“Four Beasts and A Throne” – (Daniel 7:1-28)

by Feb 23, 2020Sermons0 comments

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2 Daniel declared, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ 6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
11 “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26 But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.” Daniel 7:1-28, ESV

This is the word of the Lord.
If you have been trekking along with us throughout our journey in Daniel, then you’ve probably picked up on the fact that with Daniel seven we have entered uncharted territory. Daniel seven not only breaks this chronological sequence that’s been maintained throughout the books thus far. Chronologically this dream and vision that Daniel experiences takes us back to some point between the events of chapter four and chapter five. It happens during the reign of the first year of King Belshazzar.

The kind of literature onward in the book of Daniel is a much different genre than we have encountered thus far. We are now dealing with a highly visual and symbolic genre of literature. It’s literature that is designed to overwhelm our senses with word pictures. Notice how many times in our text that Daniel tells us that he saw, or he looked and then he describes to us in vivid detail what it is that he saw.

This genre is known as apocalyptic literature. When we hear the term apocalypse, generally that makes us think of end times stuff. If you were to use the term apocalypse in a casual conversation on the streets, first of all I’d like to be there, but second of all I would bet that nearly everyone who heard that term would understand it to mean something along the lines of the end of the world.

While that is component of apocalyptic literature, generally speaking, that’s not primarily what apocalyptic literature is exclusively about. The word apocalypse is from a Greek word that simply means to reveal. That’s what apocalyptic literature does, it uncovers true spiritual realities that are in conflict with one another. Realities that lie in the present and will be brought to some kind of culminating conclusion in the future.

To give you an illustration, if you’ve ever seen an action movie before where the characters put on infrared glasses to help the navigate through the veil of thick darkness for a nighttime assault, there’s an analogy in that to what apocalyptic literature does. It overlays these symbolic word pictures on top of history, not to obscure realty, but to expose it for what it is. To uncover the true spiritual realities of things that we see in the world, things that would otherwise remain obscured and out of view, so that we as God’s people can navigate the present darkness with our spiritual sense attuned to spiritual realities.

When we begin to understand that is basically how apocalyptic literature functions and we open up to Daniel chapter seven, there is something that is initially terrifying about it. We recognize that Daniel’s not removing us from reality into some kind of fantasy world. That would be entertaining, but not really terrifying and not all together helpful of important. Nor is Daniel telling us about something that will happen well beyond his day and well beyond ours.

Daniel is lifting the veil on his present and future and on our present and future so that we would see the true evil and wicked nature of spiritual forces that wage war against Christ and his church. As one author put it in my studies this week, Sean Michael Lucas, “This text exposes the age-old conflict between what Augustine termed the City of God and the City of Man.”

Lest we think that the City of Man, marked by beastly characteristics of human rebellion, human autonomy and a lust for power somehow controls our destiny, the destiny of God’s people and the destiny of the church; this text also communicates a message in visual and pectoral form. It’s a message we have heard over and over again in Daniel. Mainly that the Kingdom of God, which is where our citizenship lies and resides, in contrast to City of Man, is an everlasting kingdom. The dominion of God will endure from generation to generation.

Therefore while you and I and the church may be subject to the winds and vices of the beastly forces who reside in the City of Man, and there may be many long and arduous days ahead of us before Christ finally brings us home, this text tells us that the one who delivered us from the wickedness and sin of our own depravity will come again to deal with the wickedness of the world.
In the words of Revelation, “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and he will reign forever and ever.”

Our big idea this morning is this; While vicious powers rage, the victory of God is certain.
As we study this text, we are going to look at it in three parts.

1. The Conquest of Evil
2. The Conquering King
3. The Triumph of the Saints

The Conquest of Evil

If we could summarize in one word the initial impression that this opening vision in verses one through eight gives us, I think an appropriate word would be chaos. The first thing that Daniel see is the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea.
In the ancient world, the sea was very often considered to be a place of chaos. We can think of numerous Biblical stories where the sea is cast as this unpredictable and untamable beast in itself. As a result, it is often the setting for experiences of fear and terror for those who travel on the sea.

