As we transition from chapter 9 to 10 we enter what can only be described as the final movement of the Book of Daniel. In fact, while all kinds of different issues will be addressed, you will find that chapters 10, 11, and 12 are basically one continuous, prophetic passage.
Let’s dive in… Daniel 10:1, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar (this had been the Chaldean name given to him back in chapter 1). The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.”
Verse one now places Daniel “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” making him a very old man in his mid to late ’80s. As we’ve noted before, while Cyrus was the king of the entire Medo-Persian Empire, Darius had been appointed ruler over the province of Babylon. The point is each of their reigns began with the fall of Babylon and run parallel with one another.
Two weeks ago in our ramp up for the 70-Weeks Prophecy, Daniel 9:1 placed that particular vision occurring “in the first year of Darius” — which would have also been the first year of Cyrus as well. The backdrop for this glorious revelation is that Daniel’s heart weighed heavily concerning the fate of Israel and God’s future plan for the Hebrew people.
Not only did God answer his prayers by providing him an incredible view of the future, but historically something else took place between Daniel 9 and 10 that is relevant specifically to this chapter. Ezra 1, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying…
‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? (Who’s ready to return for this important task?) May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem…’”
Almost immediately following the events of chapter 9, King Cyrus issues this official decree allowing a group of God’s people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Not only did Cyrus’ order grant the Jews legal standing and the protection of Persia, but Ezra 1 also records how this king “brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem” giving them back to their rightful owners.
These holy artifacts would be allowed to return to there proper place and appropriate use in the house of God. Knowing the future, I’m sure the moment was bittersweet for Daniel.
Keep in mind, by the time chapter 10 opens, under the leadership of Zerubbabel about 50,000 Jews have now returned to the land, the altar had been rebuilt so that sacrifice and offerings could commence, a group of new priests had been anointed, and the foundation of the Temple was nearing completion. Note: Ezra would come about 88 years later.
And yet, while this marked incredible progress all things considering, by the third year of Cyrus’ reign, things are not fine and dandy! Daniel has not only gone through his lion’s den trial, but he’s received word the Temple project had stalled and opposition mounted.
According to Ezra 4, within just 2 years, the people who’d come to occupy the land during the Jewish exile “discourage the people of Judah.” In fact, “they troubled them in building and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia.” I can imagine news of these developments would have bothered Daniel greatly!
It’s with these things in mind we’re told “a message was revealed to Daniel” — one that he clearly “understood.” As we’re going to see next Sunday, while a few new details will emerge, a significant portion of this vision was a repeating of an earlier prophecy recorded in Daniel 8 dealing with Persia, the rise of the Grecian Empire under the leadership of Alexander the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes, and his foreshadowing of the Antichrist.
Additionally, we read in verse 1 that, while the message “was true (or sure), the appointed time (or when these things would happen) was long.” Basically, the vision Daniel records in the next few chapters he knew wouldn’t be fulfilled until many, many years into the future. As we’ll see there is still a great portion of this vision still yet to be fulfilled in history.
Daniel 10:2-3, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. (The reports he received from Jerusalem no doubt worried him.) I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth (he’s fasting from meat and wine), nor did I anoint myself at all (he refused to take a bath or clean himself), till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
Though we aren’t told this specifically in these verses, the context of what comes next indicates Daniel has spent these “three weeks” in concentrated prayer. Daniel is upset and grieved, but he’s not throwing himself a pity party. Instead, he’s seeking a word from God.
Daniel 10:4-9, “Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month (so three days after this three week period), as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz (finest gold in the world)! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.”
According to these verses, Daniel is with a group of men (likely colleagues) “by the side of the great river Tigris” when he receives this “vision” of “a certain man.” Though Daniel says he was the only one who could “see the vision,” the men he was with were keenly aware something crazy was happening. He says, “A great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.” These men could sense the presence of a power they could not see!
Additionally, at the sight of this “certain man,” Daniel says his “strength” left him and his “vigor was turned to frailty.” One commentator remarked that this word “frailty” suggested a “death-like paleness, combined with a grotesque wrenching of facial features.” Completely overwhelmed and overcome by what he’s seeing and hearing from this man, Daniel tells us he collapses “with his face to the ground” as if he were in a “deep sleep.”
Daniel 10:10-11, “Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands (Daniel is already freaked out by what he’d seen — this vision. Now feeling “a hand touch him” causes him to loose it!). And he said to me (while we’ll learn this is an angel the fact he remains nameless indicates he’s not Gabriel), ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved (this is now the second time from a second source God’s love is affirmed), understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.”
