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Go to Bible: Daniel 7
|Dan 7:1||- (top)|
“four spirits of heaven.” The word “spirits” is ruach (#07308), and ruach has many definitions, including “wind,” “breath,” “spirit” in the sense of the spirit life of a person or animal (Ecc. 3:21), and also “spirit” in the sense of an angel or demon. When great movements of people occur, there is spiritual power and influence involved. Merrill Unger writes: “However, in the realm of human government the unseen personalities of the evil supernatural sphere are just as real and active as their visible human agents, and any deeper interpretation of human history, tracing in it a divine purpose and goal, must take into account the invisible yet very real realm of spirit” (Biblical Demonology, p. 181).
“were stirring up.” The Aramaic can also be translated “broke forth upon” (cp. CJB; JPS). Both meanings have validity, because the great sea is people, and when spirits (angels or demons) move masses of people they move quickly and powerfully, but then keep stirring the people up to action.
“Great Sea.” The common Old Testament name for the Mediterranean Sea. That the term “great sea” is a hypocatastasis and can be representative of many nations, which is the case here in Daniel, is made clear in Revelation 17:15. However, it is most likely the case that in this vision Daniel actually saw a vision of a Great Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and not a sea of people. But he would have understood the prophetic vision and how the sea is used in biblical prophecy and that it was representing a great mass of people. Daniel would certainly have understood that, as is clear from reading the book of Daniel. [For more information on “great sea,” see commentary on Revelation 17:15, “Peoples, and multitudes, and nations.” For more information on hypocatastasis, see commentary on Revelation 20:2].(top)
|Dan 7:3||- (top)|
“like a lion.” This first “beast” is the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The fact that before its demise a man’s heart was given to it likely refers to the change in Nebuchadnezzar at the end of his life (cp. Dan. 4:1-37).(top)
“a bear” The bear is the Medo-Persian Empire, and it is raised up on one side because in the confederation of Persia and Media, Persia was always the dominant power.(top)
“a leopard.” This is the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, and the four wings represent great speed. Alexander became king in 336 BC, and had conquered from India to Ethiopia before his death in 323 BC. When he died, his kingdom was divided into four smaller kingdoms, the four heads of the beast. His generals Antipater and Cassander ruled Macedon and Greece; Lysimachus ruled Thrace and Asia Minor (Turkey); Seleucus I ruled Syria; and Ptolemy I ruled Palestine and Egypt.(top)
“fourth beast.” This fourth beast is the kingdom of the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation. Although many scholars think that the start of the beast was the Roman Empire, which will morph into the kingdom of the Antichrist, that is debated. The fact that this fourth kingdom “was different from all the beasts that were before it” is evidence that it could not have been the ancient Roman Empire. The Romans did not destroy the kingdoms they conquered but incorporated those kingdoms into the Empire, often even letting the indigenous government remain in place as it did when Rome conquered Israel and allowed Herod the Great to remain as king. It seems likely that in Daniel’s vision Rome was skipped and the list of empires went from Greece immediately to the empire of the Antichrist.(top)
“came up…a little one.” Daniel 7:8 shows us that the antichrist will have a small and unimpressive beginning, but he will grow (thus “came up”) and eventually have more power than all the other horns. We learn more about the Antichrist by his parallel, his type, who is Antiochus Epiphanes, who is also called a little horn in Daniel 8:9-12.
“eyes like the eyes of a man.” The “eyes” and “mouth” of this little horn alert us to the fact that this is a person, not a kingdom. In the biblical culture, “eyes” were a primary instrument of learning, and in this context the fact that the little horn had eyes like a man points to both humanity and intelligence and insight. The antichrist will be smart and cunning.(top)
“thrones were set in place.” On Judgment Day people will be judged according to what they have done on earth. Scripture indicates that on that day angels will assist in some way with the judging of people. That “thrones” are set in place indicates more than one throne and likely more than a few. These thrones are likely the thrones of the angels who are also referred to as “elders” in Revelation 4:4, 10 (cp. Luke 12:8).
