Chapter 10 introduces us to the coming vision of Daniel 11. Chapters 10-12 seem to fit together as one unit revealing the final prophecy and vision of Daniel. Daniel 10:1 tells us that it is now the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia . This gives us the date of about 535 B.C. Therefore the Jewish exiles have been told that they are free to return to Jerusalem , and those who accepted that freedom would be rebuilding Jerusalem at this time. Daniel receives a word concerning great conflict or war. This is the literal rendering of this phrase. The NKJV says, “the appointed time was long.” However, this is not the likely meaning of the word. Conflict or war fits best.
The Message of Daniel 10
Coming of the man clothed in linen (10:2-6)
Daniel is in mourning for three weeks, apparently because of the message that he has heard. Daniel is showing his earnest desire to understand the message he has received by not eating choice food, meat, or wine. Further, Daniel has not anointed himself, as was customary among the Jews and other ancient peoples. The purpose of anointing oneself was to soothe and refresh the skin and to protect against the heat. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, Daniel is standing by the bank of the Tigris River when he looks up and sees something amazing. In verses 5-6 we see the description of a man clothed with linen. Scholars debate whether this is a description of the Messiah, the Son of Man, or if it is simply a description of another angel. Let us weigh the arguments for both. It must be noted that these are unusual descriptions for a simple messenger or angel of God. Daniel has been visited by many angels in his visions, particularly by Gabriel, yet we have not encountered a description like this in regard to these angels. However, if it is the man in linen who speaks to Daniel throughout this vision, then the man in linen is clearly an angel. Chapter 10 goes on to show that the speaker was too weak to fight against the prince of the kingdom of Persia , and required the help of Michael, the archangel. Surely the Son of Man would not need the help of other angels to fight against the servants of Satan. Therefore, many argue that the man in linen is simply an angel.
Before this view is accepted, we must notice the similarities between the description of this man in linen and other descriptions of the Son of Man. Notice the similarities between this in Daniel 10:5-6 and Revelation 1:13-17.
|Man in linen (10:5)
Waist girded with gold (10:5)
Face like lightning (10:6)
Eyes like torches of fire (10:6)
Feet like polished bronze (10:6)
Words like voice of a multitude (10:6)
|Clothed in a garment (1:13)
Girded with gold band (1:13)
Countenance like sun in strength (1:16)
Eyes like flames of fire (1:14)
Feet like fine brass (1:15)
Voice a sound of many waters (1:15)
The comparisons between the two descriptions are so strong that it is very hard to believe that Daniel is not seeing the Son of Man. Comparisons can also be made to the description that Ezekiel gave when he was in the presence of the Lord in Ezekiel 1. The glory of the Lord that Ezekiel saw also has similarities to what Daniel describes in chapter 10.
Daniel’s reaction (10:7-9)
In verse 7 we are told that only Daniel saw the vision. All the men that were with Daniel did not see the vision. However, the men knew something was happening that caused great trembling and terror to fall upon them such that they fled and hid themselves. This scene is very similar to what took place to Saul on the road to Damascus when he saw the Christ. In Acts 9:1-7 we see Saul falling to the ground as he sees Jesus. In verse 7 we are told that the men with Saul heard the voice but did not see anyone. In Acts 22:9 we are told that the men with Saul were afraid. This similarity also gives us more reason to believe that Daniel may have seen the Son of Man. Further, in verse 8 we see that Daniel’s strength left him and his complexion turned pale. Verse 9 tells us that Daniel fell into a trance, face to the ground, at the sound of the words of the man in linen. This is the same reaction that John has in seeing Christ in Revelation. Revelation 1:17 says, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”
Conflict in the heavenly places (10:10 -14)
In verse 10 we read that a hand touches Daniel to rouse him to his hands and knees. At this point, if we understood the man in linen to be the Son of Man, then the one who puts a hand on Daniel must be another angel. Daniel simply notes that somebody puts a hand on him, and does not identify who the person is who did this act. In Revelation 1:17 it is Jesus who puts his hand on John, but he identifies himself as the one who did this act. Is the man in linen an angel or is it Christ himself? I do not believe we can be one hundred percent sure as to which it is since the person is not positively identified beyond the descriptions given. If one accepts that the man in linen is Christ, then it must also be accepted that it is an angel who puts his hand on Daniel and begins the rest of the discussion in this chapter.
Daniel is now told to stand on his feet because the angel has been sent to speak to him. Notice again that the angel calls Daniel “greatly beloved.” This personal touch was also seen in Daniel 9. We see the love that God has for his people. The angel goes on to tell Daniel not to fear because he has been sent to Daniel because of Daniel’s prayer. We must notice the two things that are identified by the angel which caused the angel to be sent to Daniel. Verse 12 tells us that he set his mind to gain understanding and humbled himself before the Lord. Daniel not only wanted to know about the word which he had received, but, very importantly, he had humbled himself before the Lord. This cannot be an attitude that is left out of our prayer life. We must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and this certainly includes in our prayers as well. While we are told that we must have boldness to approach the throne to receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need, we must always recognize our position before God. We must approach God with a submissive heart that understands that we have no right to expect anything from the Lord. Daniel approaches God with humility as he desires to gain understanding.
