Acquaintance with God Leads to Eternal Peace
1. When did Daniel have his vision of Jehovah, and what did he see at the start of the vision?
AROUND sixty years after Ezekiel had his first vision of the glorious Charioteer Jehovah, a fellow exile of Ezekiel in Babylonia had a vision of God as the Sovereign of the universe. It was at night when the vision came. The account in Daniel 7:1-3 reads: “In the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon, Daniel himself beheld a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. At that time he wrote down the dream itself. The complete account of the matters he told. Daniel was speaking up and saying: ‘I happened to be beholding in my visions during the night, and, see there! the four winds of the heavens were stirring up the vast sea. And four huge beasts were coming up out of the sea, each one being different from the others.’”—Dan. 7:1-7.
2. What do the four beasts symbolize, and for what are the symbolic beasts to be judged by the Supreme Judge?
2 The vision was prophetic. According to what Daniel was told by an interpreter in the vision, the four huge beasts pictured four world powers that would follow one another on the world stage of politics. Their political domination of all the earth would carry forward from the days of Belshazzar’s grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, who had destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. It would continue down to the time for God to set up his promised kingdom and destroy the beastly political governments of the earth. These world powers would be judged according to their record, especially according to their dealings with the faithful people of Jehovah God. He is the Supreme Judge, he being Sovereign of all the universe. In Daniel’s vision His time came to pass judgment on those beastly political world powers and to execute his judicial sentence. Then He made his appearance as Supreme Judge. How did he appear in the vision to Daniel? Daniel tells us:
3. In the vision how did the Supreme Judge appear to Daniel?
3 “I kept on beholding until there were thrones placed [one being for Jehovah God and the other being, likely, for his Messiah or Christ] and the Ancient of Days sat down. His clothing was white just like snow, and the hair of his head was like clean wool. His throne was flames of fire; its wheels were a burning fire. There was a stream of fire flowing and going out from before him. There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him. The Court took its seat, and there were books that were opened.”—Dan. 7:9, 10.
4. Those to be judged are represented by what today, and what is indicated by the color of the Judge’s hair and clothing?
4 Here Jehovah God, “the Ancient of Days,” is envisioned in a court scene, coming to judgment, to judge, not specifically Judah and Jerusalem as in the case of Ezekiel’s vision of the celestial chariot, but the political world powers of the whole earth. In the present day these would be the seventh world power and the relics of the preceding six world powers. The world powers pictured by the four symbolic huge beasts out of the sea must be brought to judgment. The wisdom of this Supreme Court Judge is highlighted in his head of hair as being “like clean wool.” This feature agrees fully with the fact that he is called “the Ancient of Days” and the wisdom of all past eternity is His. The prophet Moses said to him, in Psalm 90:2: “Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.” The brilliance of his righteousness in handing down judicial decisions is pictured in the fact that “his clothing was white just like snow” this clothing, too, not catching fire although the “throne was flames of fire.” His throne is a wheeled throne, it not resting upon a chariot platform as in the vision of Ezekiel, But the throne wheels themselves “were a burning fire.” This was indeed a glorious vision of Jehovah God.
5. The fiery quality of the Judge’s throne and its wheels, with a flow of fire in front, suggests what?
5 The fiery quality of the throne and of its wheels suggests that fiery judgment is approaching. A warning of this is provided in the fact that “there was a stream of fire flowing and going out from before him.” Scripturally supporting this feature of the vision is Psalm 97:1-3: “Jehovah himself has become king! . . . righteousness and judgment are the established place of his throne. Before him a very fire goes, and it consumes his adversaries all around.”