“Ancient of Days.” Daniel 7:9 introduces us to a new title for God, Yahweh, which is “the Ancient of Days.” This is one of the times in Scripture when God is shown coming into concretion in a human form. He does this many times in the Bible, starting in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3), when Adam and Eve heard the sound of Him walking in the Garden. This is the only verse where God has the title “Ancient of Days,” but it is very appropriate, especially in light of the biblical culture which honored the aged. The fact that God is the Ancient of Days helps qualify Him to be the Judge of all the earth; He would have great experience and wisdom and could render a righteous verdict. [For more on God coming into human form, see commentary on Acts 7:55].
“and its wheels burning fire.” We were shown the wheels of God’s cherubim chariot-throne in Ezekiel 1:15-21 (see commentary on Ezek. 1:15). These may be different wheels, however. In any case, the idea that God and His throne move from place to place is not just here in the Bible.(top)
“river of fire.” When fire appears in Scripture in connection with God, sometimes it is associated with light and protection (Exod. 13:21), or with the blessing and acceptance of God (Lev. 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38). At other times, however, fire is associated with judgment (Lev. 10:1-2; Num. 16:35; Rev. 20:10; 20:14-15). God’s presence is often associated with fire (Exod. 19:18), and God’s presence, while a blessing, is often dangerous and mysterious. God is portrayed as a jealous God and a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). Here in Daniel 7 there is a river of fire, sometimes translated a “fiery stream” coming forth from His throne, and since the scene is a scene of judgment, it reminds us of the fire that destroys the enemies of God. Like Aslan the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia, God is “righteous” and “just,” but He is not necessarily “safe,” and He is not to be trifled with.
God standing in heaven, or sitting on His throne in heaven, occurs several times in Scripture. In Genesis 28:13 Yahweh is standing in heaven, but what He is standing on is not described. Isaiah 6:1 shows God seated on a throne in heaven, but what it is sitting on is not described. In Exodus 24:10 God is standing on, or seated on a throne on, a pavement like a sapphire (or lapis lazuli). Ezekiel 1:26-28 shows God on a throne, and the throne is like sapphire (or lapis lazuli), but the pavement it is on is simply referred to as an “expanse,” “dome” or “platform.” When Stephen sees God, He is apparently seated on His throne, because Jesus is “standing” at the right side of God (Acts 7:56). However, in Stephen’s vision, neither the throne nor the pavement it is sitting on is described. In Revelation 4:2-5:13 we see God on His throne, along with 24 other thrones. Lightning and thunder comes from God’s throne (Rev. 4:5), and before it (and perhaps under it) is a pavement like a sea of glass like crystal. The sea of glass, but this time mixed with fire, occurs in Revelation 15:2.
Daniel 7 portrays a scene of judgment, and Daniel 7:9-10 shows God on a throne, and his throne and its wheels were ablaze and flaming with fire. Furthermore, something unique to Daniel is that there is a river of fire flowing from God’s throne. The fire in these verses is significant, because it is the fire of God that destroys the enemies of God (Heb. 10:27), and the unsaved are burned up in a lake of fire and burning sulfur (Rev. 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
In contrast to God’s throne in this judgment scene, in the Millennial Kingdom, after Jesus conquers the earth and sets up his kingdom, a river of life will flow from God’s Temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel 47:1-9 shows the river that flows east from the Temple into the Dead Sea. Zechariah 14:8 shows that the river actually flows both to the west to the Mediterranean Sea and to the east to the Dead Sea. So there is a huge difference between the river of fire that flows from God’s throne during the time of judgment and the river of living water that flows from the Temple in the Millennial Kingdom.
