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Daniel's Vision of the Latter Days Part 1 (Daniel 10)

Daniel chapters 10 though 12 are dealing with a single vision that Daniel received late in his life.  We notice that in the seventy weeks prophecy there were three intervals of time in the vision.  The first interval dealt with the period of time from the decree of Cyrus where he authorized the rebuilding of the temple to the time when it, the streets and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. 

The temple and the city had been destroyed by king Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire because of Israel's idolatry.  Nebuchadnezzar's reason for destroying Jerusalem was because her kings insisted on revolting against him and he decided to put an end to them thus setting a grim example to other nations within his empire of his tolerance for such behavior.  Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem on his way to conquer Egypt and sent several captives and some of the temple vessels back to Babylon.  He then set a king (Jehoiachin), on the throne and exacted a tribute from Israel to be paid yearly.  Jehoiachin, also known Coniah and Jeconiah in scripture, wasted no time in withholding the yearly tribute and was replaced with Zedekiah who rebelled as well.  For this third time that Nebuchadnezzar had to deal with Israel, he made a wasteland out of Jerusalem and utterly destroyed the ancient temple that Solomon had built centuries earlier.

From the first overthrow of Nebuchadnezzar to the decree issued by Cyrus was a period of seventy years as prophesied by Jeremiah.  Following was a period of time in which the city and the temple was rebuilt.  This period of time was the first interval of the seventy weeks prophecy by Daniel as recorded in chapter 9.  The third interval was Messianic and started with the crucifixion of Christ and continued for an indefinite period of time and encompassed the gospel age up to the time when the new covenant had been both fully revealed and fully confirmed.  Both the first and third intervals of the seventy weeks prophecy included specific events which would and did take place during these time periods with amazing accuracy.  The second interval in the seventy weeks prophecy only received a passing mention.   

The first interval was for seven sevens, the second interval was for sixty two sevens and the third interval was for one seven, totaling seventy sevens in all.  The sixty two sevens is the period of time between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the crucifixion of Christ which included all the events associated with the coming of the new covenant.  There were no details regarding the sixty two weeks (sevens) given except what was necessary to identify the beginning of it and the end of it (Daniel 9:25-26).  Daniel's last recorded vision of his life is a vision of the events that will occur, for the most part, in the sixty two weeks (sevens), interval of the seventy weeks prophecy and then goes beyond to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD where the time period for this vision ends.  Everything that was prophesied in Daniel chapter 10 through 12 has been fulfilled. 

Daniel Chapter 10 does not get into the actual vision itself.  What we see in this first chapter is an account of the facts leading up to vision and an introduction to some heavenly beings and we learn that there are events going on with the affairs of Daniel's world which are being carried out under the direction of spiritual beings.  What we will take away from this chapter is that the events of the nations of earth at that time are not all progressing without direction and are under the supervision of celestial beings and in accordance with a predetermined plan of divine origin.  The conclusion can be drawn that this has not changed and that all the events we have seen in history and that will be seen in the future are likewise following a master plan which scripture says has been in place since before the foundation of the world. 

Let us make an observation before we get into this part of Daniel's last recorded vision.  It is human nature to want to know more of the unseen things which go on around us.  It is easy to allow oneself to speculate and this is not a bad thing as long as we contain our speculation to just that and not allow it to be presented as an absolute truth.  There are absolute truths in scripture.  And absolute truth is something that can be demonstrated from scripture as being the truth in all cases with no exceptions.  An example of an absolute truth is that we must hear, believe and obey God if we want to please Him with our lives of service to Him.  The steps for becoming a Christian and then living the Christian life faithfully are clearly spelled out in scripture and we can know for an absolute certainty that we are saved.  John tells us this in 1 John 3:24 where he says our obedience to God is how we can know we are living in Christ.  It is an absolute truth that obedience to the will of God is necessary in order to live in Christ. 

There are other things in scripture which are not as clearly spelled out.  These things are shrouded in mystery with only clues scattered here and there which we must assemble carefully in order to gain some understanding of them.  Examples of this are the angels and how they work behind the scenes to bring about God's purpose on earth.  An error in this understanding does not constitute sin because there is no transgression of God's law involved with an erroneous understanding of this.  A misunderstanding of the role of angels does not constitute a transgression of God's will because we are not commanded to understand the workings of angels perfectly.  There is an absolute truth regarding the workings of angels, but there is insufficient evidence in scripture to know the absolute truth of how they work and all that they do.  We do not know for certain just how Satan came to be what he did and why he made the choices he made.  We do not know for certain why some of the angels chose to reject God's will and follow Satan.  We do not know for sure how this all works in God's grand plan but we do know that it does.  What is important to keep in mind is that speculation is just that and no more and it would be unwise to go beyond that and teach it as an absolute truth. 