Think of Jonah or Jesus’ disciples on the Sea of Galilee, or the apostle Paul’s seafaring journey to Rome in the book of Acts. In each of those narratives, the sea is the setting for chaos. In light of that, a stirred-up sea such as we read at the opening of Daniel seven is ominous in and of itself to evoke a sense of fear and dread and terror.

Then what comes out of the sea ratchets up the terror a notch. In Daniel 7:3, he describes these four beasts who arise out of the chaos and each one is perplexing and grotesque and terrifying. These aren’t the kind of animals you would find at the Henry Doorley Zoo and Aquarium. The hybrid nature of these beasts underscores that these are unclean animals and therefore to a Jewish audience, a threat to those who care about holiness.

Let’s look at these beasts for a moment. The first is a hybrid of a lion, an eagle, and a man. It would be one thing if this beast simply had horrific animal like features, but the fact that it also had a mind of a man indicates that it’s ferocity and lust for power are guided by human like intelligence.

The second beast is a bear, and the only one that doesn’t seem to be a hybrid, is nonetheless equally savage. It’s already feasting on something; flesh is already in its mouth. Then it’s given this command seek out more flesh.

The third is this leopard with four wings and four heads. That implies its swiftness and its ability to see in all directions. Nothing can apparently hide from it.

The fourth, the most dreadful of them all, this beast is so terrifying that it can’t even be identified as an animal. It’s simply described as a beast that is different from the other three beasts. To it is added ten horns and then a little horn with human like features that once again magnifies the threat.

The details here are all very peculiarly and perplexing. Lest we get lost in all the minutia, stepping back for a moment from all of these peculiar details, the basic question that arises from this terrifying and chaotic vision is, who in the world are these beasts and what do they represent?

Remember, apocalyptic literature is by its nature highly symbolic and highly pictorial. So, Daniel isn’t telling us that one day you are going to look out into the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean and see something that looks like Godzilla arising out of the water and know that at that time this vision is being fulfilled. Daniel is unmasking realities in the world, both in his own day and in ours to reveal their true spiritual nature. What then do these beasts represent?

We have to do a bit of work to answer that question. The first piece of that answer is that if you remember back in Daniel chapter two, Daniel was called to interpret this dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. Nebuchadnezzar had this dream where he saw a great image. This image was comprised of four parts, a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, torso and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay.

When Daniel provided the interpretation of this, he told Nebuchadnezzar that this image represented kings and kingdoms that would follow in succession. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were identified in that text explicitly as the head of gold. After him would follow three other kingdoms and in the days of this fourth kingdom a stone would fall out of the sky and shatter the image to pieces.
Just like in Daniel two, Daniel seven is dealing with four kings and four kingdoms, which we discover later in our text. Whereas in Daniel two these kingdoms were inanimate objects, here in Daniel seven we see the true ghastly spiritual nature of those kingdoms unveiled.

Traditionally the kingdoms in both Daniel two and Daniel seven have been identified with specific historical manifestations. The traditional interpretations in both the image of Daniel two and the beasts of Daniel seven, the Kingdom of Babylon, followed by Medo-Persia, then Greece, then finally the Roman Empire. There are cues in the text that seem to support this interpretation to a certain degree.

Even if we recognize that in some sense these beasts reflect four dominant world powers slightly onward, we would also be wrong to limit these beasts, in particular this fourth beast who we are told is different from the others, to one historic manifestation alone.
In fact, it’s a generally recognized feature of apocalyptic literature that images rarely have a simple one to one correspondence. It’s not as simple to say this equals that and nothing else. Images and symbols are often applicable to more than one period of time. They may have a near historical reference, but they reach beyond one person or thing in history too.

Case and point, if we were to flash forward to the book of Revelation, another apocalyptic book in the scriptures, what’s interesting is that we would find in Revelation chapter thirteen that these four beasts from Daniel reappear again as one unified beast that arises out of the sea to make war on the people of God.