It is speculation, but it is perhaps possible, that the “river of fire” that flows from God’s throne at the time of the Judgment in Daniel 7, which is associated with the end of the Tribulation, eventually forms the lake of fire. The river of fire has to flow somewhere, and there is no indication it burns out on its own. Furthermore, there is no mention of the lake of fire any time before this river of fire comes from God’s throne here in Daniel. There is no lake of fire mentioned anywhere in Scripture before the Tribulation period, and no one, no human or demon, was thrown into the fire before the Battle of Armageddon. Therefore Scripture does not express a need for the lake of fire before this judgment in Daniel 7 and the Battle of Armageddon. But if this river of fire formed and flowed into the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation, that would explain where the lake of fire came from and why it is not mentioned before the book of Revelation. There will be a need for the lake of fire immediately after the Battle of Armageddon, because the Antichrist and false prophet will be thrown into it right after being defeated in the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:20), and then very shortly after that the people who lived through the Tribulation period but whom Jesus judges as unrighteous in the Sheep and Goat judgment will be thrown into the lake of fire as well (Matt. 25:41, 46). Eventually, all the unsaved will be thrown into the lake of fire and annihilated. [People in the lake of fire do not burn forever; they burn up. For more on annihilation in the lake of fire, see Appendix 5: “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].
“stood before him.” It was a common custom that rulers sat while the subjects of the rulers stood before them. (See commentary on Isaiah 14:13, “sit”).
“the court was seated.” God has an inner circle of spirit beings who help Him administer His creation, and these spirit judges seem to be part of that divine council. Here in Daniel 7, God gave Daniel a vision of the Last Days, and Daniel 7:10 and 7:26 portray the heavenly court that will convene at that time, headed up by “the Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9), who is God. In Daniel 7:8, the man known as the “Little Horn,” one of the biblical titles for the person commonly known as the Antichrist, is speaking arrogantly against God. During those Last Days, God will sit with other spirit judges, likely His divine council or part of that group, and give judgment concerning the Antichrist.
This heavenly court, and its judgment of the Antichrist is shown again in Daniel 7:26: “But the court will sit, and his [the Antichrist] power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.” Since this court will judge the Antichrist who will be defeated in the Battle of Armageddon and thrown into the lake of fire immediately following that battle, it is likely that this court in Daniel is the same judges who sit on thrones in Revelation 20:4 and judge those who get up in the First Resurrection (and it seems logical that the judges in Daniel 7:10 are not only the judges in Rev. 20:4, but the “elders” in Rev. 4:4). [See commentary on Revelation 20:4 for more information on the judges in that verse; and commentary on Revelation 4:4 for information on the 24 spirit elders].
We see in Daniel 7:9 that God is not the only one who has a throne. There are other thrones for other judges. The Aramaic word translated “court” in Daniel 7:10 and 7:26 is divn (#01780 דִּין), and in this context it refers to a council of judges (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon; Holladay Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon). God could rule and judge on His own, but He does not want to operate that way; He works in cooperation with His created beings to maintain order in the universe. [For more on God’s divine council, see commentary on Genesis 1:26].(top)
|Dan 7:11||- (top)|
“their dominion was taken away.” This verse refers to the dominion of the demons who serve Satan—the demons’ dominion will be taken away. The demons who serve Satan will be defeated in the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21) and thrown into the Abyss along with Satan. They will be there in prison during the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Rev. 20:1-3). Revelation 20:1-3 does not mention Satan’s demons—it focuses on the leader, Satan—but the scope of Scripture along with verses such as Daniel 7:12 and Isaiah 24:21-22 show us that the demons are also imprisoned with Satan. They are imprisoned in a god-prison technically referred to as “Tartarus” in 2 Peter 2:4, but also called “prison” in 1 Pet. 3:19, “the Abyss” in Revelation 20:1, and the “pit” in Isaiah 24:22.
God could have thrown the demons into the Lake of Fire immediately after the Battle of Armageddon, but instead he had them imprisoned with Satan during the 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom, and this is why the text says these demons “were granted an extension of their lives for a season and a time” (see commentary on Rev. 20:7). At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan and his demons will be released, and the demons will help Satan gather an army to fight against God’s people. But Satan and his demonic army will be defeated in the Final War of Revelation 20:9-10, and then they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:7-10) (see commentary on Isa. 24:21).
