Lifting the Veil (Daniel 10:1-21)
Among preachers, the story is told of an unforgettable baptism. Construction on a new church building was nearly complete, with the baptistery functional even though changing rooms were not yet available. When the need arose to use the baptismal, sheets were hung temporarily where those being baptized could change.
The last person to be baptized made her way down into the water. Terrified of going under, she had been assured there was no reason for concern. But she panicked in those final seconds before being lowered into the water, clawing the air for anything to keep from going down. Within her grasp was the curtain hung behind the baptistery which formed the front barrier of the men’s changing room.
Having just stepped from the baptistery, there stood a man completely naked. Realizing something dreadful was wrong, he turned around, only to see the entire congregation gaping at him in embarrassed astonishment. Assessing the situation quickly, he did the only sensible thing—he dived into the baptistery—with the preacher and the panic-stricken woman!
On rare occasions in the Bible, the curtain is lifted to unveil things normally kept from view. Chapter 2 of 2 Kings exemplifies one such passage. Elijah’s death is viewed from heaven’s perspective, as the prophet is carried away into heaven by horses and a chariot of fire (2:11). A similar scene is described by our Lord in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus was “carried away by angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22).
Later in the sixth chapter of 2 Kings, we see yet another lifting of the veil with Israel at war with Aram, a neighboring nation. Every time the king of Aram planned an attack, the prophet Elisha informed the king of Israel what to expect. The Israelites were therefore always prepared, and the king of Aram was never able to win a victory. Word finally reached the king of Aram that Elisha the Israelite prophet was the source of the “leak” in his security, and an army was sent to capture Elisha.
Elisha’s servant had risen early in the morning and gone outside. In the light of the rising sun, he saw the enemy’s army surrounding them and with great alarm informed his master. Unruffled, Elisha told his servant, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). Elisha then prayed for the eyes of his servant to be opened, so that he could see the unseen realities of the spiritual realm. The servant saw the heavenly forces, the horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha. When Elisha prayed again, the eyes of the enemy forces were blinded, and the prophet was able to lead this enemy army into the city of Samaria.
At times, the veil is lifted in the Bible allowing the Christian to see the unseen. At the birth and baptism of our Lord, the veil concealing the glory of our Lord was lifted, and the heavens opened revealing the angelic hosts. At our Lord’s transfiguration, once again the veil is lifted, allowing three of His disciples to see a preview of the kingdom of God.
Chapter 10 in the Book of Daniel provides another rare passage in which the veil is lifted for the reader to see the unseen. Some things are similar to what is seen elsewhere. But our text also reveals some things which should challenge our preconceived ideas, which fail to conform to our preferences. These are realities we need to see and accept, allowing them to shape our perspective and our practice.
As the veil is lifted in this tenth chapter, may we, by God’s grace, see, believe, and behave in a way consistent with the revealed truth. May God grant us the ability to see the unseen here and then to live in the light of these realities.
An Overview of the Text
Chapter 10 does not stand alone. Chapters 10-12 record Daniel’s final vision recorded in this book. Chapter 10 is the introduction to the vision, with chapter 11 spelling out the detailed events which will occur from Daniel’s day to the end of time. Chapter 12 then provides a final broad overview of the prophecies of this book, restating the big picture, and closing with comforting words spoken to Daniel.
Chapter 10 and the first verse of chapter 11 introduce the vision described in detail in chapter 11. Verses 1-3 provide a brief description of the events leading up to the vision. Verses 4-6 describe the One whom Daniel sees in his vision. The impact which this vision had on Daniel and those with him at the time is revealed in verses 7-9. Verses 10-14 disclose the words of the angel who spoke to Daniel, explaining the purpose of his visitation and the reason for his delay. In verses 15-17, an account is given of the debilitating impact this visitation had on Daniel. Verse 18 of chapter 10 through verse 1 of chapter 11 provides a record of the encouragement and strengthening of the angel, along with his account of the part he plays in matters in heaven and on earth.
Our text, Daniel 10:1–11:1, can thus be outlined as seen on the following page:
(1) The setting of the vision verses 1-3
(2) Daniel’s vision of the Lord verses 4-6
(3) Responses to the vision verses 7-9
(4) The angel’s words to Daniel verses 10-14
(5) Daniel’s weakness verses 15-17
(6) The angel’s ministry verses 18–11:1
The Setting of Daniel’s Vision
1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 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.
