is“above all” (Eph 4:6) that the heart is calmed, and the mind is stabilized. It is no wonder that is it written, “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace” (Job 22:21). A person whose mind is not “stayed on” the Lord (Isa 26:3) cannot be at peace – particularly when governments and events of the magnitude of the first part of our text are declared.
Revelations of God
There have been a few godly men who have been granted visions of God. They are not many, and the visions were few. In each one of them, the vision was majestic. A sense of the absolute dominance of God registered strongly upon all who were granted such visions.
Micaiah the prophet is the first to say “I saw the Lord.” He saw Him surrounded by a vast host of personalities. “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (1 Kgs 22:19; 2 Chron 18:18).
Isaiah had an extended vision of God in which heavenly activities were seen. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isa 6:1-4).
Amos the prophet saw the Lord in relation to the altar, ready to judge His people. “I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered” (Amos 9:1).
Ezekiel had “visions of God” that were detailed, and characterized by great awe. This prophet recorded one of those remarkable visions. “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these
stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the color of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezek 1:4-28).
The Apostle John was also granted to see into the holiest place. “And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”(Rev 4:2-8).
A Thought
Can you imagine any of these favored men standing in the glory of these revelations and referring to God as “Daddy,” “Friend,” or “the Man upstairs?” Can you picture them beholding the Lord of glory as One upon whose lap they could comfortably sit? Can you see them gawking about with disinterest, or holding some casual conversation with one of the holy angels?
Indeed, such a thought taxes the intelligence and patience of any sober person. There is nothing in any of these visions that was conducive to being casual. They did not promote worldly interests or concerns. People became keenly aware of their own frailty. Isaiah cried out “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa 6:5). Ezekiel said, “I fell upon my face”(Ezek 1:28). Daniel, after confronting the Lord, said “there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Dan 10:8). John, after beholding Divine glory, said, “I fell at His feet as a dead man” (Rev 1:17).
An Application
A casual religious atmosphere is one in which the Lord is not perceived. A soul that entertains no interest for the things of God is one that does not know the Lord, and is not aware of His presence. No one, while being acutely aware of the Lord’s presence and glory, has any thought about other things. In the glow of glory noone has ever spoken glibly about God, or viewed what He said as inconsequential. Such people have never been unduly concerned about earthly powers, and were acutely aware of their own shortcomings. Those are just the facts in the case, and they are beyond all dispute.
The great curse of our time, and especially in our Western culture, is the near-total indifference toward the God of heaven. There is too much love of the world, fear of man, and disinterest in the Word of God. Theological views are developed and hawked that promote distorted views of the Lord. Those who buy these views are prone to excuse sin, feel comfortable in being at a distance from the Lord, and more tolerant of gross corruptions of the truth of God. In such a society Daniel would be wholly out of place. He would have nothing to do with it, and it would have nothing to do with Him.
With all of the professed Christianity about us, people simply are not conscious of God. This is confirmed by the way they live, speak, dress, and work. Their preferences reveal it. Their approach to the Scripture reveals it. Their ignorance of God attests to it.
All of this is intended to confirm that the modern church sorely needs to acquaint itself with God (Job 22:21).
“ . . . and the Ancient of days . . . ” Other versions read “Ancient One,” NRSV “a very old man,” BBE “a most venerable,” NJB From the standpoint of language definition (which is the weakest of all approaches to Scripture), the word translated “ancient” means “ancient, advanced, or old,” STRONGS and “days” refers to a twenty-four hour period. STRONGS The technical meaning of the expression is “he who is most ancient as to days,” and is equivalent to the English expression “The Eternal.” BARNES
Only Daniel uses this expression – and he uses it three times – all in this chapter.
“The Ancient of days did sit” (v 9).
“The Son of man . . . came to the Ancient of days.” (v 13).
“Until the Ancient of days came” (v 22).
This Is A Reference to God
The picture is that of judgment about to be ministered by One who is wise and seasoned. The reference is to the Lord God – “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 11:31). This is the only place in Scripture where the Mighty God of heaven is represented by a human form. It seems to me that a comparison is being made with wild beasts, some of which had human characteristics – some aspects of wisdom, but extremely limited – with the eternal God, who is altogether wise, stable, and consistent.
A Contrast With Man
Additionally, the language contrasts God with man whose “days are as grass” (Psa 103:15). Of men – even the best and most noble of them – it is said, “his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psa 144:4). But as for the Living God, He is “the Ancient of days,” who is “from everlasting” (Psa 93:2; Hab 1:12). There is also the matter of veneration and respect depicted in this imagery.
An Accommodation to Human Frailty
One further thing to consider is this. No man can see God in all of His effulgence and live (Ex 33:20). There is such a sharp contrast between God and man, and such an overpowering glory found in Him, that He must accommodate Himself to man’s frailty in order for men to survive an encounter with Him. Thus He hid Moses in a cleft of the rock and placed His hand over him while He passed before him. Only after He had passed did He remove His hand, allowing Moses to see the afterglow of His magnificent glory (Ex 33:21-23). In view of this perspective, the vision of God in a human form is actually an accommodation to the frailty of Daniel. Were it not for this gracious consideration of the Lord, Daniel would have seen nothing of God at all. Or, if he had seen Him, Daniel would have been consumed by His glory.
Distinguished From the Son of Man
By referring to God as the “Ancient of days,” He is also distinguished from “the Son of man,” who will be introduced later (7:13). We must remember that “the Head of Christ is God”(1 Cor 11:3). This headship is the consequence of the Word become flesh – a price Jesus willingly paid to redeem us from all iniquity.He did not consider Himself deprived, or “counted it not robbery,” in this arrangement (Phil 2:6).
“ . . . did sit . . . ” Here the Lord is depicted as sitting to judge. It is to be understood that He sits upon the ultimate and dominant throne, which, it is declared, “He has prepared for judgment” (Psa 9:7). It is also affirmed that “justice and judgment are the habitation” of His throne, being integral to it. Again, it is declared that “righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Psa 97:2). The fact that the Lord “did sit” indicates His judgment was forthcoming.
This means it is God’s nature to judge, and His judgment is unavoidable. Now, after we have seen the governments of the world ruling and judging, we will be exposed to the One who judges them. He gave them their power, and they are strictly accountable to Him. He will not leave us pondering their ruthlessness, but will bring
us to consider the fact of their judgment. Because God is “the Ancient of days,” His judgment will be wise and just. For the same reason, it will also be final and irreversible.
After the Thrones Were Cast Down
It is of significance that the God of heaven appears in the vision after “the thrones were cast down.” Rather than this climactic overthrow affecting God, He is the One who caused the thrones to be dashed to the ground. He remained unchanged by the whole matter.
