The ‘one like a Son of Man’ in Daniel chapter 7

Question 211, from Jacob

Hi freelance theology, can you please clarify whether Daniel chapter 7, verse 13 is a reference to the Second Coming or to the Ascension of Christ. If verse 14 is describing a post-Second Coming situation and if Daniel chapter 7, verse 13 is the Ascension, does that not imply a roughly 2000 year gap between verses 13 and 14?

I hope you can make this easier to understand.

Hi Jacob. Thanks for your question. One of the things that tends to happen with Daniel is that it gets interpreted very literally, when it probably should not be. Daniel’s vision of a person he describes as ‘one like a Son of Man’ being received triumphantly in Heaven has been interpreted by Christians to refer to Jesus Christ. The temptation is therefore to make the ‘vision’ fit the known events of Jesus’s life, or in this case, events after his resurrection.

Caution is advisable when interpreting parts of the Bible that are written in the style known as ‘apocalyptic’. It’s important to remember that they were written as messages of hope to people facing oppression. In the case of Daniel, this would be to Jewish people suffering under foreign, pagan rule. (more…)

Lessons from the lives of Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians chapter 2, verses 19-30)

This article is based on a talk at Glenwood Church on 10 May 2015. Listen to the full talk here.

In the early part of Philippians chapter 2, Paul tells the Philippian Christians that they should strive to be the people that God wants them to be. He tells them the following things:

  • “In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.” (verse 5)
  • To obey God and “Keep on working to complete your salvation with fear and trembling” (verse 12)
  • “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” (verse 14)
  • “Offer your lives as a sacrifice in serving God.” (verse 17)
  • “Be happy and full of joy” (verse 18)

He then talks about these Timothy and Epaphroditus immediately afterwards, referencing these key ideas. Paul is holding them up as examples of the kind of people the Christians living in Philippi should try to become. (more…)

When should people stop praying?

Question 210, from May

Since thousands of people have prayed for and are still praying for a conclusion to the Maddy McCann story, can we still hope for an answer from God to end the torture of her parents?

This is a really difficult question because, setting aside the tragic disappearance of Madeleine McCann for a moment, the real question is “When do we stop praying for something and assume the answer is ‘no’.” Possibly the question is even deeper, ‘Does God really listen to prayers and answer them.’ (more…)