(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-C: Conversation between Gabriel and Daniel (10:10-11:1)
10:10-13 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.
And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”
“A hand touched me.” It is difficult to tell who is doing what here, but it should be safe to assume that Daniel was “touched” by an angel who was accompanying the “man clothed in linen”. The wording of “a hand” suggests that other angelic beings were present during this startling supernatural manifestation. As a result of this touch, Daniel awakes but is able only to crawl on hands and knees.
The same angel then starts speaking to Daniel. That this is an angel, and not the “man clothed in linen”, can be guessed from the angel’s statement, “I have now been sent to you.” It would make more sense to think that an angel would be sent on a mission to Daniel. Whereas the Being who first appeared to Daniel – the Son of God, equivalent to God Himself – was of such high authority that he hardly needed to be “sent”. It would seem more reasonable to suppose that Christ is the One doing the sending, and the angel who “touched” Daniel is the one who has been “sent”.
Furthermore, we read in verse 13 (also 20 and 21) about this angel’s struggles with “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”. This refers not to the human prince of Persia. (A struggle between a human being and an angel would be a total mismatch.) Rather, the passage refers to the angel’s struggles with the powerful demon who was guiding Persia from the spiritual realm.
It took the angel “twenty-one days” of struggle against this demon of Darkness; for what reasons we are not told, but a good guess might be that he was fighting to clear away some of the obstacles that the “prince of Persia” had managed to throw into the path of the Jewish people’s emigration to Judea. The heavenly archangel said he was “left alone there with the kings of Persia”. The “kings” could have been the rulers of the Persian provinces, whom the archangel had to influence and prevent from interfering with the planned exodus from Babylon to Judea.
So from this passage it seems clear that if the one talking now to Daniel had such a struggle with the “prince of the kingdom of Persia”, he must not have been so all-powerful; at least, he was not like the “man clothed in linen” who could have dispatched of that demon of Darkness with nothing more than a single glare. So this new figure who “touched” Daniel was likely just an angel, or archangel, a being whose power was much less than that of the “man clothed in linen” – more or less equal to the power of this demon “prince of the kingdom of Persia”.
Regarding these spirits who influence nations, they are not all evil necessarily (although the majority of them probably are). The earth is their domain where they want to establish their kingdom of Darkness – certainly not the Kingdom of God, which in those days was represented by the Israeli nation. (Luke 4:6, John 12:31, 14:30) Along this line in chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel, we can read about the vision of Middle East empires symbolized in the form of “beasts”. So in the mind of God, if these empires were given this beast-like profile, then it stands to reason that most of their controlling deities would be angels of Darkness, demonic archangels, who were permitted to have a large measure of influence over those empires.
In fact, in Old Testament times people believed that each nation had its own special national god, or national idol, and in this way these demonic angels were being worshiped. Israel too had her archangel, an angel of God, to fight for her – Michael – who is mentioned again later as “the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people.” (12:1)
This passage offers some intriguing insight into what goes on in the celestial sphere, that fifth dimensional realm that is not bound by earth’s space-time dimensions. From it we may conclude that sometimes angels engage in warfare with demonic spirits. We could also guess that the Being whom Daniel first saw, since He is the Son of God, would exist on a different plane to the angels. He could easily wipe out all the demonic forces if He wanted to. . . but the time for that great Battle (of Armageddon) has not arrived. Even then He is not going to do everything Himself. We learn in Revelation 19:14 that “the armies in heaven. . . followed Him on white horses.” Presumably, these “armies” aren’t just coming as spectators but will have lots to do during that great future conquest that will usher in the Kingdom of God on Earth.
◊ (Jesus: ) . . . It is one of the mysteries of the spirit world how I am all-powerful, all-knowing, and yet I choose to work through you, through spirit helpers, through angels, through spiritual gifts, through many avenues which to you are a source of wonder, but you will understand when you come here and see it all clearly. I choose to limit Myself and work through these other avenues to bring about a plan far greater than the one you can see or comprehend at this time. So trust Me, that I do all things well. (Publication of The Family International, March-2005)
As for Christ’s appearance here before Daniel, His role seems to be that of establishing a tranquil setting for this important mission – that is, to clear the ground of any demonic interference that might get in the way of Daniel’s receiving the prophetic message, which the angel is about to give him. That shows also how important the upcoming message would be – a message that the world, or God’s people at least, would need to understand well and pay attention to.
