GLORIOUS CHRISTOPHANY AND STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT PREPARE DANIEL FOR THE CONCLUDING VISION THAT REINFORCES GOD’S CONTROL OVER WORLD KINGDOMS
Iain Duguid: Daniel 10 is written to help us understand that life is hard and why life is hard, but also to remind us that we are not alone in our struggles. It is part of the larger concluding vision to the Book of Daniel, which runs from the beginning of Daniel 10 through to the end of the book. Daniel is informed at the outset that this vision concerns a great conflict (Dan. 10:1). We will see more of the details of that great conflict in chapter 11, but Daniel 10 is also important for preparing us to understand that conflict, especially its spiritual dimensions. In short, it shows us that the conflicts that we experience here on earth are the counterpart of a great spiritual conflict that is presently ongoing in the heavenly realm. An awareness of this great spiritual conflict will help us to be prepared for the challenges of life here on earth, by being clothed in the appropriate spiritual armor.
Tremper Longman III: To know that such a great salvation is coming in spite of the present circumstances cannot help but deeply encourage the godly. The passage continues to function with this intention to those who are living faithfully at a time far removed from that of Daniel. As we will observe, the prophecy continues to veil its revelation. It is more like a provocative glimpse at the future than anything a later reader can use to predict dates or specific events, but it is enough to serve its purpose: comfort and encouragement in spite of present suffering. Once again, therefore, for this entire section the purpose continues to be that of the whole book: In spite of present appearances, God is in control and will win the victory.
Paul Lederach: Chapters 10:1 to 12:13 form a unit, and its structure is complex. There is a long introduction (10:1—11:1) leading to the central message of the heavenly being (11:2—12:4). In the introduction, Daniel receives word of a coming revelation. A divine messenger appears, before whom Daniel falls prostrate. The heavenly messenger explains that his message relates to the Jewish people in the days to come (10:12-14). Daniel falls to the ground once more. A second heavenly messenger touches Daniel’s lips, strengthens him, and affirms the dependability of the message.
The heavenly message, extending from 11:2 through 12:4, spans the historical period from the rise of Alexander the Great to the end of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ruling 175-164 B.C.). Kings are not named, yet through a general knowledge of the history, one can identify kings to the south and west of Palestine and kings to the north and east.
Norman Porteous: It is generally agreed that these chapters belong together as a single whole and tell of a single revelation supposedly made to Daniel in the third year of Cyrus by a heavenly being, who sketches for him in considerable detail the history of the Seleucid period up to and including the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, prefacing it by a very slight account of the Persian period and of the reign of Alexander the Great and following it by a prophecy of the end of Antiochus Epiphanes and of what is to come thereafter.
Andrew Hill: Lucas, 231, designates the literary form of the entire unit as “epiphany vision” (in contrast to “symbolic vision”)—a helpful expression. He identifies a six-part form for the epiphany vision and notes that it is unique to Daniel in the OT (chs. 9; 10–12). The form of the epiphany vision may be outlined as follows (see Lucas, 35):
1. Circumstances (10:1)
2. Supplication (10:2–3)
3. Appearance of messenger (10:4–9)
4. Word of Assurance (10:10–11:1)
5. Revelation (11:2–12:3)
6. Charge to seer (12:4)
Most biblical scholars recognize in the last three chapters of the book a broad, tripartite structure consisting of
– a prologue (10:1–19),
– a vision report (10:20–12:4), and
– an epilogue (12:5–13).
John Walvoord: The entire experience of Daniel in this chapter is on the one hand a reminder of human weakness and insufficiency, and on the other, of divine enablement which will strengthen Daniel for his responsible task of recording this great revelation. The fact that an entire chapter is devoted to this preparation makes clear that the revelation to follow is important in the consummation of God’s purposes in the world.