6. What does the great number of court attendants indicate, and what question arises therefore as to earthly nations?
6 The Ancient of Days as Judge Supreme also has plenty of court attendants, their number running up into the tens of millions. The great number of these attendants indicates the many, many matters that the Supreme Judge has to do with throughout heaven as well as earth. Only he who has such all-excelling wisdom could handle them all justly, without conflicting decisions. Since he has such a vast number of angelic court attendants, what can all the political powers of earth do, even in a United Nations organization of them all, to resist the full execution of his court decisions? Their destruction in the near future is certain! O yes! There was a small but aggressive horn that came up out of the head of the fourth symbolic beast. But what can it do? Nothing, according to what Daniel now says:
7. What is seen to happen to both the horn and the beast bearing it and to the other beasts?
7 “I kept on beholding at that time because of the sound of the grandiose words that the horn was speaking; I kept on beholding until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed and it was given to the burning fire. But as for the rest of the beasts, their rulerships were taken away, and there was a lengthening in life given to them for a time and a season.”—Dan. 7:11, 12.
8. When will the “time and a season” for any political relics end, and what will destruction of the political elements of this system mean?
8 The “time and a season” of those political relics of previous world powers end in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:14-16) What will the destruction of all the political elements of the present system of government at Har–Magedon mean? Most emphatically the end of an epoch in human history! A change of rulership will come for the world of mankind. Who will be mankind’s new ruler? Does the vision to Daniel reveal this? Listen to what Daniel tells us that he saw:
9. Whom does Daniel see brought before the Judge, and what is given to this one?
9 “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”—Dan. 7:13, 14.
10. What does the interpreter in the vision say regarding the transfer of kingship here pictured?
10 An interpretation of this joy-inspiring feature was given to Daniel by a certain one who appeared in the vision. The words of his interpretation are thrilling, as follows: “And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them.”—Dan. 7:27.
11. (a) Is the Supreme Judge to be chided for picturing the world powers as wild beasts and treating them as such? (b) To whom does he entrust the new rulership?
11 What an acquaintanceship with God, “the Supreme One,” this vision to Daniel gives us! The One Most High over all creation in heaven and earth is He! Presiding Judge of the Court of Last Instance is He! Entire nations, yes, all nations, are accountable to him. They rule today as they have so long ruled, only by his permission. Who on earth is there who will be able to chide Him as Judge for picturing the political world powers as huge beasts rising up out of the tempestuous sea? When the appointed time of the Supreme Judge comes, he brings the beastlike political world powers to their end in fiery destruction, to make way for a new rulership over mankind, one better than all previous earthly rulerships because of its being perfect, heavenly, proceeding only from God and not from a raging wild sea. The new rulership he entrusts to the one to whom he judicially decides to give it, inasmuch as He is the heavenly Source of all rightful government on earth. He gives it to his Messiah, the Christ, and to the faithful followers of His Messiah, and they all will rule together for God’s glory and the eternal blessing of mankind.
THE VISION OF A FOLLOWER OF MESSIAH
12. (a) When was “Son of man” on earth introduced to humankind, and what comparison did the apostle John hear him make at Jerusalem? (b) Years later what did “the Son of man” send to John?
12 Nineteen centuries ago the Messiah was presented to earth’s inhabitants as “the Son of man.” (Matt. 16:13-16; 25:31) It was in the autumn of the year 29 C.E. that the fisherman, John the son of Zebedee, became a follower of him, this step leading to his becoming later on one of the twelve apostles of this Messiah or Anointed One. In his account of the life of Jesus Christ, the apostle John wrote down many of the sayings of the Messiah. According to John 14:9 the Messiah Jesus said in John’s hearing at Jerusalem: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” Even in the flesh as the “Son of man” Jesus perfectly reflected his heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Thus by his teachings, his works his way of life as a perfect man on earth, the Messiah enlarged man’s acquaintanceship with God. But about sixty-three years after his sacrificial death for mankind, the Messiah Jesus sent a revelation to the apostle John. It envisioned Jehovah God as no previous men of God had seen him in vision. As it were, John himself entered right into heaven to get this divine vision.
13, 14. (a) In the heavenly vision how did God appear to John? (b) Who are throning about God’s throne, and what creatures are also around his throne?