Before we continue we do need to address the identity of the man in Daniel’s initial vision within the context of what we just read. Basically, is the “certain man” the same as the one who’s “hand touched Daniel” or someone altogether different?
Let me explain why this is a worthy consideration… If the “certain man” that caused this elderly prophet to hit the ground is also the unnamed angel in verse 10 who “touched Daniel” and then continues to converse with him for the next two chapters, then the description we have provided in verses 5 and 6 should be interpreted as being that of an angelic being of some kind. And to be completely fair, this position is entirely possible.
However, it should be pointed out the text doesn’t say the “certain man” Daniel sees in his vision is the same as the one who “touched him.” In fact, it’s possible the angel who touched and spoke with Daniel and the “certain man” described in verses 5 and 6 are two different beings. If that’s the case, who then is the “certain man” in Daniel’s vision?
The first clue as to this man’s identity is the similarities found in Daniel’s description and the one of the glorified Jesus provided by the Apostle John in Revelation 1. Let me read for you John’s account, “I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet (in the capacity of Jesus presently acting as our High Priest in heaven we know this “garment” would have been a “linen”) and He was girded about the chest with a golden band (“waist girded with gold”).
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow (“his face like the appearance of lightning”), and His eyes like a flame of fire (“his eyes like torches of fire”); His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace (“his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color”), and His voice as the sound of many waters (“sound of his words like the voice of a multitude”); He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength (“body was like beryl”).”
There is no question this “certain man” Daniel sees in chapter 10 is almost identical to the description of the heavenly Jesus provided by John some 650 years later!
The second clue that points to this man being a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus can be found in the similar reactions of Daniel and John to His presence. John writes in Revelation 1, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” Daniel says that when he saw Him “no strength remained in me” and “my vigor was turned to frailty.” He adds, “While I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.”
The final clue that this vision of a “certain man” was actually an appearance of Jesus Christ some 530 years before the Incarnation is not as obvious, but just as spectacular. In Acts 9 we read that as Saul “came near Damascus suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.”
Before we move on please know Jesus is not only presently alive, but His countenance and demeanor is radicle. In fact, as illustrated by the reactions of John and Daniel, we know the aura of Jesus will initially drive every man or woman to their face in adoration the very moment they enter His presence. My friend, whether you believe in Jesus or not, the day is coming when everyone will find themselves face to face with the resurrected Jesus.
In Philippians 2:9-11 the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Not a single soul entering eternity will be in denial regarding the Lordship of Jesus! For some Jesus will be forever known as the Judge who poured out on them everlasting punishment. For others, Jesus will be forever known as the Savior on whom their judgment was poured out so that they might enjoy everlasting life! How you see Jesus today will determine how you view Him then!
Let’s continue… Daniel 10:12, “Then he (the angel) said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”
Two years earlier Daniel had received the 70-Weeks Prophecy giving him a specific timeline for God’s future handling of Israel. Then Daniel watched with amazement as Cyrus allowed the Jews to return home and rebuild the Temple. That said… With news that the rebuilding of the Temple was not going smoothly, Daniel’s heart fills with a doubt leading to fear.
Daniel knows much about the future, but questions abound. He wants to “understand” so, some twenty-four days before this angel arrives, Daniel “humbled himself before the Lord” and came to Him in prayer. And yet, following these three weeks, Daniel is still in the dark. God hadn’t responded. Daniel’s afraid maybe God wouldn’t. “Do not fear, Daniel!”
Understand… In the place of his fear concerning the future, God does two things in Daniel’s life. First, God reminds Daniel He was present! In the context of his doubts, this awesome revelation of Jesus was designed to remind Daniel He was not only there but very much in control. The second thing God does is He reiterates His Word! Again, much of this vision is nothing more than a repeating of what God has already revealed to Daniel.
I must say it’s only natural to look around at the chaos in this world and be overcome with fear. Churches are closed while abortion clinics and casinos remain operational. Rioters in the streets are ignored while pastors who dare open their doors are threatened with arrest.
Equal protection under the law no longer exists as our courts have seemingly granted governmental bureaucrats the freedom to pick and choose winners and losers. Sadly, the fourth estate has become nothing more than the propaganda arm of a progressive cancer.
Today, there is much to fear. Aside from this global pandemic, the economic implications, and whether or not it’s safe for our kids to attend school… Our cities burn while our elective representative's fiddle. Shutdowns have crushed small businesses and decimated family savings while the elites in our society seem to prosper. The police are demonized and defunded as criminal behavior decimates vulnerable minority communities.
