Journey Through The Scriptures
Lesson 5: Daniel’s Own Dreams and Visions
(Scripture to Read: Daniel 7:1–8:27)
Beginning with chapter 7 of Daniel, we see a pronounced shift in viewpoint. Up to this point, Daniel has been referred to in the third person, and the text relates mostly historical incidents in his life. But from here on Daniel speaks in the first person, and the subject is not history but visions of the future. Each of these chapters contains a dream or vision given to Daniel that is highly detailed and descriptive—and now Daniel needs divine help to interpret his own visions. They speak of the four great world kingdoms revealed in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2: namely, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Many commentators see in 8:5–9 a description of Alexander the Great, whose kingdom was, indeed, divided among four of his generals after his death.
But perhaps the most important portion in this section of Daniel concerns the “Ancient of Days” and the “son of man” (7:9, 13). The former is clearly a title for God, given His description in verses 9–10 as Judge of all the earth. Jewish commentators agree that the title “son of man” is Israel, although there is a difference of opinion as to the precise identification of this personage. Some see it as simply a personification of the people, while others view this as referring to the Messiah and His coming kingdom. The overwhelming nature of these visions was such that Daniel was ill for several days as he recuperated from this awe-inspiring experience.
- Why did God give Daniel this panoramic sweep of world history in the final centuries BCE?
- Why would Daniel’s readers be encouraged by the vision of the son of man?
- Why was Daniel so disturbed, and even made ill, by these visions?
- Who is the “little horn” in the vision of Daniel 8:23–25?
Something to Think About
Daniel’s modesty and lack of presumption in attempting to interpret these visions serves as a worthy model for us. We do well to approach the Word of God with humility and a willingness to learn, and even be corrected, particularly where such highly symbolic matters as dreams and visions are concerned.