Daniel’s last recorded vision is in the “third year of Cyrus king of Persia.” This does not contradict the statement found in Daniel 1: “And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king” (Daniel 1:21).
From the statement given in the first chapter of Daniel, we learn that his career lasted until the first year of Cyrus. This means the vision recorded in Daniel 10-12 is one received in Daniel’s retirement years when he may have been in his mid-eighties. From what he was told in chapter 12, I infer that Daniel’s death was not too far in the future (see 12:13). The date must be 537 B.C. The first wave of Jewish captives would thus have already made their way back to Jerusalem.
From what we are told in verse 1, we know that unlike the vision of chapter 8 (see verse 27), Daniel did understand this vision received in chapter 10. The essence of the vision con- densed into one word would be “conflict.”
Daniel’s vision was preceded by three weeks of mourning during which time he did not enjoy the fine foods were available to him.105 Over what was Daniel mourning? We are not given the answer. Perhaps he was mourning over Israel’s sin or over the difficulties the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem were having. It could have been the new temple would not have the same glory as the old (see Ezra 3) or the enemies of the Jews were hindering the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple (Ezra 4). In the final analysis, we only know that Daniel was mourning and that he had set his heart to gain understanding. Daniel’s vision was a belated answer to his prayer (see Daniel 10:12).
4 And on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5 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. 6 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.
Along with several others (see verse 7), Daniel was standing beside the Tigris river106 when he received his vision. He was not transported to this place in his vision, as in chapter 8 (verses 1-2), but was already there when the vision appeared to him. It was now the twenty-fourth day of the first month after three full weeks of mourning. The reason for the delay will be given shortly, but first Daniel gives us an account of what he saw in the vision.
Looking up, Daniel saw a person with human characteristics but with qualities which seemed to far surpass those of any mere man. Clothed in linen, his waist was girded with a belt of the finest pure gold. Somehow the splendor of this creature’s body could not be concealed by the linen garment, for Daniel tells us his body was like beryl. Beryl was one of the stones set into the breastpiece of judgment (Exodus 28:20). The mysterious “wheels” of Ezekiel 1 were, in appearance, like beryl (verse 16). Part of Satan’s adornment in the garden of God was of beryl (Ezekiel 28:13). Some of the foundation stones of the heavenly city were beryl (Revelation 21:20). To have a beryl-like body was to have great beauty.
The face of this marvelous creature was also striking. His face had the appearance of lightening. It would seem that his face radiated the brightness and brilliance of lightening. While lightening is a phenomenon which lasts but for a few seconds, the brilliance of this being’s face was constant. His eyes were like flaming torches.
The arms and feet were like the gleam of bronze. What a reflection the arms and feet must have given off, due to the radiance of his face and eyes! When he spoke, it was not the sound of one magnificent voice, but more like the combined voices of a large multitude.
Whether this “man” was an angel or a theophany (a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ) provokes considerable discussion. I have concluded the answer is found by answering this question: “What was the vision Daniel received in chapter 10?” The more I read and reflect on the text, the more I am forced to answer: “The vision Daniel received in this chapter was the appearance of this marvelous being, described in verses 5 and 6, and indicated as such in verse 7.”
If Daniel’s vision is the appearance of the spectacular being in verses 5 and 6, then I am convinced this being is none other than our Lord Himself. Compare this vision in our text with these two other visions, recorded in Ezekiel 1 and Revela- tion 1:
26 Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. 27 Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. 28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
12 And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. 14 And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; 15 and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last. 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Revelation 1:12-18).
It makes good sense that the final vision of the Book of Daniel would be that of none other than our Lord Himself. God has decreed that all things be summed up in Christ:
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:18-23).
15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (Colossians 1:15-20).
In the first prophecy of Daniel in chapter 2, our Lord was symbolically introduced by the “stone made without hands” (2:34-35, 44-45). In chapter 7, He is presented as the “One like a Son of Man,” who is “given dominion, glory and a kingdom” (7:13-14). In chapter 8, He is the “prince of princes” whom the little horn opposes (8:25). In chapter 9, our Lord is the Messiah “who will be cut off and have nothing” (9:26). Now, in chapter 10, we see our Lord in His splendor and glory, as He will appear at His Second Coming.
The Response to Daniel’s Vision
7 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. 8 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. 9 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.