“ . . . whose garment was white as snow . . . ” This is not a casual garment, but one depicting the majestic rule of the God of heaven. In the tabernacle service, the priest wore a “robe” when executing his office (Ex 28:4; Lev 8:7). When the ark of the covenant was returned to its place, David accompanied it in his kingly capacity, being “clothed with a robe of fine linen” (1 Chron 5:27). The king of Nineveh wore a robe, which he removed when calling for repentance before the Lord (Jonah 3:6).
A “garment” as “white as snow” depicts impeccable holiness and purity. To be more specific, it declares God is pure and holy in all of His judgments. None of His judgments are tainted with impurity, injustice, haste, or foolishness. As it is written, “the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether” (Psa 19:9). None can say to Him, “What have You done?” (Dan 4:35), question His judgments, or complain because of them.
“ . . . and the hair of His head like the pure wool . . . ” This is another depiction of the purity and holiness of God. Here His thoughts and motives are emphasized, as compared with His judgments and deeds, which were denoted by a “garment.” His thoughts are “very deep,” challenging the limited capacities of men (Psa 92:5). Because of their purity, they are also “precious” to those who love Him (Psa 139:17). Because of this circumstance, God’s “words,” which are the communication of His thoughts, “are pure words”(Psa 12:6).
Whether we are considering the ways of the Lord, the manner in which He judges, His thoughts, or His words, “there is no unrighteousness with Him” (Psa 92:15). Everything He says and does is absolutely right, and His intentions are wholly good and just. There was unrighteousness with the beasts Daniel saw, but there is none with God. Therefore, He is the Judge – “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25).
“ 7:9c His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.”
Here is where the God of heaven and earth was seated – “His throne.” As we might suppose, the vision is majestic and awe- inspiring. However, this is not a mere literary device, or play upon words. His glory is so magnificent “the whole earth” can be “filled” with it – and there still be sufficient to “cover the heavens” as well (Num 14:21; Psa 72:19; Isa 6:3; Hab 3:3). The purpose of this vision is not to precisely define the appearance of the Lord. Rather, it is to instill in our hearts an awareness of the greatness of God – something that easily eludes those living in an age of cheap and meaningless distractions.
There is a basic postulate in Scripture that is worthy of our consideration. If the Lord can get and keep our attention, He will also have our hearts. That is precisely why He can say, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa 45:22). When we can confess with Jehoshaphat, “our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chron 20:12), a blessing is on the way!
This text is assisting us to focus upon the Lord. It is helping us to consider His ways. It gently and effectively brings us away from being intimidated by the beastly powers of the earth, thereby promoting the cleansing fear of the Lord.
The throne of God is repeatedly referenced in the Word of God. It speaks of the Sovereignty, or uncontested and effective reign, of the Living God. It is a very real throne, although it is depicted in imagery here in order to assist our understanding.
Micaiah the prophet “saw the Lord sitting on His throne” (1 Kgs 22:19).
Isaiah saw the Lord “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isa 6:1).
John the beloved saw the Lord “sitting upon His throne,” surrounded by glory, splendor, and life (Rev 4:2-4). He also saw this throne and He that was upon it, readied for judgment (Rev 20:11).
God’s throne is said to be “prepared for judgment” (Psa 9:7).
“Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Psa 97:2).
He has prepared His throne “in the heavens,” high above the restrictions of this world (Psa 103:19).
It is written, “the Lord’s throne is in heaven”(Psa 11:4).
Jesus is presently seated with God “in His throne” (Rev 3:21).
When Jesus ascended, it was to “God, and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).
The throne of the Lord, or His unchallenged dominion, is “from generation to generation” (Lam 5:19).
There is a “throne of iniquity,” and Satan has a “throne” as well, but they are subservient to the throne of God (Psa 94:20; Rev 2:13; Mic 7:19)
His throne “is for ever and ever” (Psa 45:6).
“Justice and judgment are the habitation” of His throne (Psa 89:14).
His throne was “established of old,” and is everlasting as He is (Psa 93:2).
God’s throne is a “throne of holiness” (Psa 47:8).
The book of Revelation, which is a declaration of the reign of the Lord, mentions the throne of God thirty-nine times, consistently associating it with the Lord Jesus, upon whose shoulder the government has been placed (Rev 1:4; 3:21; 4:2,3,4,5,6,9,10; 5:1,6,7,11,13; 6:16; 7:9,10,11,15,17; 8:3; 12:5; 14:3,5; 16:7; 19:4,5; 20:11; 21:5; 22:1,3). It is consistently represented as the place of government, and the center-point of praise. The whole world is governed from this throne.
When, therefore, we are confronted with the throne of God, we are immediately brought to consider His rule, dominion, and absolute government. We are not speaking of mere legality, but of Divine power, which is mingled with righteousness and truth.
After showing us the rise of global governments, the Spirit is assisting us to adjust our spiritual vision. We must not allow our perspective of things to be blurred by the consideration of the powers of this world. Everything must be seen within the framework of Divine power, not the power and influence of the wicked one and those through whom he, under Divine control, can work!
Something to Consider
Here, we must come to grips with misconceptions of the final days of the earth. It is true that they will involve “perilous times,” “wars and rumors of wars,” and all manner of spreading wickedness. Nevertheless, the days are controlled by God, not the devil – and much less not by man. When speaking of a time of great social and political upheaval, Jesus said, “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be” (Mark 13:19). He continued by saying if those days were not cut short, “no flesh should be saved.” Then, in a burst of heavenly light He affirmed, “but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, HE HATH SHORTENED THE DAYS” (Mark 13:20). The Lord is in control, and governs this world with His people in mind.
Thus, before proceeding further with an explanation of the world’s ruthless empires, the Lord turns our attention to the throne from which the world is governed. If men are impressed by the beastly representations of the world’s governments, the throne of God will prove to be infinitely more impressive. This is the throne from which the governments received their power. And, this is the throne that will dictate their demise. Praise the Lord!
“His throne was like the fiery flame . . . ” Other versions read, “His throne was ablaze with flames,” NASB “His throne was flaming with fire,” NIV “His throne was fiery flames,” NRSV “He sat on a fiery throne,” NLT and “His throne was tongues of flame.” TNK
What an awesome sight! Here is one that sits upon what consumes everything and everyone else. This is the God who strictly controls that which destroys. It has no power over Him, but He has the power over it. No sane person chooses to step into the fiery flames, but the Lord’s throne – where He sits – is ablaze with flames. It is not a smoldering fire, like a “smoking flax,” but a flaming inferno. The throne was bright, glowing, and flashing with flames. Nothing about this throne was static, inactive, or dormant. It was magnificent, like a great and large mass of flame.
Lest we be tempted to be casual in our views of the Lord, He is consistently associated with fire – fire that can destroy, reveal, or lead.
God rained fire on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24).
God spoke to Moses out of fire that burned in a bush, yet did not consume it (Ex 3:2).
He led Israel by a pillar of fire by night (Ex 13:21-22).
When God descended on Mount Sinai, He did so “in fire” (Ex 19:18).
The sight of the Lord upon Mount Sinai was like “a devouring fire” (Ex 24:17).