We are now given some insight as to why the angel was sent on the first day that Daniel wanted to gain understanding, yet went for 21 days without any response. Verse 13 tells us that the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed this angel for 21 days. Michael, one of the chief princes, came and helped with the conflict with the prince of the kingdom of Persia , so that this angel could come to Daniel. Here is a matter of fact statement made to Daniel as if he understood exactly all this meant. We, however, do not fully understand all that this means. What is clearly being described for us are the spiritual conflicts that are taking place in the heavenly places, or the spiritual realm. Immediately we want to know who the prince of the kingdom of Persia is. Since Michael is called a “chief prince” and the scriptures also call Michael the “archangel” (Jude 9), we must understand the prince of the kingdom of Persia to be a powerful angel of Satan. Unfortunately, we are not revealed any information as to the purpose or work of the prince of the kingdom of Persia . We do see that there is a fight between the spiritual beings empowered by Satan over the earth and the spiritual beings of heaven who serve the Lord.
After reading this information, it brings to light more of what Paul was speaking about in Ephesians 6:11-18. In Ephesians 6:12 , Paul says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” There is a spiritual war that is taking place in the heavenly places that we cannot see, but we are engaged in. We belong on one side of the battle line or on the other. If we are not actively fighting for the Lord, then we are on the side of Satan. Which side do we want to receive aid from? Which side will we serve? These angels were fighting so that Daniel could receive understanding about the message he had heard. Here we have visible evidence of what the Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 1:14 that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation.”
In verse 14 we also are told what the vision is regarding. The angel is going to reveal things that are “to happen to your people in the latter days.” Therefore, the vision that will be revealed to us in chapter 11 is concerning Daniel’s people, which are the Jews. Further, the angel says that these things will happen in the latter days. We have seen this phrasing many times in Daniel. In Daniel 2:28 we saw the “latter days” refer to the events leading up to the end of the Jewish age and the coming of God’s kingdom in the days of the Messiah. In Daniel 8:17 we saw the vision refer to “the time of the end,” which also is a reference to the events leading up to the end of the Jewish age. We must also understand the “latter days” in this text to refer to the same time period. Nothing in Daniel thus far has spoken about any events beyond the fall of the Roman empire (Daniel 2, 7, & 9). Further, the angel says that these events are about the Jewish nation (“your people”). Therefore, the “last days,” “time of the end,” and “latter days” all refer to the same period of time; that is, the time and events leading up to the end of the Jewish age in the first century, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:26).
Strengthened by the angel (10:15 -11:1)
After hearing these words, Daniel turns his face back toward the ground and becomes speechless again. Then one having the likeness of the sons of men touched Daniel’s lips. It seems that we have all sorts of spiritual hosts that are around Daniel, though not mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Daniel opens his mouth and expresses the pain he has about the visions he has seen and that he has no strength to prophesy. We certainly see the proper awe, reverence, and fear that Daniel has for the things that he has seen and the message that he has received. He did not take the words of the Lord carelessly or flippantly. He is in great awe of the things that he has seen and heard.
Then one having the likeness of a man touched Daniel and strengthened him. I do not know if this is a reference to the man in linen that we read at the beginning of the chapter, a reference to the one who touched Daniel earlier, or if we have a completely different person touching Daniel now. But by this one’s touch, Daniel is strengthened to receive the message and continue his service to the Lord.
In verse 19 we see why Daniel could be strengthened. First, the angel reminds Daniel that he is greatly beloved by the Lord. Second, the angel tells Daniel “do not fear.” What a great hope Daniel would have to be told by these powerful angels sent to serve that he has no reason to fear. Third, the angel tells Daniel he is to have peace. He is safe and there should be peace within his soul. Finally, the angel also tells Daniel to be strong. The NRSV says, “be strong and courageous.” Such a statement is common from God to his servants. The people of God have nothing to fear. Take strength and take courage. We are protected and beloved by God. In verse 20 the angel then seems to ask a rhetorical question. The angel asks, “Do you know why I have come to you?” Yet earlier in the chapter the angel told Daniel the purpose for his coming. This may simply be a reminder to Daniel so that he would take courage. God is watching over him and had sent these messengers to him because he is beloved by God and would give Daniel understanding. Now the angel must return to fight against the prince of the kingdom of Persia . What we can infer from this is that this battle would continue, yet the Lord would be successful. However, the prince of the kingdom of Greece would rise up and the conflict would begin again. But before the angel leaves, he is going to tell Daniel what is inscribed in the book of truth. The contents of this message will be revealed to us in chapter 11. It also seems to be part of this angel’s work to fight against these princes of the kingdoms. Further, as chapter 11:1 indicates, he has been fighting the prince of the kingdom of Persia with Michael, the archangel. The angels are working on the Lord’s side in the heavenly places to win the battle for the Lord. What a great picture of the power of God at work against the forces of evil.
The battle is won, but the sides are still being drawn. We see that the Lord has already won the battle. This is the overwhelming message from the visions of Daniel. The kingdoms of the earth will not prevail against the kingdom of God . However, we still have a choice as to where we will fight. No one wants to fight on the losing side, especially when the losing side is led by Satan. The battle belongs to the Lord. Be strong and courageous. We see that the Lord is looking over us and when we are striving to be servants of His cause, then the Lord sends His angels to help in our time of need. The Lord chose not to explain to us exactly how all of this works. But we do have confidence that we are not alone in our struggles. We fight a spiritual battle. Let us pick up the weapons of our battle as described in Ephesians 6:12-18. Gird ourselves with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, taking the shield of faith, taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.