Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1999
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Appendix B: Jesus’ Usage of the Terms “Son of God” and “Son of Man”
Lesson 129 – Son of God and Son of Man – Daniel 7
14 Oct 1999
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
I want to get you used to some of these more practical verses that use some of the principles and doctrines that we’ve taught. I want to review three promises; I want to direct your attention to each of these three promises in the Scripture. These are things that we really should memorize [can’t understand words] there’s a rational behind them. I want to spend just a few minutes pointing out these three verses, pointing out where they challenge the flesh, because all of us have a depraved fallen flesh that wants to go its own independent way, and you get in trouble, and we have to learn to rule and to have dominion over our flesh. The fallen nature needs to be ruled and the life of Christ is supposed to do that, but He uses means.
One of the means is learning some verses, verses that can be quickly recalled in an emergency. But I want to show that these verses, while if we memorize them they will come to mind, the Holy Spirit will bring them to our minds often times in the middle of a crisis, and for a few minutes those verses can stabilize us. The problem is that we tend to just go on and ten minutes later we’re doing the same thing all over again. What we want to do is let the verse circulate in our hearts and then when we’re conscious of these verses to think through the theological background, the truths behind those verses.
I want to demonstrate that so turn to Hebrews 11:3, a verse that people have known for years. In memorizing or committing some of these verses to memory, if you’ve never done this before, my experience is you’d probably best do it in one of two ways. One is settle on a translation that’s comfortable to you and get used to that translation. When I was a new Christian the people that led me to the Lord got me into the King James Version and I memorize much easier in the King James than I do in any modern translation. There’s a syntactical reason for that, the King James has syntax that has a rhythm to it that the modern English translations don’t. But use whatever the translation is that you like. The second thing you might want to do is if you capture the thought of the verse, put it in your own words. There’s nothing wrong with putting verses in your own words. The apostles did that all the time. Many of the quotes that the apostles put in the New Testament are not exactly verbal quotes out of the Old Testament; they are kind of re-workings sometimes. It’s clear that that’s the way they did, they just knew the truths in those verses and that’s how they remembered them.
In Hebrews 11:3 it says in the translation I’m using, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Then the rest of chapter 11 goes into what faith is all about. But verse 3 is a very, very important focus, spotlight, on something, because all the references that follow verse 3 don’t follow properly if the truth of verse 3 is incorrect. Verse 3 cuts completely across the natural man. I’ve used this diagram before, but the natural man wants to do this. That’s a picture of the spirit of the flesh: I want it MY way, and I’m going to do it my way and I really don’t want God interfering with it, after I do it then I’ll invite Him on in to join me. But this is the spirit of autonomy. When we have that kind of mentality it works its way out in different ways.
We’ve looked at this diagram. This is what’s going on in our minds; this is sort of a diagram of unbelief, it’s sort of an analysis of what unbelief does. We have summarized it, and this goes for any little crisis in the day, any little problem, this is not just some philosophic abstraction here. The definition of the flesh, or what the pagan mind thinks like is we try to think like God independently of God; two completely impossible things to do. Trying to think like God—what do we mean “trying to think like God?” If we don’t make the Word of God our authority we have to substitute something else for it. You say, “Oh, no, I don’t!” Yes, you do! If you have any kind of thought process you’ve got an absolute. Even the person that says everything is relative, that’s an absolute statement. Every time you say “that’s wrong,” an absolute statement. Well, “I don’t believe in that, that’s right,” an absolute statement. “This is…,” an absolute statement; so you are making absolute statements all along. Either you’re making them consciously following out submission to the authority of Scripture, or you’re making absolute statements consciously following the spirit of autonomy and doing it ourselves. That’s what we mean. If we don’t go with the Word of God, then we wind up inventing surrogate truth, and this has a number of features which we’ll get into later.
But the thing to remember is were always trying to deal with finite experience and trying to generalize on the basis of our little finite experience in time. And we’re making these grandiose pronouncements about what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s true and what’s false and out data base is so small. Even if you lived to an hundred and twenty, your data base is still small compared to the need to support these kinds of statements. What we want to do as Christians is replace that line of thinking with dependent thinking, thinking that is dependent on the authority of Scripture, and consciously remembers that God has thought things through first. So we define biblical thinking, or spiritual thinking as we “think God’s thoughts after Him,” meaning He thought about it first. So we’re thinking about things that He’s already thought about. We’re not pioneering anything here; we’re followers, we’re not pioneers. We’re not ahead of God, we’re not alongside of God, we’re following after God, after He has created, after He has thought the plan of history, then we come along and we reflect upon what He’s already done.
That’s the proper way of viewing this whole thing. God’s pre-existing thought, language and meaning leads to a derivative sense of thought-word meaning. You cannot have thought, language and meaning of any substance whatsoever if God wasn’t there first to establish that meaning, thought and language. The result of this kind of thinking is that we enjoy a faith-rest in the Word of God. That’s where we come to what we call cognitive rest. There are no more explanations. That’s what we mean by resting. There is no more authority that proves this? No-no, this is the authority that proves everything else. That’s why it’s a faith-rest. Emotion ceases here, we trust in Him and what He has said.
These verses are practical ways of illustrating this and I showed this slide last time. Look at the right side of that graph. Life has a lot of puzzles, pieces. Each one of those pieces we can reason together and it seems to fit, the color, size, etc. This makes sense, this piece. The problem is that this piece, we can’t see how it fits that piece, what God’s doing in our life, we can’t figure out what God’s doing in our spouses life, what God is doing in our life we can’t figure out how that works with our children’s life, those are pieces. While sometimes as we grow in the Lord we can find more and more conjunction of pieces, sometimes we’ll never, maybe even in eternity, we’ll go on for millions of years and the pieces will only gradually come together or maybe never come together. So as a Christian instead of trying to create the final solution to the puzzle, what we have to do in the middle of life’s circumstances, is realize that the puzzle is in His mind, and it’s solved there. In His omniscience as the Creator it fits together.
