By Elizabeth Prata
This essay first appeared on The End Time in April 2010
The Hebrews use the term “Ancient of Days” for God so as not to accidentally say His name and blaspheme. Ancient of Days is a poetic sounding name, and a lovely one. It is also comforting. It rings with authority and by its own name has a timeline that precedes us mere humans and will outlast this earth and the Church Age. It is and was and forever will be, since ancient times. He and His throne IS the Ancient of Days!
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2]
Daniel is a difficult book to interpret prophetically, but, then again, maybe not so difficult when you remember “scripture interprets scripture.” In 2 Peter 1:20 Peter wrote: But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, He was not saying that we would not understand it. Nor is he saying that we should not try to interpret it. He was saying that the interpretations are given to us, that they are contained in the Bible.
Let’s take a look at the following from Daniel 7:15-27–
As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.
Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates.
I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.
Thus he said: The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.
When Daniel was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through his mind disturbed him, he approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all that he’d been told.
“So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things:” The student of Bible interpretation is given a gift here, because the interpretation of the verses was placed within the same chapter and only a few verses away, not far apart like in Revelation and Isaiah, for example.
—-end Daniel verses
What a blessing, that the prophet Daniel could approach the one giving the prophecy and ask for its interpretation! We can do the same, ask the Spirit to interpret the verses to us, illuminating them to our mind.
Then a few verses later we see another blessing as Daniel asks for the meaning of the fourth beast and of the horns. The vision is one of torment and anguish and war and usurpation and all sorts of chaos, but in the midst of the interpretation we receive blessing because suddenly there is order. Not order on earth, but we read of order in the heavens:
“until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” [Daniel 7:22]
Ahh, blessed order! The Ancient of Days came! And judgment was passed. In this word judgment from the Aramaic it is not judgment as in wrath and discipline, but the word ‘din‘ as in courts. And the time arrived. You see that nothing is being done in knee-jerk response to the chaos. Nothing is reflexive, judgment is appointed to occur in due course. Indeed, in verse 26 our eyes turn from the chaos on earth yet again and seeing the court come to order. Every few lines in this passage in Daniel, we flip from earth to heaven and the chaos on earth back to heaven. This is a gift to us, the reader, for before we get too upset at the chaos that must come, we are given a picture of the orderliness.
But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.
And finally in verse 27b, His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.
From the beginning of the terrible sights that are revealed to us through Daniel’s vision, we are given knowledge of the interpretation, assurance and reminder, judgment which bespeaks of a legal solidity, a seated court who carries out the judgment in a weighty and time-appointed process, and the final blessing that it shall be so forever.
What the Bible is saying to us in this passage is that:
- Scripture interprets scripture (all truth is contained in its covers, no need to guess, and it’s available to everyone)
- Interpretations will be given if you ask (and you should ask)
- The Ancient of Days is ancient and is in control from before Genesis 1:1 and will be forever
- He does things in an orderly way through legal and weighty means in His timing and rendered through heavenly judgments and court-like atmospheres (Or actual courts in heaven),
- No matter what the chaos is on earth you can always look up to find the peace and orderliness of His control from on high. Look to His word for peace and in prayer for refreshment and calm.
What a wonderful God we serve! What a wonderful Word He has given us!