I have gone into detail on this because Daniel chapter 10 opens up a wide opportunity for insight into the mysterious workings going on behind the scenes and it is very easy to make hypotheses beyond the text and get into the realm of speculation.  I have noticed in my research of this chapter that the really good commentaries refrain from going beyond just the provable facts of Daniel 10.  This is probably the wisest course of action in that the authors have avoided speculation altogether and have not opened themselves up to criticism.  Nevertheless, it is impossible to study this intriguing chapter of scripture from Daniel and not try and draw conclusions from it based on little tidbits and pearls of knowledge gleaned from other places in scripture.  I am not going to resist this temptation in my preparation of this study.  I am going to speculate but before we get into it, I want it made perfectly clear that conjecture is what it is and no more.  I will lay the facts out and it will be up to the readers themselves to make their own applications and do their own hypothesizing.  When I do submit to the temptation to speculate, I will clearly indicate that I am doing so.  So with this disclaimer in place, let us now look to the text of a very interesting and intriguing chapter of scripture. 

Daniel 10:1
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.

Daniel receives this vision in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia who became the sole ruler of Medo-Persian empire in 536 BC.  This would make the date about 533 BC.  Cyrus was reigning over the Medo-Persian empire when Gubaru conquered the city of Babylon.  Cyaxares, the uncle of Cyrus and a Median, reigned over the Babylonian province until he died in 536 making Cyrus the sole ruler of the Medo-Persian empire. The years of the captivity add up to seventy this way and it is my belief that this best fits the historical timetable.  

"a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar"
Daniel is here announcing that the vision he is about to record had been revealed to him.  He made sure he was properly identified as the same Daniel who had been taken captive and served the kings in the courts of Babylon for the last seventy or so years.  Let's keep in mind that the Babylonian monarchy had recently been overthrown and an entirely new regime had come to power.  It was therefore necessary for Daniel to thus preserve his identity.  There were doubtless other people named Daniel, but there was only one Daniel who was also known as Belteshazzar who would be recognized as a prophet of God.  When the Israelites living at the time of this prophecy read it, they would know who Daniel was and that what he wrote was revealed by God. 

"but the time appointed was long"
Here we have God revealing to Daniel that the fulfillment of this prophecy would be over a long period of time.  This is in stark opposition to the words we see in Revelation where inspiration stated that those events were to "shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1), and the time was "at hand" (Revelation 1:3; 22:10).  Daniel was told that the time for the fulfillment of this prophecy was going to be for a long time.  John was told in his vision that the time for fulfillment was at hand.  Much confusion of scripture is propagated through ignoring these simple little textual clues. 

"and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision"
Daniel here stated that he understood the vision he had received.  This vision covers a lot of history.  It is unclear to what extent Daniel understood the details.  It is unlikely he knew many of the specifics involved but rather had an understanding of the general message of the vision itself.  Daniel wasn't given the names of any of the kings that would rise and fall in this vision.  It is up to those living afterwards to match the elements of the vision with actual history.  Of significance to this study is that we realize that all of the events which were seen in the vision have been fulfilled. 

Daniel 10:2-3
"In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."

It was about three years after the decree went out to rebuild the temple, so by now the Samarian opposition to the Jews rebuilding of the city had arisen and construction had been stopped.  The Samaritan opposition began in the second year after the release of the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezra 3-4).  They came to Zerubbabel and offered to help in the rebuilding but were rejected.  Because of their idolatrous practices which had so utterly corrupted them, the Israelites who returned to rebuild Jerusalem refused to have anything to do with them.  The Samaritans being frustrated over their rejection set out to inhibit the progress of the Israelites of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah from rebuilding the city and the temple.  They knew after their help was rejected that if Jerusalem rose again, they would have a mighty enemy at their doorstep. 

Daniel's distress which drove him to the mourning and fasting he was subjecting himself to is probably over the ceasing of the work on the temple in Jerusalem.  This would explain why Daniel was in such distress at a time when one would think he would be jubilant with the news of the temple being rebuilt.  There also has to be some reason why Daniel chose not to return to Jerusalem.  He was an aged man at this time and doubtless would have been of little help in the labor end of the process.  The Samaritan opposition started rather quickly upon the arrival of the freed Israelites to Jerusalem and it is probable that the aged Daniel, who was highly respected in the courts of Babylon, felt that his influence with the kings would better serve the cause.  Daniel was likely mourning and fasting because he was unsure over the chain of events that was unfolding and he was concerned about what would befall his people as a nation in the future. 

Of significance here is the great distress which had overcome Daniel at this time.  This was no spur of the moment decision for him to go into mourning.  Daniel did not wake up one day out of the blue and decide he would go on a fast.  The first month of the Jewish calendar is Abib which was when the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was observed.  The Passover was to begin on 14th day (Exodus 23:15) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread beginning on the 15th and going through the 21st.  This was a time when the old city of Jerusalem would have been filled with Israelites who had made their yearly journey to Jerusalem for this occasion. 

