“One like a Son of Man”

Daniel 7:13, 14

By Dr. Allen P. Ross


13 In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.   14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

This vision follows Daniel’s vision of the four great beasts that came up out of the sea.  These four beasts represent world powers; as beasts they are powerful, insensitive, inhumane, brutish.  And the fact that they come out of the sea indicates that they are Gentile.  These empires correspond to the powers represented by the statue in Daniel 2.  The point here is that they are all terrifying and frightening in their ruthless power and cruelty.

But they will come to an end, for Daniel then saw the scene in heaven in which the Ancient of Days, God the Father, was seated on His throne, and thousands upon thousands attended Him, and the court was set.  At that time the world power was destroyed, the last beast being stripped of his power and thrown to perdition.

And it is at that moment that we have our vision.  There comes into the presence of the Ancient of Days one who is like a Son of Man.  This world ruler is in strongest contrast with the beasts out of the sea.  They were beasts, cruel and inhumane, but He is a Son of Man, human and kind; they were out of the sea, the symbol of chaos and of hell, but He is from heaven, the presence of the Father.  And while their kingdoms had ruthless power in a measure, He will have absolute power and authority.  Their reigns were short lived; but His kingdom will have no end.  And His reign will begin with His coming in clouds.  Clouds in the Old Testament often represent judgment, the presence of God as a consuming fire, giving the Law or coming to exact what the Law demanded.  When Christ comes it will be to judge the world and to establish His universal kingdom of righteousness and peace.  The Gospels tell us that all judgment has been delivered over to the Son.

The description of this coming king as Son of Man shows that He will be identified with the people He will govern.  The reference is a Messianic title, the favorite description Jesus had for Himself.  But it is also a hint at the incarnation.

So this passage gives us another picture of the person of Christ in the Old Testament, demonstrating that the Son existed in heaven long before He came to be born in Bethlehem.  And the kingdom He will receive will have no end.  Moreover, knowing that the Son is divine, we have here a vision of the Father and the Son, with the Father giving the kingdom to the Son.  As Psalm 2 says, the Father will say to the Son, “Ask of me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance.”  Then, as Hebrews 1 says, He will once again bring His Son into the world.

It is interesting that in his trial before Caiaphas Jesus was put under oath to say whether or not he was the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 26:63).  Jesus answered that He was, but then added, “In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  In the context what Jesus was saying to the high priest was that He indeed was the Messiah, the one sent from the Father, and that although they might be judging Him now, the next time they see Him, the Son of Man, He will come on the clouds, meaning, He will be their judge.