Pentecost 22

Preached: October 20, 2013

The Son of Man Reigns in Victory
Daniel 7:13, 14

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit points us to our King is Daniel 7

I kept watching the vision at night, and behold, One like the son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was brought into his presence. Dominion, honor, and kingship were given to him. All peoples, nations, and languages worshiped him. His dominion is an eternal dominion which will not pass away, and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13, 14).

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

The pep band played loudly. The fans shouted. The team held the trophy high. Victory! How good we feel when our team wins the championship! But no matter how great the victory, it's only temporary. Next year there will be another champion. Even if a team repeats, that only happens for so long. Every dynasty come to an end.

In this night vision, the Lord gave Daniel a glimpse of a different kind of victory — the eternal, everlasting victory. It's a victory for us to celebrate not matter how defeated we may feel at times, and Daniel's dream made it clear there would be some very bad times for God's people on this earth. But no matter what, dear Christians, know and believe that the Son of Man reigns in victory. That's the theme. So worship your Brother, who reigns in forever — part one. And stand firm with your King who reigns over all — part two. For the Son of Man reigns in victory.

A. Worship your Brother, who reigns in forever

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13 NIV84). No doubt, you recognize that name Son of Man. Jesus used it dozens of times to refer to himself.

That name reminds us that he, Jesus, is a human being, like us. He shares our human nature. He's a descendant of Adam, the first man. He is our Brother. When we see him as a newborn lying in a manger, we realize that he's one of us. Jesus, our Brother, kind and good. As we see him in his humble state on this earth, we don't question that he is our Brother, a true human being.

But Daniel's vision does not see Jesus in his lowliness, but in glory, coming on the clouds, standing before the Ancient of Days, and given authority, glory, and sovereign power. He, the Son of Man reigns in victory. He, our Brother, reigns forever. Do you appreciate how astounding that is?

Our logical minds tarnish the astonishment by thinking, “Of course he reigns in victory since he's God.” But he rules forever not only as God but also as man, our Brother. When our minds limit his sovereign power and reigning authority only to his divine nature, we're mentally dividing Jesus, sawing him in half. But he's not two people but one person, the God-man.

In fact, passages like this one confront us with the truth that Jesus, our Brother, a true human being like us, actually reigns forever. First of all, he's called the son of man here, emphasizing his human nature. Secondly, when Daniel writes, “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power” (Daniel 7:14 NIV84), those were given to his human nature. As God he already had all power. Nothing can be added or given to his divine nature. Only his human nature could be given powers it did not innately possess. Jesus makes the same point when he says at the end of Matthew, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18 NIV84). He's assuring us that he, our Brother, the son of man, who shares our human nature — he has all authority, not only as God, who is almighty from all eternity, but also as man, who was given all authority through the personal union of God and man in Jesus.

This man has almighty power. This man reigns forever. We worship this man. It sounds like idolatry, but not when this man is Jesus.

So worship your Brother, dear friends. Worship him by bringing your prayers to him. He can sympathize with you better than any friend can, for he shares our human nature but is not limited in his understanding as friends are limited. He was tempted in every way like we are yet was without sin. He has experienced your struggles. He has shared your burdens. He knows and feels where you're coming from. He knew hunger and homelessness. He knew what it meant to not have a penny to your name. He knew the pressure of work and the demands others can lay on you. He was misunderstood and rejected. He suffered heartache, tears, and lose. He felt the uncaring attitude of family and the betrayal of friends. He experienced pain, ridicule, God-forsakenness, and untimely death. Don't imagine that he can't understand what you're going through.

He is your Brother. Go to him in prayer. For the same Jesus, who shares our humanity, has all glory. He reigns forever. Don't doubt his love or care. Don't doubt his power or might. Keep on worshiping your Brother by bringing your prayers to him. Rely on him for the strength to remain faithful. Go to his Word and Sacraments for the power to follow where he leads. As you eat his body and drink his blood in the Lord's Supper, cherish how your Brother, who shares your flesh and blood, is your Savior. Believe that he has won the victory for you, his brothers and sisters. That's the highest worship we can give our Brother: to believe in the victory he won for us. He reigns forever.