Daniel was accompanied by others beside the Tigris river as the vision of the Lord was revealed to him. The others did not see the vision. There may well have been some unusual manifestations these men witnessed, like those who were with Paul on the road to Damascus:
3 And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” 7 And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one (Acts 9:3-7).
The one thing the men with Daniel certainly observed was his response to the vision. Daniel’s face lost all its color, and he fell to the ground without strength. He feel into a deep sleep, which may have made him appear to be unconscious or in a coma. Those with him felt a deep sense of dread. Wanting no part of this, they ran, leaving Daniel alone to see the vision.
An Angelic Explanation
10 Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 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 were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. 14 “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”
Being in the presence of the glorified Lord had the same effect on Daniel as on others who saw Him in His glory. Involuntarily, Daniel fell prostrate to the ground, weakened by the sight of our Lord’s splendor. An angelic hand reached out and touched Daniel, lifting him from the ground so that he was now on his hands and knees. He spoke to Daniel, referring to him as a “man of high esteem” (see also 9:23; 10:19). Daniel was highly regarded on earth and in heaven as well. He is granted the ability to understand the words which will be spoken to him. When commanded to do so, Daniel stood, wobbling on his feet it would seem, like a new-born calf.
The angel now seeks to encourage Daniel, telling him not to be afraid. From Daniel’s first request for understanding, his prayer was heard, and the angel was commissioned to visit him in answer to that prayer. The delay in the angel’s visit was a part of the sovereign plan and purpose of God. Nevertheless, there was a delay from the time the angel was commissioned to the time he arrived. The angel explains his delayed visitation in response to Daniel’s prayer.
The moment Daniel’s prayer reached heaven, the angel was dispatched to earth to visit Daniel in answer to his prayer. The “prince of the kingdom of Persia” opposed the angel, resulting in his three-week delay. With the help of Michael, this angel was finally able to complete his mission and visit Daniel. Michael is the second angel to be named in the Bible. He is referred to as “one of the chief princes” (verse 13) and later as “your prince (verse 21). The inference suggests that this angel would never have made it apart from help from such a powerful ally.
Who are these “princes,” and what role do they play in the events which take place on earth? It seems safe to say that the “princes” referred to in chapter 10 are not human rulers but angelic powers. Michael, who is Israel’s “prince,” is a faithful servant of God. It would appear that the princes of Persia (verse 13) and Greece (verse 20) are fallen angels, whose dominion is restricted to a particular geographical and political nation.
In Isaiah 14 (verses 3-20), we find the “king of Babylon” spoken of first as a human king and second as Satan himself. In Ezekiel 28 (verses 11-19), we find the “prince of Tyre” spoken of in a similar manner. He is on the one hand a human ruler and on the other a personification of Satan. I believe that as these human kings rose to power and prominence, they, like Satan, became puffed up with pride and became more and more influenced and finally dominated by Satan himself, so that the character traits of these kings became those of Satan. Their personalities became so merged, it was difficult to distinguish one from the other, much as the demonized Legion was dominated by the demons.
The parallel accounts of Jesus’ encounter with Legion in the Gospels of Mark and Luke teach us a very important fact about fallen angels (or demons). We read this request of the demons in Mark’s Gospel:
9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to entreat Him earnestly not to send them out of the country (Mark 5:9-10).
And yet, in Luke’s account, we read,
30 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion” ; for many demons had entered him. 31 And they were entreating Him not to command them to depart in the abyss (Luke 8:30-31).
In Mark’s account, the demons beg not to be sent “out of the country,” and in Luke they beseech Jesus not to cast them “into the abyss.” Why the difference? I believe both requests were made, and they were very much related. The demons are given a certain geographical or political sphere of activity and influence. To be banned from their “territory” requires that they be taken out of circulation, confined to the abyss. They would no longer have the opportunity to carry out their rebellion against God and opposition to men.
The princes of Persia and of Greece seem to be fallen angels who “lobby” for Satan’s plans and interests. Not only do fallen angels have political and geographical spheres of activity, but the holy angels likewise appear to have their own boundaries. Michael’s political and geographical area of activity was Israel. The angel who speaks with Daniel has been given Darius as his ministry:
1 “And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him. (Daniel 11:1).