At the presence of the Lord, Mount Sinai “burned with fire” (Deut 4:11).
At Sinai God spoke “out of the midst of the fire” (Deut 4:12,15).
God Himself “is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29).
God called the fire at Sinai “His great fire”(Deut 4:36).
At Sinai the people “were afraid by reason of the fire” (Deut 5:5).
God said He would destroy the enemies of Israel “as a consuming fire” (Deut 9:3).
The wrath of God burns “like fire” (Psa 89:46).
It is written, “A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about” (Psa 97:3).
The Point of This Imagery
The point of this imagery is this: wherever there is conflict with God, there will be an inevitable confrontation. That confrontation will result in the overthrow of all competitive influence. Those who imagine they can make war with God are fools in the most despicable sense of the word. Compared to God, man in his most powerful state – like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Cyrus, Alexander, and the Caesars – sit upon straw thrones. When God moves against such foes, regardless of their degree of power, they are instantly destroyed, “and that without remedy” (Prov 6:15).
Let it be clear in our minds. It simply is not possible to survive confronting an angry God! That is the reason for justification from sin, the interceding Christ, and the abundance of grace. These all cause God’s favor
to be toward us instead of His wrath. I do not believe this perspective has been made clear to our generation. It seems to me that very little association is made these days, of a God with a throne that is flaming with fire. But that is the reality of the matter, and those who see it will flee “for refuge to lay hold on the hope that is set before us”(Heb 6:18).
Like it or not, it is God’s nature to consume those who are not like Himself. That, of course, is why He has predestinated that those He has foreknown be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). That is why the Holy Spirit is presently changing us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). That is why, when we see the Lord Jesus as He is, we will “be like Him” (1 John 3:1-3). No one else will be able to survive facing the God of heaven, whose throne “is like the fiery fame.”
“ . . . and his wheels as burning fire.” Other versions read, “Its wheels a burning fire,” NKJV “its wheels were all ablaze,” NIV and “with wheels of blazing fire.” NLT
A Mobile Throne
Here is a mobile throne – a throne with wheels. The Psalmist pictured the Lord as moving about, exercising His will whenever He pleased. He said the Lord “who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind” (Psa 104:3) – Divine mobility!
Ezekiel’s Vision of God
The prophet Ezekiel saw God in a similar way. He testified that while he was among the Babylonian captives, “the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God” (Ezek 1:1). There, in the heathen “land of the Chaldeans,” the word of God came “expressly” to him (1:3).
He saw a great whirlwind come out of the North. Within that tempest he saw “a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire” NASB (Ezek 1:4). Four heavenly personages were within this fire, each one moving straightforward “wherever the Spirit was about to go” NASB (1:5-12). In a vivid depiction of the execution of the will of God, Ezekiel saw “The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning” NIV (1:14).
In this marvelous picture of Divine mobility, Ezekiel also saw “wheels.” Each living creature was by a wheel. The prophet describes the wheels in a unique way. “The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went” (1:16-17). The movement was a purposeful, or intelligent, movement, as depicted by the rims of the wheels being “full of eyes”(1:18). Without any restriction whatsoever, “Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went” (1:20).
In the throne-visions of both Daniel and Ezekiel, there is an animated presentation of the truth that is elsewhere declared doctrinally – namely that the Lord rules over all and according to His own will.
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?” (Dan 4:35)
“But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth.” (Job 23:13)
“The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.” (Psa 33:10-11)
“But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Psa 115:3)
“Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” (Psa 135:6)
“For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa 14:27)
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” (Isa 46:9-10)
“For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever Thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28).
“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11)
Thus the throne of the Almighty is pictured as moving without restriction wherever He pleases. His rule is unfettered and unhindered. If He desires to raise up Pharaoh, He does. When He is finished with him, the Lords him down. If He desires to give the kingdoms of the world to Nebuchadnezzar, He does. If He decides to deprive that very king of his mind, and drive him among the beasts of the field, that is what He does. When He wants to dethrone Belshazzar, giving the kingdom of Babylon to the Medes and the Persians, He does so – in a single night. That is the God who saves and keeps us!
I ask you, what are four beastly governments to compare with that? How significant can ten horns on a ruthless beast be in view of this? And who will tremble before a prideful and boasting “little horn” in view of such an formidable God? See, the Spirit is confirming to our hearts that God is the One to fear, not man. It is His kingdom that is invincible, not those of men.
If you wish to establish a finely tuned theological system, this will not sound good. It requires faith more than human understanding. In fact, it IS disruptive of a significant amount of systematized theology. However, if you are in a strange land like Daniel, a heathen is upon the throne, and the prospect of future violence looms before you, this sounds mighty good! It will sound good to you also when you see this world as it is.
“ 10a A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him . . . ” What a picture we have before us! Not only is a wise God sitting upon the throne, that throne is moving about wherever the Lord pleases. He is fulfilling His will among the heathen as well as the Israelites and children of Judah. If the throne rolls into Judah and against Jerusalem, it prevails. If it rolls into Babylon, it conquers. If it comes against the Medes and the Persians, it unquestionably dominates. If it rolls up against Greece, the nation topples. If it comes against the seemingly invincible government of Rome, that government will fall.
Knowing the difficulties associated with seeing these things, the Spirit continues. A “fiery stream” is not seen “coming forth from before Him.” Other versions read, “A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him,” NASB “A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence,” NRSV “A stream of fire rushed forth before him,” Septuagint “A stream of fire poured out, issuing from his presence,” NJB and “A flood of fire is proceeding and coming forth from before Him.” YLT
Here is another graphic picture of the unhindered movement of the Mighty God. This is the language of judgment, which no opponent will survive. The Psalmist said the same thing this way, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Psa 50:3). Again he wrote, “A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about” (Psa 97:3). Again it is written, “and fire out of his mouth devoured” (Psa 18:8). Malachi also painted a vivid picture of this aspect of the Divine character. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do
wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal 4:1).
I understand that it is not fashionable to speak of the Lord in this manner in a day marked by carnality and compromise. But if ever there was time in which this must be declared, it is in our time. That declaration is not only to warn the unruly, and rebuke the ungodly. It is also to comfort the people who “sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst” (Ezek 9:4). There are people who are being deprived of their native spiritual habitation, like Daniel was deprived of Jerusalem. There are others, who like Daniel, are in a desolate place, where the ungodly outnumber the godly, and the soul is made to feel like a “pelican in the wilderness, and an owl in the desert” (Psa 102:6).
There are broken-hearted preachers and teachers, who long for an audience who will take in the Word of the Lord – like Daniel among the Chaldeans, who cared little or nothing for the Word of the Lord. Just as Daniel could be forgotten for years in Babylon, so there are many faithful servants of God who must go outside of the professed church to nourish their souls, and look about in the highways and byways of life to find those hungering and thirsting for righteousness. What do we say to afflicted souls like these? What message can we give them that will be an elixir to their wearied soul?
