The other day, I was reading an article about what's currently taking place in Venezuela. Their government and economy has been collapsing. There's a lot of unrest and disorder. People are very low on food. The article mentioned a man who had been a little over 300 lbs., but now, due to the scarce availability of food, his weight had dropped to around 130 lbs. As this crisis continues to drag on, people are fleeing the country. Neighboring nations have started to enact policies on how best to handle this large influx of immigrants who are trying to escape Venezuela while the country appears to be collapsing.
Throughout human history, you can see many examples of leaders and nations that rose to power, but later collapsed. Some nations managed to last a long time. Some didn't. During the 1930's and 1940's, Hitler himself used to promise the German people that he was forming a government that would last 1,000 years, but we all see how that worked out.
Deep down, I believe there's a longing within all of us to be part of something bigger. We want to be part of a strong kingdom with righteous leadership, but even the best historical examples can only give us a partial taste of what that looks like. We will only experience that in its fullness when Jesus rules and reigns on this earth in His righteousness. This Scripture tells us that He leads the kingdom that will never be destroyed.
1. Jesus came to this earth as the Son of Man
Daniel was a fascinating man and a prophet whom the Lord used for quite a few decades. He was consulted by and trusted by multiple kings throughout the course of his life. He's also somewhat unique in Scripture in that we're usually shown information about the failings of prominent people in biblical narratives, but that's not information we're told about Daniel. Daniel happens to be one of my favorite examples of men who listened to God's voice and walked in close fellowship with the Lord, and for that reason, my wife and I chose to name our son Daniel.
The Lord revealed many things to Daniel and allowed him to glimpse and reveal to us future events in world history. In this book, Daniel spoke of Jesus Christ, His kingdom, His incarnation, and the fact that Jesus was cut off or killed, over 500 years before it took place. But Daniel could also see that the death of the Messiah Jesus Christ wasn't permanent in nature because He would come to eventually lead a kingdom that would never end.
In the vision that's described in this passage, Daniel is shown Jesus Christ coming before God the Father who is referred to as the "Ancient of Days." Jesus is spoken of as a "son of man." Interestingly, throughout the gospels, Jesus intentionally made use of that phrase as a name for Himself. It's a messianic title and those who were familiar with Daniel's prophesy during the course of Jesus' earth ministry could have understood that Jesus was indicating that He was the Messiah when He spoke of Himself with this phrase.
It's also a phrase that shows the humanity of Jesus. This is the aspect of who Jesus is that we tend to think about quite a lot during this time of year. We see images of Christ as an infant in a manger. Even though He has always existed, we speak of our Lord's birth because in that moment, we see our Creator taking on flesh and walking among those He had created. And why did the eternal Son of God take on flesh and walk among us as the Son of Man?
There are two aspects of Christ's ministry that people talk about most and at least two that they regularly forget to mention. We regularly speak of Christ's birth and crucifixion. We don't speak enough about His earthly life or His resurrection. All have significance. Jesus took on flesh in order to live the perfect life on this earth, which was something we could not do. He kept and fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Testament Law. When He died for us, He did so after having completed this task on our behalf. Jesus lived His days on this earth in humble obedience to the will of the Father and He invites us to trust in Him and do the same.
So what does that look like for us? What does it look like to walk in the steps of the Son of Man? What does it look like to welcome His redemptive presence in our lives?
- We can approach every day with faith that we are under the Lord's watchful care.
- We can attempt to identify with the struggles and sorrows of others.
- We can show grace and favor to others regardless of whether we think it's deserved.
- We can humble ourselves and be willing to associate with all people.
- We can mirror His sacrificial spirit and give without care for what we receive in return.
- We can show compassion because we understand what it means to receive it.
