I saw in the night visions.
And behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,
And came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory,
And a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
And his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” – Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV)
This is one of my favourite passages in the Old Testament (OT). Around 600 years before the birth of Christ, a humble man – the prophet Daniel – saw a colossal vision, part of which predicted a Man Whose destiny would be breathtaking in its scope.
Most believers will know of the OT prophecies concerning the promises that Jesus would come. But this is one of the best, because not only does it refer to a man (‘one like a son of man’ means ‘a human’) who would be able to go into God’s Presence, but it also refers to his final coming at the End of the Age too. It refers to His Kingdom, which did come with Jesus, and is here now in His people by His Spirit, and will come into its completion when He comes back again. And it speaks of that Kingdom as being an eternal, everlasting Kingdom. Awesome!
And for those who didn’t know about these prophecies, isn’t this simply brilliant? That it should be predicted 600 years before Christ that there would be a Man like that, Who would not only declare the Kingdom, but would also claim the Kingdom in His own Name?
It is so well worth studying the OT prophecies concerning Christ’s coming. Because, very often, they not only tell of His coming, but also of what will happen later. One of the features of predictive prophecy is that, from the prophet’s perspective, he sees the things of the future at such a distance that they all bunch together into one image. So, for example, although two future events may be separated by a couple of thousand years, from the prophet’s point of view, he cannot distinguish between the two events in terms of their separation in time.
And this Daniel passage is a classic example of this. The Kingdom given to Jesus exists right now. Jesus has been ‘led into God’s Presence’ (Heb 4:15). These things have already happened. And the Kingdom, even now, consists of people of all nations and languages who serve Him (and this concept would itself have been inconceivable to the Jews of the time). So far, so good. But the ‘everlasting’ part of the Kingdom is in many respects yet to come – but because the first part of the prophecy has already been fulfilled, it suggests very strongly that the rest of it will come true also. As, of course, many of us believe that it will.
So, just as I have already recently shared with you the concept of Hebrew parallelism, please accept this little piece as an insight into another Bible study discipline – the interpretation of predictive prophecy.
Just one caveat, though – remember that some prophecy has already come true. So, when Jesus predicted the downfall of the Temple in Jerusalem (Matt 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-4), this actually did happen in AD70 when the Romans destroyed it. So, unless you know the history of the times, don’t rush into interpreting certain prophecies as if they are still to happen, or that they will happen today. In fact, a study of the Matthew 24 passage might be a fascinating way to begin on this discipline….. I will leave it up to you!
May you experience the joy of hearing God’s Voice as you read the Scriptures!
Note on header image – The Clouds of Heaven, taken by me at the controls of a Cessna 152 light aircraft over Cornwall, UK, in June 2015.
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