I will tell you what we will say. We will tell them of an Omnipotent God who moves when He wills, and will do so in the behalf of His people. His throne is like a devouring fire, against which no enemy has so much as a single moment of power.
God intrudes into the affairs of men, and when He does, a river of consuming fire goes before Him, removing hindering stubble, and clearing the land of defilement. Before Him goes something like a great fiery lava flow, against which men in their most powerful and influential state are impotent.
When God came to deliver Israel from Egypt, a path of devastation preceded Him in the plagues. When God saw the wickedness of the world in Noah’s day, a path of destruction was created in the flood. The same happened at the tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the seven nations that occupied Canaan.
When God brought salvation through Jesus Christ, a wave of destruction preceded Him. The devil was destroyed (Heb 2:14), principalities and powers were plundered (Col 2:15), the condemning Law and the debt it created were taken out of the way (Col 2:14), and the sins of the world were put away (Heb 9:26).
The only place a “fiery stream” does not consume before the Lord is where faith is found, and hostility against the Lord is not found. Such souls have nothing to fear from this fiery stream.
“ 10b . . . thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him . . . ”
As the vision unfolds, you sense the One sitting upon the throne is the center of attention and all activity. While the governments of the world were characterized as beasts of the earth, the throne of God is surrounded by intelligent and serving spirits. Here there are a vast host of inquiring and ministering spirits. Everyone of them is devoted to the God who sits upon the throne – committed to do His bidding.
“ 10b . . . thousand thousands . . . and ten thousand times ten thousand . . .” Other versions read, “Thousands upon thousands” NASB and “Millions of angels.” NLT
The multitude of these heavenly hosts is staggering. The counts here are not intended to be mathematically precise. They rather reflect for us a perspective of the grandeur of the world to come. Here, in this world, the servants of God are here and there. There have been times in the history of the world when the number of known saints were in the single digits – like in the days of Enoch, Noah, Job, and when Abraham was called. Historically, even during times when truth was unusually influential, the greater percentage of the people
have not believed. Even then, the number of diligent souls who waited continually upon the Lord was only a small percentage of those who claimed identity with Him.
But this is not the way it is around the throne of God. There is no one there who is “slow of heart” (Lk 24:25). There are none who draw back, are dull of hearing, or run and hide from God. When you hear Jesus teach us to pray, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Mat 6:10), think of this majestic scene.
A Frequent Reference
The Scriptures frequently speak of the multitude of personalities around the Lord.
Micaiah’s vision. “I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left” (1 Kgs 22:19).
David spoke of them. “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure” (Psa 103:21).
John saw them his Patmos vision. “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev 5:11).
Enoch spoke of them. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” (Jude 1:14).
It is no wonder the phrase “Lord of hosts” occurs two hundred and forty -five times in Scripture! Nine times we read, “the LORD of hosts is His name” (Isa 47:4; 48:2; 51:15; 54:5; Jer 10:16; 31:35; 32:18; 50:34; 51:19).
“ . . . ministered unto him. . . ” Other versions read, “were attending Him,” NASB and “attended Him.” NLT
And what do these hosts do? It is written that they “minister unto Him.” That is, they serve Him, doing His bidding. In using the word “attending,” other versions emphasize these hosts are there for the solitary purpose of doing the Lord’s bidding.
Angels are called God’s “ministers.” “And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire” (Heb 1:7; Psa 104:4). As a “flame of fire,” they instantly do the bidding of the Lord, flying “swiftly” (Dan 9:21) to fulfill their commissions. David speaks of them as doing God’s commandments and hearkening unto His word (Psa 103:20). Ezekiel saw “living creatures” around the throne of God who “ran and returned as a flash of lightning”(Ezek 1:13). They were ministering to the Lord, doing “His commandments and hearkening unto the voice of His word” (Psa 103:20).
These holy angels are carrying out the judgments of the Lord. Determinations are made by God Almighty, then these heavenly hosts are dispatched to carry them out. Thus God “sent an angel” to bring Israel out of Egypt (Num 20:16). He also “sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it” (1 Chron 21:15). Again, He“sent an angel which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria” (2 Chr 32:21). Another was sent to deliver Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego from the furnace (Dan 3:28), and another to deliver Daniel from the lion’s den (Dan 6:22). Angel’s were sent to Zechariah and Mary, to announce the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus (Luke 1:19,26).
Jesus spoke of His Father being able to send “twelve legions of angels,” who would thwart any attempt of the world to arrest Him or do Him harm (Matt 26:53). Authorities say a “legion”was 6,200 footmen and 300 horsemen. That would make “twelve legions” about 78,000 angels. Considering what one angel has been known to do (2 Kgs 19:35), it is staggering to consider what 78,000 of them could do. At any rate, had God sent them, they would have come out from this vast throng Daniel saw, who stood before the throne, waiting for an assignment. What faithful ministers these are, always doing the bidding of God instantly and thoroughly.
It is good when the redeemed join this amalgamation of holy spirits, themselves ministering unto the Lord. When the Holy Spirit separated Barnabas and Saul to a special work, He did so while the
church “ministered to the Lord” (Acts 13:2). At that time, those saints were in fellowship with the “innumerable company of angels” who continually minister to the Lord (Heb 12:22).
“ . . . and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him . . . ” Other versions read, “were standing before Him,” NASB and “stood to attend Him.” NLT
Millions stand before the Lord, waiting an assignment, eager to carry out His word. They do not stand merely to spectate, but to participate, instantly implementing His determinations. Their response is not delayed because they are standing in readiness before the Lord.
When His judgments are carried out, they fall on their faces before the throne saying, “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev 7:12). What a marvelous environment exists “around the throne.”
What Must They Think of Earthly Assemblies
We know the angels are noted for being in the assemblies of the saints (1 Cor 10:11). I have often pondered how such assemblies must impress these holy angels. Having wafted their way from such an environment as Daniel was given to see, what must they think of assemblies where people sit in the back, scramble for the door, and show looks and attitudes of near-total disinterest? I do understand that men have grown accustomed to such assemblies, but find it exceedingly difficult to believe the holy angels are able to do so. It simply clashes too sharply with the realm from which they come.
For that matter, those believers who choose to remain in the “heavenly places” where God has raised them (Eph 2:6), are equally discontent with gatherings that are not conscience of the heavenly throne.
Now, under Christ Jesus, the vast throng that is around the throne of God are all marshaled to minister to those who are heirs of salvation. As it is written, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:13-14). The very thought of such a multitude working in our behalf as they are commissioned by God, brings refreshment and encouragement to the soul. Furthermore, they are faithful in their ministry, never being caught off-guard or unprepared.
Something To Learn
There is something to be learned here about faithfully serving the Lord. Such service requires that we remain close to the throne – entering boldly into the most holy place with a true heart, a purged conscience, and bodies washed with pure water. I am afraid there is a lot of religious effort being expended in the church by people who are actually living at a distance from the Lord. They are unaware of His presence, purpose, and will. Such people are too aware of this world, and too unaware of the world to come. Their hearts are too close to the earth, and too far from heaven.