Bob Deffinbaugh: Our text, Daniel 10:1–11:1, can thus be outlined
(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
(10:1-3) PROLOGUE – BACKGROUND FOR THE CONCLUDING VISION
A. (:1) Significance of the Message
1. Due to Its Critical Timeline and Historical Setting
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia”
Iain Duguid: In the first year of Cyrus, the first party of Jewish exiles had returned to Jerusalem in response to Cyrus’s decree, but they had found life there far from plain sailing. They rebuilt the altar of the temple but almost immediately ran into powerful opposition from their new neighbors on all sides (Ezra 3:1–6). This opposition, on top of the difficulties of scratching out a basic living in their new home, caused the returned exiles to cease the work on the temple, a hiatus that would continue for more than fifteen years until the time of Haggai and Zechariah. The third year of Cyrus would therefore have been a time of discouragement for God’s people, both in Judah and in Babylon
. The euphoria that surrounded the initial return and the rededication of the altar was fading and the challenges of maintaining faithfulness over the long haul in the midst of great opposition would have been on Daniel’s mind.
Tremper Longman III: Cyrus was the Persian emperor who conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., leaving Darius the Mede in charge. This date is surely to be understood as three years after he became king of Babylon, thus inheriting authority over the Jewish population there. The date is probably 536/35 B.C. Already some of God’s people have returned home under Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel (Ezra 1–2). Many, however, decide to stay in exile, including Daniel. We are not given any reasons, but perhaps his advanced age plays into the decision. We know that God has further use for him in Babylon.
In any case, this was the year that Daniel receives his final and climactic vision, described in Daniel 10–12. Interestingly, in a parenthetical comment, Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, is cited. He has not been referred to by this name since chapter 5, and here is the only occurrence in the second half of the book. The reasons for this particular use escape us, but certainly it reminds us of Daniel’s life in the foreign court. Perhaps it is to remind us that even at the end of his life Daniel is still in exile.
2. Due to Its Prophetic Target
“a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar;”
3. Due to Its Authenticity and Difficulty
“and the message was true and one of great conflict,”
Stephen Miller: Literally the Hebrew text reads simply “and a great war” or “conflict,” with the verb to be supplied. The phrase could refer to a great earthly war (or wars) that would occur in the future, or it could even describe spiritual warfare between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Both interpretations would suit the context well, for a conflict between spiritual forces is described in chaps. 10 and 11, and great wars are prophesied in chap. 11. Probably all the conflicts (or warfare) recorded in these last chapters are involved in the expression, whether conflicts between nations or angels.
John Walvoord: The implication is that the period in view is a long and strenuous one involving great conflict and trouble for the people of God.
4. Due to Its Clarity and Application
“but he understood the message
and had an understanding of the vision.”
Stephen Miller: This understanding came as an answer to Daniel’s prayers (cf. 10:12). Evidently the prophet was again praying for wisdom concerning the future of his people, the Jews. In the previous three visions God had already revealed much pertaining to Israel’s fate, but Daniel desired to know more. By now the Jewish captives had returned to Palestine, but their plight was precarious. Work on the temple was being opposed by the Samaritans, and it is possible that reconstruction had already been halted (cf. Ezra 4:5, 24). Archer suggests that this development may have led to Daniel’s renewed concern.
Andrew Hill: The opening verse summarizes the contents of the final vision (chs. 10–12) by introducing the section as a “revelation” (v.1a), affirming its reliability (“its message [is] true”; v.1b), summarizing its content (“a great war”; v.1c), and stating the fact that Daniel’s understanding of the message “came to him in a vision” (v.1d). The word for “revelation” (Heb. glh; GK 1655) means to “uncover” in the sense of revealing a secret (for the complete idiom, cf. NASB’s “a message [Heb. dābār, “word”] was revealed”). The expression serves to summarize the predictive information given to Daniel through the heavenly messenger and recorded in 10:20–12:4 (cf. Wood, 265). The form of Daniel’s revelation is a “vision” (Heb. mar ʾeh), in which the “auditive aspect is predominant over the visual element. It is revelation by word instead of picture” (J. A. Naudé, NIDOTTE, 3:1012; cf. “vision” [Aram./Heb. ḥzh] in the Notes on 7:1–2). The third-person narration of the introduction calls attention to the importance of the revelation to follow (cf. Lucas, 265).
John Goldingay: The opening verse summarizes chs. 10–12 as a whole by introducing the motifs of the trustworthy revelation that comes to Daniel, the conflicts ch. 11 describes, and the understanding Daniel then receives.
B. (:2-3) Sober-Minded Preparation
1. (:2) Attitude of Spiritual Focus
“In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.”
