9“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.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
13“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.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
When Igor Stravinsky’s Ballet “The Rite of Spring” premiered in Paris, in May of 2013, it caused quite a stir. In fact, it seems to have inflamed the audience. A near riot ensued. The reports vary of exactly what happened, but the police may have been called. Stravinsky’s work has since been acclaimed as one of the great works of the century. But at the time the music and choreography broke so many rules that people could not handle it. A year later, when the work was to be performed again, the civil authorities stationed extra police nearby. But nothing happened. It seems that once exposed to the strange new music, people could listen to it. It was something that only affected them this way upon the first hearing of it.
How will I react to the scene which Daniel depicts here? Because he wrote this, I can imagine it, I suppose. Will it be different when it is a real thing before my eyes? Everyone knew Stravinsky was a creative composer who did some outlandish things. I doubt that the folks who put on their tuxedoes and evening gowns and headed to the ballet that night were quite prepared for the assault on their senses which ensued.
I think for Daniel this must have been especially difficult. He did not know the incarnation of Jesus like we do. He looked forward to it, but the prophetic vision is not the same as that of Peter, James, and John’s experience of the Christ. Thanks to their witness to Christ, I read that line about one “like a son of man” in vs. 13, and I recognize someone in this story. My Jesus is there, my Shepherd, my Savior. I marvel as all the power of the universe is vested in the one who loves me. She sheer magnitude of what Daniel sees should terrify us. But open your eyes and see. It is Jesus who smiles at you from that eternal throne and the position of all dominion, power, and authority. If you want to hear Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” you can find the London Philharmonic playing it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkwqPJZe8ms . I learned a great deal about this event from this retelling of the story on Radiolab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMSscm0AzHk which suggests that all these new sounds may have affected the brains of the hearers in a strange way.