“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. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples 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” (Daniel 7:13-14).
As we read these words from the prophet, Daniel, our thoughts may turn to the words of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).
What are we to say about Daniel’s words? and What are we to say about Jesus’ words?
Did Daniel understand what was being revealed to him?
“I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:15-18).
What are we to say about “the interpretation of these things”?
Reading the words of Jesus leads our thoughts towards our eternal future.
What lies ahead of us?
Both Daniel and Jesus warn us: there will be dark days lying ahead of us. They, also, teach us to look, in faith, beyond all of that to the glorious future God is preparing for his people. He’s preparing us for his eternal kingdom.
We may start wondering about these things, “How near are we to the return of Jesus, our Saviour? How near are we to the coming of God’s everlasting kingdom?”
We need to remember the words of Jesus, “You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).
After reading the words of Daniel and Jesus concerning the eternal future, we may feel that we should turn our attention to the book of Revelation.
What are we to say about the book of Revelation?
Let’s begin with the first thing. It’s “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1).
We must keep our eyes on Jesus. If we do this, we will keep in mind his words: “You do not know when that time will come.”
When we read the book of Revelation, we should remember the words that were given to Daniel concerning “the interpretation of these things.” First, there will be spiritual warfare. Then, there will be the ultimate triumph of God’s eternal kingdom.
Can we go beyond this very general “interpretation of these things”?
We can build on the words of Jesus: he will return “with great power and glory.” This is our faith: Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and he will come again to take us to be where he is” (John 14:1-3).
When we start to “interpret” the book of Revelation, we need to proceed with caution. We must take care that we don’t give the impression that we know more than we really do know.
We should never forget how Daniel reacted to the mysterious visions that were given to him: “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me” (Daniel 7:15).
There is, in Daniel’s response to the mysterious visions, nothing of a know-it-all attitude which says, “This is what this means. This is what that means. This is how this is going to happen. This is when that’s going to happen. This will happen before that. This won’t happen until that’s happened.”
As we read about Daniel’s response to the mysterious visions, we should recognize that we have more questions than we have answers.
What answers do we have?
We may not have all the answers concerning how the book of Daniel is to be related to the book of Revelation, but there is one question that has been answered for us.
“Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:5-6).