Stand firm in that faith, for your Brother, Jesus Christ, is the King of kings. Stand firm with your King, who reigns over all.

B. Stand firm with your King, who reigns over all

Daniel writes, “All peoples, nations and men 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 7:14 NIV84).

What a contrast this was to what Daniel had already seen! Last Sunday we talked about the four beasts coming out of the sea representing four empires that would rise and fall. Nations come and go, but our King reigns over all forever.

Yet the worst that Daniel saw was not these four beasts, but a boastful horn that grow out of the head of the fourth beast. This boastful horn was unlike the earthly kings who had gone before. Daniel saw this horn “waging war against the saints and defeating them” (Daniel 7:21 NIV84). He was told about this horn: “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws” (Daniel 7:25 NIV84). This boastful horn sounds like the man of lawlessness that the Apostle Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians. “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV84).

You see, dear Christian friends, the worst attacks against the Christian is not the confiscation of property, the lose of rights, rejection by family and friends, imprisonment, or bodily torture and death. I know our worries often center around our family, our friends, our health, our well-being, our stuff, but the loss of those is not the greatest danger we face. The greatest danger we face is words. That's what came out of the mouth of this boastful horn, word that spoke against God's truth while at the same time boastfully claiming to be speaking for God.

To see the danger here, think back to the American Revolution. What name do you remember as most infamous and dangerous to the cause of independence? Is it William Howe the first Commander-in-Chief of the British forces who fought against George Washington? Is it Henry Clinton the next Commander-in-Chief after Howe? Or is it Benedict Arnold? Deceptions and lies that mask themselves as the truth are the greatest danger.

How much more so when those lies come from that boastful horn that has set himself in God's church claiming to speak God's truth as his spokesman here on this earth! How treacherous, like Benedict Arnold! No wonder this boastful horn was seen as defeating the saints until the Ancient of Days came (Daniel 7:21, 22)!

Stand firm. Don’t give ground. The lies of the boastful horn so often appear to win out. He boasts, “Yes, Jesus has died for you. He’s a wonderful Savior. But are you sure that’s enough? There must still be something for you to do to be completely right with God. Obey my rules. Follow my ways, and you will live.” How many millions of church goers haven’t fallen for that deception? Stand firm against the boastful horn and his lies.

For the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, will come on the clouds. He will cut short the time and bring those spiritual lies to an end. Hold on to his unchanging truth. The gospel proclaims to you: “Your sins are completely forgiven. Jesus has taken them all away. He has finished the work and left nothing undone. This is God’s free gift to you, no strings attached.”

What Good News for us to celebrate! Yet when this vision was finished, Daniel wrote that he was troubled by his thoughts and his face turned pale (Daniel 7:28). He had seen that the future held some terrible times for God’s people. No wonder he felt overwhelmed. How can we stand firm, much less celebrate?

We have some advantages Daniel did not have. We’ve seen the beginning of the fulfillment of this vision. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, has come and won his kingdom. Easter proclaims his victory. His ascension proclaims his kingship. He is at God’s right hand “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He reigns over all.

But it's still an invisible victory. We know that it’s real. The Bible promises that it's true. Faith is sure of it. But many others will keep on denying his kingship until the Last Day when Jesus returns on the clouds with his angels. Until then we live in the shadow of the cross. The nations still rage like beasts. The boastful horn and other False teachers still spread their spiritual lies. We dare not expect a life of earthly triumphs. We dare not anticipate an earthly paradise. But we can stand firm and celebrate victory.

For your King bleed and died for you. His blood redeemed you to be one of his own dear people. He reigns over all for you. He is your King. He has risen and ascended and will come again. Daniel saw that all as one future scene. We live in the middle of it awaiting his return in glory.

Like Daniel, we too will feel overwhelmed at times. Then lift up your eyes of faith. See your King reigning over all. Let his promises, brought to you in the Scriptures and the Sacraments, be the music that fills your life with more spirit than any pep band. Through your words and actions, shout out the Good News of his victory. Let others see how much Jesus means to you. Lift high the trophy of his cross. Victory! Eternal victory!

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313