Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory,Jesus Before the Sanhedrin – Matthew 26:64
Daniel 7:13-14 – The Little Horn and the Coming of Christ as the Ancient of Days
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?” They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death’ (Matthew 26:64).
The significance of this passage is incredible. Virtually all commentators realize that Jesus was quoting from Daniel 7:13-14 when he told Caiaphas, “you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” What is missed is that Jesus’ quotation positively identifies the persecuting Little Horn of Daniel 7 as the High Priesthood (the Sanhedrin) of Old Covenant Judaism!
(Note: When Jesus said “you will see” he was not addressing Caiaphas only. The Greek is in the second person plural. Jesus was addressing the entire Sanhedrin). It also has to be noted that since he was citing Daniel 7:13-14, that he was, in some way, associating himself with the Ancient of Days, as the One that was going to judge them).
The most common view of Daniel 7:13-14 is that it was a prediction of the Ascension of Christ. I once held this position myself, but, the text of Daniel 7 forbids it.
I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then 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 the one Which shall not be destroyed.
Now, if (and only if) one completely ignores the verses leading up to v. 13-14, and the context of the rest of the chapter and, (this is important)– the interpretation of the vision of 1-14 – is it possible to view these verses as the Ascension. But, ignoring context is not proper hermeneutic. Notice the verses that lead up to and set the stage for v. 13-14:
I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. (Daniel 7:8-12).
Keep in mind that the Little Horn comes up in the days of the fourth kingdom. Daniel’s vision sees no further than that (v. 1f). We have the kingdom of Belshazzar (Babylon), the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and then the fourth kingdom, unlike the previous kingdoms.
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
The “After this” is after the days of the third kingdom / empire, thus, after the days of the Grecian Empire. That puts us squarely in the days of the Roman Empire. It was to be in the days of that fourth empire – Rome– in which the Little Horn was to manifest itself as the enemy of God and persecute the saints:
I was considering the horns, (the horns of the fourth beast, DKP) and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.
So, there can be no mistake: the Little Horn would arise in the days of the fourth beast– which would be the empire that would arise after the Greek Empire. It is to be noted that the Little Horn and the ten horns existed contemporaneously. How else could the Little Horn cast down three of the ten? The Little Horn came up among the ten– not afterwards– but, in the midst of the ten horns (which probably correspond to ten Roman provinces). He existed alongside them.
What did the Little Horn do? He spoke great pompous words against the saints, and according to the interpretation of the vision,
I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22).
In other words, the Little Horn would persecute the saints of the Lord!
But, Daniel 7:10-12 shows us the fate of the Little Horn:
I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
The Little Horn was slain in the judgment. He was slain for persecuting the Lord’s saints! He was slain in the days of the Roman Empire!
It is to be noted that the book of Jude echoes this judgment scene:
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 14-15).
There is patently no justification for divorcing the setting of the thrones for judgment, and the judgment itself – the judgment of the Little Horn. The coming of the Lord with 10,000 of his saints is a judgment scene, and nothing less. It is the judgment of the Little Horn, which would arise in the days of the fourth kingdom– Rome.
Now, one has the right to ask, and this is one thing that turned my head around years ago, where is the justification for divorcing the setting of the judgment of the Little Horn from the coming before the Ancient of Days to receive the kingdom? Notice now– and this is incredibly important– in the INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION it is the Ancient of Days who comes and destroys the Little Horn, and at the judgment and destruction of the Little Horn, the kingdom is delivered to the saints! (I will not discuss how scholars see that the saints represent the Son of Man and vice versa in Daniel 7, but to ignore this is not justified). Well, if v. 15f is the interpretation of the vision of 1-14, (and of course, it is) then that literally demands that v. 15f is describing the judgment of the Little Horn at the coming of the Lord– the Son of Man – as the Ancient of Days.
Is the Little Horn judged and destroyed at two different times? Are there two Little Horns who persecute the saints?