Just the other day I heard of an act of compassion that warmed my heart because it reflected Christ's sacrificial humility as the Son of Man. Craig Wells, a resident of the U.K., shared this online... "Today I was ... having a nice meal with the family when I was drawn to Mark walking along the street without any shoes on and his toes hanging out of his socks. Immediately, I ran outside to catch him. He mentioned how he didn't have any shoes and that he would love a pair. I asked what size he was and he was exactly the same size as me (coincidence..I think not) . So I took my shoes (my favourite trainers) off and gave them to him. He then started to cry and gave me the biggest hug - saying how nobody has ever been so kind. He then went around the corner out of sight and put the trainers on and re emerged still crying. As we left the restaurant he was outside. We hugged again, made sure he had shelter for the night, told him he is loved, and that we will be thinking and praying for him. We got emotional and parted ways. I then proceeded to walk around Nottingham with just my socks on until I could replace them..". Craig Wells also acknowledged that he did this with gratitude for the ways in which Christ has blessed him.
Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth as the Son of Man to rescue and redeem mankind, and He invites us to walk as He walked.
2. All nations will serve Him
When we look at this chapter of Scripture, we're given two equally important glimpses of Jesus. He's shown as one who is willing to associate with humanity as the Son of Man, but He's also spoken of as one with great glory and power.
This passage speaks of Christ's kingdom and it tells us that all kinds of people would come and serve Him. Christ came to this earth the first time in humility and meekness, but promises to return in power and glory.
I think it's fascinating to consider the fact that all people, nations, and languages will be present in Christ's kingdom. This is just like He promised and precisely what He encouraged His followers to prioritize. His gospel has been intentionally shared, person to person, all throughout this world to people of all kinds of backgrounds, languages, and nationalities. Parents have made Christ's gospel known to their children. Friends and colleagues have learned it from each other. The apostles and other missionaries have risked their safety and the comforts of this earthly life to travel to distant places to make the good news known. As a result, there will be people of every background joyfully present and joyfully serving Christ in His eternal kingdom.
Have you ever taken the time to learn how His gospel made it's way to you? I don't know the whole chain, but I know a few of the links. Prior to moving to Guatemala to serve as a missionary, a young woman named Grace was teaching Sunday School at a church in Massachusetts. She shared the gospel with her class. One of the girls in that class shared the gospel with her parents. Her parents began attending that church and her father became convinced he was being called into pastoral ministry. He answered the call to pastor a church in Northeast Pennsylvania. My family was invited to attend that church and the congregation that pastor led paid for me to attend Christian summer camp. While at that camp, I understood the gospel and trusted in Christ. This is the kind of work, person to person, that the Lord is accomplishing all throughout this world with the intent that people of all nations receive Him.
3. His kingdom will remain forever
In contrast to the kingdoms of this world that come and go with the generations, this Scripture speaks of Christ's kingdom as one that shall never pass away and never be destroyed. There are many ways, I suppose, that we can react to that information, but the kind of images it brings to my mind are pictures of victory, security, infinite power, and true justice. During this season of history, it can be tempting to lose hope because of the rampant nature of sin and pain that we are continually forced to witness in this world. But this glimpse of the future, with Christ at the helm, bolsters the nature of our confident hope in him.
There have been challenges to Christ's kingdom, even from the earliest days of His earthly ministry.
Herod was fiercely jealous of the thought that Jesus was considered by some as the King of the Jews and took the lives of many children in an attempt to exterminate this perceived threat to his rule. But Herod did not, and could not succeed in his effort to snuff out Christ the King.
The challenge for us now is to live as those who are grateful for the privilege of being part of Christ's kingdom. Scripture actually reveals to us that He will grant those who trust in Him now, the privilege to reign with Him in His kingdom.
Before we reign with Him, we have the privilege to learn what it's like to be subject to Him. We can allow Him to call the shots in our lives or we can try to exterminate Him from our thinking, much like Herod attempted to do.
Daniel's prophesy reveals to us that Christ has a kingdom that will not be destroyed. Though He first came to this earth in humility, the day will eventually come when all nations will serve Him. Those who trust in Him now can rest in the security of being a welcomed part of His eternal kingdom forever.
© John Stange, 2018