Most likely, the angel speaking here to Daniel is Gabriel, the same one who appeared to him and was named earlier (in 8:16 and 9:21). We can guess this too by how the angel addresses Daniel. In chapter 9: “O Daniel. . . at the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.” (9:22-23) This is similar to the wording here in chapter 10: “O Daniel, man greatly beloved. . . from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.” (10:11)
And about 11 years before that (in chapter 8), Daniel said of the angel (identified there as Gabriel in verse 16) that “he touched me, and stood me upright.” (8:18) Gabriel then said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation.” (8:19)
And here again in chapter 10 the angel (unnamed) follows the same pattern: Daniel says, “A hand touched me. . . I stood trembling.” (10:10-11) Then the angel informs him, “I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days.” (10:14)
For the purpose of this study we shall assume that the angel who speaks to Daniel during the rest of the prophetic message is the same angel Gabriel who spoke to him in chapters 8 and 9. Of course, even if this is not Gabriel, we know at least that it is an angel, and a chief one at that, an archangel, who is delivering the message, and that fact alone is outstanding enough.
Finally, we learn further ahead the surprising news that this angel, who fought against the “prince of Persia” and is about to reveal a new message to Daniel, had also been working behind the scenes three years earlier during the reign of the previous king: “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.” (11:1) The date given here refers back to Daniel’s previous revelation of the “seventy weeks”: “In the first year of Darius. . . of the lineage of the Medes.” (9:1) In both chapters the same angel was struggling behind the scenes to influence the course of history.
That angel who is appearing now informs Daniel that he is about to do double-duty. That is, besides his normal battle duties, the angel will also bring Daniel a new revelation about the future. Since it is the same angel doing battle duty in chapter 9, then probably that angel also was doing double duty, his additional job being that of bringing the “seventy weeks” revelation to Daniel. And since the angel in that chapter was identified clearly as Gabriel (in verse 21), then it should be safe to assume in this chapter 10 that once more Gabriel is the one speaking to Daniel. . . in addition to his other duties of battling behind the scenes in the spirit world to influence the new king Cyrus.
Just as a matter of interest, in a recent prophetic message the angel Gabriel himself said, “I am the keeper of the reservoir, the Word of God.” (Publication of The Family International, March-1997) That seems to be Gabriel’s responsibility – to see to it that the Word of God gets “downloaded”, as we might say nowadays, into the earthly realm. And in the message that follows, we will see how he certainly has fulfilled some of that great responsibility already.
“You set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God.” In the King James Version we find the translation, “chasten thyself before thy God”. Whatever the exact translation should be, it is evident at least that Daniel was very desperate; and such desperation creates the kind of spiritual vacuum that pulls down tremendous power from the heavenly realm, as manifested in the marvelous answer that he was about to receive and which will be the subject of this study.
10:14 “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Very likely, Daniel’s main concern during the three weeks of fasting and praying had centered around the local situation of his Jewish people’s fortunes and their return to Judea. This we can gather from Gabriel’s statement here, “I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people.”
But God’s answers to prayer often include much more than what we bargained for. In this case, as the angel points out, the message is going to stretch out for a much longer time – “many days yet to come” – and significantly, right on to “the latter days”. We can understand this to mean the days prior to Christ’s first coming, and most importantly for us, the days coming soon prior to His Second Coming.
And as we shall soon learn, Gabriel’s message turned out to be amazingly thorough and detailed, covering events that were to occur in and around Israel in the near future, starting some 200 years later and telescoping from there to events that were to occur some 2,500 years later. . . but for us in modern times, very soon.
10:15-17 When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.
And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.
For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”
To have beheld the majesty of the Lord Himself, first of all, and now to hear “such words” – about his prayers being answered, about the struggles in the spiritual realm, and then the prospect of hearing the awesome revelations of the distant future that are about to be revealed was a bit much for poor Daniel. As a result he turned his face “toward the ground and became speechless.”