Just as Christians can expect opposition from those who are the enemies of Christ (see John 15:18-21; 1 Peter 4:1-5, 12-14), so we would expect conflict between fallen and holy angels. Thus we find the angel of chapter 10 opposed by these princes, just as he was assisted by Israel’s “prince,” Michael. After all, did Daniel not indicate to us, his readers, that the essence of the vision he saw was “great conflict” (verse 1)?
In verse 14, the angel explains to Daniel his purpose in coming to him. While he was delayed for several weeks, the angel came to give him an understanding of what was to happen in the “latter days.” The vision of the glorified Lord, the angel explains, pertains not only to Daniel’s people, the Jews, but to “days yet future.” Christ will not appear in His glory until the time for judgment and the establishment of the kingdom of God has come. Christ’s coming in His glory is that which comes at the end of the prophetic program for Israel.
15 And when he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. 16 And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, and said to him who was standing before me, “O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength. 17 “For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.”
The presence of the angel, and his words spoken to Daniel, render Daniel so awe-struck he is speechless. Mortal man, marred by sin, is terror-stricken in the face of holiness. The angel reaches out, touching Daniel’s lips (compare Isaiah 6:1-7). Daniel could now speak, and he did. He explained that the vision had left him in anguish and exhausted, feeling utterly unworthy to speak. His strength vanished, and he seems to have gasped for breath. This kind of experience you and I can never truly fathom without having the same experience.
This text certainly provides a commentary on reverence. You and I find ourselves all too comfortable with God, probably because of the way He is spoken of and perceived by Christians today. God is the one (I deliberately did not capitalize the word) who is “there for us.” He is the “one who would have died for me, even if no one else ever believed in Him.” Daniel saw our Lord as He was, and he fell prostrate in His presence. He was even immobilized and speechless in the presence of one of His holy angels. Our irreverence, I fear, is a direct result of our inadequate and inaccurate perception of God.
The Angel’s Ministry
18 Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!” Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. 21 “However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.
1 “And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.
You and I know the feeling of suddenly coming upon a radar trap, or a policeman, sitting out of sight in his patrol car, especially if we are exceeding the speed limit. Imagine the feelings you would have, as a sinner, in the presence of a holy angel. These were Daniel’s feelings. The angel’s words and deeds helped put Daniel at ease.
The angel dealing with Daniel, like all angels which appear to men in the Bible, had the appearance of a man. Through his touch, he imparted strength to Daniel. His words likewise comforted and encouraged Daniel. Once again, he spoke to Daniel as one held in high esteem, telling him not to be afraid and giving him a greeting of peace.
Strengthened and encouraged, Daniel informed the angel he was not ready and able to hear what he had come to reveal to him. The angel seems almost puzzled that Daniel would understand why he had come to him. Before giving Daniel the message he has been sent to deliver, he tells the prophet what awaits him upon his departure—he will return to do battle with the “prince of Persia.” He further informs Daniel that the “prince of Greece” is about to come.
Why does the angel bother to inform Daniel of these things? What difference should they make to Daniel? What will he learn from it? We may safely assume the “princes” of Persia and Greece are both angels. From the fact that the angel is going to “fight against” the prince of Persia, we may conclude this celestial being is a fallen angel. Why would this angel be fighting against the prince of Persia?
The princes of Persia and Greece are the heavenly counterparts of the earthly kings of Persia and Greece. The prophecies of chapters 8 and 9 have concentrated on these two kingdoms: Persia and Greece (see 8:20-21). The defeat of the prince of Persia is preliminary to the defeat of Persia and to the rise of Greece, whose “prince” was soon coming. It is as though the struggle is waged and won first by the angelic forces in heaven and then carried out on earth by the struggle of human kings. What formerly appeared to be merely an earthly matter in chapter 8 now is shown to have a heavenly (or at least angelic) counterpart. The rise and fall of kings is according to the sovereign plan and purpose of God (see Daniel 4:26, 32), which involves both men and angels.
Here in our text the curtain is lifted so that events on earth, which seemed only to have human causes and instrumentality, now appear in relationship to angelic activity. How foolish of mortal men to think their successes are the result only of their own power and mental genius. This is the folly of which Nebuchadnezzar was cured (Daniel 4), one which characterizes all ungodly earthly kings.
The angel informs Daniel of the angelic dimension of political upheaval and turnover. He also informs Daniel his mission is to reveal to him the truth which has already been written. This refers to the decree of God, which is already settled and determined and will not change.