The point is while there is something to be said for identifying these four beasts with historical kingdoms from Daniel’s day and slightly beyond, we also have to recognize that these beasts reappear again and again throughout human history. The City of Man, which is the powers of wickedness and evil that stand behind people and institutions, wages war against God and his people. Ian Dougwood says, “Whatever our location in space and time, frightening monsters array themselves against the Lord and his anointed. We inhabit a world in which there is good reason to have trouble sleeping at night.”

Babylon and ancient Greece are long gone, but we still see manifestations of these beasts and the horrors that have been inflicted by kingdoms of this world by citizens of the Kingdom of God throughout history. Last week twenty-four Christians in Burkina Faso were martyred as they worshiped the Lord in corporate worship.

Sometimes these beasts appear as individuals, sometimes nations, sometimes institutions, but make no mistake about it these beasts that appear in Daniel’s day continue to reappear again and again and again throughout history in far too many ways for us to catalog.

When we understand the thrust of this initial vision in that light, there is something sobering about it. There is a sense in which many of us can fall prey to what C.S. Lewis termed chronological snobbery. That is the belief that our age is more enlightened, more progressive, more civilized, less barbaric and more authentic than previous generations. We tend to think, especially every four years, that we are either moving towards heaven or hell on earth when whatever political candidate we support wins or loses.

That’s not to say that there isn’t common grace in this world, nor that we shouldn’t work to affect good change in as much as we are given opportunities to do so, or that good progress never happens. What apocalyptic literature in general, and this vision in general, presses against is this notion that we are somehow autonomously moving towards heaven on earth. It reminds us that while kingdoms of this world may seem innocent, much like the presentation that Daniel two suggested with its inanimate materials, don’t be naive.

There are real spiritual forces at work in this world that are beast like in nature. They are constantly at war with the Lord and his people. The only cure against them doesn’t lie in the City of Man, it lies in the City of God. It’s for God himself to step in and do something about it.

Dale Ralph Davis writes, “Biblical apocalyptic is author proclaiming genuine hope, but refuses to do so by ignoring or denying the evil regimes that clutter human history. It’s as if the writer invites us to incorporate the doctrine of total depravity into our politics.”
There is much in this vision that is sobering for us. Much in the vision that is terrifying. There is much in it that reminds us that there is a real reason that life in the City of Man can feel so chaotic.

There is also genuine hope because throughout this vision we learn that what feels so chaotic is objectively under the authority and sovereignty and the providence of God. When the next vision rolls around in verses nine through fourteen, we will see that the Lord himself does indeed step into the chaos and does something about it.

The Conquering King

Even though this first vision we looked at with all of the beasts and beastly powers that arose is terrifying in and of itself, it’s almost as if Daniel is given no time, at least initially, to be terrified by it. In an instant Daniel looks and in verse nine he sees the Lord upon his throne.

This is a picture of real authority and real power. It’s a reminder that in an instant, despite the sin and evil that appears to have run amok in the city of Man, there is a real authority in the heavens who has tamed the beasts, who has them on a leash as it were. He will not let their arrogant speech have the final word.

We see the Lord who here is called the Ancient of Days. He is described as hair of pure wool and clothing white as snow. He takes his seat upon the fiery throne. These are theological word pictures that are meant to communicate to us God’s eternity. The Alpha and Omega, his purity, his power, and his wisdom.

The beasts that arose out of the water, as terrifying as they were, are just mere creatures that came into existence at a certain period of time. But the Lord is the reigning without beginning and without end. He doesn’t have to rise like the bear to demonstrate his power. Instead he sits as a king and a judge, who with a word can command and it will be done.

Moreover, alongside the throne, Daniel sees this multitude. A thousand upon thousand served him and ten thousand upon ten thousand stood before him.

At this point in the narrative, can you image how Daniel must be thinking and feeling and the impression that this second vison made on him in light of the first? There is a story in 2 Kings chapter six that reminded me of this week when I was studying it. In that story, we meet the prophet Elisha who wakes up one morning in the city that he is living in only to find that the king of Assyria, which was a hostile nation, has positioned himself all around this city for the purpose of attacking and capturing Elisha.