Hebrews 11:3 is asserting that truth on the right hand side of the diagram. “By faith we understand that the worlds,” the Greek word there is the ages, the ages of history, or the dispensations, “we understand that the ages,” and that’s expounded, always look in the context, what’s the context? It’s talking about Noah; it’s talking about all the biblical things in their lives, the events of their lifetime, their personal histories. So you could paraphrase verse 3 “By faith we understand that our experiences, our historical experiences were prepared by the Word of God,” that means all of our experiences, everything in the zone of our experience, whether it’s a disaster, whether it’s a crisis, whether it’s a blessing, that’s all part of our experience. It says that “By faith we understand that all historical experiences were prepared by the Word of God,” and the Greek for the word “word” uses an interesting word. One word is logos; that’s our word “word.” But the word that’s used here is rhema and it’s the word for speak. So the sense of this verse is “by faith we understand that historical experience has been prepared by God’s speech,” meaning not only has He thought it, but He speaks it. Which of the Trinity, First, Second or Third Person of the Trinity is involved in speaking? The Second Person. So it’s very Christ-centric, this verse.
“By faith we understand that our historical experiences have been prepared by the speaking of God, so that,” here’s the conclusion to the rationale, “so that what is observed,” that’s what we see and experience, what we can see with our eyes, what we can taste, what we can touch, “so that what is seen is not made out of things that are apparent,” or apparent historical causes. Think of the implications of this verse. What this verse says it that things that occur in our lifetime, things that occur in our lives that we can touch, feel, taste, describe and know, come about not through any causes that are apparent. It’s not denying that there’s a “natural law” (quote unquote), it’s not denying that, the regularity of God. What this verse is asserting, however, is that there’s a greater plan behind the observed plan, and it’s this plan inside the mind of God. God has this perfect plan and from this perfect plan He shapes history. It is not true that God is like a watchmaker, He winds up the watch and lets it go, because in that case the watchmaker is not making the watch tick. The watchmaker has walked out of the room and left the watch going. That’s a wrong illustration, that’s not verse 3.
What is it saying? The ages, plural, all areas and chunks of history have come about, not out of things that are apparent. What does this say to us? It says that no matter how much data that you and that I have, we will never be able to sit here as human beings and fathom the data so well that we can predict the next moment. That’s what’s this is saying, because as we move from this moment into the future, as the clock ticks and we walk into the next moment and the next moment, when we get there in the next moment, that moment has been constructed not from things that appeared in the previous moment. The previous moment is insufficient to explain the next one.
There is some sort of a mysterious working of God in history, so when you got down and further read, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain …” “Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death …” In verse 7 “Noah, being warned by God about things…” if there had been a scientist with an advanced computer system in Noah’s day what verse 3 is telling us is that if he turned on his prediction model it would have never predicted the flood. The computer model would never have predicted what happened. What God is saying is that history, and your personal experience, is going to be full of surprises, surprise effects that happen. They just happen, and they happen for no apparent reason. So the things which we see did not come about by the things which are apparent. They came about by some other means and the other means is in the first part of verse 3, the speech of God.
The reason I think the author uses speech there is because it’s the idea of God speaking all the time, not just at creation. If you’re really curious to have a picture of how this works, I direct your attention to 1 Kings 22, somewhere around that area of the Old Testament, you’ll see a meeting that was called by the Lord, and at this meeting which apparently occurs frequently in history, all the angels, both good and evil come into the meeting room, and the Lord discusses how history is going to go with these angelic beings. And they actually have a meeting in 1 Kings 22 [v.19ff], and they’re discussing what they’re going to do about history and history hasn’t been determined until the meeting is finished. Then when they get through discussing the Lord says okay, you do this, you do this, you do this, okay guys, let’s roll. Talk about a news story! Imagine if you got a tape of this meeting and you could somehow figure out what God and the angels are doing, and they’re discussing, “What are we going to do with China, what are we going to do with the United States, what are we going to do next week?” Then imagine yourself listening in on that kind of a meeting, and you came back to this world, would you any longer believe that you could sit down and predict the future? No, because the future is constantly being interfered with from outside.
That’s a neat verse, By faith we understand that all the elements of our experience are formed, have come into being, under God speaking, therefore the things which we see, the things which bug us, the things which bless us, those things did not arrive from apparent causes. It gives you a proper view of the whole universe; it gives you a proper view of life, that it’s all open to the God who speaks.
We’re going to look at the section concerning the two terms that Jesus Christ used to depict His deity and His humanity. We said last year that in the Old Testament there are two streams of revelation. Stream number one is a collection of truths that go on book after book after book in the Bible. This stream of revelation says that the place of God’s dwelling is where? Galaxy 555? No! The place of God’s dwelling is this planet, and in particular it is with men. The first stream says that God dwells, or will dwell I should say, the whole purpose of history is that He will dwell with man. Remember the name of God that speaks to this? It’s the name that God shared with Moses in the burning bush. Moses asked God, who shall I say You are, and what did God say? Tell them that “I AM” sent you. You read that in a translation and you think “I AM,” that’s kind of a funny way of expressing it, but hidden inside all that is a sense, and here’s a sense of the term that most scholars believe is implied in the text. “I AM the God who is with you.” In particular Moses was watching the burning bush, and what was strange about the burning bush that caught Moses’ eye? He saw it burning, but the bush wasn’t being consumed. It was a picture of the horror of the suffering of Israel in servitude in Egypt and God is with His people.
So “I AM,” the very name of God, the Tetragrammaton that looks in Hebrew like this, YHWH, read from right to left, and the vowels are unknown because they dropped, so most people believe that it’s Yahweh. This is translated into English, the “Y” became “J”, the “H” down here, the “W” became a “v”, and this, from which we get the word Jehovah. That’s where Jehovah came from; it’s an anglicized version of the transliteration of the Tetragrammaton. I have to laugh when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door, His original name wasn’t pronounced Jehovah; that much we know because of the vowel patterns. The issue is that here’s God’s name and it represents a stream of revelation, that God’s ultimate end goal is to dwell with man.
