It’s not something he was prepared to talk about (Dan. 7:28). After all, the tables had been turned. He who had, over a lifetime, gained a reputation as a dream-teller was now the one confounded by a dream. He who had become known as the premier vision interpreter now needed someone to interpret visions. Just as others had lost sleep and been disquieted in soul from the night terrors they witnessed, so too Daniel now knew firsthand what it was to be anxious in spirit, greatly alarmed, and to have the color drain from his face because of what he saw as he lay in bed (7:15,28).
And yet, as I hover over Daniel 7 this morning, I wonder at his anxiety when the interpretation of the dream was clear at least about this one thing: the saints win!
“These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever. . . . And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
(Daniel 7:17-18, 27 ESV)
Sounds like good news to me. The Most High, who rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will (Dan. 4:17, 25, 32; 5;21), will one day receive the kingdom for Himself. An eternal kingdom. A kingdom that will never be destroyed. A kingdom where the Most High has dominion forever. A kingdom inhabited by His people. A kingdom for His people.
So why lose sleep? Why the thoughts that greatly alarm? Why the ashen face?
Because of what Daniel was told would transpire between his time and then. Though cloaked in metaphorical imagery, what was clear was that the path between Daniel’s day and the day when the Son of Man rules (7:13-14) would be a hard path. A path of increasing darkness. A path of more determined rebellion. A path of more overt opposition. A hard path for those who would walk it while waiting for the kingdom to come.
And so I chew on what it was for Daniel to anticipate the path and the promise.
Not to diminish the wonder of the promise. Not to waver at the certainty of that day. But to be realistic of what it might require to get there.
We’re not home yet. We’re still pilgrims. Sometimes enjoying the oasis or the mountain top, but other times having to sojourn–or, sometimes if feels like wander through–the desert. Not looking for trouble. Not wanting difficulty. But also not presuming that some of life might not play out as a bad dream.
Yet, traveling the path with the promise in mind. We do win! True statement.
As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
(Daniel 7:21-22 ESV)
The battle needs to be fought. But the war will be won. The kingdom will come. His will will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
Let us “keep these matters in our hearts” (7:28). Real about the way. Ready for His return. Walking the path in light of the promise.
By His grace. For His glory.