It is incredible to realize that some former preterists now claim that verses 15f are NOT the interpretation of verses 1-14, but rather a new series of visions! This is an overt perversion of what the text says. If, as the text says, verses 15f are the interpretation of verses 1-14, then you cannot divorce the judgment of the Little Horn from the coming of the Son of Man / Ancient of Days! And those who say that the coming of the Son of Man comes AFTER the appearance and after the destruction of the Little Horn are patently perverting the time line of the text.
Watch what happens. It is claimed that verses 9-12 do describe the judgment of the Little Horn. we are told that this was in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes who is identified as the Little Horn. But, that destroys the identity of the fourth empire. Antiochus did not come in the days of the fourth beast. and violates the text
But then, catch the power of this….
We are told (by former preterists) that the coming of the one like the Son of Man, occurs almost two centuries after the appearance and judgment of the Little Horn (Antiochus) and has nothing to do with his judgment. The appearing of the Son of Man is not connected to the vindication of the saints. The coming of the Son of Man has nothing to do with judgment! Daniel 7:13-14 is just arbitrarily stuck into the text as a prediction of the Ascension of Christ, having nothing whatsoever to do with the context! This does grave violence to the text and context. It is eisegetic in the extreme. Not only that, it violates the NT interpretation and application of Daniel 7:13-14.
This truly aberrant and novel view is a violation of the NT citations of Daniel 7:13-14 in light of the Hebraic Hermeneutical principle that modern scholars call metalepsis. Simply stated, metalepsis is:
“In the absence of chapter and verse divisions, part-citations were apparently used as short hand references to larger contexts, and the same could reasonably be expected of allusions.” (Rikki Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark, (Grand Rapids; Baker, 1997), 111).
Andrew Perriman offers this:
The premise of this book has been that, generally speaking, when a Old Testament quotations or allusions occur in the N T., they should be allowed to bring into focus the wider narrative or argumentative context from which they have been drawn. Peter means us to see the coming judgment upon Israel’s enemies that is foreseen by Isaiah or the Psalmist. It is hard to believe that he would have gone to such lengths to evoke those earlier historical manifestations of divine judgment if what he had in mind was something quite different. (Andrew Perriman, The Coming of the Son of Man, (London; Paternoster, 2005, 2006),125).
Other scholars such as Richard Hays, (Conversion of the Imagination), Tom Holland (Contours of Pauline Theology), Dale Allison (The End of the Ages Has Come), and a host of others concur about this Hebraic Hermeneutic. So, what does that mean?
Well it means that when it is suggested that Daniel 7:13-14 is a separate, distinct, independent prophecy, divorced from and unrelated to the rest of the prophetic context of Daniel 7, that when Jesus, and the NT quoted Daniel 7, that they knew that these verses had nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of Daniel 7! How would one go about proving that?
Now, if the principle of metalepsis is valid and true, this is totally consistent with Andreas Stutzs’ observation:
Jesus adapted the term (‘the son of man’) in a very balanced way: sixteen times relating to his earthly life, twenty-seven times referring to his suffering, and twenty -six times to his glorification. …“While Jesus applied the term ‘Son of Man’ from Daniel 7:13-14 to the various states of his ministry, he applied the vision reported in Daniel 7:13-14 (along with Zechariah 12:10) exclusively and unambiguously to his return (Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Luke 21:26-27). This observation confirms that Jesus understood himself as the Danielic ‘Son of Man.’ (Andreas Stutz, A Handbook on The Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, Edited by Craig Evans and David Mishkin, (Peabody, Mass; Hendrickson, 2019), 158).
Now, clearly, the twenty seven times of the use of the term “Son of Man” in reference to his passion, is not specifically in view in Daniel 7, although one must consider the organic unity between the suffering of the saints with the suffering of the Son of Man (Matthew 16:21-28 / Colossians 1:24f); “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
So, when Jesus and the NT writers cited Daniel 7:13-14 in their predictions of Christ’s coming in judgment of his persecutors and the persecutors of his followers, they had the entire context of Daniel 7 firmly in mind: the persecution of the saints (and by implication of the Son of Man) and the Judgment of the Little Horn at the coming of the Son of Man – as the Ancient of Days!