The last half of verse 21 is by far the most troubling: 21 “Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”
Up until now, I have always thought of the angels of God as being the vast majority, with but a handful of rebel angels allied with Satan in opposing God. But this statement makes it seem as though the angel speaking and Michael are taking on angelic powers who seemingly outnumber and outrank them. The angel does not seem to cast any doubt as to the outcome of his struggle, but he in no way minimizes the strength of the opposition.
May I ask you a troubling question? Are Christians the majority or the minority in this world? Did God choose those to be saints who are the smartest, strongest, and most likely to succeed? If there is doubt in your mind, I will answer for you. He did not. Instead, we are reminded:
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
If this is so for humans, why should we assume it is different in heaven? Note I am not dogmatically saying it is no different in heaven. I am simply pointing out that we assume unfallen angels outrank, outnumber, and overpower those who are fallen. Our text gives us pause for thought on this matter. In the final analysis, it will not be the angels who are praised for the destruction of Satan and his fallen angels, or for the defeat and judgment of those men and women who oppose God. The credit will all go to God, from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things.
The previous verses have turned our attention to the way in which fallen angels influence unbelieving earthly kings and kingdoms. Verse 1 of chapter 11 points out one way in which some of the holy angels may impact good and godly kings. “And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.”
The angel visiting Daniel, who is speaking with him, now relates the ministry he has had in the life of king Darius. According to his words, his ministry was that of encouragement and protection. I understand this angel to be saying he encouraged Darius to show favor toward Daniel and the Jews, and that he protected this king from both human and angelic attacks which might result in his injury, death, or political downfall. Any king who set out to honor God and His people would surely be a target for satanic opposition.
Now here is a real eye-opener for Daniel and for the readers of the Book of Daniel. In reading Daniel 6, we marvelled at Daniel’s sudden rise to power under Darius, especially when in chapter 5 Daniel seems to be unknown to the Babylonian king, Belshazzar. From chapter 6, we find Darius very attached to Daniel and eager to spare his life. He seems to expect God to rescue His servant from the mouths of the lions. What brought this about? The words of the angel in chapter 11 indicate his ministry to Darius had a significant impact on the events of chapter 6. If those kings which opposed God had satanic qualities, other God-fearing kings like Darius and Nebuchadnezzar likely reflected the influence of angels, such as the one speaking to Daniel in chapters 10-12.
This chapter points us to several important truths for our consideration.
First, our text reminds us that Christ is the centerpiece of prophecy and the goal of history. Daniel’s vision is the concluding vision of the Book, the climax of the prophetic revelation of Daniel. Daniel’s vision is of Christ. This should come as no surprise, especially for New Testament saints:
Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:16-17; see also Ephesians 1; Colossians 1).
In the study of prophecy, let us be careful to never lose our focus:
(1) The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to defeat the enemies of God, to judge the world, and to establish the kingdom of God, is the climax and culmination of prophecy. The hope and the joy of the Christian is not just heaven; it is to live in the Lord’s presence, eternally praising and adoring Him.
(2) This text reminds us that in our present condition we are inadequately equipped to dwell in the presence of God. Here in Daniel 10 we find Daniel utterly disarmed and disabled in the presence of God, and even in the presence of one of His holy angels. This is the norm, for we find that other men experience similar reactions when in the presence of holy heavenly beings. Indeed, there is even a sense of respect for the fallen angelic beings (see Jude 9). Only the unbelieving fallen beings show disregard for the angelic powers (2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:8-10).
As we observe Daniel and other godly men shrinking back in fear when they find themselves in the presence of God, or of one of the holy angels, we can understand why it is necessary for us to put off this earthly, mortal, body and be clothed with a new, heavenly body. This enables us to enter into the heavens and to enjoy the blessedness of being in the presence of a holy God:
40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:40-53; 2 Corinthians 5:1-4).
(3) Our text provides us with an even broader perspective. In our study of chapter 9, I suggested that prophecy provides us with a different perspective. Prophecy enables the Christian to view present events in the light of the future, which God has determined and revealed to us in prophecy. Chapter 10 provides us with yet another perspective, enabling us to see that earthly events correspond to angelic activity, normally unseen by mortal men. Just as the “veil is lifted” in 2 Kings allowing us to view human events in the light of heavenly activity, so does chapter 10. The favorable attitude of Darius toward Daniel is now seen to be related to angelic activity (11:1). The fall of Medo-Persia and the rise of Greece is also the result of angelic activity. These are not things we normally perceive, but our text “lifts the veil,” opening our eyes to the broader realm of spiritual warfare.