The thing that makes such a condition so serious is that Christ was put to death in the flesh and quickened by the Spirit that He might “bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). There simply is no place in the Kingdom of God for dwelling at a distance from the Lord. Such a posture will not allow the individual to either love or obey the Lord with any degree of acceptability or consistency. Rather, it puts them squarely under the influence of the devil, and places them on the path of inevitable defeat. Such a condition is inexcusable.
“ 10c . . . the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”
The very words of this verse tug at the heart. If you will ponder them, there is something about them that is most arresting. They speak of a time of inevitable confrontation – a time when an account will be given to God. That account may be given by a generation (Matt 12:11), a nation (Jer 12:16-17), a church (Rev 2:4), and an individual (Rom 14:12). There is no way to avoid having to give an account of ourselves to God. The only hope is to take advantage of His salvation, in which He is “able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).
“ . . . the judgment was set . . . ” Other versions read, “The court was seated,” NKJV “The court sat,” NASB “The court sat in judgment,” NRSV “the Judge was seated,” BBE “the court was in session,” NJB “Then the court began its session,” NLT and “the Judge is seated.” YLT
Judgment Begins
This language depicts the commencement of judgment. The words “was set” do not emphasize Divine appointment, although His judgment is appointed. Rather, them emphasis the beginning of judgment – the carrying out of Divine evaluation and sentencing. In this portion of the vision, Daniel sees God putting a Divine “period” to the reign of earthly powers. In His great power He simply brings their dominion to a conclusion, and calls the participants into judgment to give an account. The power of these kings and kingdoms came from God, and now He calls them into account for their use of it. All the while, from the highest point of view, they have been fulfilling His purpose. In spite of their ruthless and godless spirit, God still worked all things together for the good of His people – including those in captivity.
The Employment of Others
Some versions have the Judge being seated. BBE,YLT Others have the court of judges being seated. NKJV,NASB Still others say the court was I session NJB,NLT. Of course, all of these are true. When the Lord judges, He does employ others in that judgment. In historical judgments He employed holy angels, as in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:13). He even summoned Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His judgment against Judah (1 Chron 6:15). God called Cyrus His “battle axe and weapons of war,” used to bring down Babylon (Jer 51:20ff).
In the ultimate day of judgment, “He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Jesus, in turn, will employ the saints of God, who will judge both men and angels (1 Cor 6:1-2).
The point is that such judgment will come. It cannot be averted or mitigated. It is still true, God has “appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness.”
The Day of Judgment
“The day of judgment” is frequently mentioned in Scripture. Wherever it is cited, the reference always is in accord with the text before us.
Writers during the time of the Old Covenant referred to this time – a day of judgment. The Chronicles declare the Lord will come “to judge the earth” (1 Chron 16:33). Job referred to it as a “day of wrath” (Job 21:30), and a day when God will rise up and visit (Job 31:13-14). David called it a time when God would come with fire, not keep silence, and “judge His people” (Psa 50:3-6). He also said God would “judge the world in righteousness” (Psa 96:13; 98:9). Solomon said God would call every word and work into judgment (Eccl 11:9; 12:14).
Jesus referred to “the day of judgment” six times (Matt 10:15 and Mark 6:11; 11:22,24; 12:36). Peter uses that same expression twice (2 Pet 2:9; 3:7). John uses it once (1 John 4:17). Jesus referred to the same day as “THE judgment” (Matt 12:12; Lk 10:14; 11:31-32). The Spirit also refers to “the judgment” as a day to which each person has been appointed (Heb 9:27). Jude refers to it as “the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). Paul referred to this time as “judgment to come” (Acts 24:25), “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men” (Rom 2:16), and “the time” (1 Cor 4:5).
Daniel Sees It
Now Daniel, centuries before Christ, is given to see this day – the appointed time of accountability. It will take place before the throne that has ruled the world from the day of its birth. Daniel had previous announced to
Nebuchadnezzar, “the heavens do rule” (4:26). That truth will be confirmed on the day of judgment. Those who have believed it here, sought that Kingdom “first,” and lived their lives as a thank offering to God, will have nothing to fear on that day. In fact, they will stand before the Lord’s throne with “exceeding joy” (Jude 24-25) and “boldness” (1 John 4:17).
For all others, there will not be a single aspect of that time that will not strike fear into their hearts. Those who have lived in apathy toward the Lord will be apathetic no longer. Those who have been turned aside by distractions will be distracted no longer.
“ . . . and the books were opened.” These are the same books John saw “opened,” when the dead, both small and great, will “stand before God”(Rev 20:12). They are the books out of which men will be judged. As it is written, “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev 20:12). I understand that men have been eager to develop theologies that cause men to ignore these books. Such attempts present “the dead” as referring to those who are alienated from God and enemies of His people. However, in this text, “the dead” refers to all humanity. They are called “the dead” in relation to their lives upon the earth. After the heavens and earth have passed away (verse 11), everyone living at that time will have been separated from their bodies, and thus will fall into the general category of “the dead.” This is an expression that denotes everyone who lived on the earth. All of them will be judged out of “the books.” That is the Spirit’s affirmation.
“The books” confirm there is a record in heaven of everything every person has done. Having received understanding on this matter, Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). Again it is written, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). This refers to the time when “the books were opened.”
Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mat 12:36-37). It is on the part of wisdom to take these words seriously, making no attempt to explain them away.
Scriptural Confirmations
Now, before the day of judgment, the Lord has made known some of the things written in these books. These records have been passed down through the generations to confirm to our hearts that God knows what men do.
Ponder the records of the sin of Adam and Eve, Cain’s murder of Abel, Enoch’s prophecy, Noah building the ark, and the ambitions of those who attempted to build the tower of Babel. Think of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, the faith of Abraham, the acknowledgments of Jacob, and the faithfulness of Joseph. There is both the sin and repentance of David, the defection of Solomon, and the repentance of Manasseh. There is the denial of Peter, as well as his bold preaching. There is the persecution instituted by Saul of Tarsus, and his devoted life after he was converted. Ponder the lying of Ananias and Sapphira, and the boldness of Peter and John. There is the abandonment of Demas and the faithfulness of Timothy, the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus and the faithful preaching of Philip in Samaria.
All of these things were written years after they were lived out. The record of them is a sort of miniature representation of “the books” being opened.
The opening of the books is the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s words, “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it should come to light” (Mark 4:22). Even Solomon, in all of his discontentment with the vanity of life, knew this was true. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl 12:14).
When “the books are opened,” God will be fully vindicated in everything He has said. What He has said about the world will be seen to be true. Every single aspect of the record He has given of His Son will be found faithful and true. His statements about both sin and righteousness, their nature and their rewards, will be confirmed. The urgency of salvation will be fully substantiated, together with the utter heinousness of sin and transgression.