All of these hostile forces that Elisha and his servants wake up and see are there for one purpose. they are there to seize this lowly prophet Elisha. At the sight of this, Elisha doesn’t flinch, but his servant is terrified by it. This army is amassed just outside it’s city walls. What in the world are they going to do? They stand no chance.

Elisha sees that his servant is bothered by this, so he pauses, and he prays, and he asks that the Lord would show his terrified servant the reality that they are indeed protected by the Lord. In an instant, the young servant opens his eyes and what he sees is another army. It’s the army of the Lord with horses and chariots arrayed all around the city walls, all along the mountain tops as a hedge of protection to surround them and the secure them.

This is Daniel’s experience too. He sees the raw beastly powers that lie in the City of Man raising up out of this sea of chaos to make war on the saints, including him. In an instant he is reminded that he is not alone.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Daniel, who was so often dared to stand alone must have realized, ‘I am not alone’, because myriads of others served the Lord with him. He was an earthly outpost of the heavenly garrison.”

As unique as Daniel’s experience is receiving a vision, I’m sure none of us have received a vision like this before, Ferguson and others during my study this week have reminded me that it actually hits closer to home than we might think. It can often feel for us as Christians that the church is relatively insignificant in this world. Especially when the see the allure of the City of Man.

When the glitz and glamor of this world is held before our eyes and at the same time, we experience scorn from people or institutions in this world, we may wonder if we are alone and if it’s worth it. We proclaim that real glory and riches and wisdom are found in Christ, but what happens when things don’t seem that way?

It is for these times when books like Daniel are especially helpful because they remind us that we need to see the world with different eyes, eyes of faith. As a small worshiping community on 39th and Cuming in Omaha, Nebraska of all places, maybe we feel sometimes like Daniel. On an island and somewhat threatened.

In an equally powerful text, the author of Hebrews speaks into this too when he tells us that our worship, when we come together as an assembly, in that we also don’t stand alone. The author of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews twelve,

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24, ESV

Friends, like Daniel we are not alone. But as important as that is for us to know and hear and truly believe and trust in, that’s not all we see in this second section. If you notice in verse eleven, Daniel’s attention right after he sees the Ancient of Days upon his throne, snaps back to this little horn that is speaking arrogant things because he hasn’t stopped talking.

The wording in verse eleven suggests that even while Daniel was fixed upon the throne and Ancient of Days, this little horn has continued its boasts in the background. Now Daniel turns his attention back to the horn. Right as he does that prepared to face the terrors of this world once again, the Lord in an instant consumes this fourth beast with fire from his throne while the other beasts are scattered.

What seemed so foreboding in the first vision is trampled upon by the Lord like a bug. Now, we will encounter this little horn in the third part of the text that we look at, but before we look at that, Daniel sees something else. In verses thirteen and fourteen we read this,

13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14, ESV

Of course, we don’t have to think very long or hard about this to know who this is. Throughout the gospels Jesus Christ refers to himself as the Son of Man. In fact, that’s the title he prefers to speak of himself as more than any other title. At his trial before the Sanhedrin in Mark chapter fourteen, Jesus connects himself as Son of Man explicitly with this vision in Daniel.

The Son of Man who receives the kingdom, who rules as the exalted king, and who receives the same worship as the Ancient of Days is none other than our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. There is no doubt here that the Lord and his anointed have authority over the beasts that Daniel see. While that is a great comfort for us and for Daniel to know, what is an even greater comfort is the manner in which the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, received this kingdom.

You see, much later in scripture we come across a similar throne room scene in Revelation chapter five. In that text, the one who approaches the throne before the Ancient of Days, the one who ultimately receives worship like the Son of Man here, the one who approaches the Ancient of Days and receives the kingdom isn’t described in that text as the Son of Man. Instead he’s described as a sacrificial lamb.