Such spiritual experiences can be quite taxing mentally and exhausting physically, having one foot in the spiritual realm, and the other in the earthly realm. Daniel’s initial terrified reaction wasn’t the first time he had felt this way: on a previous visit by Gabriel, Daniel got quite frightened, fell to the ground in a deep sleep, and then, being touched by Gabriel, was made to stand up. (8:17-18)
At this point Gabriel seems to take on a more human aspect – “having the likeness of the sons of men” – and touches Daniel’s lips, enabling him to speak. In the previous “70 weeks” revelation Daniel referred to him as “the man Gabriel”, suggesting that Gabriel could appear more human-like when necessary. (9:21) (Alternatively, it is possible that Gabriel had an attendant, someone who once lived on earth and therefore could more easily relate to another earthling.)
So, even though he had met with Gabriel before, it seems Daniel still felt overwhelmed; apparently, these are not the kind of experiences that a person, still in his fleshly body, can ever manage to take in stride without a period of adjustment. There are many stories of people encountering angels while separated from their bodies in a dream-like state or in near-death experiences, but to encounter an angel while still in one’s body, with all one’s physical faculties still intact, is a somewhat different experience.
And this is how it had to happen; Daniel needed to interact on the spiritual plane with the angel, but at the same time he had to be capable on the physical plane of writing down what the angel had to say. And to engage in this way with those on the Other Side was not an easy experience. But it was rewarded with an amazing and beautiful message that held great significance for the Israeli people in those bygone days; and for God’s people of the present and near future, it also holds great significance.
So now Daniel, in his disheveled state, feels he has to explain what he might have thought was his improper behavior: “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows (or fears) have overwhelmed me. . . how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord?” It is not surprising that Daniel had this reaction of fright and total inferiority before the angel.
Similar experiences are recorded elsewhere in the Scriptures. For example, when an angel visited Gideon to tell him that he would “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites,” the angel, in order to authenticate himself, exhibited a small sample of supernatural power – by magically setting fire to the offering Gideon had prepared. This made Gideon deathly afraid: “‘Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.’” (Judges 6:14,22,23) In another case, before the birth of Samson, Samson’s father Manoah witnessed a similar miraculous occurrence: “the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar!. . . And Manoah said to his wife ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen God!’” (Judges 13:20,22)
It is a marvelous, wonderful thing to experience these kinds of supernatural manifestation, and that is what makes this chapter 10 in the Book of Daniel so interesting; we are given a rare glimpse into what goes on in the spirit world – battles between angels and demons, the spiritual powers who rule behind the scenes and influence what goes on in the physical domains of our earthly realm.
Perhaps we could witness more such supernatural manifestations, but as is apparent from these incidents recorded in the Sacred Book, we are held back by our own human nature. The automatic human reaction to such manifestations tends to be a fearful one – usually worrying that our time has come to die; so these experiences are not the kind of thing that can happen very often.
In these verses 15-17 we note that Daniel feels compelled to offer his explanation of why he had fallen asleep and was so out-of-sorts, even terror-stricken, by the awesome experience of having the angel appear before him. Similarly, Gabriel, back in verse 13, had offered an explanation for the 3-week delay that prevented him from showing up before Daniel a little sooner: the behind-the-scenes warfare with the “prince of Persia”.
These “explanations” sound rather like the opening remarks in a conversation between two persons who haven’t met for awhile, which indeed this is. . . except that one of the persons conversing happens to be an archangel!
Gabriel had appeared to Daniel previously in chapters 8 (11 years earlier) and chapter 9 (3 years earlier), so Daniel may have felt he was due for another visitation – especially after all his prayer and fasting. Possibly, it was Daniel’s own petitions on behalf of the Jewish people that were causing the delay; the angel had to take care of some of those petitions first before he could make his appearance before Daniel.
10:18-21 Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.
And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.
But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.”
Since Daniel was still feeling wobbly – “no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me” – the angel Gabriel (or his helper) once more touches Daniel and speaks to him to “be strong”. As a result Daniel is transformed into a state of full composure and alertness; for that will be necessary if he is to undertake the task of receiving and recording the angel’s message, which is going to be a rather lengthy one.
Although it is not stated, Daniel probably had his pen and paper (scroll) ready to write down whatever the angel was about to say. At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, we learn how that crucial element in the business of receiving revelations – the recording aspect – was not overlooked by the Lord when He told John the Apostle, “What you see, write in a book.” (Revelation 1:10) It should be safe to assume that for Daniel it was the same, except that it was a matter of “what you hear, write in a book”.
