Tag Archives: Kingdom of God

Why Jesus is the “Son of Man”

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear,” (Matthew 13:41-43, ESV). May he or she hear indeed. In these few short verses, multiple descriptions are given: the kingdom of the Father, righteous ones shining like the sun, judgment and hell (weeping, gnashing of teeth, along with the fiery furnace), angels gathering the law-breakers, aka sinners, and of course, the Son of Man. In these few short verses, one finds all the evidence he needs in order to confirm that Jesus’s description of Himself as the “Son of Man” points back to Daniel’s description in the seventh chapter of his book. All the other texts are confirmations that this text’s proof.

In Daniel 7, one will read,

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed, (vv. 13-14, ESV).

The fact that one who is “like a son of man,” stands before the Ancient of Days would indicate that he was even able to stand before Him, thus is holy as He is holy and righteous as He is righteous.

Within the context of the “night visions,” Daniel has visions of bestial kings. The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third was like a leopard, and the fourth was a horrendous monster. Subsequently “In the vision in Daniel 7:9-14 the Ancient of Days judges the earthly powers that have become subhuman, bestial, in their arrogant, self-centered exercise of sovereignty.”[1] “I looked then,” Daniel wrote, “because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire,” (Daniel 7:11, ESV). But it was not only judgment upon the last beast, but all of them, for one sees, “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time,” (v. 12, ESV). While the beasts no longer ruled, their influence and legacy lived on. The Ancient of Days proved himself to be the who “rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will,” (Daniel 4:25, ESV). No longer would a bestial ruler have the kingdom of earth, but instead He calls to Himself “one like a son of man.”

In other words, the kingdoms of the world would be handed to this who was able to stand face to face with the Ancient of Days. Therefore, the kingdom that was the Ancient of Days to give, was given to the Son of Man. With such kingdom came the authority of the Giver.

“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:6-9, ESV)

Often called the “Coronation Psalm,” Psalm 2 identifies the king of Israel as the son of God, but as one finds in Hebrews 1, its fullest application and intent was Jesus who was given authority over heaven and earth (cf. Matthew 28:18). Therefore, like the Ancient of Days who is seen judging the beasts of Daniel 7, so Jesus is judging the earth those who are sinners and law-breakers, the very ones who have been influenced by the legacy of the beasts (though not simply limited to these alone). Like the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man, throws these law-breakers into the fire, giving them over to it. The imagery that Jesus used ought not be lost on the reader as he spoke of the fiery furnace, where not only weeds would be thrown, but rather also resurrecting the story of Azariah, Hananiah, and Mishael being thrown into the fiery furnace where one as the son of the gods (cf. Daniel 3:25) is seen to be with them. Yet this time it is not the tyrant throwing the faithful into a fiery furnace, but the Son of Man, throwing the unfaithful in with no hope or help from the Son of God.

The result would be the rule and reign of the Son of Man with the saints. Those who “shine like the sun,” (Matthew 13:31, ESV), “the people of the saints of the Most High,” (Daniel 7:27, ESV), or as one would read later, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever,” (Daniel 12:3, ESV).

Certainly, Jesus intended His hearers to pick up on the many points that he was making. The imagery from Daniel is undeniable. That being said, one also finds Jesus using the term “Son of Man” throughout His ministry on various occasions. He used it to explain his authority regarding the law (cf. Matthew 12:8), His authority to forgive sins (cf. Matthew 12:32), His authority to rise from the dead (cf. Matthew 12:40), His authority to come and judge the world (cf. Matthew 16:27), and many more times. Nearly every time Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man” it is with the explanation of authority, the authority that is depicted in Daniel 7. As Lucas rightly wrote that Jesus’ reference to himself, “links his claim to bring in the kingdom of God with the completing of God’s purpose in creating the world.”[2]

That being said, Ezekiel used the term “son of man” much more than Daniel ever did. One may thank Tiemeyer for doing the hard work of counting how often. “In the OT this appellation is attested primarily in the book of Ezekiel, where God calls the prophet ‘son of man’ more than ninety times, and where it either emphasizes his humanity or is used instead of a personal pronoun.”[3] Tiemeyer also stated that Jesus’s designation of “the Son of Man” was most likely due to Daniel 7:13 and not to any of Ezekiel’s callings,[4] but at the same time, he made an interesting comment about Ezekiel that does correlate, at least in part, with Christ. In reference to Ezekiel’s being mute, Tiemeyer noted, “It appears as if Ezekiel was actually able to speak, but he could utter only God’s words and only when God chose to open his mouth.”[5] If that is true, and it seems likely, one can see Jesus’s words, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me,” (John 8:28, ESV). While commentators rightly focus on the ego eimi (I am) of the verse, it is interesting to note that the Son of Man did and spoke only as the Father did and taught (cf. John 5:19). Even with this as circumstantial (at best?) evidence of Jesus’ Ezekelian “son of man,” it is virtually undisputed that Jesus received his title from Daniel. Again, Lucas concurs that “There is general agreement that Daniel 7:13 lies behind Jesus’ reference to himself as the Son of Man.”[6]

[1] E. C. Lucas “Daniel, the Book of,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 121.

