In our study of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9.24-27) we proposed that the vision encompassed the time from when Daniel received the message (in the first year of Cyrus, 539 BC) until the time when God would bring His vengeance on the “one who makes desolate”. It seems that Rome is intended, the 4th empire in the visions of Daniel 2 and 7. That empire would oppose God’s rule, but would be destroyed in turn. Many things would occur in the span of that “70 sevens” including the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah, His death and the destruction of Jerusalem.
One may be tempted to assume that the final vision of the letter (Daniel 10-12) would be concerned with the final portion of the 70 sevens prophecy, but that is not the case. Just as Daniel’s vision of the 4 beasts (Daniel 7) was followed by a vision concerning the 2nd and 3rd empires (Daniel 8), the final vision of Daniel concerns the activities of Persia and Greece. Daniel would come to understand that hardship and suffering were in store for his people, yet he could also know that his God still ruled over the realm of mankind.
Prelude to the vision (Daniel 10.1-4 NASB95)
1In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.
2In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.
3I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.
4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
- The third year of Cyrus was 537 BC. By this time the first group of exiles had returned to Jerusalem (see Ezra 1).
- Interesting that this is the only time Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, is used after the 5th chapter. Perhaps it is used because he remained in the land of Israel’s captivity.
- We are not told why Daniel was mourning for three weeks. Given that the three week period ended on the 24th of the first month (vs. 4), we can know that the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred during this period of mourning. Perhaps news of opposition to the building of the temple had reached Daniel (see Ezra 4.4-5).
- Verse 3 details various ways in which Daniel mourned. Significantly, we can see that Daniel’s eating only vegetables (1.12,16) was a temporary measure.
Vision of the man dressed in linen (Daniel 10.5-9 NASB95)
5I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz.
6His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.
7Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves.
8So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength.
9But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
- The identification of this “man” is difficult. Most believe it is an angel, possibly Gabriel. Others believe it is a theophany, an appearance of God. Some believe the “man” in this passage is different from the “man” in vss. 10-21.
- Linen garments were the clothing of priests (see Leviticus 6.10; 16.4).
- The descriptive features in vs. 6 have parallels the creatures in Ezekiel 1.
- Body like beryl (Ezekiel 1.16)
- Face like lightning (Ezekiel 1.13-14)
- Eyes like torches (Ezekiel 1.13)
- Arms and feet like bronze (Ezekiel 1.7)
- Voice like a tumult (Ezekiel 1.24)
- The response of Daniel and his companions is similar to that of Saul and his companions in Acts 9.3-7.
- Finally, note the similarities between this “man” and the description of Christ in Revelation 1.12-16.
- For my part, I conclude that the “man” in vss. 5-9 is the same as the one in vss. 10-21. The vision is not of God Himself, for this is a messenger sent to Daniel (vs. 11). However, the messenger is certainly heavenly. Perhaps it is an angel, perhaps it is the Son of Man (7.13-14).
The message for Daniel (Daniel 10.11-21 NASB95)
10Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
11He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.
12Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.
- Three times in this passage the divine messenger touches Daniel to impart strength (vss. 10,16,18).
- Note that Daniel was held in high esteem (ESV “loved”) because of humbleness.
- Remember that Daniel had been mourning for 3 weeks (vss. 2-3). The messenger was sent to Daniel when he first started to mourn (compare 9.20,21,23).
13“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.
14“Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”
15When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.
16And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, “O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength.
17“For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.”
18Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me.
19He said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!” Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
20Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.
21“However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.
- The crux of this message is that the divine messenger was delayed because of conflict with the prince of Persia, but “Michael your prince” came to his aid. The conflict would continue with the prince of Persia and then with the prince of Greece (vs. 20). So, what is all of this about?
- Already Daniel had been shown that rulers of this world would be at war with God and His saints (7.21,25; 8.24-25; 9.26-27). And now the message the divine messenger bore would also indicate how human rulers would afflict God’s people (11.33-35).
- The point of this passage is to show that a spiritual conflict lay behind these earthly ones.
- Remember, our conflict is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6.12).
- I see a parallel between this and Revelation 12. In the preceeding chapters John recorded how God’s people were being persecuted by the rulers of that day (Rome) and how God was going to respond. Then in chapter 12 we see behind the curtain: Roman persecution of God’s people was in actuality Satan’s opposition to God and His saints. Significantly, Michael waged war with the dragon and the dragon was cast down (Revelation 12.7-9).
- Michael means “who is like God?” and thus is a fitting name for the protector of God’s people (see 12.1). Persia and Greece may be mighty powers, but God fights for His people and there are none who can stand up to Him!
- “A representative of Persia in the heavenlies is intended; Greece also has an angelic counterpart (20), and Michael, one of the chief princes, belongs to Israel. Evidently the hierarchy in the heavenlies is not a replica of that on earth, where little Israel had no prestige and Persia was the great dominating power… The heavenly warfare is to be directed against first Persia and then Greece, because each of these in turn will have power over God’s people. Though apparently defenceless, they have on their side the divine Messenger, who is assisted by Michael. The conflict will be such as to cause doubt as to whether God’s people can survive, and the vision is intended to give unshakeable assurance that, desperate as the situation will be, God is so fully in control as to be able to disclose the sequence of events before they happen.” (Joyce Baldwin, Tyndale Commentary).
- Finally, note that the divine messenger will tell Daniel “what is inscribed in the writing of truth” (vs. 21). While every word of God is true, the idea seems to be that God knows what will happen in advance, thus the message of future days is “true” (see vs. 14; 11.2).
- Human nations are generally against God. God used the Persian king to release His people from captivity (see Isaiah 44.28-45.1), but that doesn’t mean Persia was on the side of Jehovah. This vision coupled with the other visions (chapter 2,7,8) paint the picture of world kingdoms being opposed to Jehovah God. That is the general truth of this world. Yes, there may be some blessings found in some nations and kingdoms which are not found in others, but we mustn’t think that any nation of man is allied with Jehovah God. The “princes” of this world are at war with Him, but He is on our side!
- God’s rule is assured. His rule is emphasized in this passage because while the princes of Persia and Greece may oppose His messengers, they are not victorious. Furthermore, God’s knowing what will take place in the future (vss. 14,21) shows His sovereignty over what will transpire, and the assurance that He can and will deliver His people.
- Thus, Daniel could “take courage and be courageous”. Knowing that God rules and that He aids His people was the source of Daniel’s courage… and ours.
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