We have recently seen nations and world leaders rise and fall. This has not happened by chance. All of these things are a part of the plan of God. Our text assures us that behind much that has happened in the political realms, angelic activity has played a significant part, even though unseen by the human eye. We believe this to be true because the Bible tells us this is so.
This does not mean the Christian is unrelated to the angelic world or the spiritual struggle presently going on out of human sight in high places. We not only are told that the spiritual warfare is raging, but we are encouraged to take part, just as Daniel did, in prayer:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod your FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:10-20).
(4) Our text teaches us that even when godly angels are engaged in spiritual ministry on our behalf, they may not quickly and easily prevail. Why is it that we are willing to acknowledge that God is saving only a remnant of mankind, and yet we assume that in the angelic realm there are but a small number of disobedient angels who are easily handled by the godly angels? If the victory is not quick and easy for the angels, why would we expect it to be otherwise for us? As I understand Daniel’s teaching on angels, a number will choose to follow Satan, and thus oppose Christ, His people, and His holy city. For a time, it will even appear they are prevailing. Only when God’s time of judgment comes will disobedient men and angels be quickly and totally destroyed, and this by our Lord at His return.
(5) In prophecy, the watchword for the Christian is not immediate success, but struggle. The Christian life is not what many say it is. Many seek to market the gospel (and all too often line their own pockets) by promising converts that God cannot wait to flood them with physical and material blessings. Our Lord never promised immediate material blessings to His disciples. Instead, He called upon those who would follow Him to give up materialism and to follow Him, expecting to suffer for His name’s sake. Prophecy indicates our future holds conflict, suffering, and even apparent defeat, but in the end, our Lord will subdue His enemies, establish His kingdom, and give men their due rewards. For the time being, we do well to heed prophecy and prepare for difficult days ahead, looking to Him for the grace to endure and remain faithful to Him.
Each of us has a choice to make in this life. We may choose to suffer now, in the light of the glory to come, or, we may pursue the pleasures of this world and face the dreaded reality of God’s eternal wrath. Which is your choice? If you have chosen to follow Christ, you will find great joy, even in the midst of the sorrow and tribulation which following Him brings:
1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:1-12).
Questions and Answers
(1) How does chapter 10 fit into the context of the Book of Daniel?
Chapter 10 is a part of a three chapter segment (chapters 10-12), which constitutes the final segment of the Book of Daniel. Chapters 10-12 serve as the culmination, the climax, of the entire book and its prophecies. Chapter 10 serves as the introduction to this final segment.
(2) According to Daniel 10:1-3, what is the setting for the prophecy Daniel receives in chapters 10-12?
The vision Daniel receives in chapter 10 comes to him in the “third year of Cyrus” (10:1). We know that Daniel served in the government until the “first year of Cyrus” (1:21), and so he must now be retired, perhaps well into his eighties and not far from the time of his death (see 12:13). The first wave of Jews would already have made their way back to the promised land to begin rebuilding and restoring Jerusalem and the temple (see Ezra chapter 1).
From verses 2 and 3, we learn that Daniel had been mourning and concentrating on fasting and prayer. We are not told the reason for Daniel’s distress or the precise content of his prayers. We do know for certain that the vision and the revelation given by the angel was a direct answer to his prayers (10:12).
(3) Compare the vision Daniel receives in chapter 10 with those received earlier in chapters 2, 7 and 8.
It is my understanding that the prophecies revealed in the Book of Daniel are progressively revealed, each new prophecy building on the prophecies preceding it.
Previous revelations have revealed that there will be several kingdoms which will rise and fall, dominating the world, oppressing men, and even opposing God, His people, and His holy place. There have been several references to the coming of the Messiah, who will bring human government to an end, and who will establish His eternal kingdom. In chapter 10, the vision Daniel sees is that of our glorified Lord, as we shall see Him when He returns to establish His throne on the earth. Christ is the sum and substance, the last word and the ultimate fulfillment of all prophecy. All prophecy ultimately points to Him, and that is what Daniel sees in the vision—Christ.
