This is Daniel’s fourth and final vision but is continued in chapters 11 and 12. What we see as an overall picture is Daniel’s broken heart and deep intercession for his people (both their sin and their trials) and an (angelic) battle in the heavens to thwart God’s purposes for Israel. Daniel’s humble and fervent prayer is used by God to show Daniel and the Jewish people the years of oppression (the times of the Gentiles) including the Tribulation and His ultimate redemption and blessings for the nation of Israel.
This vision occurs two years after Cyrus had released the Jews to go back to their homeland. But Daniel seems to be broken-hearted because most of his people had chosen to stay in Babylon. This is a picture of believers who have been saved by the precious blood of Christ and yet choose to remain wedded to the world the rest of their life on earth. Paul spoke of carnal or worldly Christians in 1 Cor. 3:1-15 and warned them of the loss they would suffer at the judgment seat of Christ along with the emptiness of living for the fleeting pleasure of sin. (The book of Ecclesiastes and Hebrews 11:25)
For the Jews who had chosen to return to rebuild the temple and the city there was much conflict. We see this conflict in Ezra (e.g., chapter 4) as the Samaritans in the area tried to stop the re-building of the temple and were successful for several years in their efforts to do so. We also see (both in Ezra and Nehemiah) that some of the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem had fallen into sin and intermarriage. This also discouraged Daniel and drove him to his knees in intercessory prayer.
There are several points here we need to consider in our walk with God and the example we see in Daniel’s life. Do I take my burdens to God in heartfelt prayer and with believing faith that He hears, cares and can help me as I pray according to His Word and will? As the song says, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” But more importantly, am I burdened for what burdens God; His will and purposes for His people? When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray He said to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven; and we could pray, “use me Lord today to help accomplish Your purposes.” We see the power of intercessory prayer in verse 12 as the angel (probably Gabriel) says: “Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words (prayers) were heard, and I have come in response to your words (of prayer).”
An appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – “In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.” (vv. 2-9; see Revelation 1:12-18 for a very similar description of the glorified Christ in John’s encounter with Him.) I agree with the commentators who say that the one who touched Daniel and spoke to him in verses 10-15 (and then in verses 18-21) is not the same as the One seen here in verses 2-9 because of the description and because no demon could withstand Christ. (see v. 13) Also the response of both Daniel and the men who were with him points to it being Christ. Paul and his friends had a very similar response to the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and John also on the island of Patmos. (See Acts 9:3-7; Rev. 1:12-18) John MacArthur lists the various attributes of God represented in Christ’s appearance: [“Fine white linen is the garment of the priests and fine white linen is a symbol of God’s holiness, -the first and foremost attribute of God. Secondly, it says that His loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz. The idea is that there is a belt that is overlaid with fine gold. I really believe that speaks of God’s sovereignty as King of kings. Then you have the beryl, a transparent flashing jewel. That sometimes can be translated crystallite. The idea seems to be a transparent, flashing jewel which would be reflective of God’s glory. Then it says His face was like the appearance of lightning. And I believe this is power and omnipotence. And then it says His eyes are like lamps of fire searching out, discovering reality. This is omniscience – His penetrating knowledge. He knows everything. His feet like polished bronze. And that is to stamp out judgment … judgment, that attribute of God, the wrath of God. And when He speaks, His voice is like the roar of many waters.” http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/27-27/the-vision-of-glory]
It seems to me that Christ appeared to Daniel to assure him that He was in control over both those who resisted God’s plan for Israel on the earth as well as ruling over the demons in the heavens. As we will see later, He is still over-ruling evil rulers on earth and evil angels (demons) in the heavens to accomplish God’s good and sovereign will. Yet, He calls us to participate in His purposes through believing prayer as modeled by Daniel. We will look at how that applies to us in the next section.
“Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words (prayers) were heard, and I have come in response to your words (prayers). But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” (vv. 12-13) [“The prince of the kingdom of Persia cannot be a human ruler, for the conflict referred to here is in the spiritual, heavenly realm, as the allusion to Michael makes clear. The prince, therefore, must be understood as a satanic figure who was to supervise the affairs of Persia, inspiring its religious, social, and political structures to works of evil. Paul refers to principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The “man” here says he was detained for twenty-one days, which equals the time of Daniel’s mourning and fasting (vv. 2, 3). The wicked prince of Persia sought to detain the “man” so that Daniel would be prevented from hearing more of God’s revelation (vv. 12, 14). Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Da 10:13]
How do we participate in the spiritual warfare that is going on in the heavens today? It is clear from Scripture that Satan is the prince of this world; even Jesus says he is: John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Luke 4:6; 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2. Though Jesus judged and defeated him at the cross we as believers still have to enforce His authority over Satan and his demons through prayer and the Word. [“Believers need to learn how to pull down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4), wrestle against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12), and resist the devil (James 4:7). Merrill F. Unger noted in What Demons Can Do to Saints that the Christian’s armor is for external, not internal foes. “But if the Christian fails to use his armor, will the foe stop short of invading the believer’s citadel? If he does invade, this is precisely why the believer may become enslaved and need to call on Christian warriors to come to his rescue in prayer battle if he ever is to be delivered from Satan’s snare into which he has been ‘taken captive by him at his will’ (2 Timothy 2:26).” We must recognize that we have been given authority and victory in the spiritual warfare (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1; 10:19). As C. Fred Dickason in Angels, Elect and Evil observes, “The apostles and their followers cast out demons in their day (Acts 5:16; 16:16-18), and Paul states that Christians have all they need to wage warfare against Satan (Ephesians 6:10-18). Though we have no resources of our own, we have all we need in Christ by virtue of our union with Him (Colossians 2:9-15).” Because of the cross, Satan is a defeated foe (John 12:31). Christ has “disarmed the rulers and authorities” (Colossians 2:15) and is exalted “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 3:22). Furthermore, as believers in Christ, we have been raised with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). The Lord “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). In our new position, we have authority in Christ and power in the Spirit. The problem is that many believers do not exercise their authority, and this is precisely what the forces of darkness count on. We must not only know that we have been liberated from the authority of the devil through the blood of Jesus Christ; we must also act upon this fact.” Ken Boa -Conformed to His Image]
“Now I have come (this is probably Gabriel) to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future. When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.” (v. 14) Why did Daniel become speechless and become filled with anguish (v. 16)? Because God revealed to Daniel the plight of the Jews and the centuries of suffering they would endure including the final seven years of the Tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week) when two-thirds of the Jews who live at that time will perish both physically and spiritually. The good news is that the third remaining will turn to Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord as a nation and all Israel will be saved – at last, hallelujah! This will usher in the Millennial Kingdom. “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” (Zech. 13:8-9)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. This vision occurs two years after Cyrus had released the Jews to go back to their homeland. But Daniel seems to be broken-hearted because most of his people had chosen to stay in Babylon. This is a picture of believers who have been saved by the precious blood of Christ and yet choose to remain wedded to the world the rest of their life on earth. Paul spoke of carnal or worldly Christians in 1 Cor. 3:1-15 and warned them of the loss they would suffer at the judgment seat of Christ along with the emptiness of living for the fleeting pleasure of sin. (The book of Ecclesiastes and Hebrews 11:25) Read 1 Cor. 3:1-15 and discuss the judgment seat of Christ and how to avoid suffering loss on that Day. How can understanding this passage motivate us to faithful obedience to the end?
2. Do I take my burdens to God in heartfelt prayer and with believing faith that He hears, cares and can help me as I pray according to His Word and will? As the song says, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
3. But more importantly, am I burdened for what burdens God; His will and purposes for His people? When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray He said to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven; and we could pray, “use me Lord today to help accomplish Your purposes.” What might God’s purposes look like in your day-to-day life? (e.g., 1 Tim. 2:1-4)
4. Why do you think the pre-incarnate Christ appeared to Daniel at this time? What attributes of Christ struck you the most?
5. [“In our new position, we have authority in Christ and power in the Spirit. The problem is that many believers do not exercise their authority, and this is precisely what the forces of darkness count on. We must not only know that we have been liberated from the authority of the devil through the blood of Jesus Christ; we must also act upon this fact.” Ken Boa -Conformed to His Image] Read Ephesians 6:10-20 and discuss how we can pray against the work of the enemy in our lives and for others.
6. What will usher in the Millennial Kingdom and how can we work and pray to see this happen?