[2] Ibid., 122.

[3] L. -S. Tiemeyer, “Ezekiel, the Book of,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 224.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 221.

[6] E. C. Lucas, “Daniel, the Book of,” Dictionary of the Old Testament: prophets, 122.

A Book Review

Russell Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has ben embroiled in many a controversy lately.  His stance against President Trump during the primaries got him in a lot of hot water with the big wigs in a few SBC churches.  I remember watching the proceedings of the SBC in St. Louis (I wish I had been there as I only live about half an hour away) and remember Dr. Moore getting questioned about his protecting of the rights for Muslims to build a mosque.  His response was epic!

You know sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through.  And not sure exactly what the final result was going to be.  Sometimes we have had really hard decisions to make.  This isn’t one of those things.  What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody.  And brothers and sisters, when you have a government that says, ‘we can decide whether or not a house of worship can be constructed based upon the theological beliefs of that house of worship,’ then there are going to be Southern Baptist churches in San Francisco and New York and throughout this country who are not going to be able to build.  And the bigger issue, though, is not one of self-interest; the bigger issue is the fact we have been called to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  A government that has the power to outlaw people from assembling together and saying what they believe, that does not turn people into Christians.  That turns people into pretend-Christians and it sends them straight to hell.  The answer to Islam is not government power; the answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new birth that comes from that.

I had vaguely known of Moore, seeing his book Onward on books shelves but bypassing it.  I was familiar with his predecessor Richard Land and was not a huge fan, though not against him either.  He existed and I existed and that was about it.  After hearing Dr. Moore’s quote, I knew I had to get the book.  I started listening to his podcast “Signposts” as well.  I have just finished his book and I must say that I am happy with what I have read.  Dr. Moore articulates well what I have thought but unable to express.  His first chapter, “A Bible Belt No More,” spoke volumes as I grew up in Georgia and met many a “pretend-Christian” in my life.    In his introduction, he wrote: “We cannot build Christian churches on a sub-Christian gospel.  People who don’t want Christianity don’t want almost-Christianity,” (p. 5).

Throughout this book, Russell Moore has a “no holds barred” writing style.  He hits from every angle, and at times one may feel he hit a little below the belt, but all in all he does so in love.  He loves humanity but he loves Christ and the church.  What he writes (and says) must be taken with that truth in context.  I do not believe that this book has any hyperbole.  He does not overstate the issues for dramatic effect, but neither does he downplay the issues as if they have no effect.

The view that is expressed on human dignity was especially helpful. “To deny human dignity…is to kick against Christ himself…  When we care for the vulnerable–the unborn, the aged, the poor, the diseased, the disabled, the abused, the orphaned–such is not ‘charity.’  These are not ‘the disadvantaged,’ at least not in the long run.  These are the sorts of people God delights in exalting as the future rulers of the universe,” (p. 136).  From human-trafficking to race relations to abortion to the death penalty, Dr.Moore makes sound and emphatic arguments for how Christians are to respond.

His chapter on religious liberty goes straight to the heart of what he said at the SBC meeting.  He hits hard on the idea of the pretend-Christian, making the point that the countries in Europe that had state-churches are now so secular that one is scarce to find a Christian.  “A religion that needs state power to enforce obedience to its beliefs is a religion that has lost confidence in the power of its Deity” (p. 145).  He went on to hit us Christians on our persecution complex (though I don’t remember those words in the book).  “Not everything that offends us should offend us, and not everything that offends us is persecution,” (p. 151).  Yes!

Onward is a book that is filled with well-thought arguments and biblical truth.  Many who are in the “old guard” will probably not appreciate it, but I would ask them to humbly read it, if not to convince, at least to help them understand where men and women like Russell Moore are coming from.  The pendulum swung too far to one side over the last 60-70 years, in reaction to its being swung to the other side.  Dr. Moore is presenting a balanced, middle-pendulum approach to living in this secular world.  It is not about “keeping America Christian” but being Christ in America.  The Christian ought to be about the Kingdom of Christ more than America.  “We are Americans best when we are not Americans first,” (p. 160).

His chapter on family was thought-provoking and timely.  However, I do not believe that this chapter will be obsolete any time soon.  The issues of the family and how it relates to the world and to the church are spot on.  “Masculinity and femininity are not aspects of the fallen order to be overcome but are instead part of what God declared from the beginning to be ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31),” (p. 167).    Moore rightly points to the roles of parents and children, the church and the need to use words that mean what we mean and not simply words that the culture uses.  Chastity more than abstinence.  Adultery rather than affair.  He confronts the church (and pastors!) on the old way of just joining two people together whether they should be joined together in marriage.  “Just because we don’t have two grooms or two brides in front of us, that doesn’t mean we’ve been holding to biblical marriage,” (p. 179).

There is so much more to this book than I can possibly write.  Please pick up a copy of Onward as soon as you can.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.  With the exception of a few typographical errors, it is well-written and articulated.  This is probably in my top 10 favorite books of all time (outside of the Bible).

As always, I’d love to read your comments, even if you disagree with me.  They will all be published as long as they are respectful.  If you like the review, please share it.