Jesus, the Little Horn and the Sanhedrin-#2
The Son of Man Coming As the Ancient of Days
Be sure to read article #1 in this short series.
In an attempt to escape the force of the interpretation of the vision of Daniel 7:1-14, in Daniel 7:15f, some former preterists are claiming that since the vision speaks of the coming of the Ancient of Days, and does not, as verses 13-14 do, speak of the coming of the Son of Man. They claim that verses 15f constitute another distinct vision, one that is nonetheless related to verses 10-12, but, not to verses 13-14. Is that possible? Where does one find justification for claiming that verses 13-14 are a parenthetical intrusion and insertion into the text? This practice of inserting temporal gaps of hundreds of years is a classic Dispensational practice, and sadly, is being increasingly practiced by more and more former preterists.
Sam Frost, a proponent of the suggestion noted above, also inserts a gap of so far 2500+ years in the text of Daniel 12:1-2. (See his book, Daniel Unplugged, PDF, p.133 ) He claims that Daniel 12:1 refers to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (Second Century BC). Then, verse 2, the prediction of the resurrection, jumps forward in time to the “end of time” resurrection of human corpses- so far 2500+ years removed from Daniel. Verse 3 then reverts back to a discussion of the events under Antiochus. To say that this is arbitrary, presumptuous and eisegetic is an understatement.
In preparation for our formal two day radio debate, (May 28-29, 2020) hosted by Chris Arnzen of the “Iron Sharpens Iron” program, (Debate is archived at www.ironsharpensironradio.com), I asked Frost to demonstrate, exegetically and grammatically, how it is that verse 2 is to be cut off from verse 1. His answer – in short form – was simply his assertion that verse 1 refers to Antiochus and verse 2 has clearly not happened, therefore, verse 2 is a parenthetical insertion. He did not offer a syllable of evidence from linguistics, grammar or context. Just his presuppositional claims that prove nothing. This is an egregious abuse of the context. Grammatically, the beginning of verse 2 ties it to verse 1– as Frost himself has noted: “It is clear that both the Hebrew waw and the Greek kai (and) connect vv. 1 and 2.”
When he wrote that excellent book, he also saw – as noted by Pitre below – the direct connection between the Tribulation and the resurrection, a correct but fatal connection to his current futurism:
Daniel connects ‘tribulation’ and the ‘resurrection’ and ‘those found written in the book’… as Preston observes (Babylon, 2006, 63f) John specifically posits fulfillment of the salvation of the 144,000 in the first century. He tells us in Revelation 14:2-4 that the 144,000 were ‘the first fruit of those redeemed to God from men.’ In other words, they are the first generation of the Jewish church! But again, remember that John, like Daniel, links their salvation with the tribulation and the resurrection! This demands that the resurrection was to be a first century event (Sam Frost, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection, Ardmore, Ok; JaDon Management,2010), 119+).
The fact is that it is 100% essential to the former preterist view– and perhaps of others – to be able to demonstrate, beyond disputation, that verses 13-14 are in fact a parenthetical insertion. The imposition of traditional ideas onto the text is insufficient. That is not exegesis.
Consider this. The idea / claim that verses 13-14 are a parenthetical insertion into the text means that the Lord was giving the vision of the rise of Antiochus, who would persecute the saints and then be judged at the coming of the Ancient of Days (not at the coming of Christ). Verses 13-14 thus become an, “Oh, by the way” parenthetical insertion that is completely irrelevant to the entire discussion!
✘ It is (supposedly) not related to the four kingdoms in view.
✘ It is not related to the rise of the Little Horn.
✘ It is not related to the persecution of the saints.
✘ It is not related to the coming of the Ancient of Days for the vindication of the saints.
✘ It is not related to the saints and their reception of the kingdom, even though v. 14 and v. 21-23 emphatically tie the motif of the kingdom to the time of the coming and the Ancient of Days.