Regarding this encounter with Gabriel, all it took was a divine touch and word from him to bring Daniel out of his confused, bewildered state. And how true it is for anyone of us who feels likewise bewildered. If we are seeking diligently for God’s presence and perspective, like Daniel, our Lord will gladly bestow on us that divine touch to magically transform a situation, or at the least, transform our perspective, thereby enabling us to rise above our dire circumstances, whatever they may be, and to see things from a victorious point of view.
After witnessing the awesome visions of the Lord and of Gabriel in their full glory, Daniel seemed to suffer from a great inferiority complex. Maybe it was similar to how a naughty school child might feel, after being summoned to the principal’s office, and standing there nervously awaiting his fate. So to dispel his fears, the angel assures Daniel that he is “greatly beloved”:
◊ “Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual, to revive the drooping spirits of the saints than to be assured of God’s love to them. Those are greatly beloved indeed whom God loves; and it is comfort enough to know it.” (on verses 11 and 19, from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition)
At this point the angel asks, “Do you know why I have come to you?” He had already gone over this in verses 12-14, telling him that he was going to reveal “what will happen to your people in the latter days”. But since Daniel had fallen then into a state of shock and became “speechless”, it may not have fully registered with him. Gabriel had said there, “I am come because of your words”. In other words, there was no reason to puzzle over why all these strange things were happening to Daniel; it was simply in answer to his own prayers. But in his confused state, he didn’t quite “get it” yet.
Gabriel then goes on to says, “I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.” To an inquisitive man like Daniel, that would have sounded exciting. And it seems, judging by Gabriel’s words to Daniel – “you set your heart to understand” (10:12) – that, aside from his concern about the Jewish people’s present circumstances, Daniel also had at the least a curiosity about more distant matters, like the future history of His people and the coming of the Messianic kingdom.
So Daniel is about to get, not some mere word of advice from the angel, but the actual Word of God – “the Scripture of Truth.” Presumably, that means something known in the Heavenly councils was about to be released into the earthly realm. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) So there was to be “revealed” to Daniel an enticing portion of those “secret things” that “belong to the Lord our God” but would now “belong to us and to our children forever (that is, to us in the modern day)”.
Gabriel goes on to explain, “I must return to fight with the prince of Persia”. Apparently, Gabriel’s appearance before Daniel was just an interlude in his struggle against the demonic forces, a struggle that would continue into the future when “the prince of Greece will come”. Evidently, there was another demon prince whom the archangels would have to contend with later – the one whose domain was the nation of Greece, the next empire to rule over the Mid East region.
Gabriel informs Daniel that Michael was helping him in his struggles against the demon princes of Persia and Greece, that “no one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.” Apparently, no other angelic forces had the kind of power and fighting ability needed to war against the powerful demons who were confronting Gabriel in his struggle to influence the course of history in favor of the Jewish people, the people of God of that time.
We may suppose too that Michael hasn’t stopped his activities but continues to fight as our guardian angel in the celestial dimension, warring on behalf of the modern day “sons of your people”, the followers of Christ who dwell now in every nation on Earth.
[End of chapter 10]
11:1 “Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.”
The discussion from the previous chapter 10 continues here (in chapter 11) with a remarkable statement from Gabriel that he had helped Darius the Mede in his first year of rule – remarkable because it flashes us back to the opening line of chapter 9, which states, “In the first year of Darius. . . of the lineage of the Medes.” (9:1)
This forms an important link with the “70 weeks” revelation received by Daniel three or four years before. (And this link between chapter 9 and the upcoming revelations in chapters 11-12 is something we will look into more closely further ahead.)
Furthermore, as mentioned above, Gabriel’s statement here confirms that he was the same angel whom Daniel encountered three years earlier. In 539 B.C. Gabriel was working behind the scenes “to confirm and strengthen” Darius the Mede and bring the “seventy weeks” revelation to Daniel. Now he is engaged again in more behind-the-scenes struggles to influence the Persian court of Cyrus. . . and at this moment to spring another revelation on the prophet Daniel.