Make no mistake about it, those aren’t two different figures. The Son of Man vision in Daniel seven isn’t a different vision from the throne room scene in Revelation five. Instead in Daniel seven we learn that the Son of Man receives the kingdom, the authority, and the power as king. In Revelation five we learn how he did that. He receives the kingdom by becoming the sacrificial lamb who paid for our sins through his atoning death.

Friends, all of this points to the fact that while we praise Jesus for being a king who rules and defends us, a king who conquers all of his and our enemies, a king who reigns in the heaven and protects us as his dearly beloved, a king who will one day deal with the beastly wickedness that sometimes feels so previous and overwhelming in the City of Man today, he’s also a king who first dealt with the wickedness and sin and evil that resides in our own hearts.

The good news of this passage isn’t only that God has conquered and will one day finally deal with all the evil and wickedness that we encounter out there in this world. All of the human autonomy and sin run amok. It’s also the one who approaches the throne, the Son of Man, gave himself for us as the sacrificial lamb and inherited the kingdom as our king so that we could stand with the Lord and be part of the thousands upon thousands and ten thousands upon ten thousands who have the privilege of standing before his throne in worship.

So now that this victory has been announced, a victory that we look back upon in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we learn in this final part of the text what that means for us, the people of God, for Daniel and for you and for me.

The Triumph of the Saints

Notice here that when verse fifteen rolls around, even after seeing the dominance of the victory of the Ancient of Days and the one like a Son of Man, we read that Daniel was still anxious. The visions in his head alarmed him. In verse nineteen he still has questions about this terrifying fourth beast and what to make of this fourth beast.

On the one hand, we can probably understand why Daniel still has questions, why he might like some clarity into that. There are a lot of details to work through and it is certainly understandable that he would have questions. On the other hand, it’s curious why he’s so anxious and alarmed. You would think that with this second vision, you would think that it would have gone a long way to alleviating the terror that he experienced. It would have gotten to comfort him.

Why all the angst still? There are a couple of things to be said about that. Right out of the gate, I think we learn in that something important about the human heart. Specifically, as God’s people, like Daniel, we need the gospel preached to us again and again. After all, how many of us have had the experience of sitting in corporate worship and being encouraged and edified by word and sacrament. Being among the communion of saints and then walking right out the door and being reminded that we are exiles and sojourners in the City of Man who are citizens of heaven within a world that is ultimately not our home.

Those reminders are enough to unsettle us like Daniel. So too, like Daniel, we need the gospel to be preached to us over and over again. We need to return to the assembly every Lord’s Day and not give up meeting together as the author of Hebrews reminds us. We need to learn to see word and sacrament as life giving food in a world that often leaves our souls hungry and thirsty and empty. Like Daniel we need to learn to pursue clarity through the revelation that God supplies. To confirm to our hearts and to our minds over and over again that the promises are ours in Jesus Christ. This is what Daniel does.

As Daniel continues in this text to pursue clarity and truth, we also learn a little bit more about why exactly he’s troubled. He realizes that even though this terrifying fourth beast was conquered, the ten horns and little horn still carry on its legacy of terror and rebellion by pursuing the people of God. The text tells us in verse twenty-one, they continue making war with the saints and even prevailed over them. Then in verse twenty-five we learn that this little horn will continue speaking words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and shall think to change the times and law and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.

Throughout history this interpretation has been identified with a number of different figures. Some have seen in this little horn a reference to a second century ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes who did a lot to upset God’s people. Others have seen in this little horn one of the Caesars of the Roman Empire. Others, the Roman general Titus who was responsible for the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Still others have identified this little horn with the papacy.

What we probably have in the final part of this passage, verses twenty-five through twenty-eight, isn’t one figure in history that we can pinpoint as the little horn. Instead what Daniel describes to us is the conflict that carries on from Christ’s death and resurrection and will not cease until his second coming.

Certainly, there is more that we could say about these details and all this little horn is described as being in the final part of this passage, but the main point that we shouldn’t lose sight of here is that until Christ comes again, this conflict is going to continue.

There may be many long and hard and sleepless nights ahead of us and for the church. There may be many tears shed in the process. While we continue to navigate the City of Man through faith, we don’t lose heart because we know that Jesus Christ has already conquered. He has already secured for us an everlasting inheritance.