Stephen Miller: Years later Nehemiah (Neh 1:4) “mourned” (same Hebrew word) over the condition of the Jews who had returned to Palestine, and this is evidently what so deeply concerned Daniel here. His mourning involved prayer (cf. v. 12) and fasting (cf. v. 3; cf. also Matt 9:14–15).
“Three weeks” is literally “three sevens of days.” Lacocque correctly remarks, “This preparation lasts ‘three weeks of days’; manifestly the Author added the term ‘days’ to prevent confusion with the ‘week (of years)’ from chapter 9.”
John Walvoord: Humanly speaking, there was ground for anxiety. But Daniel did not understand that the seventy years of the captivity which expired with the return of the exiles in Ezra 1 did not fulfill the seventy years of the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple. This required an additional twenty years (the difference between 605 B.C., the first deportation of the Jews, and 586 B.C., the date of the destruction of Jerusalem). From God’s point of view, things were moving exactly on schedule. In a sense, the vision which followed was a reply to Daniel’s questions concerning God’s purposes for the future of Israel in relation to the Gentiles. These purposes involved a far more extensive program than that fulfilled in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah. While the saints of God may justly be concerned over what seems to be a defeat of God’s purpose, the suffering saint should never forget the majesty of the sovereignty of God which ultimately proves “that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Ro 8:28). From the divine viewpoint, while we should pray, we should be delivered from anxiety – as Paul stated many years later (Phil 4:6-7). The period of fasting, however, constituted a divine preparation for the revelation. No doubt, abstinence from all but absolutely necessary food and drink, and the omission of anointing oil – indicative of his grief for the affliction of Israel (Amos 6:6; 2 Sa 14:2) – he
lped to ready Daniel for his great experience.
2. (:3) Abstinence from Distractions
“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.”
John Whitcomb: cf. Daniel 1 where Daniel refrained from distractions of Babylonian luxuries and rich food.
Stephen Miller: In Hebrew there is a conjunction between these two clauses that could be rendered “even,” which would explain that the “choice food” omitted from Daniel’s diet was “meat and wine.” Daniel seems to have engaged in a semifast rather than refraining from eating all food for this three-week period. He may have existed on bread and water. “I used no lotions at all” means that Daniel “neglected the usual niceties of personal grooming, such as fragrant oil on his hair or body.” Anointing the body with oil was a common practice among the Jews and other ancient peoples, its purpose being to soothe and refresh the skin and to protect against the heat.
Iain Duguid: Daniel’s solidarity with his brothers and sisters in the Lord, even at a great distance, should be a challenge to us. The church around the world is one family of God’s people. When one suffers, we should all sorrow; when one rejoices, we should all celebrate (see 1 Cor. 12:26). This obligation requires that we develop an awareness of what is happening elsewhere in the world. . .
We should particularly remember the persecuted church. In many parts of the world there are those who suffer severely for their allegiance to Christ. The writer to the Hebrews urges his readers to “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3). Of course, in most cases we cannot write to these people personally, to assure them of our support. Nonetheless, we can do what Daniel did, which is to fast for a time from some of the luxuries that are a routine part of our lives, and devote ourselves to praying for these persecuted saints in their time of desperate need. By voluntarily giving up for a period of time some of the joys and pleasures that are so readily available to us, we can identify with those believers who have no prospect of ever experiencing such things. Such an act is also good for us when we are tempted to grumble about the difficulties and challenges of our present situation. It reminds us to be thankful for God’s mercies to us in our setting, and to pray for God’s people under trials. Abstinence also helps us to keep in mind the fact that this world is not our home. Like the believers under persecution, we too are engaged in a profound spiritual battle against powerful opposition, a battle that rages around us at all times.
Paul Lederach: Daniel senses that the coming message will contain words of trouble for his people. The rituals of fasting and neglecting of bodily grooming were thought to heighten spiritual insight and sensitivity. The thoroughness of Daniel’s preparation also lends authority to the revelation, because the one receiving the revelation is personally fully prepared. Daniel’s earlier search into Scripture became the prelude for a revelation (9:2). Here likewise his search after God is preparatory to a divine disclosure (10:3).