Perhaps this statement was meant to reassure Daniel that, just because there had been a change in earthly rulers, the vigilance being carried on by the angelic forces had remained constant. It seems obvious too that the angel is trying to fill Daniel in a bit, giving him a better idea of how events in the earthly realm depend on what is going on in the spiritual realm. . . and how he, Daniel, had affected the outcome of events through his prayers. (This diligent mastery of prayer and meditation, by the way, is not exclusive to certain selected individuals like Daniel but is a skill that anyone can easily learn and benefit from.)
The short two-year reign of Darius the Mede was a period of great upheaval in Babylon. He, along with his nephew Cyrus, had recently led the Medo-Persian forces to make their sudden conquest of Babylon. It was a time of great uncertainty; Daniel’s enemies were madly jockeying for power and influence in the court of the new king, hoping to eliminate their rival Daniel from their midst. Because of their conniving, Darius the Mede was tricked by this new set of counselors into having Daniel thrown into the lions’ den. (Clearly, it was a time when Gabriel’s influence was much needed in the halls of government.)
As we know from that famous story in chapter 6, Daniel emerged from the lions’ pit unscathed (after which a very upset king Darius decided it should be the turn of Daniel’s accusers to get thrown into the same pit). That was a great miracle, to be sure, and it must have been an eye-opener now for Daniel to realize how much Gabriel and the angelic forces were working on his and the Jews’ behalf to bring about those tumultuous changes: first of all, the collapse of the corrupt and anti-Jewish Babylonian monarchy, and then the annihilation of Daniel’s enemies in the court of the new regime.
By this time Daniel was quite old; Darius too was well on in years – “about sixty-two years” according to verse 31 in chapter 5, and it is quite obvious from chapter 6 that they were on fairly good terms with each other. So the angel, knowing this, reminds Daniel of that time when he received the “seventy weeks” revelation during the reign of Darius, a king who held Daniel and the Jewish people in high esteem.
Little is known in secular history about this king Darius. (Like the word “Caesar”, “Darius” was more of a title than an actual name, and so there were several Dariuses who reigned in the days of the Medo-Persian empire.) Anyway, this Darius seems to have been a sort of sub-ruler under Cyrus. Nevertheless, he could have had a good deal of influence; at least one ancient historical writing* indicates that this Darius the Mede was the uncle of the next king Cyrus. (See historical reference in Appendix below.) Therefore, Darius’ influence on Cyrus may have been a crucial factor that helped to direct his nephew, the new king, into showing favor to Daniel and the Jewish people. (And of course, Gabriel’s influence on both rulers was a crucial factor.) [*Xenophon (translated by H. G. Dakyns,) The project Gutenberg Etext of Cyropaedia, Book 8, C-4, line 17-19]
One further point about this startling link-up with the events of four years earlier: it suggests that, in the mind of Gabriel, the two revelations were inter-connected; the “seventy weeks” prophecy in chapter 9 was not separate from what he is about to reveal to Daniel here in chapters 11-12. We should expect then that the upcoming prophecy about the future history of Israel will relate in some way to the previous “seventy weeks” message. . . and that is something that we will look into further on in this study.
Appendix: Reference to “Darius the Mede” in the Cyropaedia
And now when the march had brought them into Media, Cyrus turned aside to visit Cyaxares [name by which “Darius the Mede” was known]. After they had met and embraced, Cyrus began by telling Cyaxares that a palace in Babylon, and an estate, had been set aside for him so that he might have a residence of his own whenever he came there, and he offered him other gifts, most rich and beautiful. And Cyaxares was glad to take them from his nephew, and then he sent for his daughter, and she came, carrying a golden crown, and bracelets, and a necklace of wrought gold, and a most beautiful Median robe, as splendid as could be. The maiden placed the crown upon the head of Cyrus, and as she did so Cyaxares said:
I will give her to you, Cyrus, my own daughter, to be your wife. Your father wedded the daughter of my father, and you are their son; and this is the little maid whom you carried in your arms when you were with us as a lad, and whenever she was asked whom she meant to marry, she would always answer Cyrus. And for her dowry I will give her the whole of Media: since I have no lawful son.
[from Cyropaedia, Book 8, C-5, line 17-19, by the Greek historian Xenophon of Athens in about 370 B.C. (translated by H. G. Dakyns) in The Project Gutenberg Etext, 2009]