Soon upon the arrival of the freed Israelites in Jerusalem to rebuild it the daily sacrifices were set up and they observed the Feast of the Tabernacles.  The keeping of the feasts and the daily burnt offerings were very important to the Israelites.  And the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was one such significant observance of Levitical Law.  Instead of making the trip to Jerusalem and participating in this feast, Daniel chose to remain in Babylon and mourn.  We need to be aware of the distress of this man.  The Decree went out in the first year of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and the city, now here it is the third year of his reign and the rebuilding effort had been frustrated.  It was the first month of the Jewish year and the time for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread had arrived and Daniel went into a three week fast right before the time appointed for that Jewish event and continued his fast through that and beyond.  This vision came to Daniel three days after the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The walls of Jerusalem were still in ruins.  The temple had little more than a foundation at that time, the Samaritans had frustrated the rebuilding effort and Daniel, who at this time was an aged man, realized that he would probably never live to see Jerusalem and the temple restored.  It had been over seventy years since Daniel had been able to offer his worship to God in the temple in Jerusalem. To say that Daniel was distressed is a gross understatement of fact.  Daniel was in severe mental anguish, his grief and anxiety were of such proportions that he refused to eat and he refused to anoint himself with oil which was a big personal hygiene practice of the times.   Daniel had been laboring all his life on behalf of his countrymen and in service to God, even while in captivity and now in the sunset of his life when he should have been making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship God, he was still in Babylon with the city and the temple of God still laying in ruins. 

Daniel 10:4 
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;

This vision came in “the first month” of the accounted Jewish calendar year.  This was the month of Nisan which is the same as Abib, which occurs as this in the Pentateuch.  Nisan occurs in Nehemiah 2:1 and Esther 3:7.  It denotes the month of flowers.

Daniel was beside the river “Hiddekel” which is the Tigris River.  This river joins the Euphrates in al-Qurnah, Iraq, to form the river Shatt el-'Arab which flows into the Persian Gulf.   The ancient city of Babylon was located in what is now present day Al Hillah, Iraq which is about 200 air miles from al-Qurnah, Iraq.  The closest point the Tigris river runs from the ancient city of Babylon is about 36 miles.  Daniel was at least 36 miles from Babylon when he had this vision. 

Daniel 10:5-6 
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:  His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

Who is this magnificent person who appeared here to Daniel? Some have suggested that he was Gabriel; but the remarkable similarity between this passage and the description of Jesus Christ in Revelation 1 points to Christ himself. 

Revelation 1:13-15
"... one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

I am going to submit for consideration that this individual that appeared to Daniel  was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ."  This understanding is placed by a comparison with Revelation 1:13, where John saw the glorified Christ.  The fact that Daniel alone saw this individual corresponds with what occurred to the apostle Paul and his companions on the Damascus road.  Paul's companions heard only the voice but saw no man (Acts 9:3).  Inherent in such facts is the truth that when Christ appeared to a person, he was seen only by those whom Christ chose to see him.

The imagery of lightning and fire are representative of judgment and we certainly know that Jesus Christ is the executor of judgment (John 5:27, Jude 15).  Lightning and thunder are terror-striking signs showing the latent power of the individual to which they are attributed. See Exodus 19:16.  Lightning and thunder are representative of the power of God and His might. 

Fire is a symbol of divine wrath in destruction, judgment or punishment (Genesis 19:24, Exodus 9:23).  Fire in the Old Testament is especially associated with the divine presence (Genesis 15:17, Exodus 3:2, Exodus 13:21, Exodus 19:18). 

We need to keep in mind that this would not be the first time such a thing occurred within the lifetime of Daniel.  Recall the fourth individual present in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace on the occasion of the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to bow down to the golden statue of Nebuchadnezzar and worship it.  There is much evidence that supports that individual to be the pre-incarnate Christ Himself on that occasion as well. 

Notice the words Daniel uses to address this individual, "my lord" (Vs 16,17), and notice the heavenly messenger accepted this designation without rebuke or correction.  There are difficulties with this understanding and two of the scholars upon which I am relying heavily for this study do not share the view that this individual was the pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ.  Having previously completed the study of Revelation, upon reading Daniel's description of Him, I immediately saw a comparison in the language between this and John's description of Jesus Christ in Revelation and I find the evidence in support of Daniel's visitor being the same as described by John in Revelation 1 to be compelling enough to consider it. 

If this is not a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ, then who was it?  Daniel did not name him by name as he did Gabriel twice before.  In verse 13 we see this individual telling Daniel that he remained with the "prince of Persia" and received assistance from "Michael".  It is difficult to picture one of the Godhead needing assistance for anything.  So I have to acknowledge that Daniel's heavenly visitor may be a high ranking angel instead of a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ.  As for his identity, we are not told and any speculation beyond that is conjecture at best.  Evidence for and against this individual being an epiphany of Jesus Christ will be presented as we progress through this study. 