It should be clear from Matthew 26:64 that Jesus was not telling the Sanhedrin that they were going to see him suffer. Why would that comment elicit Caiaphas’ (illegal) action of tearing his garment? They wanted to see Jesus suffer.
No, as Stutz points out, Jesus consistently uses the term of the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven, as a reference to his coming in judgment, and particularly in vindication of his own suffering and that of his followers! He never cited Daniel 7 to refer to his ascension! Notice just one such text:
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of the Father, with his angels, and judge every man according to his works, and verily I say until you, there are some standing here that shall not taste of death until the see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:27-28).
The thing to be noted here is that we have virtually every constituent element of Daniel 7 before us.
We have Jesus appearing in the last days- and in the days of the Roman Empire – the fourth kingdom from Babylon.
In Matthew 16: 21f Jesus foretold his own suffering / martyrdom. He warned his apostles that they would suffer the same fate. This corresponds perfectly with Daniel 7 and the saints being persecuted by the Little Horn
But, we have Christ’s coming as the Son of Man in judgment, set in the context of the persecution of his saints. Jesus was promising that he was – as the Son of Man – going to come – in the glory of the Father – in vindication of his own suffering and theirs.
And just like in Daniel 7, at the judgment of the Little Horn, the saints – and the Son of Man – are given the judgment decree of vindication and they receive the everlasting kingdom.
Where is the disparity, distinction or disjunction between these texts / prophecies?
We thus have the very elements of Daniel 7 before us. To reiterate, Jesus came in the days of the fourth kingdom. He foretold his suffering, which would be at the hands of the Jewish authorities. He told his followers that they would endure the same fate, but, he promised to return in judgment of their persecutors – and in the kingdom.
(Paul reiterated Jesus’ promise in 2 Thessalonians 1, a passage that in reality, when one strips away the traditions, the prejudice, the presuppositions, promised that Christ would come in the lifetime of the Thessalonians in judgment of their Jewish persecutors and in vindication of their suffering at the hands of the Jewish authorities).
Of course, unless one can totally divorce the interpretation of Daniel 7:1-12 from the emphatically stated interpretation in verse 15f, then what we have in the interpretation is the prediction of the coming of Christ “as the Ancient of Days”– or to put it another way, “In the glory of the Father” in the judgment of the Little Horn. The coming of the Ancient of Days– Christ coming in the judgment of the Little Horn – does not, as some are claiming – occur centuries after the appearance of the Little Horn.
To sustain their view of Daniel 7, the former preterists must do the following:
☛ Make Greece the fourth kingdom. This violates the text and history. (For instance, ever so briefly, the fourth beast would be unlike the previous beasts. But, if one identifies the fourth beast as the Seleucids that distinction is totally unhistorical. The Selucids (ie. of Antiochus) were particularly, purposefully and indisputably like the previous kingdom of Alexander! The suggestion that the four horns of Daniel 8 are the four kingdoms of Daniel 7– a suggestion made by Sam Frost (Daniel Unplugged, PDF,) is totally untenable. That means that the four empires / kingdoms of Daniel 7 are the same, and that they follow one another chronologically, when in fact the Selucids and Ptolemies existed contemporaneously with each other.
To drive this point home, consider, when would the Son of Man come? He would come at the same time as the Little Horn – not, as some falsely claim – long after the Little Horn. And the Little Horn would come, not in the days of the third empire (Greece) but, in the days of the fourth empire – which was none other than Rome.