Indeed, when “the books are opened,” this will be fulfilled: “let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged” (Rom 3:4). Everything written in the books that is contrary to what God has said will be exposed and condemned. Everything that is in harmony with what He said will be confirmed as acceptable, and those doing those things will “receive praise from God” (1 Cor 4:5). This will be the time of extremes, with nothing being neutral.
Precisely what is intended by this aspect of the vision? It is evident from the text that follows that it is in some way associated with a form of temporal judgment. The fourth fierce beast is killed, and its body destroyed and “thrown into the blazing fire” that surrounded the throne of God NIV (v 11). The other beasts had their dominion taken away, yet “were allowed to live for a period of time” NIV (v 12). This does not sound like the final day of judgment, for none of God’s enemies will live for a while after that (2 Thess 1:9).
The judgment of God will have its culmination on the day He has appointed to judge the world in righteousness. However, there have been times when that Divine judgment has burst forth in fury in a preliminary fashion. By the grace of God, these times are not common, but they stand as a testimony to the coming “day of judgment.” Two notable examples of such occasions are the flood, in which “all flesh died” (Geb 7:21), and Sodom and Gomorrah who “suffered the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).
These catastrophic judgments issued from the same God on the same throne before which every person will stand. They were a harbinger of coming judgment, and are to be so considered.
In Daniel’s vision, he was given to see the God of heaven in the capacity of the Judge of all the earth. He was transported to the time when the books would be opened, and all men would give an account of themselves. Now he will be shown that this very God, from this very throne, will show His great power by throwing down invincible kingdoms – chiefly the one that appeared more dominant and ruthless than the others.
The purpose of the vision is not to move our attention to the judgment of inimical powers, but to the One who exercises that judgment. It is the same One before whom we ourselves will stand.
A Divine Manner
The Word of God confirms this is the manner in which the Lord works. That is, he brings some men into account for their sins while they are yet upon the earth, in order that the rest of the people may fear. Some works are judged beforehand. Thus it is written, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them” NIV (1 Tim 5:24). This visitation by no means removes such souls from the final judgment. Rather, it is a token of what is inevitable for all of God’s enemies.
By the same token, the good of some men, together with God’s favor toward them, is sometimes recognized prior to the day of judgment, when “every man will have praise of God.” For this reason it is written, “Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” NKJV (1 Tim 5:25). The nature of their good deeds is not simply confirmed by men seeing their goodness and applauding the worker. Rather, it is corroborated by the obvious favor of God upon them – like the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego form the fiery furnace, and Daniel from the lion’s den.
Before proceeding with the revelation, therefore, God pushes the thinking of Daniel to the end of time. He shows him the ultimate destiny of all men, and the ultimate assize at which they will be present. With that perspective in mind, He now proceeds to confirm to Daniel the futility of the fourth beast, and the ultimate vanity of the “little horn.”
God conducts the affairs of this world with the day of judgment in mind, and we do well to conduct our affairs in the same way. What is more, He deals with men in precise harmony with the edicts that will be made known at the day of judgment. Both His blessings and His curses are in strict comportment with the ultimate day of Divine reckoning.
By that I do not mean those who are judged unfavorably here will, of necessity, be judged unfavorably there. Although we are not to linger long upon such a thought, it is true, “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor 11:32). Unlike the judgment of
the world in the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, there are judgments designed to induce repentance. Notwithstanding that circumstance, they also confirm to us the absolute intolerance with sin that will be revealed on “the day of judgment.”
“ 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.”
We enter a text now that is characterized by violence – Divine violence. To some, such language is highly offensive, for they find great difficulty in thinking of the Living God in such a way. However, this is the representation of the Holy Spirit, who moved upon holy men to write in such a manner (2 Pet 1:21). It must also be remembered that this is how the Lord revealed Himself to Daniel, which indicates this is an aspect of His Person that He intends for us to understand. Should we choose to receive such a revelation, it will help to deliver us from demeaning views of the Lord and His works. We will therefore be the less inclined to tempt Him and tax His patience with foolish and indulgent living.
There is also a principle of truth that is made known here. These four beasts, and particularly the fourth one, were noted for their violence. The fourth one had great iron teeth, and ate up its victims, trampling under foot whatever was left (7:7). Now, this beast will reap what it has sown. Thus the word of Jesus is fulfilled, “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Mat 26:52).
As far back as the days of Noah, the Lord inculcated this law, applying it to both individuals and nations as well. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen 9:6). The Lord gave a message for Ezekiel to give to those who had slain His people in their calamity. It voiced the very principle of which I speak. “Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, ‘I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you” (Ezek 35:5-6).
Again, on the Isle of Patmos, the Lord Jesus Christ made this mode of Divine operation known to John. “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword” (Rev 13:10). Thus, before the Law, during the Law, and after the Law, this principle has been revealed. It does not sanction men taking matters into their own hands, but does accentuate that God DOES deal with violent man after this manner.
I fear that contemporary Christianity has been skewed to present God as though He was a doting old man, highly tolerant of the insolence of men, and quite willing to endure their absurdities. But this is a wholly inaccurate appraisal of the Living God. Even when it comes to this great day of salvation, in which the way to God has been thrown open and the Divine welcome mat spread out, we read of this aspect of God. “he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16); “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Th 1:9); “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15); “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy” (1 Cor 3:17); “and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Rev 16:19).
“I beheld then . . . ” Other versions read, “I watched then,” NKJV “Then I kept looking,” NASB and “I continued to watch.” NIV Here again, the attentiveness of the man of God is evident. He does not allow himself to be moved from what God is showing him. His heart and his mind are involved in the vision. It is as though he has become one with it, refusing to leave as long as there is something to be seen.
For those who desire to receive understanding from God, this posture of mind is necessary. As long as a person’s attention can be moved from the Lord and His Word, nothing much, if anything, will be learned. All tutelage – every bit of it – that is attempted without the riveted attention of the disciple, is in vain. If you do not
pay attention to what the Lord is saying or revealing, you will receive nothing from it. The things of God simply cannot be learned with a mind hat is divided.
“ . . . because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.” Other versions read, “because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking.” NKJV “because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking,” NASB “because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking,” NRSV and “I continued to watch because I could hear the little horn's boastful speech.” NLT
As Daniel beholds the vision, he is attracted by the arrogant speaking of the “little horn.” Although the “little horn” was himself to be overthrown by the Lord, it is unaware of that circumstance. With great pride it speaks as though it is over all. Daniel knows such haughtiness will not be overlooked by the Lord, and thus he listens and waits patiently. He knows the speech of the “little horn” is not the last thing that will be said. The real situation has registered upon the spirit of Daniel. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).
You will remember the “little horn”of reference is said to have had “a mouth uttering great boasts” (v 8). NASB Later it is said of this horn, “And he shall speak great words against the most High” (Dan 7:25). This parallels the beast of the thirteenth chapter of Revelation, of which it is said, “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things . . . And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Rev 13:5-6).