The other stream of revelation, this stream looks down, this stream looks up and says that man will dominate the universe; he’s made to dominate the universe, and out of him in particular will come one King who will rule all men. That’s the humanity side. In the Old Testament there are several passages where these come together. The most famous passage in the Bible in the Old Testament where these two streams of revelation come together is Psalm 110. This is a very difficult Psalm to imagine how David ever saw this. Obviously this was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit because it’s a very complex set of statements here. It’s cited very often in the New Testament. New Testament authors are very conscious of this Old Testament passage.
Psalm 110, “The LORD says to my Lord,” right there you’ve got a problem, David is talking about His Lord but he’s talking about another Lord so you’ve got two Lords here. “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” The first LORD says to the second Lord, Sit until I subdue the enemies for you. Notice the word LORD is capitalized, that’s Jehovah,  “The LORD will stretch for Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.  Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn,” etc. David is talking about the Father and the Son here. He’s also talking about the deity and humanity of Jesus. So here is one case where this King is called Lord, and begins to show Himself as having divine attributes.
Let’s proceed to where these two streams come together in two terms that are used in the Bible for Jesus Christ. First let’s look at the term, the “Son of God.” In the notes I give you a quick summary of this term, how it came to be, the first occurrence where you kind of see its content is in Gen. 6 where it’s talking about the sons of God went in to the daughters of men. This is the antediluvian world, and presumably the sons of God there are the angelic civilization government prior to the flood, people who had power to capitally punish.
Then in the notes it talks about the people who received governmental authority in Psalm 82 are referred to as sons of God. Politicians are called sons of God there. The kings were called sons of God. If that’s so, then what’s one of the first connotations we learn about the term “Son of God?” What is the content of that meaning, early on, before we get to Jesus? It means one who rules, one who has authority, over against the sons who aren’t of God. There’s a bifurcation of authority there. So Son of God implies some sort of authority and in the first instances, oddly enough, it’s civil authority. We want to watch how a term develops in the Bible.
We want to look at Psalm 2 because it is probably the most quoted in the New Testament where the Son of God is explained in more detail. If you know Handel’s Messiah you recognize the verse, Handel used this a lot in that piece of music. “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing?  And the kings of the earth,” now look at the context, the situation in the first three verses, “the kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against” who? There are two personalities there, “against the LORD,” Yahweh, here’s the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew, “against the LORD and against His Messiah,” the word “Messiah” is “anoint.” Where did that come from? It’s the anglicized version of Mashach, to anoint; where do you see anointing of a king in the Old Testament? David. What did the prophet do to David? What did the prophet do to Saul? Poured oil on them, that’s anointing, and that’s where that term came from. But again, when did the prophet pour oil on somebody and who did he pour oil on? Anybody? No. He poured oil on the person who would rule. See the connection, civil authority again. The Son of God comes into scriptural history with the idea of a ruler, right from the start. Right from the start it has that.
In verses 1-3 you notice that it’s in the context of all the nations of the earth, which means that not only is this Yahweh and the Messiah, but it adds something else, and it means it is a world ruler, because look at the plural there. [Verse 2] “The kings” plural “of the earth, gather together and come against the Lord and His” singular “Anointed one.” It doesn’t say anointed ones, plural; it’s talking about one anointed person. Now we have the concept, the Son of God expands beyond just civil authorities and it becomes a world civil authority, one who rules the world.
Verses 4-6 give us more details about the Son of God. “He who sits in the heavens laughs,” this person is under persecution, he’s being resisted, and “the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury:  But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain,” This is what God says, verse 6 is a quotation from God’s mouth. Remember Hebrews said God reigns history by speaking. So God says something and verse 6 is what God Himself says. And He says, “as for Me, I have installed My king” where? New York City? Berlin? The Southern Hemisphere? No, it’s a place, “Zion.” By the way, it doesn’t say heaven in verse 6. Verse 6 refers to a place on this planet, Mount Zion, Jerusalem. So it adds something else. Now we have a civil authority, we have a world ruler and we have Him located. The location: located in Jerusalem. So now the Son of God has more content.
Verse 7, “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me,” now here’s where the word “Son” gets a lot of rich content, but we have to be careful, because people have taken verses 7-8 and made an illegitimate conclusion from it, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. Maybe you can see where you can get in trouble here if you don’t read carefully. “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee.  Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thy inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.’” See the words “this day have I begotten Thee.”
When this Psalm is quoted in the New Testament, how do you suppose the New Testament authors interpret this Psalm? The book of Hebrews interprets it by saying that this begetting is identical to the coronation of the King, which is equal to Jesus Christ resurrection and ascension. Jesus was the Son of God before His ascension, because He’s said to be that in the New Testament. But the idea is, did Jesus Christ when He walked around the earth, known as the Son of God, did He or did He not have a manifest obvious political and civil authority? No he didn’t. He was a Jewish carpenter that never exercised any civil authority. So what the New Testament authors have done is they’ve picked up this motif of the Son of God ruling … RULING and said when does Jesus Christ begin to be installed, as it were? He begins when He sits down at the Father’s right hand. And He’s not gotten there because He still isn’t in Jerusalem; verse 6 isn’t fulfilled yet because He hasn’t returned to Jerusalem to reign yet. So His civil authority still isn’t even really manifest.
What is manifest today is what? What kind of authority does Jesus have? He has all authority, but what’s going on in the unseen world, with the church, as preparatory to this coming kingdom that is to come on this planet. The church is doing battle as people convert from the world of darkness into the kingdom of light we are having a defection from the god of this world to the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time someone is evangelized and trusts the Lord it’s a disaster for the god of this world because he’s lost another person. His kingdom becomes less and less certain as one after another, men, women, and children defect. That’s what’s going on, that’s the role of the church. We cause defection from the god of this world, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. So the Lord Jesus Christ is wooing people out of the kingdom at this hour.
There will come a time when that will change because, notice it says, “Ask of Me,” that’s the Father talking to the Son, “Ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Thy inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.” We want to understand that the king is asked, the Lord Jesus Christ is challenged to ask the Father for the nations of the earth, and obviously He’s doing that because He’s praying, as an intercessory high priest He’s praying all these prayers.
