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Book of Daniel
Chapter 10

Daniel Chapter 10
Commentary by Ron Beckham

Verse 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."

Lehman Strauss said "this part of the Book of Daniel is the least read and studied" and further, "commentators who have written on this book have given less space to these last three chapters than to any which preceded them."  He concludes we must therefore approach this section with a humility and our human best, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Notice that much was given to Daniel because he was a man of prayer (and still is, I am sure).  David Brainerd of a more recent time was such a man - and though he spoke to a people of a different language (they could not understand one another from a human perspective), yet thousands came to Christ through his ministry.  Brainerd was a man of prayer.

Notice this verse, along with 10:4, is carefully placed in space and time.  The Bible is history first, and also includes imagery, allegory, poetry, and prophesy, but it is firmly anchored in history.  Often the human authors were eyewitnesses of the events described. I have become convinced God the Holy Spirit is the Author behind it all, and He is Eyewitness to everything.  As we shall see, Daniel understood the message of this vision and it troubled him greatly.

The "third year of Cyrus" was 534 BC (see verse 4), and was about four years after the vision of the 70 weeks in chapter 9.  This, by the way, was the same Cyrus who was prophesied by Isaiah (44:28, 45:1), 300 years before.

Verse 2. "In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks."

Augustine wrote, "Do not be afraid to throw yourself on the Lord.  He will not draw back and let you fall.  Put your worries aside and throw yourself on Him."  Daniel was in prayer – he had thrown himself on the Lord.

Daniel knew the prophesies of Jeremiah (such as 24:5-10, 25:11-12, & 29:10) and he understood that the Babylonian captivity would last 70-years.  The time was up!   It had been at least two years since Cyrus issued his decree and only a few had interest in returning.  It grieved the heart of this man of the Lord that most did not seem to want the will of God.  Only a relatively few thousand would eventually go back to the land (Nehemiah 7:66).

It is a grief to the heart when we see the Lord has opened a door, and no one wants to go through it. Our Door is Jesus Christ.  Our Lord said of Himself, "I am the Door" (John 10:9), and since He offers so much (see the context in John 10), why don’t more of us go through?  Of those who do enter, some do not seem to truly care for others, as Daniel did, and as we know we should.  Why?  Why aren’t we men and women of prayer and love like Daniel?   It was those kinds of concerns that caused this good man to mourn and suffer.

Verse 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."

J. Vernon McGee’s summation of this verse is, "Daniel didn’t take a bath for three weeks" (not a pleasant thought).  Jesus taught us to "take up (our) cross daily, deny (ourselves) and follow (Him)" (Luke 9:23).  Daniel is more of a New Testament man than we are, because prayer, his fellow men, and the Will of God, are obviously more important to him than food.  In fasting, by the way, it is not so much that I give up food in order to attain something, but that the will of God becomes more important to me than food.

What about the work that needs to be done in our local Church?  What about the people around us who do not know the Lord?  The homeless?  We know He is in us, when His concerns start to become more important than our own personal needs and desires.

Verse 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,"

These verses are extremely specific as to space and time.  "The third year of Cyrus" (verse 1) is 534 BC.  Dr. J. Vernon McGee said "the 24th day of the first month is the 24th day of Nisan, or April 24th."   Therefore, this was April 24, 534 BC, and Daniel is standing by the Tigris (a.k.a. the "Hiddekel") River.

The "higher" Biblical critics have to reach considerably afield in order to assign a different time and place for this writing.  Unfortunately, many of them have done just that, in order to impress their peers.  ("They became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened" - Romans 1:21).

Verse 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."

This "certain man" has been much discussed by the commentators.  About half of them will tell you with great assurance that this is our Lord Jesus Christ, and many will state convincingly that it was not Him but rather a created angel.  J. Vernon McGee believed this to be our Lord.  I like the statement of Dr. Strauss, who said "in 1948, I was very sure; in 1958, I had reversed my former conclusion; and now in 1968, I am not certain that I know just who this certain man is."

I like that position here (I also find myself less "sure" as time goes on), for the following reason:  Our Lord imparts His nature, His character, HIMSELF, on those who have faith in Him. Certainly in this verse, the "certain man" was of impeccable appearance, suggesting the "robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10) given in God through Christ.  And in the following verse, we see the implied power of this being.  I lean toward the position that this is our Lord – but the wondrous news is that He imparts HIMSELF to others.  Have you ever noticed a husband and wife who love each other so much that there is a blurring of just who is who?   So is the blending of you into Christ. In this verse, is this Christ, or a being He lovingly created?  Hard to tell, isn’t it?

Verse 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 sounds of a tumult."

Now, verse 6 pulls me strongly to a belief that this is the pre-incarnate Christ.   That is, we are seeing our Lord as He "was" in eternity (or is, or will be – there is no "time" as we know it in eternity) before His birth through Mary in Bethlehem.  In Revelation 1:11-18, a Person is written about and there is no doubt that John the beloved is describing our Lord:  "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 His hair were white like wood, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like a fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters."  John "fell at His feet as dead" (1:17) and Daniel (10:9) was about to do the same thing.

