(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
Part 1: Daniel Dives into the Supernatural Realm
1-A: Background Setting (10:1-3)
1-B: Encounter with Great Christ-like Supernatural Being (10:4-9)
1-C: Gabriel and Daniel Engage in Conversation (10:10-11:1)
1-B: Encounter with Great Christ-like Supernatural Being (10:4-9)
10:4-6 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!
His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
Note that a specific date is given – “the twenty-fourth day of the first month” (Jewish month of Nisan, same month as the Passover feast); and a specific place: “by the side of the great river. . . Tigris”. Again, as in the first verse and in other Biblical passages, these tiny details clue us into the authenticity of this written document, showing that it was preserved and passed on from generation to generation by faithful Jewish scribes. Whereas if they had transmitted the records by word of mouth only, these smaller details would have been lost.
The description of this great awesome supernatural being resembles a similar description made 600 years later by John the Apostle:
◊ I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, “What you see, write in a book. . .”
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw. . .
One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
What Daniel described – “waist. . . girded with gold”, “face like the appearance of lightning”, “eyes like torches of fire”, “feet like burnished bronze”, and a voice “like the voice of a multitude” – matches rather well with John’s description, which identifies this awesome figure as Jesus Christ: “One like the Son of Man. . . I am He who lives, and was dead.” So it should be safe to conclude here that Daniel was actually seeing the Son of God in His glorified, heavenly form, “the Alpha and the Omega”, the same Person whom John the Apostle saw.
These two separate but similar visions of Christ in the Books of Daniel and Revelation help us to understand that these two separate Books are supposed to relate to each other. And indeed, through the interconnecting revelations in these two Books (written 600 years apart), we find an ongoing process of unfolding the mysteries of the future. They portray for us, sometimes in great detail, God’s plan for human history.
Others also saw Christ in this glorified form: the prophet Ezekiel (1:26-28), whose revelations can also be linked with those of Daniel and John the Apostle; the disciples Peter, James, and John beheld Jesus like this on the Mount of Transfiguration: “Jesus. . . led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun. . . His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (Matthew 17:1-2, Mark 9:3)
A question we might want to ask: Is there any symbolic meaning in the unusual features of this great Heavenly Being? Perhaps it is prudent not to speculate too much along such lines, except to say that there is an overall impression of great power and authority emanating from His Person. If nothing else, this appearance of Christ in His glorified form should help us to appreciate what a great sacrifice it was for Him to leave behind all that heavenly glory and manifest Himself in our earthly realm as a mortal human being with all our fleshly limitations and weaknesses.
It was truly a sign of God’s Love to descend from the halls of Heaven and take on the form of humanity. This He did, not for the purpose of lording it over mankind (as Satan was tempting Him to do, as pictured in Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8), but for the purpose of leading humankind into reunion with their Creator that we might re-claim our spiritual and physical Paradise that had been lost so long ago.
If there is any symbolic significance about Christ’s appearance here that we should remember, it might be this: the comparison of his clothing to a linen garment. Such garments, white in color, were considered in those days to be the purest type of cloth; they were always worn by priests or by angels; and this would highlight the fact that Christ is our High Priest, the One who is as our connecting link to God.
This “man clothed in linen” re-appears later in chapter 12: “Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river.” (12:7) The setting there is much the same as it is here at the beginning of the revelation when Daniel “was by the side of the great river”. . . meaning that the great Being he saw must have been hovering above the river in front of him.
Probably this Being had appeared previously (in chapter 8): “I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, ‘Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.’” (8:16) In this case the Being was far enough away that Daniel was not so overwhelmed as he was here in the beginning of this chapter where, it seems, He is standing right in front of Him.
10:7-9 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.
Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
Obviously, this was going to be no minor revelation, for it is introduced by Christ Himself. This was such an overwhelming and awesome manifestation of supernatural power that, even though they “did not see the vision”, Daniel’s attendants were so frightened by its side effects, whatever they were, “that they fled to hide themselves”. In a similar incident 600 years later, another prophet, the apostle Paul, saw a vision of Christ, and in like fashion “the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.” (Acts 9:7)
It’s almost rather amusing what happens next to Daniel. To behold such a “great vision”, to be in the presence of the Son of God – with His lightning-like face, eyes like flaming torches, voice like a multitude, etc. – was too much of a shock for any earthly being. Although Daniel, as a man of high standing in the Medo-Persian kingdom, well respected and honored, now here in the presence of God, he says, “My vigor was turned to frailty”, or as the King James Version puts it, “My comeliness was turned. . . into corruption.”
He felt wretched and lowly, and physically too, he had “no strength” and laid out flat on the ground “in a deep sleep”. In similar fashion, when John the Apostle beheld the Lord in His glorified form, he said, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” (Revelation 1:17)