Verse 9 says that He will ultimately rule all nations, that’s the Millennial Kingdom and the eternal state. Verses 10-12 conclude with a warning to all civil authorities, with due respect to the ACLU. “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth.  Worship the LORD with reverence, and rejoice with trembling,” meaning, kings of the earth, you may be called sons of god with a little “s” and a little “g” but I’m telling you about The Son of The God, and understand that you will be answering to His authority.
So this whole Psalm concludes with the fact that the Son of God exercises world dominion, and as it says … and this proves His deity implicit in Psalm 2 because up to this point you can say well, He’s just a human ruler. Well if he’s just a human ruler, how do you explain verse 12? “Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Would that be said of a human being? Can you imagine in a monotheistic religion of the Bible God encouraging people to worship a man?
So the Psalm ends with the fact that the Son of God is more than a man, He’s actually God. That’s why in the notes, if you look at the diagram on page 2 you’ll see that in your mind’s eye the term “Son of God” looks at the human nature of the civil authority, but it penetrates into that King that rules until inside that person they see He is more than a man, He is God. Just like the centurion at the cross, I believe this was the Son of God; an experienced Roman army officer who knew authority and understood authority, when He saw Jesus Christ die on the cross he saluted. He never in his battles, and the battles in ancient history were really grotesque, it was face-to-face combat and this guy had gone through this, and he saw the Lord Jesus Christ die on the cross and it was such an impressive thing for this experienced Roman officer that he said this is the Son of God and he became a Christian, born again.
That’s the idea of the Son of God; it weaves together the humanity of a civil authority with the deity of the person of that civil authority, such that all civil authority ultimately bows to Him. That’s Psalm 2 and a number of other Psalms. That’s a quick portrait of the Son of God idea.
Now we want to come to one that’s a lot more difficult, the Son of Man; to see that turn in the Old Testament to Daniel 7. Notice that we haven’t got into the New Testament. You can’t understand the New Testament until we understand something of the Old Testament. The people who wrote the Old Testament, the people who heard the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself as a Jewish male knew the Old Testament text. It’s presumed that any reader of the New Testament knows the Old Testament. That’s why we have so many people screwed up in the New Testament, because they don’t know the Old Testament. They read all kinds of things into the New Testament that aren’t there, because they don’t know the Old Testament.
This is a tough chapter and this is not a prophecy conference so we won’t get into all the details; I’m going to have to move pretty rapidly in our remaining time to wade through some of the content in this chapter so we understand this next term, the “Son of Man.” One of the first things about this “Son of Man” title is just to look at the words for a moment, Son of Man. If you take your concordance and look this word up, this expression, you will never find the apostles calling Jesus Son of Man, never once. They use the idea, but for some reason they never refer to Jesus Christ as the Son of Man. The only person that seemed to refer to Jesus Christ as Son of Man was Jesus. It was His title that He used on several specific occasions to communicate something. There’s a corrected verse on page 4, it is Matthew 26:65, not Matthew 23:65.
Turn to Matthew 26:65 because I want you to see the reaction, when Jesus used this word people got hot. This term is loaded with meaning that we have lost. If you used it in terms of [can’t understand word] everybody would yawn and go on to the next verse, but they didn’t yawn when He used it this time. First look at verse 64. Here’s Jesus being interrogated prior to His death, and they asked Him, are you the Son of God. [V. 63, “But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”] Notice the term; the interrogators want Him to confess that He is the Son of God. Verse 64, “Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless, I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” And if you have a marginal reference you see where that’s from. That’s why we’re going to Daniel 7.
Verse 65, “Then the high priest” who hears this quotation from Daniel 7 really flips out; he “tore his robes, saying, ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy.’” And the answer of the crowd that heard this, death to Him, He has blasphemed. [Verse 66, “what do you think? They answered and said, He is deserving of death.  Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists, and others slapped Him.”] You and I wouldn’t consider that blasphemy, so there must be something we’re not getting out of that term because we don’t tear our clothes. You couldn’t imagine even Dan Rather on CBS tearing his suit if somebody interviewed said I’m the Son of Man. CBS would have to go get a dictionary to find out how to spell it.
Back to Daniel 7, so this “Son of Man” is a hard title, and we’ll be lucky to capture some of the meaning of it. Let’s go back to this moment in time when this amazing individual out of Old Testament history, a foreign minister of two nations, Daniel was a foreign policy advisor to Iraq and Iran, two nations that are at each other’s throats today. At one point and another point in this man’s career he had a dual national career. Daniel 7 occurs when he is actually in the Iraqi part of his career, i.e., Babylon; this is the mid-6th century BC.
Remember in Old Testament history you go from Moses in 1400 BC, there’s the origin of the nation. You come down to David, 1000 BC; then you come down to the exile, it started in 586 BC, and ended in 516 BC. The nation was totally destroyed.
Daniel was a hostage, he was taken into captivity. Basically they took the Jewish boys who were well educated and trained because they knew that people back in Palestine weren’t going to fool around because I’ve got your son, so you keep messing around and you’re going to lose your son. So they weren’t stupid. The Babylonians ruled people that way, by taking hostages. So Daniel was a hostage, and he was in a horrible situation but he grew into that situation and became very successful and wound up as the foreign policy advisor to the nation who had destroyed his nation. It’s an amazing story of this man.
The book of Daniel is not considered in the Hebrew canon to be among the prophets. We always think of Daniel as a book of prophecy. But Daniel is really not a book about prophecy. It has prophecy in it. The book of Daniel is a wisdom book. You say a wisdom book? Yes, Daniel is a wisdom book; it is a handbook, it is a political handbook to people who want to understand international relations. What was Daniel doing every day of his life as a counsel to the King? He was dealing with international relations. Have you ever had a course on international studies? Have you ever studied Daniel in that course? I don’t think so. Daniel gives you what foreign policy people need to know about the framework of history and the forces of history.
Daniel 7:1, “In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.” In this dream and in this vision Daniel is going to be taught about how God rules in history from the time of the exile all the way down to the very end of history, and how Israel is going to play a role in that function.
Verse 2, “Daniel said, ‘I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.  And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.  The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.  And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’  After this I kept looking, and behold, another one like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.  After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.  While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.”