The “beasts” that will be imprisoned and thus granted an extension of their lives are the demons behind the scenes controlling the kingdoms of the earth. As Daniel’s vision opens in Daniel 7:3, there are “beasts,” kingdoms, that come out of the “sea” (the “sea” is the masses of Gentile people; cp. Rev. 17:2). But those kingdoms did not arise spontaneously, there were four spirits that stirred up and influenced the rise of those kingdoms, and they would have had help from other demons as well. However, in Daniel 7:12, the “beasts” are not kingdoms or earthly kings, but are the demons who were behind the scenes influencing what happened in the kingdoms. The “beasts” of Daniel 7:12 cannot be earthly kings or earthly kingdoms because all earthly kingdoms are destroyed by the Messiah at Armageddon (Dan. 2:34-35, 44) and all earthly kings and armies are killed in that battle (Rev. 19:19-21). After the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus Christ will rule over the whole earth (cp. Ps. 2:8; 72:8-11; Dan. 2:35; 7:14; Micah 5:4; Zech. 9:10), and the Antichrist and satanic systems on earth will be destroyed (2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:20). No evil or satanic “kingdom” or “nation” will be on earth during the Millennial kingdom, and “kingdom” cannot be imprisoned, so the fact that these “beasts” will be granted an extension of life during that time shows that they are demons. Demons will be imprisoned in Tartarus during the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth.
[For more on Tartarus, see commentary on 2 Peter 2:4. For more on the demonic army, see commentary on Isa. 24:21. For a better understanding of the chronology of the End Times, see commentary on Matt. 25:32, “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”].(top)
“son of man.” The phrase “son of man” is a Semitic idiom for a human being, and the phrase occurs in both the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of the Old Testament (some parts of the Old Testament are written in Aramaic). In Hebrew the basic phrase translated “son of man” is ben adam (cp. Num. 23:19), while in Aramaic (cp. Dan. 7:13), it is bar enash. The phrase occurs in different ways, “son of man,” “sons of man,” “sons of men,” etc., but the meaning is basically the same: it means a human or humans. When it occurs in the Greek text of the New Testament, the Semitic idiom is simply imported literally into the Greek. When the phrase occurs in more literal translations of the Bible such as the King James, it usually appears like “son of man,” but when it is translated in gender-neutral Bibles such as the NRSV it is usually translated as “human,” “human being,” “mortal,” “one/anyone,” etc.
The phrase “son of man” occurs throughout the Old Testament, and interestingly, the first time it occurs is when Balaam the prophet said that God was not a “son of man,” that is, a human (Num. 23:19). In Deuteronomy 32:8, we see that God divided “the sons of man,” the humans, into their respective nations. In 2 Samuel 7:14, God speaks about Solomon via the prophet Nathan and says that if Solomon sins then God will punish him with blows “of the sons of men,” that is blows by humans (cp. NET; NIV), which is indeed what happened to Solomon. In Jeremiah 32:19, the ways of the sons of man, i.e., humans, are all open to God. In Joel 1:12, due to the foretold destruction of the land, joy among the sons of man, the people, withers away. Also, in Daniel 10:16 an angel is referred to as being in the “form” of a son of man, that is, in the form of a human being. There are many other clear references to “son of man” referring to humans (cp. Job 25:6; Ps. 144:3; 146:3; Isa. 51:12; 56:2; Jer. 49:18; Dan. 8:17). God addresses Ezekiel as “son of man” over 90 times. Although it seems clear that God is referring to Ezekiel as a human being, there are other reasons for that as well.
The meaning of “son of man” became more complicated when the book of Daniel was written because the phrase took on a second meaning. In Daniel 7:13, “one like a son of man” was used to describe the Messiah, and so “son of man” became a Messianic title. Thus, as we enter the New Testament era, “son of man” had both meanings: “human being” and “Messiah,” and that was confusing to many people. We see that confusion in verses such as John 12:34, when the crowd said to Jesus, “…how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”
The “one like a son of man” in Daniel 7:13 is not specifically called the Messiah, and that has led to many theories about what it refers to, including the nation of Israel itself. John Collins wrote about how Daniel 7:13 has been interpreted, starting in the early centuries after Christ:
“The Messianic interpretation prevails in rabbinic literature and remains the majority opinion among the medieval Jewish commentators…Early Christian interpreters assume the identity of the ‘son of man’ with Christ and usually read Dan. 7:13 as a prophecy of the second coming. …In summary, the traditional interpretations of the ‘one like a human being’ in the first millennium overwhelmingly favor the understanding of this figure as an individual, not as collective symbol. The most usual identification was the messiah…. [But] Since the rise of critical scholarship, diverse explanations of the one like a son of man have been set forward. They may be classified in three categories: (1) an exalted human being, (2) a collective symbol, (3) a heavenly being.” (John J. Collins. Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel. A Hermeneia commentary, Fortress Press, 1993).
