All human power, no matter how great, has a season. This is a huge theme of Daniel, God’s encouragement to a people in exile.
The Kings dream in the 2nd chapter, an idol with feet of clay that was smashed, was about the fall of kingdoms over time.
Now in Daniels dream the kingdoms are beasts the last of which is the most threatening and profane. But the appearance of the ancient of days, god the father brings their flesh-eating destruction to an end.
This is where those God cliches come from. White robes and hair, sitting on a throne throwing the beasts into a lake of fire. Temporal gone, eternal victorious for those who wait.
Human power is temporal and at god’s discretion. God’s power is and was forever.
Then the man appears, who is given dominion for ever. Daniel interprets the person as the holy people of god, but it is stunningly like Christ and Jesus will claim the name son of man for himself. From the clouds, worshipped by everyone, everywhere. We aren’t talking just about a return of the Israelites from exile, but a whole new kingdom.
It’s hard to remember how startling this is. Up to now so much of the blessing of God has been described in concrete terms. The lost garden of Eden is described as a geographical location in earth. Then the promised land is lost and found, god is in the portable tent until a temple is built.
Then that becomes his physical location on earth. The literal sacrifice system wins god’s favor, but the Israelites have little concept of heaven, just a shadowy notion of the afterlife.
It all must be smashed for this message. This vision of God’s kingdom is other worldly, and the promises persist even though the temple has been lost to Daniel. This god of justice is on a scale of the creator God from the start and from psalm 8.
The vision ought to be encouraging, since it says that the oppressive kingdoms will be replaced by God’s eternal kingdom. But Daniel finds it deeply disturbing.
Perhaps a problem is that it includes a slow time scale… Lots of kings before the triumph of God. When the Jews returned from exile they would have thought it was the fulfillment of this vision, but God is saying it will take more than a few years.