I. (10:4-9) GLORIOUS CHRISTOPHANY LEAVES DANIEL TREMBLING
A. (:4) Staging for the Vision
“And on the twenty-fourth day of the first month,”
Andrew Hill: The date formula (“twenty-fourth day of the first month”; v.4) indicates that Daniel’s fast overlaps the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread (cf. Lev 23:5). Lucas, 274, notes that Daniel’s self-denial during his fast would have included the festal anointing with oil symbolizing joy and gladness, associated with Hebrew festivals (cf. Ecc 9:7–8).
“while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris,”
Stephen Miller: Daniel was beside the Tigris (Heb. ḥiddāqel) in bodily presence, not in vision, when a heavenly being appeared to him. For some reason he was away from Babylon, the capital. Archer thinks Daniel may have been in the area on official business, but since the prophet was involved in an extended period of prayer and fasting, he likely had left the capital in order to spend uninterrupted time with the Lord. The Tigris River originated several hundred miles to the north of Babylon and flowed through Babylonia to the Persian Gulf, passing within about twenty miles of the capital. Consequently, Daniel may have been as close as twenty miles or as far as several hundred miles from the city of Babylon (although his age probably precluded distant travel).
B. (:5-6) Subject of the Vision = Glorious Preincarnate Christ
1. (:5) Expensively Dressed Person
“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.”
Andrew Hill: The interjection that follows, “and behold” (NASB; Heb. hinnēh; omitted from the NIV]) conveys both the unexpected nature of the experience and the excitement it generates (cf. Miller, 280).
Bob Deffinbaugh: 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 (Col. 2:16-17).
Thomas Constable: Expensive linen dress is what the priests in Israel wore, and it distinguished them as God’s special servants. Likewise, the sash around this angel’s waist, evidently embroidered with or made completely of the best gold, would have identified Him as a special person. The meaning of “Uphaz” is uncertain. It may be the same as “Ophir,” since the translators of the Syriac version of Jeremiah substituted “Ophir” for “Uphaz” in Jeremiah 10:9. The location of Ophir is also uncertain. It may have been in southwestern or southeastern Arabia, on the northeast African coast, or in India. [Note: The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. “Ophir,” by D. J. Wiseman.] Alternatively, “Uphaz” may be a technical term for “refined gold.” [Note: Ibid., s.v. “Uphaz,” by D. J. Wiseman.] The per
sonal descriptions of this man resemble what John saw on the island of Patmos, namely: the Son of God (Revelation 1:13-16; cf. Ezekiel 1:13-14). All these features picture a person of great glory and splendor.
2. (:6) Exalted Person
“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.”
Stephen Miller: Some have identified the “man dressed in linen” as none other than God himself, probably in the person of the divine Messiah. That this person was God seems to be the correct view not only because of the overwhelming effect of his presence on Daniel but because of the similar description of the theophany presented in Ezek 1:26–28 and the even closer parallel to the portrait of Christ in Rev 1:12–16. In 12:6 this “man in linen” also seems to have had knowledge that transcended that of the other angels, and in 12:7 he took a divine oath.
An argument commonly raised against the equation of this person with deity is that the angel described in vv. 10–14 was clearly inferior to God. For example, this angel was “sent” to Daniel (v. 11) and required Michael’s help to fight against other angelic forces (v. 13). G. C. Luck offered the proper solution to this problem, which is that the “man dressed in linen” and the interpreting angel introduced in v. 10 are distinct personalities. At least four holy angels (the interpreting angel [10:10–14 and throughout chaps. 10–12]; Michael [10:13, 21]; and two others [12:5]) appear in this vision, and the “man dressed in linen” is unquestionably in charge (cf. 12:6–7). Therefore the personage described in 10:5–6 is a theophany, but the contents of the vision are related by the interpreting angel, who is introduced at v. 10. In the Book of Revelation there is a similar pattern. On occasions John encountered Christ himself (e.g., 1:12–20), whereas at other times he was instructed by an angel (e.g., 17:1–6).
Tremper Longman: I am attracted to Miller’s suggestion that the two figures are different, the first being God and the second an angel, but I am also hesitant to be dogmatic about my affirmation of it. After all, there is no clear textual signal that tells us that a second figure has come into play with verse 10. It effectively solves a problem, but as such, we should hold it only as a possible hypothesis. In any case, we have a clear case of spiritual conflict. On the one side stands God’s powerful angelic army and on the other “the prince of the Persian kingdom.”