Daniel 10:7 
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Daniel was not traveling alone on this occasion.  Indeed, he was an elderly man and to be alone thirty five or more miles from Babylon along the banks of the Tigris river would have been akin to a death sentence for a man of his age.  Daniel was without a doubt on a royal errand of some sort, carrying out the business of the king and was accompanied by a group of men sufficient to protect him and see him delivered safely to and from his destination.  The text does not give us any indication of why Daniel was where he was and what his purpose for being there was.  However, we can confidently surmise that if a quiet walk along the river was Daniel's purpose, the Euphrates was much closer and more convenient for a man of Daniel's age to access from Babylon.  

These brave men did not see the vision but they felt a shaking sufficient to alarm them enough to send them scampering off to escape its presence, leaving Daniel utterly alone with his heavenly visitor.  It is obvious that this message was meant for Daniel's eyes and ears alone.  At this time in Daniel's life, he had spent about seventy two or three years in captivity.  If we were to presuppose his age at thirteen when he was initially taken captive, we are dealing with a man who was in his late eighties and who had been on a three week fast prior to this.  Daniel was not going to run anywhere.  The best he would be able to do would have been to do exactly what he did.  Remain behind and watch his valiant entourage disappear in flight as they abandoned him to whatever fate was to befall him.  

We have a similar occurrence in scripture when Jesus Christ met Paul on the road to Damascus.  The men who were with Paul saw the light but they did not hear the voice of Jesus, (Acts 22:9).  Regardless of who this heavenly visitor was, it is obvious that the message was meant for Daniel alone.  

Daniel 10:8 
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Daniel was in all probability approaching his ninetieth birthday, he had been fasting for three weeks and he was left alone on the banks of the Tigris river with this heavenly visitor who was obviously one of great power and authority.  There was a shaking of sorts which sent his associates fleeing for their lives leaving Daniel utterly alone.  Who wouldn't be shaken?  Who wouldn't be overcome with feelings of anxiety or fear over such an event?  Daniel's response here is what one would expect given the circumstances. 

Daniel 10:9 
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

Even in Daniel's weakened state, the words of his heavenly visitor were clear to him.  But when he heard his voice, Daniel was overcome and fell on his face on the ground in a deep sleep.  I would say given the circumstances, Daniel fainted upon hearing the voice of his messenger, being overcome with the whole event in its suddenness and in view of the apparent majesty of his visitor.  This was not the first time Daniel had been physically impacted from the presence of a heavenly messenger (Daniel 8:27). 

It is by no means a unique thing for someone to be so physically impacted from such a visit from a heavenly being.  Gideon feared for his life (Judges 6:22-23).  Manoah, the father of Samson feared for his life and for the life of his wife (Judges 13:22).  Job was overwhelmed with guilt and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:5,6).  Isaiah was overwhelmed with guilt (Isaiah 6:5).  Peter fell to his knees in grief and mental agony when Jesus approached him after His resurrection (Luke 5:8). 

Daniel 10:10 
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.

Daniel's heavenly visitor touched him, reviving him and helped him to his knees with his hands open and on the ground.  Today we refer to this posture as being on "all fours".  This posture is one which is assumed when someone is bowing before a ruler.  This heavenly messenger revived Daniel and set him upon his knees in front of him.  Let us call to mind the actions of the messenger in Revelation when John fell down at his feet as recorded in Revelation 19:10, and 22:9.  Bowing before anyone other than God is forbidden and this Bible student finds it odd that the heavenly messenger visiting Daniel would place him in a position of worship at his feet if he were not a suitable candidate for that honor.  I am impressed with the fact inspiration specifically recorded that Daniel was set upon his hands and knees in such a posture and I feel this is evidence in support of this heavenly visitor being a theophany which is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. 

Daniel 10:11 
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

When in the presence of rulers of the time, one assumed a posture of submission, usually on one's knees with their face down towards the ground.  This individual then stands when he receives the ruler's command to do so.  Standing implies attention.  Here Daniel received the command to stand upright in order to receive the words he was to be given.  It should be noted that when John was instructed to stand in Revelation, he was told not to do what he was doing and to worship God.  No such command came from Daniel's visitor. 

One of the objections to this visitor being a theophany of Jesus Christ is that he affirms to Daniel that He was sent.  This implies the role of a servant who is acting under the direction of a superior authority.  This is a valid reasoning and one that needs to be taken into account when considering the identity of Daniel's heavenly visitor.  We also need to consider the fact that Jesus was sent to earth by God the Father to die for our sins.  The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to earth as a comforter and supporter of the apostles during the infancy of the church.  This fact does not in any way militate against the authority of either Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit.  Neither of these members of the Godhead were any less God because they were sent by one of the others.  There is a hierarchy within the heavenly host (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 1:20-21). 

