While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.” As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.” Daniel 8:15-17 (NIV).
We all need help understanding complex ideas. Daniel couldn’t understand this deep and disturbing vision, so he asked for help. God answered Daniel’s request through a messenger from the top: Gabriel. The same angel Gabriel who would speak to Zechariah, John’s father, about the pending birth of John. The same angel Gabriel who would tell Mary about the pending birth of Jesus. Gabriel wasn’t just some message boy, and this was no ordinary message. God wanted to attach significance to it, so he sent a significant messenger.
Gabriel addressed Daniel plainly as “son of man.” Note that he didn’t refer to Daniel as “THE Son of Man.” That title is reserved for Christ. Yet here and in other places in the Bible, men are referred to as “son of man.” It makes sense that the angelic messenger would address Daniel in this way because it’s a title. Gabriel and Daniel hadn’t been introduced until the man’s voice – the voice of the pre-incarnate Son of God – performed the introduction.
Then Gabriel explained the visions. They describe times to come, specifically the time of the end of the world. Though the prophecy of the ram and goat and the horn would come true in later empires, and though the abomination that causes desolation would be fulfilled a few hundred years later by Antiochus Epiphanes, Gabriel’s words said the vision described the end times. This is only the beginning of what Gabriel said; we’ll soon learn how he specifically described what was (and is) yet to come.
No wonder it’s hard to understand. Some lessons are like that. I’ll admit it: some of the things in this chapter are disturbing. So I find comfort that Jesus – even before we knew Him as Jesus – steps into an old man’s dreams to offer both intellectual satisfaction and personal comfort. He could have left Daniel vexed and suffering. But, Jesus being Jesus, instead, He reaches out to him and sends a comforter. He does the same for each of us. Thank God that He still sends messengers, teachers, and others to impart His peace to our hearts and minds still. If we choose, each of us can understand that.
For further reading: Ezekiel 1:28, Ezekiel 2:1, Ezekiel 44:4, Habakkuk 2:3, Luke 1:5-66, Revelation 1:17-19, Daniel 8:18
Lord Jesus, thank You for comforting Daniel, and me, and for helping us to understand what these mysterious verses mean.
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