John Walvoord: Although there is room for debate even among conservative scholars, the evidence seems more in favor of considering this a theophany. In this case, the man of 10:5-6 is to be distinguished from the angel of 10:10-14 as well as Michael mentioned in 10:13. Although mighty angels are frequently difficult to distinguish from God Himself, as in other visions such as those in Ezekiel and Revelation, the similarity between the man described in 10:5-6 and the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:13-15 has led conservative expositors such as Young and Keil to consider the man a genuine theophany or an appearance of Christ as the Angel of Jehovah.
• It seems clear from comparing the parallel vision passages that Christ is the subject here; so we want to interpret the unclear by the clear
• It is possible that another angelic being interacts with Daniel beginning in vs. 10 as Miller has suggested; but that would be highly unlikely since there is no indication of change in personage
• The objections offered that Christ would not be sent and that Christ would not be hindered on His mission can be adequately addressed
• No person is better equipped than Christ to provide strengthening and enlightenment
• Daniel’s further interaction seems most appropriate if the subject is Christ
C. (:7-9) Severe Reaction to the Vision
1. (:7a) Unique Experience of Daniel
“Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision,
while the men who were with me did not see the vision;”
2. (:7b) Reaction of Terror on the Part of Daniel’s Companions
“nevertheless, a great dread fell on them,
and they ran away to hide themselves.”
Stephen Miller: Paul had a similar experience when he met Christ on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1–7). Only he saw Jesus, but the others with him felt the presence of the Lord and became speechless with fear. [Something supernatural happened to the Apostle Paul here.]
3. (:8) Reaction of Being Drained of All Strength
“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.”
Andrew Hill: The “aloneness” of the individual experiencing the vision is not unusual given other revelatory experiences recorded in the OT (e.g., Ge 15:9–16; 32:24–30).
4. (:9) Reaction of Fainting and Lying Prostrate on the Ground
“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.”
Stephen Miller: Daniel’s severe reaction to the presence of this person confirms that this being was no mere angel.
John Goldingay: We are then told successively how he was touched and raised to his hands and knees and then to a standing but bowed position, then touched and enabled to voice his weakness, then touched and encouraged to listen to the messenger.
John Whitcomb: From time to time the Lord Jesus in His public ministry had spectacular signs to indicate that God the Father was talking to Him in remarkable and special way. Example: John 12:27ff. Watch what happened —
look at the reaction of the multitude – a spectacular supernatural endorsement (confirmation) of the enormous significance of the things that were being said by the Father to the Lord Jesus.
II. (10:10-14) CONTESTED MISSION OF DIVINE ENCOURAGEMENT
A. (:10-11) The Encouragement Provided by the Angel
1. (:10) Touched by the Divine Messenger
“Then behold, a hand touched me
and set me trembling on my hands and knees.”
2. (:11) Testimony to Daniel’s Privileged Status
“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.”
Norman Porteous: Once again, as in 9.23, Daniel is addressed as ‘man greatly beloved’; that is to say, he is favoured by God and chosen to be the recipient of divine revelation. Indeed he is assured that, from the very moment when he began his fast, mortifying or humbling himself and earnestly desiring to understand God’s purpose for Israel, there had been a response from God’s side. The angel (Gabriel?) had been immediately commissioned to take the revelation to him.
Iain Duguid: God’s purpose in revealing himself to Daniel in this glorious manner was not to crush him but to encourage him. God wants us to see our own weakness before him so that we will not trust in ourselves but will look to him for our strength. So the awe-inspiring messenger reached out his hand and touched Daniel, speaking encouraging words to him that enabled him to stand, albeit still with trembling: “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling” (Dan. 10:10–11). The angel encouraged Daniel with the affirmation that he was highly esteemed by God. Furthermore, the angel had been sent to Daniel in response to his prayers, in order to give him insight and understanding. In other words, the vision that follows in chapter 11 will be one that is intended to encourage Daniel in response to his mourning and meditation over the present situation in Jerusalem.
John Whitcomb: Christ could be presented as the “sent One” – the messenger of God. Does not mean necessarily that this had to be a different angel.
B. (:12-14) The Purpose of the Angel’s Visit
1. (:12) Sent in Response to Daniel’s Petition for Understanding and Deliverance
“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.’”
