Monday, January 19, 2009
DANIEL CHAPTER 10:1-21
Visions and Beasts No More. . . Daniel Sees Jesus
Chapter ten of the Book of Daniel is the introduction to his last recorded revelation and is the first of three parts of a vision-a vision some scholars say is the greatest of all the revelations of Daniel. This chapter gives us information on something decidedly different from anything we've read as we are introduced to a special group of angels- some who harbor ill-will toward God and attempt to defeat the divine purpose as it relates to God's rule over His people, Israel, both in the present (in Daniel's time) and in the days yet to come (at the time of the end).
Chapter ten is graphic in that it also provides detailed information on how Daniel received his final revelation, including many surprising incidents that accompany God's delivery of this message to Daniel.
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. 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.
Daniel's State of Mind
This last revelation received by Daniel came to him just two years after King Cyrus had officially brought the Babylonian captivity to an end by allowing the Jews to return to Israel. However, the Jews returned home without Daniel. We don't know precisely why Daniel remained behind, but we can surmise it was either because of his advancing years-now in his mid- to upper-eighties-or because he still may have had essential work to do for the Persian leadership-perhaps as a senior advisor. Therefore his presence was vital. He also may have felt that to remain behind would permit him to use his enormous influence for good as his people, the Jews, made the difficult transition to return to a land that many had never seen-or that was a fading memory.
Daniel Understands the Vision
The revelation Daniel was about to receive was hard for him to hear and more difficult for him to accept, although he knew in his heart that it was true. Daniel's vision revealed an enormous conflict that would afflict his people at a later time. This would be the greatest war the world's powers had ever encountered, a future conflict that would include something unheard of before: a massive angelic invasion that, while unseen, would be instrumental in shaping the final result of international events.
The most difficult part of the message for Daniel to accept was that this future trauma would threaten the very existence of Israel-a nation and people who had already suffered so much, been so long in captivity, and seemed to be on a perpetual losing streak that would play out to the time of the end. Unlike Daniel's earlier visions and dreams, he declared that he understood this one, and that he also comprehended how the events predicted would not occur during his own lifetime. Daniel, however, took little comfort in this knowledge, because his heart was so tender toward the ultimate destiny of his people.
Daniel understood that during the seventy weeks to come the Jews would suffer great persecution (Daniel 12:1) as the forces of Egypt, leading an Arab federation (Daniel 11:40), and a king from the North, Russia, plus kings from the East, China, and other Oriental nations (Daniel 11:44), would move in upon Israel for the bloodiest confrontation in history. Daniel knew this would take place during the seventieth week-a time period of seven years known as the latter days (Daniel 10:14), and referred to as the time of the end (Daniel 11:40; 12:4).
While Daniel could not know the specifics of this terrible era of suffering yet to come, he had enough understanding to know that it would be a horrible period of history for the people of Israel. That's why this saintly prophet-loved by God-is so moved that he mourns at the thought of what is going to happen to his people. He knew the time of the end would be a period of unprecedented judgment on the Jews as the nations of the world would move against his people, and particularly against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2).
When Daniel received the first part of this final revelation, he had been fasting for twenty-one days. Daniel was so focused on remaining humble before God that he kept himself in a constant state of alert so he would be ready to hear the word of the Lord. It's quite possible that Daniel was still grieving-and therefore fasting-because of the inner turmoil he felt after the unsettling vision in chapter eight, wondering why his people would continue to suffer after the close of the seventy years of captivity. Had the Jews not suffered enough?
And had God not made a promise to relieve them of their pain at the close of the seventy years of captivity? What we now see in Daniel is a progressive understanding of what was to happen in the days to come. We also see a kind, gentle old man whose sensitivity to the things of God-and to the plight of his people-remained acute: Daniel remained God's man to the very end.
Daniel 10:4 - 9
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 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. 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. 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. 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.
