Harry Whittaker
Visions in Daniel

4. The Ancient of Days and the Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-10,13-14)

Before embarking on a detailed study of the Four Beasts of chapter 7, it is convenient to examine with some care the verses about the heavenly Being described here.

There is a commonly held theory that:

the Ancient of Days
= the glorified Christ
the Son of Man
= the community of the saints.

This is quite wrong, as will be seen by and by. Apart from all the mass of Bible evidence, the two titles, when so applied, are hopeless misnomers. Who could ‘the Ancient of Days’ be but the Almighty Himself? and ‘Son of Man’ is, of course, the Lord Jesus.

To settle this last identification first:

  1. Jesus applied the title ‘Son of Man’ to himself some 80? times. Attempts have been made, with little convincingness, to link this Name with (i) Ezekiel, also called ‘son of man’, and (ii) Psalm 8:4. The second of these might have a certain relevance, but it dwindles away to near-zero importance when compared with the subjoined passages:
  2. “The sign of the Son of man in heaven...and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30). This is the language of Dan. 7:13. The next verse also has multitudes of angels, as in Dan. 7:10.
  3. “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power (the Ancient of Days?), and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mt. 26:64).
  4. “Upon the cloud one like unto the Son of man...a golden crown and...a sharp sickle” (Rev. 14:14). Compare also: “One like unto the Son of man...he cometh with the clouds” (Rev. 1:13,7).
  5. “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
He would be a brave (foolhardy?) man who would deny the connection between the foregoing passages and Daniel 7:13. But this is only a beginning. There is much more Bible witness to equate the Daniel Vision with the Father and His glorified Son.

For example, there is much correspondence between the vision of the Ancient of days and the remarkable descriptions of the Almighty enthroned, in Ezekiel 1:16-20,27 and in Revelation 4:3,5,6; 5:6,7. Other appropriate Scriptures, all about the Glory of Jehovah, and the radiance, the fire, and the wheels, are: Ps. 104:2; 18:8- 13; 50: 1-4; 1 Chr. 28:18. The multitude of angels round the throne in Daniel 7:10 is matched by Rev. 5:11; Dt. 33:2; Ps. 68:17. And the “fiery stream issuing forth from the throne” has its probable counterpart in the “firmament”, the “paved work of a sapphire stone”, the “sea of glass” (Ez. 1: 25,26; Ex. 24: 10; Rev. 4:6; 15:2).

If it be argued that the very expression: “the hair of his head like pure wool” (v.9) is identical with the symbolic description of the glorified “Son of man” in Rev. 1: 14, this does not prove identity, for Jesus himself declared that “the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father (Mt. 16:27), so of course such resemblances are to be expected.

It is a similar misreading of the prophecy, which led to the mistaken identification of ‘the Son of Man’ with ‘the saints, the true believers.’ “There was given him (the Son of man) dominion, and glory, and a kingdom...that all people should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion...”(7:14). Put “the kingdom and dominion and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High” (7:27). Therefore, it has been erroneously concluded: ‘Son of man’ = ‘the saints (true believers)’. This is short-sighted. If the kingdom is given to Messiah, will it not also be given to Messiah’s men? What sort of “proof” is this?

Amid all these resemblances there is one important difference, which calls for explanation. The first group of passages cited describes the Son of man as “coming” i.e. returning to the earth (a re-reading of them will leave no other possibility), whereas Daniel 7 and Revelation 5:6,7 show the Son of man being presented before the throne of his Father.

A simple explanation is available: The last two passages (like Acts 1:11: ascension in a cloud) describe the glorious reception of the risen Lord in the presence of his Father. It is perhaps possible to go further and read the Daniel 7:13 scenario as the heavenly counterpart to the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies with clouds of incense and the atoning blood of an acceptable Sacrifice. This need not be insisted on, but in view of the Leviticus 16 prototype it seems not unlikely.

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