Summary: We all stand before the Ancient of Days sooner or later.
A year or so ago my son introduced me to a type of music called ska. I had no idea what it was, but after I heard it, I liked it. It sounds a little like big band music, a little like Latino music, lots of horns mixed in with guitars and drums. Some of it is fast, and some of it is slow. It’s different.
One of the ska tapes I got is called Skalleluia! It’s Christian ska by a group called the Insyderz. One of the songs on the tape is called Ancient of Days. I want to read you the words: Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto the Ancient of Days. From every nation, all of creation will bow before the Ancient of Days. Every tongue in heaven and earth will declare your glory. Every knee shall bow at our throne and worship. You will be exalted, oh God, and your kingdom shall not pass away, oh, Ancient of Days. Your kingdom shall reign over all the earth. Sing unto the Ancient of Days. For none can compare to your matchless worth. Sing unto the Ancient of Days.
The term "Ancient of Days" is one I had heard before. I knew it meant God, but I really didn’t know any more about it until I got to today’s scripture. This passage from Daniel tells about, and actually describes, the Ancient of Days.
The book of Daniel contains two types of literature. One is history, and the other is prophecy. Daniel has visions of the future, and today’s scripture is from one of those visions.
The scene in Daniel is one of the end times. It starts out with Daniel seeing four great beasts, each representing a world empire. These nations, which would reign over Israel, were evil and cruel, but as the vision progresses, Daniel sees God’s everlasting, indestructible kingdom arrive and conquer them all.
When God first appears, thrones are being set up. Verse 9 reads, "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat." We don’t know why the word thrones is plural. Apparently there was more than one throne set up, but we’re never told who else is going to sit in them besides God.
Then comes the description of God. This is the only detailed description of God in the whole Bible, and we’re still left with a lot of unanswered questions. It says that his clothing was as white as snow, but it doesn’t say what kind of clothing it is. I’ve always pictured God as wearing white robes similar to the ones we see people wearing in all the Jesus movies. But I guess he could just as easily be wearing a white leisure suit, or white jeans and a white t-shirt. Who knows? And does it really matter?
God’s hair is said to be white like wool. We’re not told whether his hair is long or short, styled or growing wild, tied up in a ponytail or hanging loose. Just that it’s white like wool. God’s hair is described in a similar manner in Revelation 1:14: "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire."
I’ve often wondered about the term, Ancient of Days. When I hear it, I think of someone who’s old beyond imagining. I always thought that the Ancient of Days had been around since the beginning of time. Or even before that. It’s hard for our human brains to grasp the idea of God existing even before the beginning of time. That something might have existed before there was anything is an extremely hard concept for us to get hold of.
Even more difficult is the idea that not only did God exist before time, but he’s going to exist even after time has ceased. I think that’s the true meaning of Ancient of Days. It’s a term that’s been given to our God, who has existed before time and who will continue to exist after time. That again is more than our brains can fathom. Just thinking about it is enough to give me a headache.
In Daniel’s vision, it’s God’s throne that’s blazing. This throne has wheels on it, and they were on fire. You’ll remember that Ezekiel also had visions of wheels. His vision contained images of four creatures, and on the ground beside each creature was a wheel, which sparkled "like chrysolite." The wheels are supposed to indicate to us that God is able to move anywhere and be anywhere at any time.
Verse 10 says that a river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. This river is also mentioned in Psalm 50, verse 3, which reads, "Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages." This fire represents God’s judgment upon humanity. The fire will devour those who are to be punished, and afterwards everything will be cleansed.