Daniel 7:13 – 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.
The timeline has jumped forward quite a bit at this stage of Daniels life. Nebuchadnezzar died 10 years previous and there had been a few short-reign kings. Nabonidus is now king of the empire and he appointed his son, Belshazzar, king of Babylon. Daniel has been in Babylon for 50 years and was probably around seventy when he had this vision.
The vision showed four beasts: a lion with eagles’ wings (Babylon), a bear (Persia), a four-head leopard with four wings (Greece), and a terrifying beast with great iron teeth and ten horns (Rome).
Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel were given the same revelation but the imagery was completely different. Both saw the rise and fall of kingdoms but for Nebuchadnezzar it was a picture of strength depicted by fine gold, silver, bronze and iron. For Daniel, it was a picture of devastation as one animal devoured the other. This is the difference between man’s view and God’s view. Man sees dominance as power and power is glorious, often wielded without consideration. God looks down and sees nation rise up against nation and watches in sadness as the poor and vulnerable get trampled in the dust.
The outcome of the story is the same in both visions – the kingdoms of men will come to an end when the Son of Man returns. For he who comes in the clouds of heaven:
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.
Our view of the world can very often be distorted because we live in the here and now. We see the poor and vulnerable getting trampled and we see it getting worse. The images we see on our screens can be extremely upsetting. Daniel was deeply upset by his vision but the Lord wanted him to also see the hope.
If there is one thing that can get us through any situation, it’s hope. God had placed Daniel in a hostile environment for a purpose and granted him strength, wisdom and a glimpse at the final chapter of His story. So, when the weight of this world is pulling you down, remember the end of the story. God has placed you as a vessel of hope and he will grant you the strength and wisdom to display that hope within a broken society.
Lord, everyone needs the kind of hope that only you can provide. Let me be your vessel, to show the love of the Saviour and to bring real hope to where there is despair. I need your strength and your guidance for every moment. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.