As Collins points out, in the centuries after Christ, both Jewish and Christian scholars thought Daniel 7:13 was speaking of the Messiah, but in the last century or so that has shifted, and many modern scholars do not think that “one like the son of man” refers to Jesus Christ, a fact that is reflected in many of the modern commentaries. Conservative Christian scholars, however, still conclude that the “son of man” in Daniel 7:13 is the Messiah.
The context and scope of Scripture, and Jesus’ own use of the phrase “son of man,” strongly supports the conclusion that the son of man in Daniel 7:13 is the Messiah. One of the strongest examples from Scripture is Mark 14:61-62, when Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin. It says, “Again the high priest asked him [Jesus], and says to him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Here, Jesus equates “the Christ” with “the Son of Man” and refers those two titles to himself. Also, Daniel 7:13 is the only Old Testament reference of anyone besides God coming in the clouds of heaven, which Jesus said he was going to do.
Daniel 7:14 then shows God giving the “son of man” dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom in which all people serve him. In all of Scripture there is only one being who fulfills that prophecy, and that is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Many Old Testament Scriptures indicate that the Messiah will rule the earth (cp. Ps. 2:8-12; 72:1-17; 110:1-5; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-5, 10; 42:1-7; 49:5-7; 55:1-5; Ezek. 37:24-28; Dan. 2:35, 44; and see also Rev. 21-22).
Further evidence that the son of man in Daniel 7:13 refers to the Messiah is that in the New Testament, the phrase “son of man” is used only of Jesus Christ and not of any other person or entity. So the biblical evidence leads to the conclusion that in Daniel, “one like a son of man” is the Messiah.
We also get some insight from the New Testament as to why the text of Daniel says, “one like a son of man.” The word “like” can refer to what Daniel saw, i.e., someone that looked human, and that would certainly be true. But more than that, when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, comes in his new glorified body, he will be fully human just as he always was, but his new, spiritually powered everlasting body will only be “like” the flesh body we humans have now, and thus the statement “one like a son of man” perfectly fits the glorified Christ.
It is worth noting that Daniel says that the Messiah comes “with the clouds of heaven.” The bright glory that surrounds God is often described as a cloud (Ezek. 10:3-4), and we see it in Moses’ Tent of Meeting and Solomon’s Temple (Exod. 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chron. 5:13-14; 7:1-3), and at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). Sometimes the cloud could be dark and threatening, as it was on Mount Sinai (Exod. 19:16-18; 24:16-18). It is appropriate that when the glorified Messiah comes as God’s Son and regent, he also is described as coming in the clouds because it points to his glory and power due to his being “Lord and Christ” (Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; Rev. 1:7).
Another implication of Jesus’ “coming in the clouds” is that he is coming in judgment. In the Old Testament, God came in the clouds to fight and judge His enemies (Ps. 18:6-14; 97:1-3; Isa. 19:1; Nah. 1:3-6). Similarly, when Jesus comes in the clouds it will be to fight the Battle of Armageddon and judge the earth (Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-46; cp. Rev. 19:11-21). Then, after Jesus conquers the earth, he will set up his kingdom on it as Scripture says.
[For more on the cloud that often surrounds God see commentary on Ezekiel 1:28. For more on Jesus’s kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on Jesus Christ being fully human, see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.” For more on why God addresses Ezekiel as “son of man,” see commentary on Ezekiel 2:1].