Verse 9, “I kept looking until throes were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire.  A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.  Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.  As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.”
Verse 13, “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold,” now here’s the passage that Jesus quoted that freaked out the high priest. “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.  And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”
This is a story of the four kingdoms of world history that the Bible considers to be anchor kingdoms, not necessarily the great kingdoms but we’ll call them the anchor kingdoms. The first kingdom is the Neo-Babylonian Empire; the next one is the Medo-Persian; the next one is the Greeks; the next one is the Romans. Some of these are future today, that’s why the liberals can’t stand this book and insist on trying to late date the book because it’s so accurate a depiction of history it couldn’t possibly have been written before it happened you know, I mean, God might have done that.
The Babylonian kingdom is an anchor kingdom. Why? It says the dominion was allowed, the kingdom ended, the dominion was ended but these beasts kept going, they were absorbed into the next kingdom, and the Medo-Persian and the Babylonian kingdom were absorbed into the Greeks. And the Greeks and the Medo-Persian and the Babylonians were absorbed into the Romans. What was absorbed? The suggestion I give to you is that the signature of the Babylonian kingdom was basically financial. The Babylonians in history were the ones that basically invented government inflated currencies. They were the ones who promulgated a very actively multiple indebtedness. They were financiers of a brilliant type. Underneath the world kingdoms lies finances. International finances are very profoundly related to Babylon. And the Babylonians theme runs again and again in history.
The Medo-Persia Empire was known for its unity of east and west. Persia sat with Europe to the west, with the Orient to the east, and the Persians welcomed … there was through traffic through Persia, they were the people who were the reconcilers, the people who had multiculturalism but in a world government type way. They amalgamated so there was a coalescing of all the cultures in Persia.
The Greeks, what were the Greeks known for, if you study the Greeks? They were known as the people who began thorough rationalism of the intellect. The Greeks were the ones who took autonomous thought to its logical conclusion, such that Alfred Whitehead, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century said you can take all of the philosophers from Aristotle and Plato on down to the present time and say that all philosophy is a footnote to Plato. The Greeks started intellectual rationalism.
Then the Romans, what did the Romans, this fourth beast that Daniel feared, what were the Romans known for? Order, law and order, and in particular a special kind of law and order, a law and order that we would say is bureaucratic in administrative law. They were the bureaucrats par excellence. They developed order. It was always the desire of the Romans to have order; they couldn’t stand the Jews and all their silly little wars in the eastern part of the Empire. The Roman army marched in and they brought order everywhere they went. They built roads, they built sea ports, they facilitated world trade. The idea was man will build his autonomous kingdom; he will control the finances, he will define culture, he will reason through and he will build, finally, political power and administrative law.
This has come over into the 20th century even though the Roman Empire has not, here’s a quote I found a number of years ago by John Dewey who was a great thinker at Columbia University, he was a person who some of the teachers in my family thought he hung the moon, he was the guy who basically controls and still does influence educational philosophy in our public school system. Here’s what he had to say about Christianity and society in this idea of kingdom. In his book, Common Faith, Dewey says, “I cannot understand how any realization of the democratic ideal,” that’s his idea of the final world kingdom, the democratic ideal, “I cannot understand how any realization of the democratic ideal as a vital moral and spiritual ideal in human affairs is possible, without the surrender of the conception of the basic division to which Christianity is committed.” What stands in the way of the kingdom according to John Dewey? It’s Christians. Why? Because Christianity divides man into what groups? The saved and the lost. You can’t build a kingdom when you have this constant division all the time, and that gospel of Christ divides people; it is not politically correct, if Dewey had lived in our time.
Daniel sees these four kingdoms. This kingdom kind of goes away in history but will come back again, the Roman kingdom, along with all these elements, where the church is raptured and we get into prophecy and the details of it, there’s a reason why Rome is kind of weak right now; the Roman Empire in the sense of this order. One of the reasons is the church is a restraint on it, and when the restraint is removed all the paganism, all the energies that are being subdued right now, like a boiling pot of water, will suddenly come off, and you will see the reconciliation of all this back again into this great and grand kingdom, the kingdom of all kingdoms when man rules and has subdued the earth, supposedly.
But in this vision, in verses 9-10 there’s an interruption. Do you notice how the vision falls, verses 2-8, then watch verses 11 and 12; 11 and 12 follow verse 8. Verses 9 and 10 are an interruption. All of a sudden down on earth you have men planning this, planning that, doing this and doing that, but what’s happening in heaven? The Ancient of Days calls a meeting, we’re going to have a little discussion about what’s going on down on earth. We’ll see who are the real Lords and Gods; we’ll see where history is really going. The idea is that suddenly there’s a judgment, there are courts, there are books that are opened. But you see a court has to have some mechanism of execution. Verses 13-14 provide that mechanism that God, at the end of history, is going to create a fifth kingdom and this fifth kingdom will never end. Notice the emphasis at the end, “And His kingdom is one which will never be destroyed,” in contrast to what kingdoms that are destroyed? The kingdoms of men. But here’s one whose kingdom will never be destroyed.
But that goes back to evil, how can a holy God guarantee that this kingdom will never be destroyed? Let’s think about this. If you see a promise that this kingdom will never, ever be destroyed, what is implied by that statement? The kingdom must be morally and ethically pure, and it must be guaranteed to endure in righteousness, or if it isn’t God will judge it. So here is a promise that this kingdom must endure forever. The question now is, the other kingdoms, these other four kingdoms all had symbols. What was common to all four of those symbols in contrast to the fifth kingdom? What do you see that’s different? They had symbols but what? They’re all animals; those four kingdoms are all animals. There’s only one of the five kingdoms that’s represented by a man. What do you suppose that hints at? God is looking at the moral and ethical content of social order, and what this passage is saying is that Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome have utterly failed in forming a social order worthy of man. They are all subhuman. In their ethical character these kingdoms are subhuman. They do not do justice to the man who is created in the image of God. Only the fifth kingdom will be ruled by the Son of Man.