13 On invitation John proceeds to enter the “opened door” that he sees in heaven in his vision. He is not forbidden to tell us what he sees, but unselfishly shares the vision with us, writing: “After these things I immediately came to be in the power of the spirit: and, look! a throne was in its position in heaven, and there is one seated upon the throne. And the one seated is, in appearance, like a jasper stone and a precious red-colored stone, and round about the throne there is a rainbow like an emerald in appearance. And round about the throne there are twenty-four thrones, and upon these thrones I saw seated twenty-four older persons dressed in white outer garments, and upon their heads golden crowns. And out of the throne there are proceeding lightnings and voices and thunders; and there are seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, and these mean the seven spirits of God. And before the throne there is, as it were, a glassy sea like crystal.
14 “And in the midst of the throne and around the throne there are four living creatures that are full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature is like a lion, and the second living creature is like a young bull, and the third living creature has a face like a man’s, and the fourth living creature is like a flying eagle. And as for the four living creatures, each one of them respectively has six wings; round about and underneath they are full of eyes. And they have no rest day and night as they say: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming.’”—Rev. 4:1-8.
15. (a) Why did John appropriately say later: “God is light”? (b) Why does such brightness befit the holy state of Him about which the living creatures chant?
15 To the apostle John’s eyes Jehovah God sparkled like a gem, the ancient jasper stone, and this also with the gleaming of a “precious red-colored stone.” In a literal way it was true of him just as John wrote a couple of years later: “God is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him.” (1 John 1:5) Nothing like sunspots in all the dazzling glory of this God. Such a clean brightness befits this ever-living One before whom the never slumbering cherubic living creatures ceaselessly say: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming.” Holiness means such a bright, clean, speckless state, and He is the very embodiment of a threefold holiness. Never may profane creatures intrude upon his holy presence. Beautifully framing the effulgence of light from His glorious person is a rainbow like an emerald in appearance “round about the throne.”
16. How is it shown in the vision that those throning in heaven are not too high to worship before this holy God?
16 Even those who are made kings in heaven are not too high to worship before this God Most Holy, for the apostle John says: “And whenever the living creatures offer glory and honor and thanksgiving to the one seated upon the throne, the one that lives forever and ever, the twenty-four older persons fall down before the one seated upon the throne and worship the one that lives forever and ever, and they cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.’”—Rev. 4:9-11.
INCREASING OUR ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD
17, 18. (a) As in the case of Job, what do religious critics challenge Jehovah’s witnesses to do, and what can we do about the challenge as such? (b) How is it possible to make God a part of our daily experience?
17 Ah, this is the God whom the religious critics of Jehovah’s witnesses challenge us to acquaint ourselves with, if we can do so, just the same as the faultfinding Temanite named Eliphaz challenged Job to do amid his sufferings. (Job 22:1, 21) We can take the modern-day challenge for what it is worth. Now of all times is the opportune time for us to acquaint ourselves with the ever-living God who bears the name Jehovah, the Almighty One. We may already be acquainted with him to some degree. So was Job, but God brought him into a more intimate acquaintance with himself, so that Job was moved to say: “In hearsay I have heard about you, but now my own eye does see you. That is why I make a retraction, and I do repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5, 6) Likewise, we can now increase our acquaintanceship with him.
18 Today as never before his written Word has been opened to human understanding. As a result, we can grow in appreciation of him through the greatly increased understanding that is now possible for us. We can pray to him with more accurate knowledge. We can rely upon him with more confidence, as if seeing him who is invisible. Thus we can make this only adorable God a part of our daily experience.
19. Our aquainting ourselves with God will mean what for us, and what things will certainly come to us?
19 It indeed means peace for us to acquaint ourselves with this God, not a superficial worldly peace, but a true peace that even the approaching destruction of this war-racked system of things cannot take away. In a world at enmity with God, we want the peace of friendship with Him. We want to be people toward whom God has goodwill. (Luke 2:14) By now becoming his “men of good will” it is certain that “good things will come” to us from Him, good things now when this world is experiencing so much bad, and good things in God’s promised new order of things, where we shall experience his goodness forever.