Jesus, the Little Horn and Before the Sanhedrin- #3
Jesus’ Coming AS the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7
Be sure to read the previous two installments in this series. #1 #2.
Some commentators try to create a dichotomy in Daniel 7, between the vision of Christ coming as the Son of Man in v. 13-14, and the coming of the Ancient of Days. Since the coming of the Ancient of Days does not mention the Son of Man, and vice versa, it is insisted that there are two different visions at work. I believe this is untenable and forces us to chop up Daniel 7 into a confused disjointed set of visions. What I want to do in this third installment is to establish that Jesus posited his parousia as the coming of the Son of Man, and he described that as his coming “in the glory of the Father” (Matthew 16:27-28). Be sure to get a copy of my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for a full discussion of this critical issue.
Briefly, there can be little doubt that Jesus posited his coming in judgment, in fulfillment of Daniel 7, as his coming “as the Ancient of Days.” This is proven in Revelation 1:7f where we find this:
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
In these famous verses, Jesus is clearly echoing Daniel 7:13-14, and there can be literally no dispute that he is applying Daniel to his judgment of those who pierced him. There is no way to apply this verse to a retrospective look back at Jesus’ ascension. Thus, if (since) Jesus was echoing and applying Daniel 7 to his coming on the clouds in Revelation 1:7, that demands that Daniel 7:13f did not predict the Ascension. But, there is more.
Notice that Jesus calls himself, “the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (My emphasis). In verse 11; chapter 21:6; 22:13 also, Jesus also called himself “the first and the last.” The significance of this is that this appellation “the first and the last” is a direct echo of and allusion to three important OT passages:
Isaiah 41:4 – “Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ ”
Isaiah 44:6 – “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
Isaiah 48:12 – “Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.
In these verses, YHVH posits Himself as the One True God. There is no other God beside Him! But, in Revelation, Jesus unequivocally identifies himself as “the first and the last.” Not only that, he calls himself “the Almighty” (the pantokrato). That term is used to describe YHVH in Numbers 24 and a number of times in the book of Job.
The point is that since Jesus identified himself with YHVH, the first and the last, the Almighty, and since he said he was going to come “in the glory of the Father” this serves as powerful evidence – and commentary– that the interpretation of Daniel 7, which has the Ancient of Days coming in judgment of the Little Horn, was in fact a prediction of the coming of Christ AS the Ancient of Days.
With this background information in mind, we remember that Daniel foretold the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven – as the Ancient of Days – to judge the persecuting Little Horn. Thus, when Jesus (being persecuted) stood before the Sanhedrin, and he told them that they would see him coming on the clouds of heaven (in fulfillment of Daniel 7) what was he saying?
He was saying that Daniel 7:13-14 would be fulfilled in their lifetime for sure. They would see themselves – and Jerusalem that they represented– judged for killing the Son of Man.
He was telling them that although they would kill him, persecute him, he would be vindicated at his coming on the clouds. And thus, his unity with the saints in Daniel 7 is fully established. But, keep in mind that the saints were not persecuted before the Ascension. This means that Jesus was not telling the Sanhedrin that they would witness his Ascension, but, his coming in judgment of the Sanhedrin, the motivating force behind the persecution of his saints. Thus, Daniel 7 and the vindication of the martyrs at the coming of the Lord is not the Ascension.
Scott McKnight offers this on Matthew 16:27-28. He sees Jesus promising to come in vindication of his own suffering and that of his followers, just as Daniel 7 foretold the coming of the Ancient of Days in vindication of the saints;
It is reasonable, then, to argue that this vindication took place when Jerusalem was sacked by Rome as God’s punishment for covenant faithfulness. Jesus therefore predicted a vindication of himself and his followers before the death of the disciples. This view fits admirably with the context (Mark 8:34-38) and gives adequate ground for Mark’s insertion of the logion before his account of the transfiguration. In the previous context, Jesus promises the disciples that, though they would suffer like him, they would be vindicated by God. and just as Jesus was to suffer the ignominy of a humiliating death at the hands of the leaders in Jerusalem, so he would be vindicated. The disciples need to be assured of Jesus’ vindication, and this is precisely how the transfiguration out to be understood – as proleptic vindication. (Scott McKnight, A New Vision For Israel, The Teaching of Jesus in National Context, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1999), 136).
The parallels between Daniel 7 and Matthew 16:27-28 are direct and perfect. And that essentially means that Daniel was not promising a coming of the Ancient of Days separate and distinct from the coming of the Son of Man. It is ONE coming. It is the Son of Man coming “as the Ancient of Days”- acting in the stead of the Father, just as Jesus said he would do (John 5:21-23). He was coming AS “the Almighty,” “the first and the last.”
In light of all of this, when Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin and told them they would see him coming in fulfillment of Daniel, he was, in the clearest terms possible, claiming to be of the essence of YHVH, identified as God. Just as Paul affirmed in 1 Timothy 6:14-16, Christ’s appearing (epiphany), would manifest him as:
That you keep (Timothy-DKP) this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Christ’s coming, his epiphany, was not to reveal him as a 5’5″ Jewish man in a body of flesh; he was manifested as a man of flesh in his Incarnation (John 1:14). And his appearing was not to reveal the Father as King of kings; his Incarnation did that (If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”). Jesus’ appearing was to manifest who he truly is – “the first and the last”; the King of kings, the Lord of lords”; the Alpha and Omega”; the “only Potentate” – “whom no man has seen or can see.” Consider then that if Christ’s epiphany / parousia was to reveal him as God, “that no man has seen or can see,” that this effectively refutes the idea that he was in fact coming as a 5’5″ Jewish man! I suggest that this echoes John 17:5– “And now, Father, glorify me with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”
And so, as the scholars have suggested, it is not a stretch of any kind to see that in Daniel, the story line of the coming of the Son of Man– coming AS the Ancient of Days – is the very picture presented to us in the NT interpretation of Daniel. And if that depiction is accurate, then what is so stunning, and what is so significant theologically, is that when Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin and said that they would see him coming on the clouds of heaven, he was identifying himself as the one coming as the Ancient of Days. (Little wonder then that they accused him of blasphemy!)
So, Jesus’ identification of himself as the Son of Man had tremendous theological implications. And it also means that he, the Son of Man, was telling them that he was identifying THEM, as the Little Horn of Daniel 7! After all, he was / is the Son of Man, and there he was, in the days of the fourth empire, addressing the persecutors. Furthermore, they are the ones speaking great swelling words against Messiah, persecuting him, and would soon persecute his followers, Jesus clearly identified them as the Little Horn!
We have more, so stay tuned! In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book: Like Father Like Son, on Clouds of Glory, for an in-depth study of the nature of Christ’s coming.