John Whitcomb: Look at how the Lord responds to the prayers of His people.
S. Lewis Johnson: There is a story about a man who is sharpening an axe that is a kind of hortatory story and with reference to the prayer life. The perspiring wood chopper who was not doing so well was urged to stop and sharpen his axe. And he snorted in reply, it’s tough enough now getting this job done without taking timeout to grind the axe. While there are people who are finding it very difficult to get along in the Christian life and when it comes to prayer, how often have you ever — have you felt like this? Well, it would be nice to get on our knees and pray, but I really don’t have time. Have you ever felt like that?
2. (:13) Delayed by Powerful Spiritual Conflict
a. Opposing Demonic Force
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia
was withstanding me for twenty-one days;”
Andrew Hill: Once Daniel is restored to some measure of strength, the angel assures him that his tardiness in coming to Daniel is not due to any reluctance on God’s part to respond to fervent prayer (v.12).
John Whitcomb: How could Christ have been blocked for 21 days? This is the theme down through the ages. God is never defeated. Problem not solved by substituting another angel here for Christ. He is always winning the war against the demonic forces. God has intentionally limited Himself to what his angels do for Him. He uses angels for assistance as He pleases. Angles have very prominent role throughout scriptures. God does not do everything instantaneously without any delay or hindrance. How could Michael be said to help Jesus? Yet we are called to minister on behalf of Christ.
b. Supporting Help from Michael
“then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.”
Stephen Miller: Evidently the reason that Michael became involved and not another powerful angel was that Daniel was interceding for Israel, a nation especially entrusted to Michael’s care (v. 21). . . Michael has been assigned by God as Israel’s prince (cf. 10:21); he is “great” in power and protects the Jewish people (cf. 12:1). The implications of these statements are clear. Israel has a mighty angelic supporter in the heavenly realm. Therefore, regardless of Israel’s political, military, and economic weaknesses, its existence is assured because no earthly power can resist their great prince. . .
[This opposing angel] is called the “prince of the Persian kingdom,” so Persia must have been his special area of activity. Therefore this demon was either a powerful angel assigned to Persia by Satan or possibly he was Satan himself. Persia ruled the world in that day, and Satan would surely have concentrated his personal efforts in this most influential area. If the demon was Satan, it would explain why Michael, one of God’s most powerful angels, was needed to fight against him. The angelic warfare continued, for v. 20 reveals that the good angel would return to fight against this demon. Young suggests that it was this evil angel who “influenced the kings of Persia to support the Samaritans against Israel.”
In this instance, within the omniscient wisdom of God and the divine plan of God, the delay was permitted. Reasons for this delay are not outlined in the text, but it may be assumed that God allowed three weeks to pass in order to perform some work in Daniel’s spiritual life or for some other
unknown purpose. Many times God permits believers to wait for their prayer answers in order to teach them valuable lessons, for example, spiritual commitment, patience, faith. There are also times when God fully intends to respond affirmatively to a request but in his wisdom delays because he knows that the proper time has not yet come.
3. (:14) Focused on God’s Program for Israel’s Ultimate Future
“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.”
Iain Duguid: Nor should we suppose that since Persia and Greece are ancient history, these angels are now resting on their laurels. The satanic forces opposed to the church continue to use the powers and institutions of this world in their struggle against God’s people. Throughout history, Satan’s enmity against the church will be vented time and again. Time and again, however, though the church is bowed to the ground and may feel abandoned and alone, it is not destroyed because God continues to support and sustain it through the strengthening ministry of his own angels. We are not alone in our conflict, and though the promises of God seem slow in being fulfilled, they are nonetheless sure (2 Peter 3:8–10). God’s decrees—the edicts that are written in “the Book of Truth” (Dan. 10:21)—are the ultimate determiner of future realities.
Paul Lederach: The message concerns events to come that will affect the people of God at the end of days (10:14; 2:28). End of days (‘aarit hayyamim) refers to some time in the future, as in Numbers 24:14 (“days to come”). Similarly, the phrase time of the end (Dan. 8:17; 11:35, 40) refers to the end of a climactic event or period of time. Neither expression necessarily refers to the ultimate eschatological end of time, yet 12:1-4 may be reaching in that direction.