Daniel’s “little horn” is an extension of the fourth beast in the same way John’s “second beast” is an extension of the first one (Rev 13:11-12). It is a religious power that operates upon the same basis as the kingdoms of this world. In both cases, I understand this power to be religious in nature, yet it is corrupt to the core. It is a power that comes in the name of Christ. Thus it is not as readily apparent as a power coming in the name of another god, like the Assyrian army against Israel, God’s people (2 Kgs 19:10-12).
This is an opponent of the Lord, of His truth, and of His people, speaking “blasphemy,” or “great things”. Blasphemy, by definition, is speaking evil of God. It speaks of desecration, profanation, and sacrilege. It also involves claiming the attributes of Deity, which is one of the primary meanings of the English word. MERRIAM-WEBSTER This “little horn” also parallels’s Paul’s “man of sin” and “son of perdition,” of whom it is said, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess 2:4).
Keep in mind, the manner in which this “little horn” spoke is being assessed by God Himself. He does not appear this way to the inhabitants of the earth, else he would not meet with such success as he does. This is religious deception – specifically deception that comes in the name of Jesus Christ.
Daniel carefully watches because of the speaking of this arrogant personality. He knows such insolence will not go unrequited. God cannot be opposed and maligned with impunity.
“ . . . beheld even till the beast was slain . . . ” As Daniel kept on looking, the impressive fourth beast that was “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” and different from all of the beasts before it “was slain.” The death is not attributed to anyone upon the earth, for it is a judgment from above – a judgment that issued forth from “the Ancient of days” who sat upon a mobile throne that was like a blazing fire. Here, in the slaying of the fourth beast, is another confirmation that “the heavens do rule.”
The ungodly power of this fourth beast reached is apex in the reign of the “little horn,” which spoke arrogantly, as though there was no God. It spoke as though it ruled the world. The beast was not slain merely on its own account, or because of the ten horns, or “kings” (verse 23) that it boasted. It is this “little horn,” who “spoke great words against the Most High,” and wore out the saints of God, thinking to change times and laws made by God (verse 25) – this is the reason the fourth beast is slain!
It is bad enough when a kingdom rises that is ruthless, eager for power, and merciless in the extension of its dominion. But when that power speaks out against the Most High, oppresses and maligns the saints of God, and tries to change set times and laws, it has moved into the path of sure destruction.
“ . . . and his body destroyed . . . ” Not only was the beast killed, its body was destroyed – that is, brought to the point where it could never rise again. In the vision, the body of this beast is what made it so dreadful and terrible. It was its form, not its heart, that gave it its power. When, therefore, its body is destroyed, the whole of its power is decimated, and it is no longer a political entity.
“ . . . and given to the burning flame.” The “burning fire” denotes the throne, or sovereign rule, of the Almighty God. The body of the fourth beast being thrown into this consuming fire, or Divine power, means it is utterly destroyed by God – like Sodom and Gomorrah.
This burning is equivalent to the grinding up of kingdoms by Daniel’s small stone that became a mountain, filling the whole earth. As it is written, “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan 2:35).
This text is elaborating on that same truth, focusing on the fourth kingdom, and showing how it suffered a special judgment from God. The first vision of Nebuchadnezzar dealt with the four empires as a whole, revealing what they had in common. This vision deals with them again showing them to be different, each one excelling the other in ruthlessness, until the fourth kingdom, which was the most despotic of all. Because of this circumstance, a special judgment falls upon it.
More Focused Teaching
Because this vision contains even more focused teaching on the fourth kingdom and the “little horn” (vs 23-25), I must forebear further comments upon it now. It is enough to remind you that the fourth beast is the Roman government, and that a ruthless opponent of Christ will rise out of it. That power will rise while Rome is in its strength, and will be the reason for its utter demise. It will also be religious in nature.
When the saints read this passage of Scripture, they must guard against the tendency to treat is as mere history – as though their enemies had all been destroyed already. This vision has been given to assure us of the triumph of our God and His Christ. It confirms to us the overthrow and destruction of the worst opponents, to say nothing of the lesser ones.
When the wicked are considered by Jesus, they are often grouped together, without regard to identifying the worst of them, as is done in this text. This is because Jesus dealt with their nature, which was corrupt and ungodly. Thus He reminded us of the end of them all, lest we be discouraged by their presence and seeming power.
The wicked are “bad” fish, caught in the net of Divine purpose, which will eventually be “thrown away” (Matt 13:48).
They are “chaff” that will be thoroughly purged from the floor of God’s kingdom and “burned with unquenchable fire” (Matt 3:12).
They are “goats,” which will finally and eternally be separated from God’s people (Matt 25:32).
They are “tares,” which will gathered and burned (Matt 13:36).
They are unacceptable “plants” that will be “pulled up by the roots” (Matt 15:13).
They are “things that offend,” that will be gathered out of God’s world (Matt 13:41).
Thus, we have not been introduced to something new. From the very beginning, God has revealed the destruction of those aligned against Him. That is the essence of the Seed of woman bruising, or crushing, the head
of the serpent (Gen 3:15). The bruising of Satan includes all who are aligned with him – all who have been deceived by him.
Before men fall into the pit of idle curiosity, they must read the book of Daniel with the light of the Gospel shining upon it. They must not allow themselves to become enamored of the fourth beast or the little horn. They will share the same fate as every individual who knows not God and obeys not the Gospel (2 Thess 1:8-9). That seemingly elementary bit of knowledge clarifies this otherwise difficult text, causing it to bring profit to the soul.
We are witnessing a certain Divine manner of reasoning. In order to show the sure destruction of all inimical powers, the Lord comments first upon the utter destruction of the worst of them. What is true of that power, will eventually be true of all lesser powers that are focused against the saints. Thus the destiny of the fourth kingdom is, in the end, the destiny of them all. The removal of that kingdom stands for the removal of all the kingdoms of this world. The destruction of the body of that fourth beast stands for the destruction of all who push forward in the energy of the flesh. The burning of that beast with fire assures us of the final consignment of everyone who neither knows nor obeys God to the lake of fire. That is how believers in Christ must learn to see this passage. That is the area where our greatest understanding must be found.
Finally, at this point, we are considering causes, not times. While Daniel will be shown some very specific things about time, they will relate more to the Lord Jesus and His atoning death than to the rise and fall of inimical powers. Here we are being shown the nature of worldly power. It is, in character, ruthless and beastly, eventually opposing God and His people. In that opposition its nature is revealed, and that is why it is destroyed.
This is because flesh falls under the condemnation of Adam, not the salvation of Christ. Whatever is not identified with Christ, whether an individual or a nation, tends to deteriorate, becoming worse, not better.
“ 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.”
I want to emphasize how different “the mind of the Spirit” is to “the mind of the flesh.” Man would chart the course of these kingdoms from their beginning. The Spirit traces it from their conclusion. In other words, He gives us to see things from their end instead of their beginning.