The racist's actions of a few towards blacks have now become the moral justification to alienate, segregate, and persecute whites. Our history is being erased by the mob meaning we’re destined to repeat it. The belief all lives matter has now been branded as systemic racism and will get you fired and thrown out of the public square. We live in a day when it’s considered an anathema to stand for the singing of our National Anthem.
As we approach a pivotal election cycle this November the American people have been divided into two warring factions with zero common ground. We all know neither side will accept the results. Our country sits upon a powder keg ready to blow. When the silent majority in our nation is pushed too far the results will be catastrophic. Should any of us be surprised over the last three months gun and ammo sales have reached an all-time high?
People turn on the news and are afraid. There’s reason to be! Even Christians who know the future are susceptible to such a tendency. And yet, as we see with Daniel, if we get our focus back on who Jesus is and what God’s Word has revealed concerning the future, we have nothing to fear, but fear itself! God is still here and remains very much in control!
How amazing it must have been for Daniel to have this angel confirm that God had indeed heard his prayer and sent this angel with a response. And yet, if on “the first day” he started praying this angel had been sent with an answer, why was he just now showing up?
Daniel 10:13-14, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days (which would have been the entire three weeks Daniel had been praying); and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Let’s pause for just a moment and consider what we just read… Daniel has been praying for 21 days and received nothing from the Lord. Silence! At the end of these three weeks, Daniel likely concludes God wasn’t going to answer his prayer so he decides to get back to his normal routine and business. Three days later this angel appears to him, confirms the Lord had heard his prayers, and that he’d been sent by God with an answer.
The angel then provides the reason for his delay… While he’d been dispatched the moment Daniel made his request to the Lord, he says, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood him twenty-one days.” He then explains, “I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia” and wouldn’t have made it to Daniel if it hadn’t been for the intervention of “Michael, one of the chief princes” who “came to help me!” What!?
Not only is this a gnarly passage because of what’s being described, but it’s an important one for it gives us a unique insight into the spiritual realm around us. As such, I want to take a few minutes and dissect this text in order to make a few important observations.
For starters, I think it’s safe to say “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” and “the kings of Persia” are not a reference to humans, but some kind of supernatural, angelic beings. Let’s be real — no mortal man or woman has the strength or ability to take on an angel!
Furthermore, there is no doubt the exchange being described had to of taken place in an unseen spiritual dimension and not within our physical world. God sends an angel from heaven with a message for Daniel in response to prayer. Daniel is in Babylon. On the way, this angel says he was withstood and detained for 21 days by other angels!
I should add the interaction of this angel with Daniel (his physical appearance, ability to speak with him using human language, as well as the fact he touches Daniel) tells us these angelic beings are inter-dimensional — meaning they can appear and disappear from the physical world at will. Again, the Apostle Paul would write in Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
While most of the time angels appear to be used by God as messengers, their ministry isn’t limited to just being a divine postal service. Later in this chapter, we’ll actually see this angel encourage and minister to Daniel. Again, in Hebrews, we read, “Are angels not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
We can also reasonably conclude that because these angels are directly prohibiting an important message sent by God from reaching its intended destination (the prophet Daniel in Babylon) by actively thwarting the messenger (the angel), the beings described are evil and what we’d call fallen angels or demons. They joined in Satan’s rebellion.
In addition to these things, our text infers that within this angelic world operating in this unseen spiritual dimension there is a hierarchy and delineation of authority. Angels and demons alike are given jobs, have particular responsibilities, must submit to angelic leaders who occupy positions above them and even possess ranks. From our text not only do we have “the prince” assigned to “the kingdom of Persia” implying an organizational structure (his responsibility is Persia), but these “kings” appear to be under his direct jurisdiction.
Finally — and this will blow your mind, but the text is clear that, with regards to angels themselves, there exists a diversity of both power and stature as well. If you take a dive into this topic you’ll find the Bible describing different kinds of angelic beings — meaning not all angels are created the same! Traditionally, we know of the Seraphim (who exist around the throne of God to praise the Most High — Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1) and Cherubim (angels commissioned to guard special things like the Tree of Life and Ark of the Covenant).
And yet, in Ephesians 6, Paul expands this list much further… “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
One expert on this topic makes a compelling case that there may actually be a difference between what we consider to be fallen angels and demons. Referencing where Jude describes “angels who did not keep their proper domain” it may be that demons are a special class of fallen angels desperate to indwell a body of some kind because of some trippy interactions with humans documented in Genesis 6.
