Jesus Christ – The God of Gods and the Prince of princes

Sam Shamoun

The prophet Daniel sees a vision of a ruler who emerges to take control of a divided kingdom and sets himself up against the heavenly powers, specifically against the Prince or Ruler (sar) of princes/rulers (sarim):

"It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low… He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power." Daniel 8:10-11, 25

The host that Daniel speaks of refers to the members of God’s heavenly council, just as the following passage indicates:

"Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, "Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?" One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, "I will entice him." "By what means?" the LORD asked. "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets," he said. "You will succeed in enticing him," said the LORD. "Go and do it."’" 1 Kings 22:19-22

Daniel further mentions that this same evil tyrant will oppose the God of gods:

"The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all." Daniel 11:36-37

The king’s opposition to God and his heavenly council is similar to the king of Babylon’s attempt of setting himself above the stars of God in an attempt to make himself like God:

"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit." Isaiah 14:3-4, 12-15

By stars, the prophet meant the members of God’s council, that the Babylonian ruler would seek to set himself over the heavenly host.

When we piece all of these texts together it seems plausible that the Prince of the host and the Prince of princes is the same figure whom Daniel later identifies as the God of gods. Seeing that the evil tyrant or the little horn spoken of by Daniel is said to oppose both it seems more likely that these are not different entities but different titles for one and the same Being.

Archangel Michael – One of many princes

Yet there are some exegetes who do not believe that the Prince of the host is the same as the God of gods. These expositors take the view that the Prince of the host is the archangel Michael on the basis of the following texts:

"But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes (ha sarim ha rishonim), came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia… but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince." Daniel 10:13, 21

The problem, however, is that these passages expressly state that Michael is only one of the princes, not that he is the chief prince. Therefore, Michael cannot be the Prince of princes.

The Angel of God as the Prince of the heavenly host

Our exegesis, however, does run into problems in light of the following reference:

"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ ‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as prince (sar) of the host of the LORD I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?’ The prince (sar) of the LORD's host replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15

In this passage the Prince of Yahweh’s host is clearly a distinct person from Yahweh, which seems to mitigate against our view that the Prince of the host of Daniel 8:11 is the same as the God of gods.

However, there is evidence that this Prince is the same entity as the Angel of Yahweh. For instance, like the Prince of the host of Yahweh the Angel wields a sword and receives worship:

"Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown." Numbers 22:31

Moreover, when Moses appears before the Angel he is commanded to take off his sandals since he is told that he standing on holy ground:

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God." Exodus 3:1-6

These factors persuasively argue for the Angel of God being the same Person as the Prince of the host, an identification that actually reinforces the fact that the Prince of the host is the God of gods since the Angel is said to be God and even identifies himself as Yahweh. For the sake of brevity we will limit ourselves to a couple of examples to prove this point:

"In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’" Genesis 31:10-13

"See, I am sending an Angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out." Exodus 23:20-23

The Angel is the God of the house of God (i.e. Bethel) and forgives sins, an exclusively Divine function. The Angel also embodies the Divine Name, which means that he is fully God in nature since to bear the Name is to bear God’s nature.

The Divine Son of Man who reigns forever

The prophet Daniel also saw a human figure riding on the clouds who was given an eternal kingdom where all peoples worshiped him:

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

What makes this amazing is that the reign of the Son of Man, and the worship he receives, is described in exactly the same way the prophet depicts Yahweh’s rule and worship:

"At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’" Daniel 4:34-35

"Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." Daniel 7:27

Yet for the Son of Man’s dominion to be presented in the same way that Yahweh’s reign is described implies that the former holds the highest position of authority there is, and must therefore be the Prince of princes and the Prince of the host. Otherwise, we must assume that there is another authority that is greater than the Son of Man despite the fact that the latter rules forever like the Most High and even receives the very worship which God alone is supposed to receive:

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’ … Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.’" Daniel 3:16-18, 28

Moreover, riding on the clouds was a Divine function, being the vehicle or means of transportation of the Deity:

“... Clouds often were associated with deity in the ancient world, and this being was no mere mortal… Another difficulty with the identification of the son of man as the people of God is that in v. 14 all the nations of the earth are said to ‘worship’ the son of man, and Scripture is clear that God alone is to be worshiped (cf. Rev 19:10). Another indicator of his deity is that the clouds accompany the son of man as he descends, and clouds commonly are associated with deity. Lacocque observes: ‘Out of a total of about a hundred occurrences in Scripture, in 70% of the cases, clouds refer to Sinai, or to the Temple (see I Kings 8.10-11; 2 Chr. 5.13-14; 2 Macc. 2:8; cf. the vision of the Merkaba in Ezek. 1:4 and 10:3-4), or to eschatological theophanies (Isa. 4.5; Ps. 97.2; Nahum 1.3).’ Young seems justified in stating, ‘There can be no question, but that Deity is intended here,’ and Baldwin remarks, ‘The son of man is not only king, but God, though, as is characteristic of apocalyptic style, this is conveyed in veiled terms.’ Verse 14 further reveals that ‘all’ humanity will worship the son of man, and ‘all’ humanity naturally would include the saints.” (The New American Commentary An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture – Daniel, Stephen R. Miller [Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994], Volume 18, pp. 207-209)

Hence, the Son of Man riding the clouds is a theophany, an appearance of a fully Divine Being in human form. This further substantiates that the Son of Man and the Prince of princes are one and the same Person.

Jesus Christ – The Divine Son of Man and Ruler of the Heavenly Host

According to the NT, the Lord Jesus is fully God in essence who coexisted with God (the Father) before creation:

"In the beginning (before creation) was the Word, and the Word was with God (the Father), and the Word was (fully) God (in essence and nature). He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been madeThe Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1-3, 14

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form," Colossians 2:9

Christ is further identified as the Son of Man who reigns forever, the very One whom all the nations must worship and serve:

"Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’" Mark 14:61b-62

"But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’" Luke 1:30-33

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’" Matthew 25:31-34

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him… And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." John 5:22-23, 27

"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’" Acts 7:55-56

"and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:11

"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord AND OF his Christ, and HE will reign for ever and ever.’" Revelation 11:15

Christ is also the Ruler of the kings of the earth, being King of kings and Lord of lords:

"and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14

The title King of kings and Lord of lords indicates that Jesus holds the highest position of authority and must therefore be the Prince of princes. After all, the One who is King over all kings and Lord above all lords will also be the Prince or Ruler of all other princes or rulers.

The next passage further substantiates this view:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16

Being King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ will be the One who will lead the armies of heaven in battle. The very fact that Christ leads the armies of heaven implies that he is the Prince of the host; and yet according to Daniel the One who rules the heavenly armies is also the Prince of princes.

Thus, according to the NT Jesus Christ is the Prince of the host and the Prince of princes, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, being the very God of gods as well as the Divine Son of Man who reigns forever and whom all peoples must worship.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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