Daniel Chapter 7 in the New Testament

SYNOPSIS:  Several phrases from Daniel are employed in the New Testament; in particular, the “Son of Man” and the “little horn that wages war against the saints.”

Four Beasts Ascending from the Sea
The vision of a “Son of Man” figure in the book of Daniel who is to receive dominion occurs several times in the gospel accounts of the New Testament, quite often in descriptions of the return of Jesus (e.g., Matthew 10:2313:4116:27-2824:3025:31Luke 21:27). For example, in Matthew 24:30-31, all the tribes of the earth mourn when “they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
The “Son of Man” is the most common self-designation heard on the lips of Jesus in the four gospels. The source of the term is Daniel 7:13-14, the same passage behind the post-resurrection declaration of Jesus to have authority over all things (Matthew 8:2011:1912:828:18-20).
When the high priest demanded whether he was the Messiah, Jesus responded, “I am he, and you will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In doing so, Jesus combined a phrase from Daniel 7:13 with Psalm 110:1, “Yahweh declared to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool” (Mark 14:62Matthew 26:64Luke 22:69).
In the vision of Daniel, the “Son of Man” approaches God to receive authority to rule the nations. Similarly, in second Psalm, the messiah foreseen exalted to rule over the nations from Yahweh’s throne. In his trial before the high priest, Jesus declared that this prophecy was about to be fulfilled; it was something his executioners would see, presumably, to their dismay (Psalm 110:1, Daniel 7:13).
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul described a future “man of lawlessness” and the related “mystery of lawlessness” that was at work already in his day (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). This force would prevail until a specific event:
Now, you know that which prevails to the end he may be revealed in his season…until he comes out of the midst. Then will be revealed the Lawless One whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the appearance of his arrival.”
Paul drew on language from the seventh chapter of Daniel to paint his picture of this figure. Note the following verbal parallels:
(Daniel 7:8, 21-26) - “I considered the horns and there came up among them another horn, a little one…this horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until that the Ancient of Days arrived and justice was granted to the saints of the Highest, and the season arrived that the saints should possess the kingdom…and words against the Most High will he speak, and the saints of the Highest will he afflict and will presume to change seasons and law, and they will be given into his hand for a season and seasons and the dividing of a season; but Judgment will take its seat, and his dominion will they remove to consume and to destroy unto an end.”
In the Book of Revelation
The image of the “son of man” arriving on clouds appears at the close of the prologue to the book of Revelation:  He is coming with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him…I saw seven golden lamp-stands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man.” Later, one like “a son of man” is seen sitting on a white cloud wearing a golden crown, and with a sharp sickle poised to reap (Revelation 1:7-16, 14:14).
In Daniel’s vision, the “Son of Man” approached the divine throne to receive dominion over “all peoples, nations and tongues.” This lies behind several passages in the book of Revelation that emphasize the universal reign of the Lamb.
Thus, the Lamb is declared worthy precisely because “he purchased for God by his blood men out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation.” John later saw an innumerable multitude coming out of the tribulation comprised of men and women “from every nation, tribe, people and tongue” (Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 5:9, 7:9).
The vision of four beasts ascending from the sea in the seventh chapter of Daniel is employed in Revelation but changed into a single “beast.” This one beast combines the characteristics of all four of Daniel’s beasts. John does not attempt to identify its fourth beast; he provides a portrait of something related but greater than the original vision from Daniel; an amalgamation of all four animal images (Revelation 13:1-5).
The book of Revelation lists the characteristics of the original four beasts in the opposite sequence of their rise from the sea in Daniel. Rather than a lion, bear, leopard, and beast with ten horns ascending from the sea, John saw a single beast with ten horns, a leopard’s appearance, a bear’s feet, and the “mouth of a lion.” This beast also had a “mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.” This last item corresponds to the “little horn” in Daniel (Daniel 7:8Revelation 13:5).
Revelation adds and omits things to Daniel’s beast. For example, there is no mention of “seven heads” on the fourth beast in Daniel. In Revelation, each of the “ten horns” wears a diadem, something not mentioned in Daniel. In Revelation, there is no mention of three of the beast’s ten horns that were removed. The book of Revelation is not concerned with reiterating what Daniel wrote. It uses material from Daniel to draw a fuller and, perhaps, a different picture. Daniel saw four beasts; John saw only one but it combined all the worst features of the original four.
The beast from the sea is seen again in Revelation 17:7-17. It is under the economic sway of “Babylon, the Great Whore”; she rides the beast.  Its seven heads represent seven kingdoms. Five had already “fallen” before John’s time; one existed in his day, and the seventh was to come at a future date.
This is a portrait of a beast that is trans-historical; something that appears periodically throughout history, something that repeatedly ascends from the Abyss to wage war against the saints. Its ten horns represent kings allied with the beast, though in the end, they become God’s unwitting agents and destroy Babylon.
A key passage found several times in the book of Revelation is from Daniel 7:21 - “The horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.” Whatever “saints” may have referred to in the original prophecy from Daniel, in Revelation, they are individuals who have the “testimony of Jesus,” men and women purchased from every nation by the blood of the Lamb. The same phrase from Daniel is applied to Satan’s attacks against the two witnesses, the “seed of the woman,” the “saints” and, in a very ironic fashion, his war with the Lamb (“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them” - Revelation 5:6-127:9-14, 11:7, 12:17, 13:7, 17:14, 19:19)
The theme of malevolent creatures “ascending” from ominous depths to attack the Lamb and his followers appears repeatedly though, in each case, adapted to specific contexts. For example, Revelation’s “two witnesses” are targeted by the “beast that ascends from the abyss” (Revelation 11:7, 13:1, 13:11, 17:8, 20:9).
In the book of Daniel, the “little horn” prevails against the saints until “judgment was given for the saints of the Most-High. Likewise, Satan is bound for a thousand, “thrones” are set up, and “judgment is given for them” that sat upon them, and the “saints possessed the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22, Revelation 20:4).

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