Today’s classic is by the late Dr. W. A. Criswell when pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. This is an excerpt from a sermon titled “Ancient Of Days” from Daniel 7:9-14.
“But who is this Ancient of days? “I beheld till the Ancient of days descended.” Then He is described. And a second thing, He comes for judgment. “The judgment was set and the books were opened.” As you read the passage, your first natural response is that the Ancient of days is none other but God himself. God, the Father. But, in the vision He is described, personally described, what He looked like. And in the vision, He is come for judgment. “And the books were opened.” Both of those things are statedly and categorically denied in the Bible. There is no description of God in the Bible.
I Timothy 6, Verse 16 says that God dwells in light that no man can approach unto. “. . . whom no man hath seen, or can see. . . .” Colossians 1:15 says that God is invisible. He is named there, “the invisible God.” In the 1st Chapter of John, Verse 18, in the 6th Chapter of John, and in the 1st John, Chapter 4, these words are thrice repeated: “No man hath seen God at any time.” It is not possible for the human eye to look upon the essence of deity. Therefore, there is no picture, there is no portrait, there is no description of God in the Bible.
Just as there is no description of the Holy Spirit. How would you describe in language the Holy Spirit? The subject, the person, the essence is indescribable. It cannot be placed in speech. There is no man who has seen God, never, ever.
In the 24th Chapter of the book of Exodus, Moses said to God, “Let me see thy glory.” And the Lord replied, “No man can see me and live. But I will place you in a cleft in the rock and cover you there with my hand, and I will let all my glory pass by.” And God placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him there with His hand. And when the glory of the Lord passed by, the Lord took away His hand and Moses saw the afterglow, the twilight of the presence of God. But no man can see the face of God and live.
A second thing that is interdicted by the Word in the scripture. This Ancient of days is not only described personally, what he looked like, but it says that he has come for judgment and the books are opened. In the 5th Chapter of the gospel of John it is again statedly said that “the Father judgeth no man, but has committed judgment to the Son.” Who is this Ancient of days? He is described and God is never described. He comes for judgment. But judgment belongs to Christ alone. As the 5th Chapter of II Corinthians states, “We shall all stand before the bema of Christ.” And some of you who have been in Corinth have stood in that place where Paul said, “I stood before the bema. We shall all stand before the bema, the judgment seat of Christ. Who is this Ancient of days then? Who is described here and who has come for judgment? The answer according to the Word of the Lord is very plain. This vision of the Ancient of days is a theophany, it is an epiphany, it is a manifestation of the preincarnate Christ.
This is revelation that is repeated in the Old Testament many times. In the 6th Chapter of the book of Isaiah, the prophet says that in the year that King Uzziah died, he also saw the Lord, Jehovah, high and lifted up. His train filled the temple and his glory filled the earth. And above him, stood the seraphim crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The 12th Chapter of the gospel of John says that Isaiah saw Jehovah Jesus when he saw the Lord high and lifted up. By express language, he identifies that Jehovah as being a pre-incarnate vision of Jesus the Christ.
In the 1st Chapter of the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel describes God. There again, he is describing a pre-manifestation, a theophany of Christ. In the 3rd Chapter of this book of Daniel, while Nebuchadnezzar the king looks into the burning, fiery, furnace where the three Hebrew children have been cast, he sees a fourth one. And he says the countenance, the form of the fourth is like the Son of God, a theophany, a pre-manifestation of the incarnate Christ.
In the 24th Chapter of the book of Exodus, it says that the elders saw God. He was seated on a pavement like a sapphire stone. And describes Him and expressly said, “And the elders saw God and did eat and drink.” They banqueted in His presence, and they feasted in the glory of that vision. But the 4th Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses said that there was no similitude of God seen in the fiery mount of glory. “Therefore,” he said, “you cannot make any likeness of God in heaven above or in earth beneath.” Well, what is that then, that the elders saw when they say they saw God? They saw an epiphany, a theophany. They looked upon the pre-manifestation of the preincarnate, preexistent Christ.
And this is a description that we find in the 7th Chapter of the Revelation, in the 7th Chapter of Daniel, and repeated more precisely in the 1st Chapter of the Revelation, the vision is of Him who is God manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, believed on in the world, preached unto the Gentiles, and received up into glory. The Ancient of days, whose garments was white as snow, the hair of his head like wool, and from His presence, the streams of the fiery burning furious flame. It is a like description in the 1st Chapter of Revelation. Hearing a great voice back of him, John turns to see who speaks. And he sees in the midst of the seven lampstands, in the midst of the churches, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and gird about by the breast with a golden girdle. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were as a flame of fire. His feet as if they burned in the furnace. Out of his, his voice is the sound of many waters. Out of his mouth a sharp, two-edged sword. And his countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength. This is the incarnate, glorified Christ. In the 1st Chapter of the Revelation, out of which I’ve just read, and this is the pre-theophanic incarnate Christ in the 7th Chapter of the book of Daniel. It is the Lord Himself, the Ancient of days, the Lord Christ in His essential preincarnate deity.
And in the second vision, the Lord Christ, as the Son of man, incarnate, glorified, coming in the clouds of heaven. Is Christ then Deity? And we to worship Him as such? Is Christ God manifest in the flesh? To that the scriptures add a categorical affirmative. Yes, Christ is presented in the Word of God as Deity Himself, clothed in human flesh and in human life.”
You may read the full sermon at Ancient Of Days.
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