Let’s look at that term again, the “Son of Man,” the word there is Adam, which brings us back to Genesis 1. The Son of Man, the Son of Adam, what does the Son of Adam do? He does what God said man would do, and what did God say in Genesis 1 that man would do? He would subdue, he would rule, he would take command of all of the handiwork of God. This Son of Man is the One who does this. He comes, He has a kingdom that will never end, in perfect righteousness, and He is One who fulfills the Genesis mandate of finally and completely domineering the entire universe. It won’t be pets; it will be people who dominate the universe. It will not be some spider on a tree; it will be a Son of Man that will rule finally. There will be ecological righteousness, but it will be a man who rules forever and ever and ever.
Summarizing the Son of Man, here’s what we learned. Number one, the Son of Man harks back to Genesis 1 and the fulfillment of the purpose of the human race to begin with. Second, the Son of Man indicates moral perfection, for He will have a kingdom that shall never fail, and that can only be done under a holy God if that kingdom is holy and stays holy. The third thing we know from this passage is that the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man coalesce in the Son of God. The Ancient of Days is the deity of division; the Son of Man is the humanity of the division and these two are united in Jesus Christ. We know this because Jesus Christ sees Himself in terms of verses 13-14 before the high priest, yet in the book of Revelation He sees Himself in terms of verses 9-10. Jesus Christ fulfills both the role of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man.
So this phrase, if you’ll look in the notes, the idea there is that the mind’s eye looks at the clouds coming, that is the judgment of God, God’s very presence, and sees at the very throne of God Himself, not a Martian, not a cherub with four heads of animals on it, but what is seen at the very throne of God? Finally and completely? There’s a man there, not somebody else, there’s a man, one who has Adam’s genes. He finally made the throne of God. Do you see how exalting it is for the purpose of man? That’s the purpose that God has, and the Son of Man unites the humanity and deity, but in an opposite way from the Son of God. Here we look first at God on His throne and His mysteries of history and we see at the very core of His purpose the rule of man. So we finally wind up with humanity, but we’re looking at deity to get there. The Son of God term looks at a human king, looks very studiously at this human king and penetrates to His heart and sees there’s God there.
So both these terms are sort of like foils of the other one; one the Son of God and one the Son of Man. They’re loaded with all kinds of kinds of stuff that we can just barely skim tonight but I want to reinforce what we dealt with last time, the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and true humanity united in one person forever. Don’t ever be embarrassed to say that. Don’t ever kowtow to the monotheistic so-called biblical religions, like Judaism and Islam, who claim to be so biblical, and they lack the God-man. Do you know why the God-man is so important? Because it means that God Himself walked around on this planet, He knows what it means to be a man, He knows what it means to be tempted, He knows what it means to be tested. Show me if Allah does that? Does Allah ever get dirt under his fingernails as a carpenter? Does he know what it means to be as a man? No he doesn’t.
You will not, outside of the Trinity of the Word of God find anything that is comparable, never, ever! Period! That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ says “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father except by Me,” one of the most unpopular politically incorrect verses of all Scripture. That’s why we use it. John 14:6-7, that whole context, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me,” because no man can come to the Father any other way than through the person of Jesus Christ.
Next week we’ll move on to His death and some of the amazing things that come out of what He has done for us on the cross.
Question asked: Clough replies: What things were like in the antediluvian world is a guess, basically. [same person says something] One of the things that becomes apparent when you look at history from the Scripture point of view, next year we’ll get into dispensations, but every age that God has structured in history ends in a disappointment. The garden was a perfect environment. How many times have you heard the politicians and political thinkers thinking that if we could just change the environment? That experiment was already done, you had a perfect environment and men fell. So environment is not the answer; that was proven in Genesis 1-2.
Then we had a period of history that went from the fall of man to the flood, it didn’t have any civil government, wasn’t any capital punishment authorized, apparently angels had some sort of ruling function, super guys, and this was human society without any of the (quote) “bad things of government.” The anarchists really, honestly think that all the problems of all men are caused by government. The second age of history demonstrates that that’s fluke, because that age without a government ended in a catastrophe. People without government …, man has proved that he doesn’t function; he’s got to have it. So every time we resent … I do it too, you resent some of the things about government but we have to back up and say wait a minute, why do we have government? Why do we have it? Because it was proven in history that the human race almost killed itself without it. Today the example is a mob. When a government fails to provide a law and orderly structure, humanity being depraved turns into a big mob, always has, always will.
Then you come and have this period when God gives civil government, and He gives it to the sons of Noah, He tells them to go out and colonize the earth, and we wind up with wars and ethnic separations and all kinds of problems there. We have an experiment with world government, it’s called the tower of Babel, we’re going to all get together and have perfect unity. The problem was the unity was structured on a God-less basis of I, that same spirit, I will set up, I will rule. No-no, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. So there’s another experiment down the drain.
Then God calls out a family and during the time of Abraham that family wanders around as pilgrims in the earth, in all the land, and they’re specially guided, God gave special revelation to them. In three generations the family is so deteriorated they have to go down to Egypt in the cooler for a couple of centuries before they get straightened out, so there goes the idea of your perfect family.
Then we have the perfect nation, now if God would just set up a society. God says okay, I’ll do that, I’ll rescue you people, we’ll put you in a land … I mean, talk about a social experiment on a mass scale, talk about exploiting democracy and freedom, there was God’s foreign policy, He said I’ll do you one better, I’ll provide you with gold, I’ll provide you with raw materials, I’ll provide you with the land, and moreover I will provide you with a framework of law called the Mosaic Law Code. That’s a fascinating study. We don’t ever in church history, sadly, in our century… I guess the Puritans were the last people to ever study this seriously, but embedded in the Mosaic Law Code are amazing things, the duration of loans, banking rates, public hygiene, you name it, it’s in there. All kinds of insights into what we call a “social problem.” Laws that concern education, laws that concern rules of evidence, it’s all embedded in this. So what happens? God had a perfectly structured society, did the whole experiment and what happened? Men resisted, the whole thing came down the drain.
