What does God's title Ancient of Days mean?
The title "Ancient of Days" is from the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. Daniel 7:9 refers to this Ancient of Days, stating, "As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire." This Ancient of Days sat on a throne as king. He wore bright white clothing and had hair like wool. Both likely symbolize the purity of the Lord. The fire likely symbolized purity and judgment. The wheels may also refer to His power and ability to move in any direction He pleases.
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Daniel mentions this title two other times in chapter 7. In verse 13 we read, "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him." Here the Ancient of Days is God the Father and the son of man is a Messianic reference to Jesus.
In Daniel 7:21-22 we also find, "As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom." Here a sweeping vision is given regarding the return of Christ to give judgment as part of Daniel's end times vision.
Based on these three passages, the Ancient of Days is a clear reference to Deity, but in what ways? The idea appears to refer to God being from the beginning or from of old. This sounds very similar to what we find in Psalm 90:2 that God is "from everlasting to everlasting" or Isaiah 44:6 that refers to God as "the first and … the last." The overall idea is one referring to the eternality of God, an attribute unique only to the Lord as the Supreme Being or Ancient of Days.
Some scholars also suggest that the concept of Ancient of Days refers to God existing before or prior to the existence of days. If so, this would agree with what is found in the first verse of the Bible that declares, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). This opening is followed by God's creative work in six days and rest on the seventh. The first day of creation included the creation of light and the separation of light from darkness into day and night (Genesis 1:5). The Ancient of Days existed prior to these days of creation, existing literally as the Ancient of Days.
There is some debate among scholars regarding whether the title Ancient of Days refers to God the Father or God the Son in these passages. Daniel 7:13 is clearly referring to God the Father since the "son of man" comes before Him. Because some see Daniel 7:22 as referring to Jesus returning in judgment, the Ancient of Days is here often viewed as a reference to Jesus. In either case, Ancient of Days refers to Deity, emphasizing the idea that the Lord is eternal. Further, Daniel's prophecies predict a future day when the Lord will return to provide a perfect final judgment.
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