Daniel Sees the Pre-Incarnate Christ
One day Daniel, either on a leisurely stroll or on business for the government, was standing by the Hiddekel (or Tigris) River. There he was confronted by a likeness he had never observed before. The Bible describes this figure as dressed in linen with a waist girded with a belt of pure gold, a body like beryl, a face with the appearance like that of lightning, eyes like flaming torches, arms and feet of polished brass, and the sound of his voice like the sound of a tumult. Is there any doubt in our minds that such a being would capture Daniel's attention! The question, however, must be asked: Who was this heavenly being? Why was he there?
We don't need to search long for our answer because the description of this being bears a direct correspondence to the glorified Christ we read about in Revelation 1:13-15:And in the midst of the seven candlesticks 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.
An almost exact description of what Daniel saw that day by the shores of the great Tigris River. Like the appearance of a fourth person in the fiery furnace, this was a Christophany-a physical appearance of the person of Jesus Christ.
Christ-the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever
If, for some reason, Christ's eternal existence sounds farfetched, what does one do with John 1:3:All things were made by him.
Or John 1:10,He was in the world, the world was made by him.
Or Colossians 1:16, which says,For by Christ were all things created that are in heaven and in earth.
This may not be easy for us to understand, but whether we comprehend it or not, this is God's Holy Word. In Proverbs 30:4 we read:Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
Isn't it amazing-this text states that God had a son hundreds of years before Christ's birth at Bethlehem. We must conclude, then, that the heavenly being standing before Daniel is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Daniel was not alone when he was confronted by the person of Jesus Christ. There were companions with him-but not for long. While they apparently sensed that something momentous was taking place, they were unable to withstand the dread of the moment, similar to Saul's experience on the Damascus turnpike (Acts 9:7). They, too, could do nothing but hide their faces from the glory of Christ and flee, leaving Daniel alone in his encounter with Christ.
Suddenly Daniel-man among men, strong, lion-tamer, and counselor to the kings of Babylon, fell to the ground when he heard the words of the Lord. Immediately His strength was sapped, His knees buckled, and he fell into a deep sleep when the sound of thunderous, divine words-like the sound of many rushing waters-assaulted his human ears.
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.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.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.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.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.And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.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.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.
Daniel Regains His Strength and Understands the Reason for Christ's Appearing
Now the scene suddenly changes. It is no longer Christ who stands before Daniel, but an angel. There is a specific reason for us to interpret this section of the passage in this way. If this were still Christ speaking to Daniel, we would be forced to conclude that Christ had little or no power, because the prince of Persia (v. 13) who withstood the messenger would be able to stand firmly against Christ and, therefore, demonstrate more power than the Son of God possessed. This, of course, would be impossible. It is therefore safe to conclude that the one now standing before Daniel is an angel-probably Gabriel-who again has made his incredible journey to Daniel's side from the third heaven-an astronomical distance, described in chapter eight. This holy messenger speaks words of comfort to this choice servant of God.
But imagine Daniel's confusion: One moment he sees the pre-incarnate Christ, and the next moment the angel Gabriel, who lifted him up, and delivered a message from the Lord. The words uttered by this heavenly being are words you and I certainly would want Jesus to say to us when that great day arrives as we stand before Him: words of comfort, love, and appreciation for our faithfulness to the cause of Christ during our witness on earth.
But the angel had even more to say to Daniel. We begin to see this revelation take on a new dimension, as Gabriel speaks of the kingdom of Persia's power, and how a demonic spirit that controlled the ruler of Persia had withstood God's angel, probably Michael, for twenty-one days. Throughout the Bible we read of many rulers of the world who are controlled by these evil, demonic spirits. In Isaiah 14:12-14, we find that Satan fell because he wanted to be like God. In Luke 10:18, Jesus said, I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven-a reference to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2).
Today, Satan is still in control of heaven number one, and heaven number two. That's why he can approach the end of heaven number two and keep up his incessant verbal abuse of God's people- the brethren (Revelation 12:10). The Bible says that Satan is still the god of this world system.. . that he is the prince of this world (John 12:31). That's why you and I do not wrestle against flesh and blood-against other human beings-but instead against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual (literally, spirit) wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Peace... Not Fear
Fallen angels are everywhere, and Satan is the head of them, holding the designated title of prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). This prince of the first and second heaven, along with millions of his demonic spirits, has the ability to control political leaders.