The promise is that eventually the kingdom will come, and this conflict will come to an end. When it does, Daniel tells us that the kingdom will be given over to the saints. As we learn elsewhere in the New Testament, the saints will actually rule with Christ in heaven.

Earlier this week I was singing a hymn with the family, a hymn entitled, “This is My Father’s World.” I found the last verse of that hymn to be a poignant summary about what is taught to us in this final passage. Let me read to you what the final verse of “This is My Father’s World” says.

“This is my Father’s world,
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
the battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
and earth and heav’n be one.”
This is My Father’s World

That’s the vision, that’s the hope that Daniel presses forward to in Daniel seven. Before we prepare to close, be reminded that even as exiles and sojourners, we are fed with heavenly food in this City of Man. Let’s consider a few applications from the text.

Application

1. Know that true hope does not lie in the City of Man. Let me ask you a question. Do you ultimately feel at home in this world? What I mean by that isn’t do you have good things going for you in your life? I think a lot of us do and can pinpoint a lot of common grace that the Lord has lavished upon us as the Father of Lights.

The question I’m asking is much more fundamental than that. Are you pursuing and striving after the things of this world as if they will quench your thirst of fill the God sized hole in your life? Daniel seven calls us to an honest evaluation of the City of Man. To realize that depravity is at work in things that might seem at their surface things that seem satisfying and fulfilling God substitutes and instead invites us to turn to eyes of faith to the Lord and his anointed who rule and reign upon the throne.

Don’t be fooled by what this world serves up. Don’t be too easily satisfied in the words of C.S. Lewis, “by making mud pies in a slum because you cannot imagine a holiday at sea.” Turn instead to the one who promises to make all things new.

2. Know that the conflict will continue. It’s not only here in Daniel that we are told that suffering and conflict is part and parcel of this present age, and part and parcel of the Christ life. That same message permeates the scriptures. For instance, in our Sunday school class we have been working though 1 Peter. Throughout that epistle we hear the message that sufferings of various forms should be our expectation in the Christian life. Whether it comes through public slander or injustice or death itself, we are told to expect suffering. Beasts will continue to manifest themselves. The arrogant horn will continue to mock until Christ comes again to make all things new.

While the conflict continues, we are also reminded that our suffering is not purposeless. While we suffer the ravages the City of Man, we follow in a sense the steps of Christ himself. Just as for Christ suffering was the pathway for glory, so too for us suffering is the pathway to resurrection life which is secured for us through faith in Christ alone. Know that conflict is going to continue, but also know that you haven’t been abandoned in it and it hasn’t caught God in surprise in any way.

3. Keep your eyes fixed on the Son of Man. Notice that in the final verse of this text Daniel is still alarmed. He confesses in verse twenty-eight,

28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.” Daniel 7:28, ESV

Like Daniel, there is going to be many sleepless nights ahead for us. In as much as we reside as exiles and sojourners in the City of Man. There will be many days where the City of Man looks really attractive on the one hand or really foreboding one the other.

Like Daniel, we have been called to remember. To hold our hope close to our minds and our hearts, even as we encounter everything we are going to encounter in this world. The way we do that is by keeping our eyes fixed upon the throne and the Son of Man, trusting the one who conquered as a bloody sacrificial lamb will one day come again on the clouds as a warrior king to triumph. In his victory will be the church’s victory too.

Let me pray.

Father we thank you for the reminders that even as we encounter the ravages of the City of Man that you have not abandoned us. Lord we take hold of the fact that our citizenship is in heaven. While sometimes it can feel like we have been abandoned, this text reminds us that you have secured for us an inheritance that is held out for us in the heavens that will one day be ours.

We pray that as we encounter suffering, the ravages of this world in whatever beastly manifestations they take, that we would be reminded that one day Lord you promise to bring us home and that is exactly what you will do when that new heavens and new earth are established at the end of the age. We pray that you would encourage us, remind us, root us in these truths. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

X