After having gone into mourning for three weeks in response to experiencing the jarring vision of the climatic great military service between the two rival kings, Daniel had an astounding experience of the utmost relevance for Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
As the aged prophet walked on the bank of the Tigris River with some companions, he suddenly was confronted with a supernatural sight. Daniel relates the extraterrestrial encounter this way:
“I also proceeded to raise my eyes and see, and here was a certain man clothed in linen, with his hips girded with gold of Uphaz. And his body was like chrysolite, and his face like the appearance of lightning, and his eyes like fiery torches, and his arms and the place of his feet were like the sight of burnished copper, and the sound of his words was like the sound of a crowd. And I saw, I Daniel by myself, the appearance; but as for the men that happened to be with me, they did not see the appearance. However, there was a great trembling that fell upon them, so that they went running away in hiding themselves. And I—I was left remaining by myself, so that I saw this great appearance. And there was left remaining in me no power, and my own dignity became changed upon me to ruination, and I retained no power. And I began hearing the sound of his words; and while I was hearing the sound of his words, I myself also happened to be fast asleep upon my face, with my face to the earth.
Prior to this great appearance, Daniel had a similar encounter with the angel Gabriel, which also left the prophet in a trembling, lifeless heap on the ground. But apparently, the second appearance was even more overwhelming than the first.
It is important to note at this point that messengers of God, angels, do not typically manifest themselves to earthlings in this manner. Since the time Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden angels have occasionally made themselves visible to humans in various ways. For example, on that sad occasion when our original parents were escorted out of paradise, Jehovah posted a visible angel at the entrance to Eden with a perpetually revolving, flaming sword – no doubt a terrifying sight for any man who might have been tempted to sneak into the Garden to steal fruit from the Tree of Life.
After the Flood angels appeared to Abraham on numerous occasions, in less threatening manifestations – always in the form of ordinary men. Abraham even had a meal prepared for three incarnate angels.
The point is: Abraham was not knocked off his feet and terrified by their appearance. It also demonstrates that angels can interact visibly with humans and appear completely human themselves. So, what is the significance of Daniel seeing this “great appearance”? Was the angel just intent on over-awing Daniel?
First, Daniel’s description of the appearance and his reaction to it is very similar to the experience of the enraptured apostle John, when he received the Revelation from the glorified Lord Jesus. John also became as a dead man at the feet of Christ. And as with Daniel, John only recovered from his terror-stricken state when Jesus laid his hand upon him and encouraged him. Other similarities worthy of note: Both men were at the end of their natural life at the time of their “rapture.” Also, both the prophet and the apostle were captives to empires that make up the composite, political beast; both of which had already crushed and trampled upon Jerusalem at the time the prophets had their encounters.
As for John, as the last surviving apostle it was as though John survived unto the day of the Lord as a human – ironically, as the excited rumor about him intimated. (See John 21)
In view of the fact that over the course of his serving as a prophet while a captive in Babylon and later Persia, Daniel revealed much concerning the coming kingdom of the one whom he referred to as the Prince of princes, it was fitting that the prophet should personally participate in a dramatic encounter with a representation of the great prince himself – a transfiguration of sorts – which, serves as a prophetic foregleam of the ultimate, glorious manifestation of Jesus Christ to the chosen ones during the parousia.
It is noteworthy that the men accompanying Daniel did not visually see the appearance, yet they were overcome with terror, sensing that they were in the proximity of something awesome and terrible. Consequently, they fled and hid themselves – leaving Daniel by himself in the presence of the “great appearance.”
Centuries later the murderous Pharisee named Saul had a life-changing, close encounter with the glorified Lord Jesus. His experience was similar to that of Daniel. In the case of Saul, he was knocked off his feet by a brilliant flash of light and consequently blinded for three days; whereas, the men that were with him heard the voice of the Lord, but did not see the lightening-like flash.
Now, consider more closely Daniel’s experience. After the initial shock, the prophet relates what happened next: “And, look! there was a hand that touched me, and it gradually stirred me up to get upon my knees and the palms of my hands. And he proceeded to say to me: ‘O Daniel, you very desirable man, have understanding in the words that I am speaking to you, and stand up where you were standing, for now I have been sent to you.’ And when he spoke with me this word, I did stand up, shivering. And he went on to say to me: ‘Do not be afraid, O Daniel, for from the first day that you gave your heart to understanding and humbling yourself before your God your words have been heard, and I myself have come because of your words.’”
Apparently, when Daniel first saw the appearance it was from some distance – not necessarily far off, but perhaps not within touch. But then the appearance approached Daniel and touched him and spoke reassuringly to him. In other words, the “great appearance” ministered to Daniel.
This aspect of the encounter typifies the parousia. How so? In the 12th chapter of Luke Jesus assured his little flock that his Father had approved of giving them the kingdom, the kingdom about which Daniel prophesied in connection with the holy ones. In that context, though, Christ sternly warned his disciples to stay on the watch for his thief-like return, saying to them: “Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to you, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them.”
As Jehovah’s Witnesses know, the Greek word parousia, consistently translated as “presence” in the New World Translation, literally means ‘a coming alongside’ – particularly, the visitation of a royal personage. This coming alongside and ministering is what was enacted in Daniel’s encounter.