“coming with the clouds of heaven.” We today know from the New Testament that this refers to Jesus Christ coming down from heaven, but in the Old Testament and Gospels the people did not know that. They did not know about the ascension, and it caught even Jesus’ apostles by surprise (Acts 1:9-11). They had just asked him if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel and all he told them was it was not for them to know the timing of that (Acts 1:6-8). At the Last Supper, Jesus told the Apostles he was going away, but he never told them that meant into heaven and they were very clear that they did not know where he was going. Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going” (John 14:5), and Jesus never told them anything except, “I go to the Father” (John 14:28), but they still did not know what that meant. We must keep in mind that even at the Last Supper the Apostles did not really understand that Jesus was going to die, so they certainly did not understand the ascension.
Not only does the Old Testament not speak of an ascension, the text here in Daniel does not explicitly tell us whether this son of man is moving up, down, or sideways. Competent scholars have argued for both upwards from earth to heaven and downwards from heaven to earth. The clouds of heaven are generally above the earth, but sometimes the cloud of glory associated with God was on earth and moved along with Him (cp. Ezek. 1:4, 28. See commentary on Ezek. 1:28).
The major reason for confusion about this verse, and the reason that the apostles were so caught off guard by the ascension, was the fact that in the entire Old Testament there is no verse about the Messiah ascending to heaven to be with God. The Messiah is born on earth (Isa. 9:6) and conquers evil and rules the earth (cp. Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; 61:1-3; Micah 5:2-4; Zech. 9:9-10; Mal. 3:1-3; 4:1-3).
There are Old Testament scriptures about the Day of Yahweh and the great tribulation associated with it but the Messiah is not there in that tribulation, which we today know is because he ascended into heaven and is not on earth during that time (see commentary on Dan. 12:1). Isaiah 63 portrays the Messiah conquering the nations, and even the ancient rabbis knew that Isaiah 63 referred to the Messiah (cp. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix IX, “List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings”). However, when Jesus comes and conquers the nations as portrayed in Isaiah 63, he does not come down from heaven, he comes from the southeast of Israel, from Edom, and how he got there is never explained. Also, Zechariah 14:3-5 speaks of Yahweh fighting His enemies, which He would do through His Messiah, and standing on the Mount of Olives. It is assumed by some teachers that the Messiah will land on the Mount of Olives, but the text never says that. Putting Isaiah 63 together with Zechariah 14:4, it is more likely that the Messiah comes into Israel from the south and reaches the Mount of Olives.
In conclusion, we today with 20-20 hindsight can see that Daniel 7:13 is about Jesus coming down from heaven, conquering the earth and taking dominion of it, but that was unclear until New Testament times.(top)
“all the peoples…will serve him.” Jesus’ kingdom will fill the earth (cp. Ps. 2:8; 66:4; 72:8-11; Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:14; Zech. 9:10). [For more on the coming kingdom of Christ on earth, the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].(top)
“within me.” The text, which is in Aramaic in this part of Daniel, reads, “in the midst of its sheath,” thus making the body like a sheath for the spirit, which is the thoughts, attitudes, emotions, etc. [For more on the meaning of “spirit,” see Appendix 6, “Usages of ‘Spirit’”].(top)
|Dan 7:16||- (top)|
|Dan 7:17||- (top)|
“holy ones.” Here in Daniel 7:18, the “holy ones” are the people who obey God. The text is traditionally rendered “saints,” but it refers to people who obey God, not to the Roman Catholic concept of “saints.” Both angels and God’s holy people are called “holy ones”, which makes sense because they are both holy before God. The reader must be sensitive to the context to see if the text is referring to a person or an angel (compare Daniel 7:18 with Daniel 8:13). In fact, many versions translate the Hebrew as “saints” when it refers to people and “holy ones” when it refers to angels, but the wording in the Hebrew text is the same.
“will receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom.” For more on the kingdom, see commentary on Daniel 7:22.(top)
|Dan 7:19||- (top)|
|Dan 7:20||- (top)|
“holy ones.” These are the people who obey God and live holy lives. See commentary on Daniel 7:18.
“prevailed.” Daniel 7:21 (also Dan. 7:25) foretells what is also prophetically spoken in Revelation 13:7, that during the last half of the seven-year Tribulation, when the Antichrist is in full power, he will wage war against God’s people and overcome them (cp. Rev. 13:7, 10; 14:12-13).(top)
“holy ones.” God’s holy people. See commentary on Daniel 7:18.