John Walvoord: The expression in the latter days is an important chronological term related to the prophetic program which is unfolded in the book of Daniel. As previously considered in the exposition of Daniel 2:28, this phrase is seen to refer to the entire history of Israel beginning as early as the predictions of Jacob who declared to his sons “that which shall befall you in the last days” (Gen 49:1) and extending and climaxing in the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. The latter days view the entire history of Israel as culminating in the climax of the second advent and the establishment of the earthly kingdom.
III. (10:15 – 11:1) GOAL OF STRENGTHENING DANIEL TO UNDERSTAND THE REVELATION OF GOD’S TRUTH
A. (:15-17) Expression of Humility and Need for Divine Strengthening
1. (:15) Expression of Humility
“And when he had spoken to me according to these words,
I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.”
John Whitcomb: OT prophets had to go through agonizing experiences as they served God as His spokesmen.
2. (:16-17) Need for Divine Strengthening
“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.’”
Andrew Hill: Daniel’s experience of being touched on the lips calls to mind the throne vision of Isaiah, in which his lips were touched by a live coal from the altar held by an angelic being (Isa 6:6–7). Unlike Isaiah’s situation, the need here is strength, not cleansing.
B. (:18-21) Encouragement Provided to Daniel
1. (:18-19) Charge to Be Strong and Brave
a. (:18) Touched and Strengthened
“Then this one with human appearance
touched me again and strengthened me.”
b. (:19) Transformed from Weakness to Strength
“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.’”
John Walvoord: The triple strengthening of Daniel in this agonizing experience has sometimes been compared to that of the Lord’s temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:39-44; Mk 14:35-41; Lk 22:39-44). In both cases, an angel is the source of strength (Lk 22:43). This is the last time in this vision where Daniel requires additional strength to be administered by the angel.
John Whitcomb: When God gave Israel the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 through Moses, the people were terrified. Do not let God speak to us lest we die. There is value in fearing God as He speaks to us. Be careful as we ask God to speak to us.
2. (:20-21) Charge to Receive the Word of Truth
“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.’”
John Whitcomb: Speaking of demonic princes [prince of Persia; prince of Greece] under the power of Satan who are assigned to specific countries to try to promote Satan’s agenda. You can bet one is assigned to the United States as well.
Andrew Hill: According to Lucas, 277, the rhetorical question has two purposes: first, it reveals that the heavenly messenger is in a hurry to return to the heavenly conflict from which he came, indicating the importance of the message he delivers; and second, it foreshadows the contents of the revelation since the message addresses the time period of the Persian and Greek hegemony over Judah. . .
The heavenly messenger relates that he only reports what is already “written in the Book of Truth” (“the writing of truth,” NASB; 10:21a). The figurative reference to such a divine scroll “aptly conveys God’s control and knowledge of past, present and future” (Baldwin, 182). The “Book of Truth” should not be equated with the “books” mentioned previously in conjunction with Daniel’s vision of the beasts rising out of the sea (see comments on 7:9–10). Presumably this “Book of Truth” contains the course of history for the nations and the Hebrews as God’s people, a portion of which is about to be revealed to Daniel.
Bob Deffinbaugh: 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. . .
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.
Norman Porteous: the author wished to suggest that these events were included within the divine providential control of history and were moving towards the divinely planned climax.
C. (11:1) Encouragement Provided by Daniel to Darius the Mede
“And in the first year of Darius the Mede,
I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.”
Tremper Longman III: The present chapter division obscures the flow of the section. We have already pointed out that Daniel 10–12 are a unit. Granted that chapter divisions are necessary for such a long unit, the first one should have come either after 10:19 or after 11:1, not in its present place. In 10:20 the speech of the “one like a son of man” commences. In 10:20–11:1, the figure, probably an angel, gives a general overview of what is to come before outlining the details (the bulk of ch. 11). He is going to tell Daniel “what is written in the Book of Truth.” Collins is surely right that, from what follows, we are to understand that book as containing the course of future history as shaped by God. He is also correct to note that the concept of such a book, followed by a detailed reading of centuries that follow Daniel, has a strong deterministic flavor.
John Whitcomb: Preincarnate Jesus still speaking. 1 Thess. 4:16 – at the Rapture of the church the same thing will happen. God has given us some insight in Daniel 10 into how the moral universe operates and the spiritual forces that are involved in such intense conflict.