It was the prince (or ruler) of ancient Persia who was controlled by one of these demonic agents. This enemy of mankind is powerful, but not all-powerful. Ultimate power and control belong to Yahweh. The message here is clear: Daniel, I know that what you've heard in your visions is emotionally devastating to you. You feel sorry for your people and are saddened to realize what will happen to them in the latter days. But don't be afraid. Your God is strong- omnipotent, or all-powerful. He is in control of the affairs of men. His angels surround you, and they represent the power of your almighty God.
This sounds much like the comforting words spoken by Jesus in John 14:27:Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
That was the angel's message to Daniel. He wanted to remove all sense of dread from Daniel's heart. He wanted him to know that it was exclusively the enemy, Satan, who put timidity into his spirit. If he relied on the mercy and faithfulness of God, that fear would vanish (2 Timothy 1:7).
Gabriel was putting this angelic warfare into perspective: There are good angels, and there are bad angels. The angels of God stand with the Lord's people to comfort them, and hold them up when times get tough. Such angelic beings were also available to our Savior. Jesus said in Matthew 26:53,Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
What power-to literally snap His fingers and be able to command the arrival of twelve legions of angels, a legion in a Roman army being seven thousand men! (See also Matthew 4:11.) Hebrews 1:14 says,Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Our guardian angels are there to protect us. They are the elect or holy angels, numbering into the millions (1 Timothy 5:21; Hebrews 12:22). On the other hand, millions of evil angels also fill the heavenlies. These are the devils (literally, demons or fallen angels) mentioned often in God's Word, and Satan is the prince of these demons (Matthew 9:34). Together he and his minions control the minds of leaders who are the personification of evil-the holocaust-producing Josef Stalins, Adolph Hitlers, and Idi Amins of our world. I have spoken of these heavenly beings in some depth because they are integral to our understanding of this introduction to the last revelation received by Daniel.
Message of the Latter Days
The message was again difficult for Daniel to hear and accept-but this time he understood it. He did not need further clarification. He knew there would be a horrendous persecution of Israel (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:22; Revelation 12:13), and that it would occur during the latter days, a term equivalent to the time of the end.
Today, with an existing European Union, a nation called Israel, and Jews in control of Jerusalem, we find ourselves with an increasing number of signs pointing to the time of the end. As you'll recall, Daniel's end-time prediction began when the prophet stated under Nebuchadnezzar's reign: There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, that has sent me to tell thee, Nebuchadnezzar, what shall be in the latter days. For us moderns, the handwriting is on the wall. The seventieth week of Daniel is rapidly approaching. But the good news for believers is that prior to the beginning of the seventieth week, we will be raptured (Revelation 4:1).
At this point, Daniel fell to the ground, speechless. When he recovered, he became aware that the lord was standing in front of him. If you'll notice in the text the word lord has a small l. If this were deity, the word would have a capital L as its first letter. This means that a different angelic being has come to comfort him. Daniel's response is one of humility. He feels lowly and unworthy, not fit to stand in the presence of this holy being sent by his heavenly Father with a message of comfort, which is to fear not.
Daniel 10:18 - 21
Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,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.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.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.
Daniel Regains His Strength
The angel does not give up on Daniel. He touches him again, giving him more strength as he encourages this prophet to be strong. This is as important a message for us today as it was for Daniel ages ago: Our strength comes from the Lord, and it comes by degrees. The Bible says that we should partake of His strength on a daily basis. We don't receive a month's, or a year's worth of strength instantaneously. Instead, God gives us grace for each day. That's why we are to pray without ceasing, because it is when we become lackadaisical that the prince of the power of the air attempts to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
Daniel knew he needed help, and he did not decline assistance when God sent it to him. By now, the angel had completed his mission to Daniel and asked Daniel if he understood why a heavenly being had been sent by the Father to encourage him. What kindness, patience, and compassion. I wonder if we are that loving and kind when we try to communicate Christ's gospel of love to those who are confused and doubtful about the veracity of God's Word. Perhaps we could take a lesson from this heavenly being.