Note that in Daniel 7, the third beast / kingdom (like the Leopard) is the one with four heads, representing the four Ptolemies and Seluecid kings that came out of the Alexander’s death– but they were still part of that third kingdom. They are the four horns representing the the Grecian empire of Daniel 8. But then, the fourth beast comes after the third, and is different from it. It was in the days of this beast- the fourth kingdom – that the Little Horn was manifested. This is driven home in the interpretation when Daniel told the angel that he wanted to know the mystery of the fourth beast, “and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows” (v. 20). Very clearly, Daniel did not link the Little Horn with the third kingdom in any way. Now, since the Little Horn would arise in the days of the fourth kingdom, and since the destruction of the Little Horn would be at the coming of the Ancient of Days, then the coming of the Ancient of Days was to be in the days of the fourth empire. Without dispute, Rome was the fourth beast / empire.
☛ They bear the burden of proving that Daniel 7:13-14 is an arbitrary, parenthetical, insertion into the text. Yet, there is literally not a syllable of proof for that. And, that view violates the principle of metalepsis. The numerous NT citations of Daniel 7:13-14 virtually demand that those verses belong- inseparably – to the context of the vision of Daniel 7, and not to a time far removed from the prophecy.
☛ They bear the responsibility of proving, in other words, that Daniel 7:13-14 is an independent, distinctive vision separated in time by almost 200 years, from the vision of the fourth beast and the appearance of the Little Horn. Yet, when it is pointed out that their view is a modification of the Dispensational “Gap” Doctrine, these former preterists cry “Foul!” Well, sorry, but you cannot insert an almost two century period of time between Daniel 7:10-12 and verse 13-14 and not call that a Gap!
☛ They have the burden of proof to show that the coming of the Son of Man had nothing to do with the vindication of the saints, via the judgment of the Little Horn, of v. 10-12. There is no connection between these verses per those making these claims. Again, they have v. 13-14 as an arbitrary, disconnected, un-contextual insertion into the text, without so much as a hint of a clue of a suggestion to let the reader know that verses 13-14 are divorced from the previous verses by two centuries! (It is literally astounding to read some former preterists claim that since Daniel 7 does not specifically speak of the Son of Man being persecuted, that we cannot apply his coming in judgment for the vindication of the saints to speak of his own vindication as well as their’s. The fact is that if the people of the Son of Man are vindicated, then HE is vindicated- and vice versa).
☛ They have the burden of proof of divorcing the bestowal of the kingdom at the time of the judgment of the Little Horn (Daniel 7:21-23) from the reception of the kingdom by the Son of Man, that took place at the time of the judgment of the Little Horn in v. 10-12. The attempted dichotomization of the text is literally astounding. As noted, it is now being claimed that the interpretation of the vision of v. 1-12, the interpretation given in v. 15f, is not the actual interpretation, but rather another series of distinct visions that are – at least to some degree – unrelated to the vision of v. 1-14! In this posit, the interpretation of v. 15f most assuredly did not include the vision of Daniel 7:13-14. One would be hard pressed to find a more glaring example of the perversion of scripture than this. What does “interpretation” mean, anyway?
Now that we have established the indivisible unity between the vision and the interpretation, and since we have seen that the coming of the Son of Man is the time of the judgment of the persecuting Little Horn, we need to make the application of what this means in Matthew 26:64, as Jesus told the Sanhedrin, “you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
It is critical to note – once again – that the Ascension of Christ in Acts 1 was not the time of the judgment of the Little Horn. That is irrefutably true. His disciples and apostles had not yet begun to be persecuted, by anyone, in Acts 1! Thus, Acts 1 is not Daniel 7. Jesus was not telling the Sanhedrin that they would witness his Ascension. Were any of them on the Ascension mount? No, that was a “private” affair and they were not invited. It is also critical to be reminded that in the NT, every application of Daniel 7:13-14, the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven – is a judgment context. How anyone can ignore this is amazing.
What I will do in our next installment is to look at the coming of the Son of Man as the coming of the Ancient of Days. so stay tuned. In the meantime, get a copy of my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an investigation of the connection between Christ’s coming in judgment and Daniel 7:13-14.