Sunday: The Vision and the Judgment

“A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10).

Image © Lars Justinen from

Image © Lars Justinen from

Read Daniel 7:1–14. What is happening here?

After Daniel sees the four beasts, he observed another horn coming up among the horns of the fourth beast. This “little horn” became the main enemy of God and His saints. Then, suddenly, Daniel’s attention turned from the dark earth to a bright judgment scene in the heavenly throne room (Dan. 7:9–14).

The judgment scene is the pivot of the entire vision and involves two key figures, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. Angels also are there, witnesses to the judgment. The scene unfolds in three steps: first is the court scene (vss. 9, 10), then the outcome of the judgment on the beastly powers on earth (vss. 11, 12), and finally the transfer of dominion and kingdom to the Son of Man (vss. 13, 14). God the Father is portrayed as the majestic Ancient of Days, the wise and sage judge par excellence. “The Son of Man” represents humanity, Jesus Himself, in the heavenly court. Jesus used this title many times to refer to Himself, and at least twice He clearly evoked the images of Daniel 7 (Matt. 24:30, 26:64).

The Day of Atonement functions as the most natural typological setting for this heavenly temple scene. In fact, it is portrayed as if the heavenly High Priest comes, surrounded by clouds of incense, to the Ancient of Days. In Daniel 7:10, the “books were opened.” Books play a major role in the heavenly judgment. There are several books of heavenly origin known in the Bible: the “book of life” (Ps. 69:28, Phil. 4:3, Rev. 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, NASB), the “book of remembrance” (Mal. 3:16), the books of “deeds” (Rev. 20:12), and God’s “book” (Exod. 32:32-33; Ps. 56:8).

Imagine being judged by God (you will be). Imagine everything you have ever done being judged (it will be). If you have to stand on your record, your own deeds, your own good works, what hope do you have? What, then, is your only hope in judgment?

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