Daniel had been set upon his knees and then commanded to rise to his feet.  He was at this time standing before his heavenly visitor and the text says he was trembling, obviously in fear.  One would have to imagine oneself in Daniel's position to understand just what was going with him emotionally.  To be with a group of men beside a river, obviously on some mission of sorts and to have a heavenly visitor which frightened everybody else off, leaving Daniel alone and then to appear before him, speaking to him and touching him.  It's little wonder he fainted and had to be revived, then set up on his knees.  Given the same circumstances, anyone would have a similar if not more severe reaction as well.  Now factor into the equation, Daniel's advanced age and the fact that he was at the end of a three week period of fasting.  The very fact that Daniel could even stand under these circumstances is remarkable to say the least.   

Daniel 10:12 
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

Daniel was indeed visibly terrified and as soon as he was on his feet, he was comforted by his heavenly visitor and assured that his petitions had been heard by God from the beginning of his petition.  Daniel's visitor, whoever he was had come for the express purpose of helping Daniel to understand what was going to happen in the latter days as he affirms in V14.  This is obviously what Daniel was seeking understanding about. 

In order to appreciate what Daniel was looking for, we need to be aware of the circumstances which were present at the time.  Daniel had earlier received the vision of the seventy sevens and was told that Jerusalem and the temple would be rebuilt.  Cyrus had issued the decree to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem in about 537 BC.  Opposition to the rebuilding of the temple from the Samaritans started soon after which put a halt to the rebuilding process two years later in about 535 BC.  Daniel knew from the prophecy of the seventy sevens that the city and the temple would be rebuilt and he knew it would be in troublous times, meaning there would be difficulties associated with it.  Daniel was not told to what extent the difficulties associated with the rebuilding would be. 

The time for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was approaching when Daniel went into mourning and fasting.  The Passover Sacrifice was a significant event in the lives of the faithful Israelites.  This event was one of three yearly times in which the Israelites would journey to Jerusalem.  This was the event that brought Jesus to Jerusalem when He was betrayed and crucified.   Daniel knew the building of the temple and the city had been halted and that there would be no yearly gathering of Israelites at the temple in order to observe all of the elements associated with the Passover.  Ezra teaches in 3:5 that all of the yearly feasts including the Passover had been observed at their set times when the Israelites released by Cyrus returned to Jerusalem. 

The approach of the Passover and the knowledge that the temple which was still in ruins is what must have driven Daniel into the state of mourning he was in.  Daniel was old enough when he was taken from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC to remember the Passover, the eating of the Paschal lamb and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the associated events which were conducted at the temple. 

Daniel was in the sunset of his life and when the decree went out from Cyrus to rebuild, Daniel probably hoped that it would be accomplished while yet he lived on the earth so that he and his countrymen would have a chance to offer sacrifice and worship from the temple.  This current setback in the rebuilding obviously had a great impact on Daniel and with the approach of the Passover and the knowledge that the rebuilding of the temple had been halted, he wanted to understand what was going to happen with his people.  He was obviously upset enough about it that he chose to forego the eating of the Paschal lamb, choosing rather to enter into a voluntary state of fasting which kept him from observing this feast.  This fact alone speaks volumes as to the genuine and deep state of sorrow that Daniel was in. 

and I am come for thy words

This means that Daniel's visitor had come in response to Daniel's prayer.  Daniel had been praying and fasting for three weeks at this time, which is twenty one days.

Daniel 10:13 
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Daniel's heavenly visitor here says that he had been detained by the prince of Persia for the exact same time period that Daniel had been fasting.  This is not in reference to any physical conflict as we know them, rather this visitor was giving Daniel a glimpse into a spiritual conflict going on behind the perception of mankind.  The prince of the kingdom of Persia is an interesting character. 

The Hebrew word rendered "prince" is "sar", which means a leader, commander, chief, as of troops.  So far as the word is concerned in the phrase "prince of the kingdom of Persia," it might refer to a prince ruling over that kingdom, or to a prime minister of the state; but the language also is such that it is applicable to an angelic being supposed to preside over a state, or to influence its workings.  I believe this to be the proper meaning here as deduced from the words because:

1) A spiritual being is speaking to Daniel and it would seem most natural to suppose that he had encountered one of his own kind. 

2) The mention of Michael who came to his aid denotes a well known angel and leads us to the same conclusion.

3) The prevailing belief among the scholars is that the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" is a reference to a spiritual being. 

When we take into view all the circumstances referred to in this passage, it seems logical that we are dealing with a spiritual being, having some kind of jurisdiction over the kingdom of Persia.  The character of this "prince of the kingdom of Persia" is obviously bad in that we see he withstood and resisted the will of the heavenly messenger who was speaking to Daniel.  So much so that Michael, an archangel (Jude 9) was sent to assist and this resistance continued until Daniel's heavenly messenger took leave of the affair leaving Michael behind in charge.  It is my conviction that the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" in this vision is referring to a member of the class of fallen angels who sinned and were cast out of heaven (2 Peter 2:4). 

If this is true then one must ask what their role is in God's overall plan and what purpose they fulfill.  Let's speculate for a little bit here but first, let's look at some basic facts.  

