Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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The Son of Man Coming in His Kingdom

April 17th, 2011 · No Comments

In Matthew 16:27 Jesus announces to His disciples that the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then states (16:28) that some of those standing there among His disciples would not taste death until they had seen the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. This reference to Jesus’ second coming is based primarily on the vision of Daniel 7.


The vision of Daniel 7 occurred in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon (553 BC), about 14 years before the kingdom of Babylon fell to Cyrus the Persian in 539 BC. Daniel describes what he saw as “a dream”, but then refers to it as “visions in his mind” and “a vision by night” (7:1-3), ultimately calling it simply “the revelation” (of a mystery; cf 2:27-28) in 7:28. 


God often communicates a knowledge and understanding of His will to men through dreams. Job 33 reveals that God speaks to men through dreams in the night, essentially because they do not listen to Him during their waking hours. He does this because He loves men, and wants to turn them from folly and save their lives from the pit of destruction. Job 33 also reveals that God will also use affliction, if necessary, to bring about such turning from folly and redemption to people’s souls.


God wishes to communicate His will to men so that they may return and submit to Him and be saved. His first choice would always be to speak to us by His Word, by instruction, correction, reproof, and, if necessary, by way of rebuke. If this is not heeded He may speak through dreams, or deal with us by way of affliction. Note: Lamentations 3 makes clear that affliction is not really God’s first choice (as a means of getting through to us), but that He will allow us to be afflicted if necessary to teach us wisdom. Again, God does this to turn us from folly. As is re-iterated several times in Psalm 119: before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy Word. None whom He loves will escape His hand  of discipline if they need it. Scripture makes clear that the Lord will chastise those whom He loves (Revelation 3:19; Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-13; Psalm 94). A series of passages in the book of Proverbs help us to understand God’s way in all of this:


Stern discipline is for the one who forsakes the way; he who hates reproof will die  (Proverbs 15:10). This may be contrasted with Psalm 141:5: “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon my head, do not let me refuse it”. Here is the proper attitude toward reproof …. I desire it, it is grace upon my head, don’t let me refuse it. On the other hand, a man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy (Proverbs 29:1). This warning should bring soberness to all who hear! Submit to God’s reproof and chastisement. It will be life to one’s soul.


Ultimately, let us be diligent hearers and doers of the Word, for “He who pays attention to the Word will find good, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:30).  This is the blessed way (cf. James 1:22-25; Luke 8:18-20). Psalm 81:13-14 states is succinctly: “O that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries”. 


So, God will speak to men personally through dreams. But there are also dreams in which God reveals mysteries about His will and purpose on a broader scale, as here in Daniel 7. Daniel was diligent to write down and convey the summary of what he saw in the dream. We should do likewise, if ever God should give to any of us a dream of this sort. In this kind of dream, one is “in the Spirit”, taken to another dimension to see a vision in the night. It is not unusual for one to be extremely alarmed upon awaking from such a dream, which, as I said, is really a vision in the night, asleep in the natural, but wide awake in that other dimension which is sometimes called being “in the Spirit” (cf. Revelation 1:10).


In his dream, Daniel sees Four Great Beasts coming up out of “the sea” (7:4-8), the sea being symbolic of the nations. It should be noted that the four beasts of Daniel 7 corresponds to the various parts of the great image in Daniel 2 (a dream given to Nebuchadnezzar which Daniel then described and interpreted by the spirit of revelation). The four beasts of Daniel 7 are interpreted as follows:


The Lion = Babylon, the great kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors (605-539BC), corresponding to the head of gold in Daniel 2.


The Bear = the Medes (Isaiah 13:17-22) and the Persians, with the latter predominant (539-332 BC), corresponding to the arms and breast of silver in Daniel 2.  

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