Daniel’s Vision of the ‘Son of Man’
“As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened….Daniel 7:9-10
13 “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. 14 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
Talk about Super hero-like powers! The ‘Son of Man’ would come through the air like Superman, approaching G-d Himself. Then everyone on the planet would worship him. Who would dare to put upon himself such a mantle? No one in all history has ever claimed to be this ‘Son of Man’ that Daniel foresaw. Except one person! And the manner in which Yeshua claimed this title, right in the middle of his trial for life, puts forward an ironic paradox.
vs. ‘Son of Man’ at Yeshua’s Trial
The Brit Chadasha uses several titles in referring to Yeshua. The most prominent is ‘Christ’/’Messiah’, but it also uses ‘Son of God‘ and ‘Lamb of God‘ regularly. However, Yeshua often referred to himself as ‘Son of Man’. It is in his trial that the irony of his use of ‘Son of Man’ really stands out. We explore this here.
A few are somewhat familiar with the trial of Yeshua. Perhaps they have seen the trial depicted in a film or read it in one of the gospel accounts. Yet the trial that the Gospels record brings forth profound paradoxes. It forms part of the events of Day 6 in Passion Week, occurring on Passover. Luke records the details of the trial for us.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ”, they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”
Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”Luke 22: 66-71
Notice how Yeshua does not answer their question as to whether he was the ‘Christ’. Instead, he answers by referring to himself as the ‘Son of Man’. But his accusers don’t seem puzzled by that abrupt change. For some reason they understand him even though he does not answer if he was the Christ.
Why? Because ‘Son of Man’ is synonymous with ‘Christ’.
Now reflect on the irony of Yeshua at his trial. There he stood, a peasant carpenter living in the backwater of the Roman Empire. He had a ragtag following of lowly fishermen. At his recent arrest, they had just deserted him in terror. Now he is on trial for his life. By calling himself the Son of Man he calmly claimed before the chief priests and other accusers to be that person in Daniel’s vision.
But Daniel described the Son of Man as ‘coming on the clouds of heaven’. Daniel foresaw the Son of Man taking worldwide authority and establishing a never-ending kingdom. That could not be more different from the actual situation that Yeshua found himself in at his trial. It would seem almost ludicrous to bring up that title with him being in that situation.
What was Luke thinking?
Yeshua is not the only one behaving strangely. Luke (who records this detail of his trial) does not shy away from recording this claim and putting it on record. However, when he did so (early 60s first century CE) the prospects for Yeshua and his fledgling movement seemed laughable. His movement was ridiculed by the elite, disdained by most Jews, and ruthlessly persecuted by the insane Roman Emperor Nero. Nero had the Apostle Peter crucified upside-down and the rabbi Paul beheaded. It should seem beyond sane reason that Luke would keep that fantastic reference in the mouth of Yeshua. By writing it down he made it public for all their detractors to scoff at. But Luke was confident that Yeshua of Nazareth was this same Son of Man from Daniel’s vision. So, against all odds, he records Yeshua’s irrational (if it were not true) exchange with his accusers.
‘Son of Man’ – being fulfilled in our time
Now consider this. Only after Yeshua gave his reply, and centuries after Luke put it on record, have some significant parts of the Daniel Son of Man vision been fulfilled by him. Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man stated that:
“all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him”.Daniel 7:14
That was not true of Yeshua two thousand years ago. But look around today. People from every nation and practically all of the thousands of languages do worship him today. This includes former animists from the Amazon to Papua New Guinea, the jungles of India to Cambodia. From East to West and North to South people worship him now on a global scale. For no one else in all of recorded history is this even remotely plausible. One may dismiss this with a ‘yes well that is due to the spread of Christianity’. Sure, hindsight is 20-20. But Luke had no human way of knowing how things would unfold in the centuries after he recorded his account.
And so that detail of Daniel’s prophecy is fulfilled by Yeshua. And there is no other candidate in all history that can approach this claim. The Prophet Muhammad may have over a billion followers today but none of them ‘worship’ him. Yeshua is the only person of history that is worshiped today on a global scale amongst all the ‘peoples, nations, and men of every language’. That should make us pause to reflect.
How could the Son of Man get worship
Worship, to be real worship, can only be given by a free will, not under coercion or by bribery. Suppose Yeshua was the Son of Man with the powers of Heaven at his command. Then he would have had the might 2000 years ago to rule by force. But by force alone he would never have been able to get true worship out of people. To ‘worship’ people must be freely won over, like a maiden by her lover.