1)  Scripture makes the implicit statement that God tempts no man, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13).  We are surrounded by temptation and since temptation cannot come from God, then it must come from another source.  This source of temptation must operate independently of God and in opposition of His divine nature in order to be totally separated from Him.  So then what is the active agent of this temptation? From where does it arise and from where does it come from?  Since God is not responsible for it, then who is? 

2)  1 Peter 5:8, "...your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour".  Our adversary is malicious and tries to tempt us, causing us to sin so that we will be overcome and destroyed.  

3)  1 Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  The temptation which is inflicted upon us is common to everyone, meaning it is universally applied, and it is limited to what each person can withstand.  Nobody is allowed to be tempted beyond what they are able to bear. 

4)  Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".  Nothing can force us away from God.  Only by a free will act of our own will we sin. 

5)  Matthew 25:41, "...Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels".  The Devil, who we know as Satan has angels. 

6)  2 Peter 2:4, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned , but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment".  There were certain angels who sinned and were cast from the presence of God.  The text says they were delivered to the Hadean realm and placed in chains of darkness. 

We know that God cannot tempt man, therefore he cannot be held responsible for the temptations which are common to all mankind.  Therefore there must be an agent operating independently of God in order to bring about that temptation.  We also know that this temptation is regulated.  Since temptation is regulated then there must be some sort of regulating agent in place which does operate in accordance with the divine will. 

One of the great Bible truths is that of man's free will choice.  God granted mankind the freedom to choose in the garden of Eden and has never rescinded that freedom.  God neither forces people to come to Him, neither does he allow mankind to be forced to sin against Him.  In Daniel 10:13 we are given a brief glimpse into how the temptation and the regulation of that temptation may be accomplished in the spirit realm outside our perception.  In speculation, there may be hosts of angels in conflict outside our perception, the evil spirits doing the will of Satan and trying to bring about our destruction with the Angels of God working to regulate their influence so that our freewill is not compromised in either direction. 

I would call our attention to the occasions when Jesus encountered both Satan and evil spirits during His life on earth.  Jesus was a man subject to the same physical limitations we are.  Either Satan or the evil spirits could have destroyed Him at any time but they didn't.  Satan tempted Jesus but did not physically attack Him.  An entire legion of evil spirits obeyed Jesus without doing him any harm whatsoever.  Jesus even gave the power to cast devils out of others to his disciples in Mark 3:15, Luke 9:1 and other occasions.   One must ask why the evil spirits did not harm Jesus and by what means was he protected from them and by what means did the disciples have any power whatsoever over the evil spirits? 

We know from the New Testament that angels played a role in the following events:

1) They bear away the souls of the departed in death (Luke 16:22).
2) They exercise diligence to watch over little children (Matthew 18:11).
3) Angels are engaged in the service of those who shall inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).
4) They aided providentially in bringing the Ethiopian Eunuch in contact with the gospel (Acts 8:26).
5) They executed the sentence of God in the destruction of Herod whose transgression justified his immediate removal from the earth (Acts 12:23).

Hereby we know that the good angels are working God's will behind the scenes.  Why cannot the evil angels be working behind the scenes in a restricted manner to work toward the grand plan God has for the unfolding of his purpose upon the earth?  I say restricted because if they were allowed free reign to impact mankind without restrictions of any kind, we would doubtless be enduring sufferings that would pale the trials of Job into insignificance. 

Satan plays a redemptive role through the destruction of the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5).  It is quite certain that Satan's goal in this is not to redeem the lost soul, rather to destroy him.  But Satan is a unwilling participant in this process and without a doubt works within the boundaries of some sort of restrictions lest the unfortunate soul perish instantly with no opportunity to repent whatsoever. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is entirely speculation on my part and must not be taught as the absolute truth.  However, given the evidence, there is sufficient reason to draw the conclusion that there is a spiritual warfare being fought on a continual basis between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.  This warfare is being fought outside of our ability to perceive it.  The whole affair is being conducted in order to bring about the completion of God's grand plan for mankind.  The temptation of man serves God's purpose in that it is used as a test of our faithfulness.  Where there is no temptation, there is no test of faith.  If mankind knew of this warfare and could perceive it, then the choice to come to God of our own freewill and because we want to would be compromised.  If we could see the warfare going on between good and evil, nobody would be unbelievers.  Where there is no free will, there is no choice.  We must come to God because we love Him and are seeking Him and His righteousness.  It is God's purpose that we truly and entirely come to Him based on our own desire and choice to do so.  It makes no difference that God already knows whether or not we will be obedient or not.  What does make a difference is that nobody who is lost will be able to say they didn't have a choice.  And no accountable person who is saved will be in heaven if they don't want to be there.    

Daniel 10:14 
"Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days."

Daniel was grief stricken over the halting of the work on the city of Jerusalem and God's temple.  He was hoping it would be completed in haste and was severely depressed and mourning because it was not being done.  Doubtless Daniel was hoping it would be completed in his lifetime and he was an aged man.  Time for him was short and Daniel probably wanted to see the temple and the city finished. 