Then God starts another thing and says okay, let’s have a Church Age, and what we’re going to do is I’ll offer each person salvation in every culture on earth. I’m not going to come in as the King now so people won’t get vibrating; we’re just going to go out one to one. And this age ends in the fact that the world is still unbelieving. So it doesn’t buy a corporate message, it doesn’t buy an individual message, it doesn’t buy the rules. Every one of these things is a disproof of something.
So you come down to the end of history and man has so thoroughly refuted his claim that he can rule, that that’s why history concludes with the fact that there’s no other alternative except to have God rule. At that time everybody is convinced, because by that time we’ve tried … Oh God, don’t do that, I’ll try it this way. Okay, go ahead, try it that way and watch what happens. Well now I got another idea God, wait, wait, wait, I’ve got another idea, try it this way. Okay, try it that way. And when all the “try its” are through, then history ends. We wind up doing it My way. So it is amazing that the human race can do what it can do, but it causes you as a Christian to sit back and reflect … tonight I didn’t have time because we’re so pushed.
Remember how that Daniel 7 passage starts out, it starts out with water, and it says I looked and I saw the sea, and the four winds of heaven began to blow on the sea and stirred the waters. Then out from the sea came the four monsters. If we had time to develop that we’d show that the “sea” is a strange thing, water is a strange thing; large bodies of water are totally passive to winds. One of the most famous disasters in American history is Lake Okeechobee, it’s a freshwater lake but it’s very shallow and there came a hurricane or something on it, and it picked up the lake up and moved it because with the water body if you don’t get return flow, if it’s not deep enough you don’t get return flow so all of the momentum that’s being transferred in the water just goes whoosh, just like that. So water is very much affected by wind forces.
In that picture as Daniel dreamed and God was talking to Daniel in his dream he said the winds of four, the four winds of heaven, meaning that first it was blowing east, west, north, south, it was just chaos operating on the water. What does the sea represent in that vision? Humanity. What do the winds represent? The spiritual powers of history, whipping up the sea. We look down at our horizontal area at political movements, and our analysis from the horizontal is it’s economic, it’s racial, it’s ethnic, it’s political, it’s this, it’s that, it’s democracy verses totalitarianism; that’s all our analysis. But Daniel, because he dealt with foreign relations had to get set in his mind, I mean, he dealt with kingdom problems, he dealt with foreign relations between Babylon and the other surrounding nations, he had to have a concept and a clue.
As a believer Daniel said where are my people, I’m talking about Babylon, I’m talking about Assyria, I’m talking about Medo-Persia, and my little Jewish people, we don’t even have our nation any more. Where do we fit into all this? We’re squashed, we don’t have any economic power, we don’t have any politically power, what are you doing God? So in that vision God says here’s what I’m doing. I’m letting evil, the winds, the four winds of heaven, operate on men, and out of this, with men fully cooperating, we will develop all the solutions that men tried, and when it’s over the Son of Man comes.
It’s a profound picture of history and the fact that the human race was ultimately, apart from Christ and regeneration, is very, very unstable, very vulnerable to evil spirits and powers and movements. Fads can dominate entire generations. With our globalism today, the internet and the communication we’ve got, watch how fast fads will dominate now. Now you’ll see the penetration, almost back to the tower of Babel where the previous ethnic separations that played such a role will be completely overridden, rapidly within minutes and hours. It’s going to be interesting, it’s kind of neat to watch, because we can see that [can’t understand word] can stimulate, what they can stimulate. Look on that passage in Daniel as just a revelation of what’s behind foreign policy. It’s pretty neat to look at Daniel that way, instead of looking at it the way most Christians say who’s the third beast and this and that. That’s important questions, I’m not knocking that, but I’m just saying go beyond that and ask yourself why would Daniel be picked for that revelation. What was he doing every day of his life? What was his calling in life and then you’ll understand the meaning of the book.
Question asked, something about a traitor, did they have a different view, did they see Daniel as their inside man: Clough replies: Probably, probably like Esther. The Jews in the exile had a real problem, and the motif of their life was basically controlled by the prophecy given through Jeremiah. When God spoke to Jeremiah He said when you go into exile you’re being punished, I’m punishing the nation, and it’s a disciplinary function. I’m sorry, but it’s going to come on you nationally, so this is your life and don’t try to fight it. You’re being spanked, and you’re being exiled for 70 years and there’s nothing you can do about it because I’ve said you’re going to do it. You didn’t follow the Sabbaths, you left 70 Sabbaths go and you never paid respect to it so now you’re going to pay them back; pay them back to Me. So they were kind of beaten down in the sense, well gee, God’s mad at us, what else can we do? They tried to form businesses. The Jews are always attacked because they’re bankers and they’re businessmen. Well, what else are they supposed to be, they weren’t allowed to do anything else, so that’s how they got into these businesses, and they were good at it. The Jews are very talented people.
Daniel got to rise, like Joseph did, in Egypt. Sure, there’s probably lots of Jews that envied him, but that wasn’t godly envy, that was just jealousy. Daniel was a great role model. It’s a wonderful biography in the book of Daniel. You talk about a guy who was not an obscurantist, he was a man who was a participator in the political processes and yet he never lost his bearings. He never lost his bearings when it came to bureaucratic legislation, administrative law that said you can’t pray, you can’t do this. He said no, I’m not only going to pray, I’m going to pray with the window open, so he didn’t compromise, but yet he didn’t rebel either. He didn’t lead a rebellion against Babylon, he quietly went about his job and where it led to a conflict, hey, it’s in the Lord’s hands.
Question asked: you were talking today about being literal, you were saying a minute ago these were all visions … the winds were the spirits, etc., where do you draw the line interpreting something literally versus … Clough replies: There’s no problem in Daniel because the second half of Daniel 7 the angel tells him what those are. Most apocalyptic literature, there’s an interpreting angel. That’s one of the hallmarks, whether it’s Zechariah, Daniel or even John, in the book of Revelation, these guys when these visions happened they didn’t know, they didn’t have a clue any more than you and I do, and Daniel’s saying that. Daniel says what is this all about; I had this dream, tell me about it. And he sees this angel, and he talks to the angel and says hey, I need some help here, and the angel helps him.