So, one has the right to ask: What was the purpose of such an irrelevant insertion into the prophecy of Daniel 7:1-12 / 15-23? What did the promise of the coming of the Son of Man, ostensibly almost 200 years away, have to do with Antiochus and his pogrom? What purpose did such a prediction serve? After all, it was not relevant to the coming persecution at the hands of Antiochus. It was not relevant to the judgment of Antiochus. It was not relevant to the coming of the Ancient of Days. It was not relevant to the reception of the everlasting kingdom at the judgment of the Little Horn. There was literally no relevance and no connection between Daniel 7:13-14 and the rest of the entire context of Daniel 7 according to those who divorce Daniel 7:13-14, from the days of the fourth kingdom, from the Little Horn, from that persecution, and from that promise of the kingdom. NONE! In this view, verses 13-14 are a totally independent, totally unrelated, prophecy that is absolutely not connected to the entirety of the rest of the chapter.
Of course, we must also ask the question, where is the textual, contextual justification for suggesting that the interpretation of the vision of 1-12, the interpretation found in v. 15, is NOTin fact the interpretation of the earlier vision -inclusive of v. 13-14 – and where is the textual and contextual evidence to suggest that the coming of the Ancient of Days for the judgment of the Little Horn excludes the coming of the Son of Man?
This bifurcation of the text has not a shred of merit. In the proposed view of Daniel 7 the text literally becomes a mishmash, a hodgepodge of visions, chronologically disjointed from each other, yet nonetheless thrown into the mixing bowl, requiring the reader to be able to discern the dichotomization.
Does the fact that verses 20f speak of the coming of the Ancient of Days mean that it is not the coming of the Son of Man? This is the crux interpretum. The answer is, “No,” such a bifurcation is in fact to misunderstand Jesus’ own application of Daniel 7. Let’s turn to Matthew 16:27-28 to document this:
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28).
Scholars and commentators are agreed that here, as well as in the Olivet Discourse, Mark 13:26-27, Jesus is citing Daniel 7:13f and applying it to his coming in judgment. See the comments by Stutz in the first article.
Brant Pitre comments on Mark’s citation of Daniel 7:13-14, noting that it must be seen as the coming of the Son of Man in judgment: “The evidence strongly suggests that the ‘Son of Man’ spoken of by Jesus in Mark 13:26-27 is none other than the Messiah who would come at the end of the Great Tribulation to deliver his people” (Brant Pitre, Jesus, Tribulation and the End of the Exile, (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2005), 340- His emphasis).
These things being true, it means that if Matthew 16:27-28 / Mark 13 and other NT passages in which Daniel 7 is cited, was applied by Jesus himself to his coming in judgment, that Daniel 7:13-14 then Daniel was not a prediction of Jesus’ ascension. It means that Daniel foretold Jesus’ coming in judgment of his persecutors. It means that just as Daniel 7:20f depicts the coming of the Ancient of Days in judgment of the Little Horn for persecuting the saints, Jesus was to come as the Ancient of Days. The critical fact is that in Matthew 16:27 Jesus WAS applying the language of the coming of the Ancient of Days to himself. Scholars– noted scholars – have recognized that this was precisely what Jesus was doing.
Before proceeding to document this, it is helpful to understand that in first century thought world, it was well known and understood that in the OT, God – the Ancient of Days – had come many times, but never literally, visibly or bodily. He manifested Himself in His sovereign control of the nations, utilizing one nation to judge another. When He did so, it was called His parousia. (See J. N. D. Kelly The Epistles of Peter and Jude, Hendrickson, Black’s New Testament Commentaries, Hendrickson, 1999), 317). Kelly cites Josephus, (Antiquities VIII, 80; 202; ix. 55 1999), showing how Josephus uses parousia to speak of the manifestation of God’s majesty. What this means is that when Jesus spoke of his coming “in the glory of the Father” and of his own parousia, that the history of usage of those words and concepts did not suggest a literal, visible descent of Jesus out of heaven, but rather his own manifestation of himself as “King of kings and Lord of lords”– he was coming as the Ancient of Days; as the Ancient of Days had come many times.
R. T. France commented on Jesus’ language in Matthew 16:27-28, and his citation of Daniel 7:13f. He says that Jesus, “envisages himself as assuming the status and function of the Ancient of Days Himself” (R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids; Baker, 1982), 155).
In the next installment, I will document Jesus’ own statements that point to his coming as the Ancient of Days, This is important, so stay tuned! In the meantime, get a copy of my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory for full documentation of what we are discussing.