The latter days that this visitor is going to help Daniel understand is the latter days of the Jewish people.  Notice the words "thy people" which indicate that this vision is meant for the Israelites of the captivity and no others.  None of this vision pertains to anything beyond the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD which marked the end of the Jewish commonwealth of God. 

"for yet the vision is for many days"

The heavenly visitor here tells Daniel that the vision is going to cover a long span of time.  Daniel had been hoping and praying for the completion of the temple in his lifetime and this news must have been distressing for him. 

Daniel 10:15 
"And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb."

At this time, Daniel probably realizes that he is never going to see the temple rebuilt in his lifetime.  What a disappointment this must have been for Daniel as evidenced by his reaction.  He bowed his face to the ground and was rendered unable to speak.  As we see in the next verse, he lost his strength and in V17 he said he lost his breath.  Daniel would never get to offer his worship to God in the temple again.  Daniel would never live to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt.  Daniel would never get to see his countrymen offer sacrifice again.  Seventy years in captivity, faithful to God in the face of extreme opposition, and he realized and understood at this moment that he was never going to see the temple again and his reaction plainly demonstrated his distress over this news. 

Daniel 10:16
"And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

This is not the first time a prophet of God was unable to speak in the presence of deity, if indeed Daniel's heavenly visitor was an epiphany of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah had just such an experience.  Isaiah 6:5-7, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips , and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.  Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:  And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged."

Notice that a heavenly being placed a live coal on Isaiah's lips before he spoke.  When Isaiah realized he was standing in the presence of deity he knew he was a sinful man and that he was unfit to stand in the presence of God and speak in his current state.  Up to this point, Daniel was yet to say anything to his heavenly visitor.  In fact Daniel was rendered unable to speak as recorded in verse 15.  Whether this was because he was in distress over the news he had just received, or because he was not permitted to speak until he had been touched on the mouth by another heavenly visitor, we will have to leave to conjecture.  In either event, Daniel's reaction was one of profound reverence and shock. 

"O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength."

Daniel calls his heavenly visitor "my Lord", and the heavenly visitor accepted this title without rebuke.  This is further evidence in support of this visitor being an epiphany of Jesus Christ. 

This is the first time Daniel speaks to his heavenly visitor and he informs him that because of the vision, his sorrows have overwhelmed him to the point that he has lost his strength.  Daniel took the news that the temple and the city of Jerusalem would not be rebuilt for a long time very hard.  It left him in a state of shock and dismay so profound that had no physical strength left.  Daniel had already fainted once with his face on the ground and had to be revived and set up on his knees.  He was doubtless still reeling from the shock of that.  Daniel may have been experiencing a wondrous visitation from a heavenly being, but up to this point, the visit has been anything but pleasant and certainly not what Daniel had hoped for. 

Daniel 10:17
"For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me."

This is a similar reaction that Isaiah had when he came face to face with his heavenly visitor in Isaiah 6:5-7.  Isaiah was concerned that he, a man of unclean lips had seen the Lord.  Daniel was concerned that he who was a servant of this heavenly visitor could not speak with him, either due to his physical weakness or due to the fact that he was standing in the presence of a manifestation of the Lord of Lords.  One again, Daniel referred to this visitor as "my Lord" and referred to himself as his servant and the heavenly visitor again accepted this affirmation from Daniel without a word of correction.  It is exceedingly important for us to keep in mind that mankind is not, nor ever was the servants of angels. 

Daniel goes on to explain that he has no strength nor breath to talk.  Poor Daniel was reduced to a pitiable state by this time.  The shock of having such a visit from the heavenly realm and the news he received was overwhelming to the point that he was unable to continue without assistance.  Daniel was teetering on the verge of collapse. 

Daniel 10:18 
"Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me"

Once again a heavenly being touched Daniel, but this time it was for the purpose of imparting strength to him as he had reached his physical and emotional limit. 

Daniel 10:19 
"And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me."

Daniel was in dire need of reassurance at this point.  I cannot think of words which would be of more comfort than to be informed that one is greatly loved when faced with the emotional and physical strains that Daniel was enduring at this time.  Indeed, when our own children are greatly troubled and in extreme distress, assuring them that we love them is by far the best way to comfort them.  Just knowing that makes it so much easier for our earthly children to cope with the various things that brings anxiety to them.  And this is how the heavenly visitors first reassured Daniel on this occasion. 

"fear not"
Then Daniel was told not to be afraid.  This is another thing we as parents tell our children when they are in distress.  We first assure them they are loved and then we tell them not to be afraid.   

"peace be unto thee"
Then Daniel was told to be at peace.  Those who are in rebellion to God are not at peace with Him.  Daniel was here told the third thing that would indicate that he was loved and in favor and that he had nothing to be afraid of.  The earthly equivalent of those words to our children today would be "you are not in trouble". 