(4) What is the relationship between the person Daniel sees in his vision and the angel who speaks with him in chapters 10-12? Is this the same person or two different persons?
There is disagreement among Bible students as to whether the one Daniel saw in verses 5 and 6 is the same person as the one to whom he spoke in later verses. If these are two different persons, then the one Daniel saw in his vision must almost certainly be the Lord Jesus, which theologians refer to as a “theophany.” The second person would then be an angel. If the two persons are the same being, then it must be an angel, for our Lord could not speak of the princes of Greece and Persia as though they were stronger than He.
The more I considered this text, the more convinced I became that the One whom Daniel saw in his vision was the Lord Himself, and that the one who spoke with Daniel was “merely” an angel. The One whom Daniel saw in his vision is all too similar to the visions Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26-28) and John (Revelation 1:12-19) had, which were of the Lord. This vision of our Lord is the final, climaxing prophetic revelation of Daniel, for it is our Lord who will come and defeat His enemies and establish His eternal kingdom. The one who speaks with Daniel is an angel, who gives the prophet Daniel a final explanation of the end times.
(5) Compare Daniel 10:7 with Acts 9:7 and 22:9. From Daniel 8:18; 10:8-10, 15-17 describe Daniel’s response as he experienced the vision. How do you explain the physical reaction that Daniel describes?
Those who with Daniel when he began to receive his vision did not see all he saw, but they were overcome with a sense of awe and dread, and so they fled, leaving Daniel alone. They seem to have had an experience similar to those who were with Saul when he was met by the Lord on the road to Damascus.
Daniel saw much more than those with him, and it produced a strong physical reaction in him. He lost his strength and fell into a deep sleep. He found it hard to breath and nearly impossible to speak. His reaction may have been stronger when he saw the vision of the Lord, but even being in the presence of the angel affected Daniel greatly. All of this suggests that the privilege of being in the presence of God does not give the warm, fuzzy feelings some seem to suggest. Being in God’s presence is not necessarily something one would want to undergo every day in this life. It shows that we are presently ill-suited for such contact with God and that we will need to undergo a dramatic change to be equipped for heaven. This is why we must leave our mortal bodies behind and be clothed with new bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10).
(6) Who are the “princes” named or referred to in chapter 10? Compare these with the “prince of Tyre” in Ezekiel 28 and the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14. What does this suggest or teach us about the world in which we live?
The “princes” of our text must almost certainly be angels. They may either be unfallen, godly angels like Michael (10:21) or fallen angels, as would seem to be the case with the princes of Greece and Persia (10:20). These angels seem to be very closely associated with the kings of Greece and Persia, even as Satan is identified with the “king of Tyre” (Ezekiel 28:2, 12) and with the “king of Babylon” (Isaiah 14:4, 12ff.).
In the New Testament, we know that demons seem to be restricted to a certain geographical or political territory and that if they are sent from this territory, they are confined to the abyss (compare Mark 5:10 with Luke 8:31). Demons seem to be very much involved in the politics of nations, just as holy angels are likewise involved (see Daniel 11:1). What this teaches us is that political events are not just the result of human decisions and activity but of angelic involvement as well. There truly is a spiritual warfare going on, beyond what can be seen by the human eye (see 2 Kings 6; Ephesians 6:10-20).
(7) From these introductory events and words recorded in chapter 10, what do we learn about the prophecy about to be revealed in the next two chapters?
We learn that the events predicted in the prophecies which follow concern the “latter days” (verse 14), and that the predicted events will be, in part, the result of angelic activity. Further, by inference, these events in the future can involve saints in every age who pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
(8) What do we learn about prayer in this chapter?
This chapter informs us that prayer is one of the ways in which the saints can engage in the unseen spiritual warfare going on all about us, unseen by the human eye. It was in answer to Daniel’s prayer that the vision was given and the angel appeared.
105 The inference of the words of verse 2 is that Daniel normally ate “tasty foods,” including meat and wine. This may appear to be in conflict with Daniel 1, where Daniel is said to have refused such foods. Daniel would have refused to eat meat and wine not because it was evil in and of itself, but because of its probable defilement due to idolatrous ceremonies or because it was ceremonially unclean. Once Daniel rose to power and prominence, I am certain that fine “kosher” foods would have been acquired for Daniel, and that these he would not have refused, except in times of fasting and prayer.