Why did the angel describe Daniel as a “very desirable man”? It was because Daniel symbolizes the chosen ones during the parousia – of whom Jesus said, ‘their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father.’ In other words, they are precious in the eyes of God because by his great love he has adopted them as his very own sons in company with his dearly beloved, Only-begotten Son.
It is especially noteworthy that once the angel had come alongside Daniel and ministered to him, uplifting him, then the angel stated his purpose in coming. It was in order to make Daniel discern the future. However, Daniel could not possibly understand how the visions he recorded for us would be fulfilled in reality. In fact, after the angel had finished relating the vision of the kings of the north and south, in the 12th chapter Daniel confessed that he could not understand, to which the angel responded that the book was sealed up until the time of the end.
So, Daniel merely prefigures the holy ones who will ultimately understand all the sacred secrets at the revelation of Christ – not through mere Bible study, but by becoming “eyewitnesses of his magnificence” – as the apostle Peter said he had been in connection with the Transfiguration, which, of course, was a foregleam of the actual parousia. And not coincidently, in the 13th chapter of Matthew Jesus said that during the conclusion (“time of the end”) ‘the chosen ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.’
Please remember that in the Transfiguration Peter said that Jesus’ “face shone as the sun.” Likewise, John, who also witnessed the Transfiguration, said in Revelation that his “countenance was as the sun.” Daniel similarly described his appearance as lightening. Obviously, if the chosen ones are to shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of Jehovah then they too must take on a glorious nature. This is exactly what John was foretelling when he wrote at I John 3:2: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”
The sacred secret is: Peter and John, along with Daniel, saw visions of the manifestation of Christ to the children of God. At the point at which Christ becomes visibly manifest to them, they then become as he is, which is the meaning of the chosen ones shining as brightly as the sun. By that means, the sons of God will then be revealed to expectant creation.
Their shining as brightly as the sun will be in stark contrast to the bleak condition of the world during the tribulation, when the sun, moon and stars will appear to have been snuffed out.
(For certain, such symbolisms betokens the collapse of the present system. However, perhaps the prophecies will be fulfilled in a more literal way too, such as by means of high altitude EMP blasts that knock out the electric grid, literally eliminating all artificial lighting; or, the heavenly luminaries may even literally be partially obscured by great billowing plumes of toxic debris blown heavenward by multiple thermonuclear blasts around the world.)
But it is at that time that the presence of Christ will be as the lightning, which flashes from one end of the sky to the other. What Jesus was saying is: the chosen ones would not need to be gathered to a specific location in order to see Christ. He will manifest himself to each one individually, no matter where they are on earth; just as a great flash of lightning lights up a vast swath of sky, so that the flash is visible to many no matter where they are on the earth. And although all people on earth will feel the awesome tremble of the Lord’s presence, causing them to become faint with fright, like the case of the companions of both Daniel and Saul, they will not personally see Jesus, as will the chosen ones.
Up to this point Jehovah’s Witnesses have been laboring under a massive hoax foisted upon them by Satan’s man of lawlessness – the hoax of an invisible parousia. This, of course, is the “operation of error” that Jehovah allows to go forth to those who otherwise know the truth.
During the initial phase of the conclusion of the system of things the Watchtower Society will be discredited and ultimately collapse. After all, the Watchtower has repeatedly assured Jehovah’s Witnesses that the only prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet have to do with the destruction of Babylon the Great. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses are completely oblivious to the present reality that the world is teetering on the edge of an abyss and all that is needed is the slightest spark to set off a global conflagration.
Just as Daniel was captive in Persia when he confessed his sins and the sins of his people, and as a result the angel appeared to him to enlighten and strengthen him; so too, Jehovah’s Witnesses are certain to be humbled, and many stumbled, but after the shakeout the true sons of God will confess their sins (among other things, the sin of preaching a phony parousia for over a century – including the 1874 fraud), and be forgiven. At which point Christ will come alongside them to minister to them.
The 11th chapter of Revelation speaks to this very situation. First, the holy city and the temple are given to the nations to trample upon for forty-two months. (The appointed times of the nations) Then, the two witnesses (symbolized by Moses and Elijah who appeared in the Transfiguration conversing with Christ) will finish the work of Christ in symbolic sackcloth after they will have seen his manifestation, at which point they will be killed by the beast – as Daniel figuratively was when he was thrown into the lion’s den.
The preaching work of the two witnesses parallels what Daniel foretold as regards the disturbing reports that will spook the king of the north into a genocidal rage. Those “reports” no doubt will be the various reports that Christ has appeared to certain ones.
No doubt, too, the present organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses will experience a great, destiny-determining schism, with many choosing to cling to their cherished “operation of error,” while the true sons of God are revealed to the faithful – who then will cling to the figurative skirt of the spiritual Jew in company with Christ. This is what is to befall Daniel’s people during the time of the end. (See previous article)
During a time of great tyranny and confusion, the unfaithful Watchtower loyalists will then betray into death many who will have accepted Christ’s visible presence – even as Jesus foretold: “Moreover, you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death; and you will be objects of hatred by all people because of my name.”