“and the time came that the holy ones took possession of the kingdom.” The “holy ones” are the believers, and the “kingdom” they take possession of is the 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom of Christ, when Christ rules the earth. After the Rapture of the Christian Church there will be terrible wars, plagues, and more, and eventually the Antichrist will rule the earth and persecute and kill believers. This time is called by Christ a time of “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). The Great Tribulation will end when Christ comes from heaven, fights the battle of Armageddon, conquers the earth, and sets up his kingdom on earth, which many scholars refer to as “the Millennial Kingdom” because it lasts 1,000 years (Rev. 20:2-6).
[For more on the coming kingdom of Christ on earth, the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on the duration of the last half of the Tribulation, as well as the days of Judgment following Armageddon, see commentary on Daniel 12:11. For more on the terrible death and destruction in the Great Tribulation and Armageddon, see commentary on Dan. 12:1. For more on the first and second resurrection, see commentary on Acts 24:15. For more on how the future will unfold from this present age to the Millennial Kingdom to the Everlasting Kingdom, see commentary on Matt. 25:32 and Rev. 21:1].(top)
|Dan 7:23||- (top)|
|Dan 7:24||- (top)|
“wear down.” This is an Aramaic word, bela (#01080 בְּלַא), and it is a hapax legomenon in biblical Aramaic, meaning it only occurs here in the Old Testament. However, the cognate word in Hebrew means “to wear out [like a garment],” or “wear away,” and thus by extension, “harass” or “oppress.” The English versions translate it somewhat differently: “wear out” (ESV); “wear down” (NAB), “exhaust” (CJB); “oppress” (HCSB); “harass” (NET), and the point is well made that the Great Tribulation will be a very difficult time for believers. This is further information as to how the Antichrist will “prevail” against believers (Dan. 7:21).
Daniel 7:25 is saying that the Antichrist will put constant pressure on the believers—a constant persecution—and no doubt some will get worn down and give in to his pressure. Jesus knew this and warned his followers about the troubles they would have to endure in the Great Tribulation, including some being tortured and put to death (Matt. 24:9, 13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:12-19; cp. Rev. 2:10; 13:7, 10; 14:12-13). By forewarning his disciples of the coming tribulation, Jesus prepared them to endure the tribulation.
“the holy ones.” God’s holy people. See commentary on Daniel 7:18. The text simply says “they,” but it refers to God’s holy people being handed over to the dominion of the antichrist for the last half of the Great Tribulation; that is, for 3-1/2 years, which is “a time, times and half a time.” During that time there will be terrible persecution against the believers, and many will be tempted to renounce their trust in God and Jesus (cp. Rev. 13:7, 10; 14:12-13). No wonder Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Those believers who maintain their trust in the Lord during that terrible time and are martyred for it will be greatly rewarded. [For more on the Great Tribulation, see commentary on Dan. 12:1].
“will be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.” This time period is 3-1/2 years. It is the last half of the Great Tribulation, the time of trouble spoken of in Daniel 12:1. The period of great tribulation spoken of in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21 will be seven years, starting with the covenant made between the Antichrist and Israel, and ending with the Battle of Armageddon, when Jesus defeats the Antichrist (called “the beast” in Rev. 19:19-20). We learn about the seven years from Daniel 9:25-27, which speaks of a “week,” which in that context is a week of years, or seven years.
The last half of the “week,” the seven years, the Antichrist himself is exercising great power on earth. The length of this 3-1/2-year period is recorded in different ways: it is recorded as “a time, times, and half a time,” that is, “a year, [two] years, and half a year” (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 12:14); it is also recorded as “42 months” (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), and also as 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6). All these time periods equal 3 ½ years.
This 3 ½ year period will be especially hard for believers because there will be a terrible persecution against them, as Daniel 7:21 and 7:25 say (cp. Matt. 24:9; Rev. 14:13).
[For more on the seven-year Great Tribulation, see commentaries on Daniel 12:1 and 12:11].(top)
“the court will sit in judgment.” This court likely is, or is part of, God’s divine council. See commentary on Daniel 7:10.(top)
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