We’ve all seen cartoons that picture God as a robed and bearded old man, sitting on a throne, maybe leaning on a scepter for strength. Even Michelangelo’s famous painting in the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam, pictures God in this way.
In all likelihood, these modern-day depictions of God come from Daniel’s long-ago glimpse into heaven. In that famous vision, Daniel saw God personified as an elder—an ancient, wise man—who sat on a throne to rule and judge. With this image, God was referred to as the Ancient of Days.
What was God revealing about Himself in Daniel’s vision? What does it mean that God is called the Ancient of Days?
This mysterious phrase is probably meant to encompass most or all of the following: God is ageless and timeless. He is perfectly wise. The throne suggests the power and authority of one who rules.
The white clothing and hair likely are meant to picture holiness—though in today’s culture, we too often mistake them to mean that God is old, fragile, and out of touch with reality. But nothing could be further from the truth.
This description of God as the Ancient of Days is intended to inspire awe and humble submission. Only this One existed before time began.
He alone is Creator and Ruler and Judge of the universe. No one is older, more powerful, or more pure. We humans are bound by time, but the Ancient of Days stands outside time.
He is the sovereign King of everything. No wonder He says in Isaiah 43:13, “From ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13).
It’s interesting to note how Christ is portrayed by John in Revelation 1:14–15: “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.”
John’s vision reminds us that Jesus did not begin His existence lying in a manger in Bethlehem. Rather, He shares the eternal nature and power of God the Father.
It’s no wonder (or, actually, it is a wonder) that when confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus boldly stated, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58).
He was claiming to be the same One Daniel saw—eternal, all-powerful, sovereign, holy, wise, and good; not visible only to select prophets in rare visions, but living and moving among us (John 1:14).
The One who is the Ancient of Days can see us through the worst of days.
How does your current understanding of God need to change to better align with the truth that He is the awe-inspiring Ancient of Days?