"be strong, yea, be strong"
All the things we would say to comfort our children under extreme emotional and physical circumstances are here.  All the things said to Daniel to strengthen, reassure and comfort him were things a loving parent would say to a distressed child.  The tender love and affection of God towards Daniel is apparent right here in these few words.  These are words that I would sure want to hear if I were the object of a divine visit such as Daniel was.  It is apparent from the text that the angel imparted strength to the failing prophet in some manner outside our understanding, but the words said to Daniel were just as effective and doubtless reassured him and comforted him to a degree that, with the help of the angel's touch, he was able to summon what strength he had left and devote his attention to the information he was about to receive.  This vision is a lengthy one and covers several centuries of time in amazing detail.  Daniel was going to need his strength to take in all of what was about to be revealed to him. 

Daniel 10:20 
"Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come."

This is a difficult translation here to understand.  The New King James Version renders it thus:  "Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come."

Daniel's heavenly visitor asks him a question here.  He already told Daniel why he was there as recorded in verses 12 and 14.  He came because Daniel requested it, and to help Daniel understand what would befall his people in the latter days.  Evidently Daniel's heavenly visitor is making sure Daniel understands what is happening to him and what the purpose of this vision is. 

This heavenly visitor's presence is required back to the conflict from which he left in order to make this visit to Daniel.  Obviously this prince of Persia is a force standing against the forces of light in that a conflict with the heavenly visitor is mentioned.  Whether this prince of Persia is a flesh and blood prince or an evil spiritual force dedicated to the furtherance of all opposition against the people of God, we can only speculate.  If this prince of Persia is a malignant spiritual force, then so is the prince of Greece.  So we have two separate forces of evil in opposition to the forces of light. 

Obviously when this heavenly visitor returns, the prince of Persia is going to be put down and then the prince of Greece will arise and join in the conflict.  I am persuaded that these princes are evil spiritual beings simply for the fact that if they were physical, it wouldn't be much of a fight.  The text seems to suggest quite the extended struggle with difficulties associated with it.  This fact is also significant and compelling evidence against this heavenly visitor being an epiphany of Jesus Christ.  I have got to believe that if Jesus Christ Himself were heading up this spiritual confrontation, we would not see the evidence we see here of the difficulties associated with the conflict.  This fact alone is what prevents me from affirming without reservation that this heavenly visitor was indeed an incarnation of Jesus Christ Himself. 

Daniel 10:21 
"But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."

The scripture of truth is not talking about the written scriptures we call the Bible today.  If it were, there would be no reason for this heavenly visitor to reveal anything to Daniel because Daniel, who was a dedicated student of scripture, would already have know it.  What this is doubtless talking about here is that the events which are to transpire are being conducted according to a master plan which is being carried out to exacting specifications for the purpose of bringing about God's intended outcome for the Israelite nation.   The expression "noted in the scripture of truth" is the equivalent of someone saying today that it was "etched in stone". 

"and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."

This heavenly visitor and Michael are the only ones standing in opposition to the spiritual princes of Persia and of Greece.  We learn here what Michael's role is in this great warfare.  When this heavenly visitor identified Michael as "your prince", he identified him as the spiritual prince standing on the side of the Israelite nation.  Michael is further identified in chapter 12, verse 2 as "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people". So we have in this conflict Daniel's heavenly visitor whomever he may be and Michael, the prince over the Israelites, working against the evil spiritual forces placed in charge of the affairs of Persia and of Greece.  

Daniel's heavenly visitor and Michael are without a doubt spiritual beings working for the furtherance of the plan of God.  The context almost demands that the prince of Persia and of Greece are likewise spiritual beings in opposition to the workings of God.  The diligent student of scripture cannot help but draw the conclusion that there is indeed a spiritual warfare being waged outside of our perception.  No doubt this warfare had been going on since the fall of Satan and of his angels and is being carried out even today and will continue to be carried out till God's work on earth is finished.  This chapter of Daniel gives us a rare and unique glimpse into the workings of God behind the scenes and is an intriguing subject to consider indeed.  As stated in the opening of this study, there is an absolute truth to all of this and we will no doubt have to wait until the revelation of all things after the passing of earth to know it, but in the meantime, all we really have is a very good hypothesis which is supported by a body of evidence assembled from other scripture, but in the end, it is only speculation.  Let us treat it with wisdom and resist making it into things which clearly go beyond what is provable in scripture and teaching these things as truth absolute.

In the next chapter, Daniel is taken through an apocalyptic whirlwind account of what to us is now history.  The historical accuracy of this vision is remarkable and compelling to say the least.  It covers a period of time beginning with Darius the Mede in chapter 11, verse 1 and concludes with the destruction of Jerusalem in the end of chapter 12.  This period of time included the "threescore and two weeks" of Daniel's vision of the seventy weeks and roughly half of the confirmation week which was the seventieth week of the same vision.  The destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple in 70 AD marked the end of Israel as a nation and as the commonwealth of God.  Henceforth all the people of all the nations over the whole earth were given the opportunity to be the children of God. 

 

 

 

 


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Matt 11:28-29
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."