GETTING THE MESSAGE/Put your faith in Christ
Daniel chapter 7 is a prophetic chapter. God gives Daniels several visions that are recorded for us. The chapter is written in apocalyptic language. The word apocalyptic means the unveiling or the disclosure of something. It uses symbolic language and striking metaphors to describe realities.
John Collins has a helpful explanation: “Biblical apocalyptic is a revelation of the ending of this present age, which is an age characterized by conflict, and its replacement by the final age of peace.” Daniel shows us ahead of time the end of the kingdoms of the world and their replacement by the kingdom of God and Christ.
In Daniel 7: 2-8, Daniel sees four different, powerful, and destructive beasts. In verse 11 we are told that the beasts are kings that arise out of the earth. These kings and the kingdoms they lead represent Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, as we saw in Chapter 2 also. There they were represented by precious metals, but in Daniel 7, they are depicted as terrifying beasts.
The last beast especially is “terrifying and dreadful” (verse 7). All these kingdoms are types of the kingdoms of men throughout history. Some lands have been blessed with just rulers and freedoms, but the nations of men are inherently corrupt. That is the view from heaven. The fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 points to the last human kingdom with anti-Christ as its ruler. The last kingdom of men will be the first in blasphemy, evil, and the persecution of the Christian church.
The descriptions of the kingdoms are meant to awaken the people of God to the reality of the present world. These kingdoms of men are contrasted with the kingdom of God. They will all ultimately perish, but the kingdom of God will be forever and ever (verse 14). The kingdoms of men are dark and beastly (verse 7); the kingdom of God is light, blessedness, and glory. The final kingdom of man has an evil ruler; the kingdom of God has the ever glorious King and Savior, Christ Jesus our Lord.
The contrast given is to show us the glory of God, and the need we have of being citizens of His kingdom. To be sure, Daniel 7 is a prophecy of tribulation for the people of God in this world (verse 25). But it also promised that God as the righteous God will exercise judgement in due time (verses 9-10), and that the saints of the Most High shall possess the kingdom forever and ever (verse 18).
The Lord Jesus said, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since then, the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it” (Luke 16). Jesus meant that with His coming, the good news of the kingdom of God is offered to men, but they must respond as if they were leaving a kingdom lead by a beast that leads to death, to embracing Christ as their king and Savior.
If we heard the Lord Jesus preaching the kingdom of God in the context of Daniel 7, we would better understand the urgency with which he taught. He came to save sinners from their sin and to rescue them from the corruption of the world. We must not think men are innocent followers of beastly leaders. Rebellion against God characterizes the world. That is why Daniel 7 points to the persecution of Christians in the world.
In verse 10, we are given a vision of the holy God holding court. In this chapter, God is judging the beast and the anti-Christ (little horn). The books are opened, meaning God judges righteously and justly. The evidence of the evil acts of men is written in God’s books.
In Revelation 20, the books are opened for all men. It is a picture of the final judgment. All will be there. You and I will be there. If you wonder what is written about you, I can tell you. You are weighed and found wanting. All come short of the glory of God. All have sinned and will be condemned. God’s word says that if you face God on your own merits you will have the same fate as the anti-Christ.
You must have something else written about you and that is that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. If you want your name written in the book of life, you must put your faith in Christ. If you’re a sinner, that is the only way you will be reconciled to God. Can you say that? If so, you need not worry over tribulations and anti-Christ’s. The Lord is on your side.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.