Question asked: Clough replies: You have to start with literal interpretation. The sea has to be sea; the symbol grows out of the literal. You never can just have a symbol. The only reason those symbols work is because first there is a literal truth behind them. If the water didn’t act like water, then it could never become the symbol of instability. So the way you control that is you control it by the promises of God, the covenants, the structures, etc. You never try to spiritualize, allegorize your interpretation when the point is being made that God is fulfilling a literal promise back there, legal language. Visualize your mortgage and your car payment thing, you’re not going to go to the bank and allegorize the contract. So where you have contractual language you can’t allegorize. There’s no hermeneutic on earth that permits you to allegorize a contract. That’s the problem that people don’t see, and that’s because they don’t see the role and nature of covenants in Scripture. It’s ignored. Even theologians ignore it; seminaries ignore it.
Question asked: Clough replies: Hermeneutics is about interpreting literature, and the struggle we have as Christians in our time is not because there’s something wrong with the Bible, the hermeneutic structure happens to law, think about it. This country was given a Constitution. The people who wrote the Constitution didn’t expect that you had to have professional people spending their entire lives second-guessing what they wrote. These guys got up here in Philadelphia and other places and they just wrote up the document. They’d be absolutely horrified to see the layers of bureaucratic legislation that grew up on this document when they intended it to be so simple and straightforward. The problem is that it occurs in law, it occurs in literature, you can’t go to any English literature class in public school today and have a serious discussion about what did Shakespeare mean by this? It’s all he was a white male heterosexual Englishman. So what? Can white heterosexual males write English? Can they write a letter, can I read it, or do I have to be a white heterosexual male Englishman to understand Shakespeare?
Question asked: Clough replies: Yes, but all the 20th century has been an assault on language. Today there isn’t a public school going, I’ll bet here and there there’s some valiant English teachers that are still trying to hold the line, and God bless them, but they’re 1 in 100. We had a young lady here, got her Masters, and she tried teaching around here and she got squashed because she tried to bring in legitimate interpretation in one of the well-known high schools here, and they crawled all over her, that’s not contemporary thought. No, contemporary thought is screwed up, that’s why, I don’t want contemporary thought.
So it’s not true that it’s just us Christians having hermeneutic problems over in our little religious corner here. This is a big disease. And the tragedy of this particular disease is if it gets much worse we’re going to have a whole population out there that we can’t even witness to, because the gospel assumes that we can talk rationally in a language. You don’t go ump ah ugh dah and feel your way to Christ. The gospel is spoken to you and you trust it. It presumes that. The pastor, guys that are preaching the Word of God, how can they preach to an illiterate group of people that can’t understand language?
It’s a big battle, and I don’t mean to sidelight hermeneutic discussion, but you’ve got to see that the lawyers are having a time with it in law, what does the law mean? The biggest most profound discussion we’ve had in my opinion in the houses of Congress was the attempted confirmation hearings on Judge Bork. Bork and Thomas were two men who were nominated for the Supreme Court, who have a philosophic predisposition to literal interpretation of the Constitution. It absolutely horrified men in both political parties.
Question asked: Clough replies: What you have in a nutshell is you have decisions made on the basis of a sociological statistics. It’s because I have a political feeling and I read that into the law and I manipulate the law to serve that purpose. The idea is that that’s making sociology the norm, not the law of the norm. And Bork and Thomas, Bork more than Thomas, argued that if the Constitution doesn’t infer law 1, 2, 3, and 8, then as a judge I throw out law 1, 2, 3, and 8 because it’s non-justified. Of course 1, 2, 3, and 8 included the 1964 civil rights legislation which everybody agrees, Bork agreed to that concept, but he disagreed as to how that civil rights legislation was built. It wasn’t built legitimately on an inference from the Constitution, it was just tacked on and then it was patched into the Constitution, well let’s see, here’s a place where it sounds good.
If you think about it, that’s exactly what’s happening in Scripture. That’s what theologians do all the time. We don’t like this section of the Bible, we’d rather have a Jesus that looks this way, so then we’ll read Him in over here, we’ve got a sneaky verse in here, it’s a little greasy, so we can slip that kind of deal in. That’s what goes on.
Question asked: how do we as believers if we’re not theologians … Clough replies: You have a big advantage because you’re not theologians, because you just naïvely read the Scripture. That’s your strength.
Same man says, “So without training in hermeneutics, do you think we could benefit more?” Clough replies: You don’t need to have a trained hermeneutic, you just need to be intuitively… when you talk to your wife do you expect her to understand what you mean? Or do you expect her to reinterpret 85 ways? We’d better not get into that ….
We’re running out of time but the idea of hermeneutically is that it’s what all human beings intuitively do. If you write a letter to your friend, wouldn’t you be horrified if you came to your friend’s house a year after they got your letter, and they had a committee in the living room with your letter spread out on the floor, with vast arguments about what it meant. What would be your impression if they did that? Or a whole fan club over here, ooh, this letter is cool, we’ve got it framed, we’re having discussions about it every night. Was that why you wrote the letter to your friend? No, you wanted to talk to them, that’s all, it’s simple. So we’ve lost the simplicity of language, that’s all.
Someone says, “But I think with Scripture, the first step should be to take it literally.” Clough: Absolutely.
Same person says, “Then if it doesn’t quite fit literally, then maybe we’ll …” Clough: Absolutely. You start with a sea meaning sea, and go from that.
Someone says, “That makes sense; that’s what I’ve always done. Like the prodigal son, if somebody tries to spiritualize that or allegorize that out to say there never was a son, and there never was a man, that was just an all made up story, I say …” Clough says: The key is all your narratives should be taken at prima-facie value, unless it’s … you know, we get a sense of what’s symbolic, and just think of your normal every day conversations, that’s all. That’s all we have to do. If you tell your kid do this and don’t do this, you don’t expect them to go out and have fifteen of his buddies sit there that are amateur lawyers reinterpreting the third phrase of your verb of what you really meant when you said that.
Someone said something … Clough says: Yes, but that’s getting back to the literal text, what I’m talking about is being facetious about this stuff.
Our time is up, next week we’ll move on and get into the death of Christ.