For example, when we are moved by the Lord to consider the world, our primary frame of reference is not the creation of the world, but the end of the world. For this reason, we are to consider ourselves “strangers and pilgrims” in the world (Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11). In order to assist us in avoiding the ensnarements of this world, we are reminded, “the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Cor 7:31). Solemnly we are told, “the world passeth away and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:17).
Additionally, we are to live our lives in view of what will occur at “the end.” That is how long we are to “endure” (Matt 10:22). Then is when we will see the Lord as He is (1 John 3:1-2). Then we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom 14:10). Pondering these things has a way of shaping our thinking, enabling us to form proper values and conduct our lives honorably.
Similarly, the Lord is showing us “the end” of these great empires in order that we might think properly of them. When we see their end, we will not fear what they will do to us, for God has promised us a blessed eternity. How, then, can we be ultimately harmed by powers that are destined to failure. Or, for that matter, how can we be eternally advantaged by powers that will all be crushed by the mighty power of God?
These powers are the world in its more organized and profitable state. Their destiny includes the doom of all other worldly enterprises, such as business, entertainment, pleasure, etc.
“As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away . . . ” Other versions read, “The other beasts had been stripped of their authority,” NIV “their authority was taken away,” BBE and “The other beasts were deprived of their empire.” NJB
And how is it that these beasts – these three governments – were stripped of their power and authority? Was this the work of men or of God? If “the heavens do rule,” and God is, in fact, “the Governor among the nations,” this is an act of God. This is the judgment of “the Ancient of days,” who is enthroned and rules over all. He is the One who gave them their power (Rom 13:1), and He is the One who took it away! There were other nations who were instrumental in the demise of these kingdoms, but they were clay in the hands of the heavenly Potter.
The judgment against them was less harsh, because the fourth beast’s transgressions were greater. Their sin was, in a sense, like the sin of Pilate as compared to the priests and leaders of the Jews who demanded Christ’s death. You will recall that Jesus said to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11).
The demise of these kingdoms, therefore, was not simply an historical progression, or evidence of the survival of the fittest. There really are no accidents in history – particularly in the matter of the fall of nations. They have been Divinely deprived of their power and authority.
We will find that the power of God is employed in a very precise and deliberate manner. It is not like the power of ruthless beasts that leave a path of purposeless destruction. There is no gracious intention in it, or noble motives. How sharply they contrast with “the Ancient of days,” who governs His Kingdom in holiness, and seeks the ultimate good of those who trust Him.
The dominion of the three other beasts, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, was taken from them, yet they were allowed to continue in a state of decided reduction. This diminution of power and influence was imposed upon them. It was not an act of humility.
These kingdoms, then continued to exist in a subordinate form. Viewed politically, governors from the nation that overcame them ruled them. Daniel lived in Babylon when this very thing occurred. Dominion was taken away from Babylon, yet it continued to exist as a subsidiary of the Medes and Persians. The same thing was true of the Persian and Grecian empires. The people of those empires remained, yet were in subordination to their conquerors. This was not the case with the fourth beast.
“ . . . yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” Other versions read, “but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time,” NASB “but were allowed to live for a period of time,” NIV “that times of life were appointed them for a time, and a time,” DOUAY “but a prolonging of life was given them for certain times,” Septuagint and “but received a lease of life for a season and a time.” NJB
And from whence did this extension of life come? Certainly not from man, for man cannot add a single cubit to his stature, much less prolong the life of a kingdom. It did not come from Satan, for he cannot effect a single individual apart from God’s permission (Job 1-2), much less make empires last a little longer.
It should be obvious to us that God Almighty – “the Ancient of days” who sits upon an unhindered throne – granted this brief annex of existence. This is involved in God’s determination of “the times set for” men, and “the exact places where they should live” NIV (Acts 17:26). For example, God allowed Babylon to continue for an appointed period because His servant Daniel was still there, and had not yet completed His work.
The Divine appointment is said to have been for “a season and a time.” A “season” is a period of unspecified duration, as Satan departed from Jesus “for a season” (Lk 4:13). A “time” is generally understood to stand for a year – as in “seven times” passing while Nebuchadnezzar grazed as a wild beast in the field (Dan 4:16,23).
Thus, the purpose here is not to delineate a specific period of time, but to confirm the Lord’s control of the situation. From His vantage point is was very precise – “a time.” So far as we are concerned, there was no need for specificity here – “a season.”
This kind of language speaks to the heart of the people of God. It is food for faith, and nourishment for the soul. It reminds us the Lord is in control – precise control. It also confirms there is no need for us to know all of the details of His government. His objective for us is to know Him, not every detail of His inscrutable workings.
Thus, after having much of God’s will revealed to Him, yet few of its details, Paul exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom 11:33-36).
That, dear reader, is precisely how we are to respond to this marvelous text! Our faith must dictate that response. It is commentary on the Lord’s “doing” in the world in which we live. It represents one aspect of what is involved in working all things together for our good.
I do not cease to marvel at the manner in which the Lord unfolds His “eternal purpose.” Through Daniel, He has shown us something of what He has determined, and how it will all work out in the world. From a human point of view, history is like the appearance and removal of wild beasts who run roughshod over their opponents. There appears to be much chaos, disorder, and a lack of justice and equity.
But we are not to “judge according to appearance” (John 7:24), for it is deceiving. Neither God nor His work are evident to the flesh – they are not apparent to the eyes of men. Notwithstanding, “the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3). Heaven knows it! Were it not for the revelations of God, as in the book of Daniel, we would not know it.
God is assuring our hearts that He is fully able to so orchestrate our lives as to bring us to the haven of rest. He has placed His government upon the shoulder of His Son, and charged Him with bringing us to glory (Heb 2:10). He will do precisely that for all who will trust him.
If the Lord could maintain Daniel from his teens to a prophet of seasoned years, he can surely sustain you! If He can protect him in Babylon, through three different dynasties, He will have no difficulty supporting you. He is working everything together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Sometimes that involves raising up kings and kingdoms. Sometimes it requires putting them down.
In the knowledge of these firm realities, the great benedictions of holy men make a lot of sense. Allow me to close by giving you some of them. It will be apparent to you that it requires a Sovereign God to bring them all to pass. They are all exceeding great and precious promises – and they are for you.
“The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num 6:25-26). “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21).
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25).
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; He hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now He that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Cor 9:10).
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Th 5:23-24).
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Th 3:13).
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet 5:10).
And who is the precious soul to whom such statements do not sound good? Even if a person has been subjected to harsh teaching that says such promises are not applicable to us, yet they have a good sound to them. That sound is a good and true one, and is to be nurtured in faith. Do not hesitate to take these things into your heart, ponder them, and seek with all your heart to appropriate them. They are fully intended for those who are in Christ Jesus, and will not be withheld from those who eagerly pursue them.

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