ReVision

Daniel

Daniel's vision reaches all the way to us.

A Pattern of Restoration (5)

“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold,
One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then 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
the one
Which shall not be destroyed." 
Daniel 7.13, 14

Captivity

Daniel appears to have been among the first group of those carried away into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. As a youth, he and three friends were selected for service in the Babylonian court, where they would perform a variety of functions for the king.

Daniel would have been familiar with the prophecy of Jeremiah (cf. Dan. 9.1, 2). He would have remembered the prophet’s counsel to those who had been taken into captivity. Jeremiah expected the people of Israel to be the people of God, even in a foreign land, and as captives to a foreign king. He exhorted the people to increase, prosper in all their ways, establish culture and communities, and seek the peace and wellbeing of the people among whom they lived as captives (Jer. 29.1-7). Captivity was no excuse for not being the people of God – a people of God’s Law, wisdom, beauty, goodness, faithfulness, and truth.

Jeremiah expected the people to restore their sense of and experience as a people holy unto the Lord.

Daniel thus applied himself diligently to the task he had undertaken, so that he and his friends excelled beyond all others in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (Dan. 1.17). As a result, the four young men advanced in primacy, service, and opportunity, and bore faithful witness to God all the days of their service.

The story of their diligence in preparing and carrying out their duties, and in being bold and faithful in their witness to the Lord follows the template of restoration we have seen, for example, in Joseph and David. We remember and honor them as examples of how the people of God in every generation should comport themselves before the Lord and men.

But for our purposes, it is the understanding of the coming Kingdom of God, entrusted to Daniel, that projects the work of restoration far into the future, even to our own day.

A coming Kingdom
We learn about this Kingdom as Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2.44, 45). Four great empires would spread out successively from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to what we recognize as the Roman Empire (vv. 36-43). We know these historically to have been the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, the Roman Empire being the last seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

In the time of the Roman Empire, Daniel explained, God Himself would set up on earth an eternal Kingdom, which would be given to a peculiar people, never to be taken away from them. That Kingdom would be of such a nature and such power that it would “break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (v. 44). This Kingdom would not be made by human hands or effort; it would be the work of God, and would destroy, supplant, and replace all other human kingdoms, and last forever.

This is not the first Old Testament witness to the idea of God setting up a great and eternal Kingdom on earth. God had promised Abraham that kings would descend from him, through whom all the earth would be blessed (Gen. 17.1-6). Jacob had prophesied that a great King called Shiloh would descend from Judah, and would gain the obedience of all peoples (Gen. 49.8-11). And God had specifically promised David that this King would descend from his loins, to establish an eternal and glorious realm (cf. Ps. 132). In using Kingdom language, God intended His people to think in familiar terms of what He was promising to do. They would have thought of what David prayed for in Psalm 72, and what Israel actually realized under Solomon in 1 Kings 10. They would have thought in terms of restoration.

And through Nebuchadnezzar, God was reviving that vision to His people, even as they suffered captivity in Babylon.

A Kingdom for God’s saints
In Daniel 7.13-27, Daniel received an even more compelling vision of the coming Kingdom of God. God would bestow His promised Kingdom on “one like the Son of Man” (v. 13) – the reward, clearly, for some great work He had accomplished. The Son of Man, in turn, would bestow the Kingdom on His saints – His chosen, redeemed, saved, and commissioned people (v. 18). Immediately the kings and nations of the earth would try to destroy the people of God, but to no avail. After long years of struggle and conflict, “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (vv. 27, 28).

When Jesus came declaring that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matt. 4.17), Daniel’s visions would have sprung to the minds of those who knew and believed the ancient prophecies. Through Daniel, God outlined a course for all of human history, described in terms of an eternal Kingdom, and thus encompassing and affecting all that we think about as comprising human society and culture. Whereas all the kingdoms of men would fail and falter, each in its own time and place, the Kingdom of the Most High God, in the hands of His holy people, would be established and would prosper, increase, advance, and prevail forever.

This breathtaking scenario has come down to us in our day. As we take up the ministry of reconciliation, which God has given to us, we engage that glorious work of promise which Daniel foresaw, Jesus brought near, and the first Christians received, pursued, and achieved with such glorious success, turning their world upside-down for Jesus.

We have great and precious, mighty and proven promises undergirding our calling to restore the reconciled world. Let us not hesitate to follow where King Jesus leads, as He rides out daily, conquering and to conquer.

For Reflection
1. What is the Kingdom of God? Why does the idea of a kingdom provide a good way of thinking about the work of restoration?

2. How did the first Christians receive and advance the Kingdom of God? What kinds of things did they restore?

3. How should you expect this eternal Kingdom to come in your Personal Mission Field?

Next Steps – Preparation: Pray daily about all the people and activities that are before you, and ask the Lord to help you restore them for His eternal Kingdom.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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