Lessons from “a Son of Man”
by Lynn "lynnibug" Rios on August 18th, 2013
I recently read a commentary on Daniel’s Dream of the Four Beasts (Daniel 7:1-28) and was awestruck at the way the author described verse 13 as Daniel witnessing Christ being glorified by God in the presence of the heavenly multitude, five hundred and fifty some odd years before the sojourn of Jesus on the earth. It was a beautiful and powerful picture that brought forth feelings of love and worship for our Saviour, yet something was troubling me and I could not put my finger on it. For several days it was like an itch I could not scratch, so I hit the books to get to the Truth, after praying for God to enlighten me.
My study began with some research on the phrase “son of man” which was central to the basis of the commentary I had read. Far different from the phrase “son of man” used in other Old Testament passages, which would simply mean human, the Aramaic designation Bar ‘ěnoš used in Daniel 7:13 is a Semitic expression denoting a single member of humanity, a certain human being, hence “someone.” According to Rev. Dr. Eugen J. Pentiuc, “the Aramaic phrase bar ‘ěnoš may connote more than a mere human being.” Based on this definition, many scholars have concluded that what Daniel witnessed in verses 13 & 14, as “one like the son of man” appears before the Ancient of Days and receives everlasting dominion and glory, was a clear reference to Jesus, the Messiah, however, Dr Pentiuc goes on to say, “It may define a human being in its defining characteristics vis-à-vis God, namely, weakness and mortality. Thus I would suggest rendering the phrase bar ‘ěnoš as “son of weakness” or “the weak one.” This semantic detail, absent in the New Testament Greek claque, huios (tou) anthrōpou “son of man,” may help one better understand Jesus’ references to himself as the humblest human being who came “to seek and save the lost one” (Luke 19:10) and whose eternal glory, temporarily overshadowed by incarnation, will be fully and publicly revealed at the end of time (Matthew16:27).” I would have to agree from the context in the Gospels, that when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of man, he is coming from a place of humility rather than exaltation.
In the interpretation of Daniel’s dream that begins with verse 15, just as the beasts are identified as kingdoms, rather than an individual person, the personage of this bar ‘ěnoš is identified as “the holy people of the Most High.” If my bible clearly identifies “one like the son of man” as “the holy people of the Most High”, I cannot accept that this is meant to mean a single person or deity. Add to that, in ancient Jewish literature, Enoch and Ezra both refer to the Messiah as the Son of God, but not son of man. Jewish scholars identify Israel as the subject of Daniel 7:13, while Christian theologians not locked into the Christ definition might just say it is the Church. I can accept verse 13 as a prophetic foreshadowing of the coming of Christ, but not necessarily as the event of His ascension from this perspective.
So what is the Truth? I can get totally caught up in imagining Jesus ascending straight from this earth to the throne room of God where He is exalted and honored for having successfully completed His mission, and Daniel, like a fly on the wall, receives the very special honor of witnessing the event! It gives me goose bumps just to imagine the scene again, and frankly, if I was in charge, I would choose that as the correct interpretation just because it gives me the warm fuzzy feeling, BUT thankfully, I am not in charge of anything, and God is. With that in mind, I have to go back to the scripture again and again, and sometimes settle for being OK with not getting a definitive answer to the question I started out asking. Sometimes we just have to sit back and wait for God to reveal Himself, and the lesson that He has for us in the moment.
There was a lesson for me in this study. I was reminded yet again that it is not wise to take any biblical commentary at face value and believe it, even if it makes you feel really, really good. In the same way, we can’t just believe any TV preacher with a great gospel choir, or even our own pastors and church leaders without measuring every concept against what the Holy Word says. God expects each of us to find Him for ourselves, and engage Him in a personal relationship – one on One, and that only comes with investing time into getting to know Him from His Word.
Blessings & Adventure,
Lynn “lynnibug” Rios
Tags: knowledge, pearls of wisdom, spiritual growth, who do you belong to?
My Personal Journey, Wisdom Journeys