11 Ways to Preach the Gospel from the Book of Daniel (Part II: Daniel 7-12)

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Every book of the Bible invites us to use different stories, language, themes, and metaphors to describe the good news of what God has done in Jesus. If you’re a youth pastor or leading a group through the Book of Daniel, here are five ways to talk about Jesus in Daniel’s visions in chapters 7-12.

Please see also Six Reasons Teenagers Need the Book of Daniel

THE CLOUD RIDER

In Daniel 7 the world’s kings are described as four mutant animals who crush the people of God under their feet. Meanwhile, beings like humans sit in the clouds. A wise, white-haired Judge sits on his throne and is approached by a “son of man” riding with the clouds (Dan. 7:9, 13). It’s a vision of God on his throne ruling over the monsters of the earth (Dan. 7:10). But the “son of man on the clouds” is also an image of God. 

Throughout the Old Testament, only God comes with the clouds. In the Exodus story, God was the protective cloud for Israel as she fled Egypt (Exodus 13:21). The psalmist, reflecting on that story, calls Israel to worship the God who “makes the clouds his chariot” (Psalm 104:3). Only God is ever described as riding the clouds.

Jesus interprets this vision for us. While on trial, Jesus quotes from Daniel 7 and says: “I am… the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). Jesus is the Cloud-Rider of Daniel 7! And Jesus is the one to whom God delegates authority to rule the world by doing battle with the beasts.

THE ONE CRUSHED BY THE BEASTS

God’s people are crushed by the beasts in Daniel’s dream. But an angel reveals that one day they rise from the carnage and rule over God’s kingdom forever and ever (Dan. 7:18, 27). What’s odd about this interpretation is the only person who “rises” is the enigmatic cloud-riding “son of man” which can also be translated as “human.” The angel seems to understand that the cloud-rider “Son of Man” represents all sons and daughters of men who, when crushed and risen, will cause all others to rise with him. 

This is exactly what happens in Jesus, who is both God and the Son of Man. He represents all humanity, as a new Adam (Luke 3:38). Jesus is crushed by the beastly Roman Empire but rises from his grave to take his seat at the right hand of the Ancient of Days (Matt. 24:30). And Jesus promises whoever remains faithful during the reign of the beasts will reign and be seated with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). That means one day all of us who are faithful to the Son of Man will be among the thousands upon thousands of holy ones serving and ruling with God around his throne (Dan. 7:10). 

70 WEEKS UNTIL A NEW COVENANT

In Daniel 8, Daniel spends a prolonged period of time in prayer, fasting, and reading the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah prophesied that Israel’s forgetfulness towards God’s law would lead to a 70-year captivity in Babylon (Dan. 9:2 Jer. 25:11). Jeremiah also prophesied that after exile God would make a new covenant with his people where God’s law would be etched onto their hearts, never to be forgotten again (Jer. 31).

Daniel realizes that 70 years is over and repents on behalf of Israel with the expectation that God will rescue them (Dan. 9:18-19). But in response, an angel explains that Israel’s sins are so great that the 70 years will be extended to 70 “weeks” or 70 years time seven. Only then will Israel’s sins be forgiven and the exile complete (Dan. 9:24, 27). Only then will a new covenant come.

The next time 70 sevens is mentioned in Scripture is when Jesus tells Peter to forgive those who’ve sinned against him 70 times seven times (Matt. 18:22). And at his last meal with his disciples Jesus said he was beginning a new covenant (Luke 22:20). Jesus is the one who brings an end to Israel’s exile because he is the one who forgives Israel’s sins. In Jesus the accumulated weight of 70 times seven years of sin is finally repaid with forgiveness 70 times seven times. Jesus’ exile in the grave truly completes Israel’s exile. And now God’s people are finally forgiven and given life forever. 

A METAL MAN

In Daniel 10 we are given an image of a terrifying metal man ( covered in gold,bronze, and jewels Dan. 10:4-6) that reminds us of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2). Nebuchadnezzar’s statue was supposed to prove his universal sovereignty. And this metal man proves that the only universal sovereign is God. In chapter 11 the metal man launches into an exhaustive prophecy detailing the next centuries of conflicts leading to the downfall of Greece (if not farther). It is so disturbingly accurate that almost no scholar debates what it references up to the last verses. Instead they argue about whether it was written before or after the fact. This metal man presumes to control the spiritual powers behind the great nations of Persia and Greece (Dan. 10:20).

Apocalyptic literature was designed to prove the supremacy of one nation’s gods over another. And what’s remarkable about Daniel is that it breaks the genre. Daniel doesn’t simply claim that God can beat the other gods in combat, he claims that God controls all the pieces on the chess board! The God of Daniel is an International Deity and none can withstand his will. 

This metal man of Daniel’s vision is Jesus. He is the universal sovereign of both political and spiritual powers. They come and go at his command (Matt. 8:9). He knows history before it happens. And under his rule you are never in God’s blindspot. 

NOT A WHEN, BUT A WHO

In the final chapters of the book, Daniel has multiple visions about what’s to come. Like Daniel, we want a specific timeline telling us when we will stop suffering, when evil kings will get their due, and when God will finally rescue his people. In reality, we don’t need to know “when,” but “who.” 

In fact, those are the last words of the book of Daniel. Daniel is to rest from his questioning and worry because God will bring Israel into her promised national inheritance (Dan. 12:13). God himself will end her exile, he will forgive her sins, and he will inaugurate a new Kingdom of justice and resurrection in himself. 

That “who” is Jesus. Jesus is the one who brings an end to Israel’s spiritual exile because he is the one who forgives Israel’s sins. In Jesus the accumulated weight of Israel’s sin is finally repaid by his cross. And just as Daniel had hoped, Jesus’ forgiveness begins a new Kingdom of resurrection life for all God’s people. Jesus’ exile in the grave completes Israel’s exile among the nations. And now Jesus is preparing a new home for those who belong to the people of God. God’s Kingdom finally reigns above all the empires of the world. God’s people are finally forgiven and given life forever. 

There are as many ways to worship Jesus in Daniel as there are facets of a diamond. I hope this article begins a long journey of seeing and enjoying all the ways the Bible reveals the goodness of good news of Jesus. Please be sure to look on the blog for part one of this article, which covers preaching through Daniel 1-6. 

 

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