Regarding the angelic interactions described in this passage, it’s interesting that this one angel sent by God was no match for this Persian delegation of fallen angels, while this delegation was collectively no match for this angel Michael — “one of the chief princes.”
As one of only three named angelic beings (Gabriel and Lucifer being the other two), according to Jude, Michael uniquely holds the title Archangel. In Revelation 12, we’re told he leads the angelic hosts into battle against Satan implying a form of equality with him. And in Daniel 12 we’ll learn Michael’s main assignment is to stand guard over Israel.
There are really two big points you should take away from a text like this… First, there is so much more happening around you then you can see! Daniel thought God’s silence to his prayer may have been indifference. What he didn’t know was that a war was being waged in the spiritual realm prohibiting the messenger from the delivery of God’s answer.
I need to add this particular occurrence is unique to an Old Testament context. Because Jesus is presently acting as our High Priest in heaven and we’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit, demonic forces have no power to limit or restrict our interactions with God.
That said… Friend, please do not be ignorant of the fact this very moment all around you exists a spiritual dimension as real as the physical one you can see. In fact, our realization of this reality is critically important if we’re to be effective in our calling!
In 2 Kings 6, we read how the servant of Elisha the prophet woke up one morning only to discover the city they were in had been surrounded by a great Syrian army seeking to arrest the prophet. Filled with fear this servant comes to Elisha freaking out. To calm his concerns we read in 2 Kings 6:17, “Elisha prayed, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Christian, God is on our side!
As believers, living in a fallen world under the control and influence of Satan, we must not be ignorant of what’s really going on. Not only are there evil, Satanic forces motivating much of the human behavior we see in the world (racism, terrorism, greed, lawlessness, violence and brutalities, murdering the unborn, Christian persecution), but your power to stand in the physical world can only happen when your strength is found in the spiritual one!
In 1 John 4:1-4 the Apostle reminds us… “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
The second big idea you should take with you from Daniel’s experience centers on why God would allow this angelic conflict to delay His response for 24 days? I mean let’s be real… It’s not as though God was somehow powerless to intervene or that these demonic forces could operate contrary to His intentions. As illustrated in the earthly ministry of Jesus, the entire spiritual realm is beholden to His commands and will.
In light of this, I believe God allowed this delay in order to teach Daniel an important lesson equally applicable to you and I… Remember, the chapter begins with Daniel explaining that he’d been in “mourning three full weeks” over the bad news he’d received from Jerusalem.
As he prayed and sought the Lord for these 21 days, he adds that he “ate no pleasant food,” abstained from all “meat and wine,” even refusing to “anoint himself” or bathe. The clear and obvious frustration was that in spite of all of these things God seemed silent.
Now what makes that interesting is in verse 12 the angel tells Daniel that “from the first day you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” You see the implications of God sending an answer on the “first day” tell us everything Daniel had done over these “three weeks” in order to illicit a divine response (the time, fasting, and self-denial) hadn’t been necessary!
Christian, it’s a shame but so much of our understanding of prayer has been tragically rooted in legalism. We pray long prayers, filling them with big words we don’t understand, in order to sound holy. We even couple these things with fasting and self-depravation. And we do all of this often in an attempt to conjure up a response from God.
The irony of ironies is none of these things are required! God loves us and our relationship with Him has no basis in our merit, deservedness, or ability to do things to cause Him to care anymore about us than He already does. You see Daniel’s approach missed the mark, but our access to His throne was given through His grace, not earned by our works. God is not a genie you have to rub the right way in order to get Him to respond. Instead, He’s a doting Father excited when His kids want to spend time with Him.
It’s not an accident the prayer Jesus modeled contained only 66 words, was simplistic, and straightforward! In fact, one of the most successful prayers in all of the Bible only contained three words… As Peter began to sink below the waters, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Guess what happened? Jesus heard his prayer and immediately responded.
In fact, it was the religious Pharisees who prayed like Daniel that Jesus took umbrage with. In Luke 18:9-14 we read that Jesus “spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
For the sake of time, we’re going to have to stop here, but I must reiterate the reality the first 14 verses of Daniel 10 should encourage you and me in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty not to fear! Yes, there are evil forces at work beyond what we can see, but we’re filled with the Holy Spirit! In the place of fear look again to Jesus! He’s not abandoned us. Things are not happening outside of His control. And His Word concerning the future remains sure.
While Daniel needed to learn what wasn’t needed for God to hear and respond to his prayer — and it had nothing to do with the time he spent or things he denied himself of, our passage does affirm what is absolutely necessary. Friend, it was the moment Daniel “set his heart and humble himself before his God” that the Lord heard his voice and respond!
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