At that point the angel announced his departure because he, Gabriel, needed to get back to the battle zone-but not until he was sure Daniel fully understood what God had shown him about the future of his people, the Jews. Gabriel was going to join Michael in battle against the fallen spirits controlling the ruler of Persia. Later, when the battle in the heavens would cease after defeating the demons controlling the ruler of Persia, there would be yet another skirmish with the leader of Greece. Simply stated, Medo-Persia would ultimately fall to Greece and another satanic spirit would control the ruler of this conquering nation. Isn't the Word of God amazing? This is precisely what happened, just as the angel told Daniel it would-two hundred years in advance.
There's a double meaning in the text when the angel states: There will come a time when the nations will fight again. So when will Persia again war against the Jews? This will happen when the Russian army marches against Israel, as mentioned in Ezekiel 38:1-2 and 5. Ancient Persia is known today as Iran and Iraq. Then when Russia invades Israel, the European Union leaders will say, This simply cannot happen (Daniel 11:40-41). Then the western forces march to try to put an end to the northern army of Russia and her allies: Egypt, the Arabs, and others. This is when we find the prince of Greece involved.
How can we be sure of this? Because Greece became the tenth nation to join the European Union on January 1, 1981. The powerful revived Roman Empire, including Greece, is already beginning to form its own army-an army that will one day move with great strength into the Middle East. It will happen in our generation The time is coming. The seals that kept the lid on the mysteries of Daniel are now coming off, and with their unsealing we see how close we have come to the time of the end.
Michael, the Warrior
Gabriel is the one who, while able to do battle, and battle well, is usually cast in the role of announcer of the message. But the archangel who leads the military hosts of heaven is Michael, and he is the one mentioned here in the Book of Daniel as well as in the Book of Revelation. One of the most significant predictions Daniel received is in 12:1 where Michael stands for (protects) the people of Israel. And when will Michael arise to do battle for the Jews? When the greatest anti-Semitic purge in history takes place, when Satan is cast Out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-13).
Michael will be there to fight for-and defend-God's people. Michael is that warrior angel, and Satan, once god of the heavens, loses, and is cast out. He adds woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea, but he knows he has limited time to do his work-only forty-two months. Half of the Tribulation period is over by then, the first half having been ruled and energized by Satan empowering the Antichrist. But now as Satan comes down to earth, he incarnates the body of Antichrist, and this world leader-once applauded by the world's nations and people-goes berserk. What does he try to do? He attempts to obliterate every Jew on the earth. Revelation 12:13states:He persecutes the woman who brought forth the man child.
This woman is Mary, the Jewish virgin who depicts the greatest anti-Semitic onslaught in history. Nevertheless, the good news is that there will be a time of victory, and the archangel Michael will be in the middle of the fray. Michael is going to win the final battle, because the Lord intervenes. He stops the terrorism being inflicted on the Jewish people and saves them from their distress. Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1 talk about their glorious day of deliverance, a great day that is yet to come. Even now, we pray for the peace of Israel, because they who do shall prosper (Psalm 122:6).
Following this time, Christ descends to begin His thousand-year reign upon earth, and Michael rids the world of its vilest enemy. Revelation 20:1-2 says,I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
Amazing mysteries have been revealed in chapter ten, but the vision is only partially unsealed to our eyes. As we now move on to the final two chapters of Daniel, angelic beings persevere in providing us with information about the time of the end and how the role of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ-and legions of angels-will continue to intervene in the affairs of men and women everywhere. Behind the headlines of CNN, the believer can be assured that God remains in control of our world as international events unfold-circumstances we will grasp more fully as we peel back more mysteries hidden for centuries.