As my vision continued that night, I saw someone who looked like a man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. - Daniel 7:13-14
The Middle East is littered with the ruins of great civilizations. It is still possible, millennia later, to gain some idea of their long-lost magnificence. More recently, the twentieth century saw the rise and fall of the mighty Third Reich, and the tyrannical Soviet empire under Stalin collapsed in ruins. The lesson we learn from the ruins is this: Great empires pass away. Even the most fearsome human powers have their day and pass away.
Daniel, in one of his remarkable visions, saw the overthrow of four powerful, fearsome beasts representing four mighty empires. While this was going on, he “watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge” (Dan. 7:9). In contrast to the rulers whose empires pass away and who inevitably leave the scene of their triumphs, the “fiery throne” was occupied by an “Ancient One” from whose presence flowed “a river of fire” (7:9-10). Surely this is a symbolic representation of God himself—eternal, powerful, overwhelmingly magnificent, in control of everything, and ready to exercise judgment on the nations and the empires.
Possibly, Daniel wondered who would occupy the throne set up alongside the “fiery throne.” If he did, he was not left in the dark for long. He “saw someone who looked like a man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence” (7:13). Daniel did not say specifically that this person, “who looked like a man,” actually occupied a throne alongside the Ancient One. But he did say that the person “was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world” (7:14). So it is not unreasonable to assume the throne was set for him.
But who was the person received into the presence of the Lord, who on the one hand displayed the attributes of deity, in that he came “with the clouds of heaven” (7:13), and yet at the same time “looked like a man” (7:13)? What was the identity of the one who, having entered the divine presence, was granted a “kingdom” whose “rule is eternal—it will never end” (7:14)? Surely none other than the ascended Lord Jesus, who, having completed his earthly work of redemption, returned to the Father and was given the placed of highest honor!
Daniel teaches us that even in earth’s darkest hour, the “Ancient One” and his partner on the throne are in control, quietly building the eternal “kingdom that will never be destroyed” (7:14). We know who wins in the end!
For Further Study: Daniel 7:1-14
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.