Here’s J. Vernon McGee’s comment about these verses:  "It is interesting to recall that Moses and Elijah were present at the transfiguration of Jesus as recorded in the gospel records, but Daniel was not present.  Why?  Well, I think it may be because he had already witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, and this is the record of it." 

Verse 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."

Thomas Merton wrote, "All people need enough solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of the soul to be heard." Daniel was alone now, but it was because the men who were with him – ran away! Daniel was alone at a critical time, and if you feel lonely in your Christian walk, you might think about this quote from Gordon Watt: "Victory for God is never won by the multitude; the man who dares to go alone where others hold back, will find himself alone, but he will see the glory of God and enter into the secrets of eternity."

The Apostle Paul had a similar experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9) in that he saw the Risen Christ (right before he was struck blind) – the men with him "were speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one." The men Daniel wrote about were afraid because they did not know God personally, as did Daniel. To perceive Him is to first know Him. There is a process in this "knowing" – when I meet someone, we are not instantly "friends." First we meet, and then we get to know one another. We become sensitive to who that person is. Their needs become important and we even put aside our needs in relation to theirs.

God has extended His Hand of friendship in Christ Jesus. We just need to take that Hand, and He will indeed do the rest. Let us be no more like these men who ran away, but like Daniel, who saw the Lord. Paul was allowed to see the Lord, early in his walk, but the experience first blinded him (he was soon healed from that blindness), and then came the years in Damascus (Galatians 1:15-18), in which he was blessed to get to know his new Friend. If we want God, we travel a road where we will meet Him, face-to-Face.

Verse 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."

Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus, "How it is that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?" (John 14:22). Jesus responded those who love Him (verse 23) will keep His word – those are the ones who receive the Father and the Son, and (verse 26) the Spirit. The others ran from Daniel and that place, because they had no heart for God, leaving the blessing to the man who did love Him.

Still, we are all sinners after all, and this encounter must have been very stressful for Daniel. All his strength was leaving him - his head likely slumped forward, and he now saw the paleness of his face in a reflective pool at the side of the River Tigris.

Verse 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."

God is high and holy – Encountering Him is overwhelming and moves us deeply. Jesus pointed out to His disciples in John chapter 6, that He is the "Bread of Life" (verse 48) for us. The response? – "and from that time" (a few verses later) "many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." The Lord will allow events in your life that touch you at the very center of your being. Your faith will be tested (the enemy is the actual one doing the testing but that is another study). This is, however, not allowed so God will discover the result, for He already knows about your faith.

Trials are allowed for you so that your faith (if real), will grow and become sufficient for that which is to come. Real faith does grow in trouble, for it is wrought in God and not in man. Some will run in fear, as did Daniel’s companions, but for those who are like Daniel, much more of God will be given to them – those who prove faithful will be given much more of Him.

Verse 10. "Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees."

James urged us, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10). The Hand of God is large and strong, but that should not frighten us, for it is This Hand which lifts us up in time of trouble.

Paul told us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). And (lest we think we do the actual work), he continued in verse 13, "it is God who works in you, both to will and to do, for His good pleasure." This is God’s world (He created it and then Jesus bought it back) and we are God’s creation. We were created for His purposes, not ours, and it was God who chose faith as the means for us to be received by Him. To fear God, to tremble at His words, His presence, is a reasonable act, for He is indeed awesome. But He who is all powerful, also loves you, and as stated, He will lift you up.

Verse 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."

"Man of high esteem" or "man greatly beloved" (some translations) expresses the heart of God toward the person who simply trusts in Him. Note that the one who now spoke is not the same as the "certain man" in verse 5. This is an angel who was sent to Daniel with words of encouragement from God. It’s amazing, by the way, what kind words can do for a person. Daniel, who was in his 90’s and had just been shocked out of his wits, could now stand (though he still trembled) because of the comfort given to him. God may be sending you to comfort those around you. Actually, He is preparing every one of us to be sent in His service to others who are in need.

Verse 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.’"

God answers prayer. He always answers prayer. Our perception is that He sometimes does not respond, but our problem is that when He responds, we often do not like the answers given. There are certain conditions to answered prayer, by the way, (the answers we want) and it is important that we see them:

1) To approach God, we must be pure in heart (Psalm 66:18-19). This is not our own "goodness" but the purity given us in Christ Jesus. 2) We must believe (Matthew 21:22). Belief is a component of faith (trusting that not only He can do it, but that He loves you enough to actually do what is needed. 3) Prayer must be in the Name of Christ (John 14:13). Requesting something in prayer is like spending dollars from a bank account – we must be authorized to USE the account, before we can draw on it. Only Christ is authorized and we must receive Him in order to be eligible. 4) We must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14). There may be a reason why the problem or need is allowed to remain – First we seek God’s will in prayer; then we pray about the problem.

Answers can be slowed or become non-existent when we are in sin (Psalm 66:18); when we ask selfishly (James 4:3); when we lack humility and repentance (Luke 18:10-14), when we lack unity (Matthew 18:19-20), because we are proud (Luke 18:11-12), and so on.  A good starting place in prayer is to be like Daniel – He was humble before Almighty God; he was persistent; he was open to what God might say (less talk, more listen). Also, Daniel was simple in his requests and straightforward, making the honest requests of an honest man. We do not have to get all this perfectly correct about prayer.  What we really need to know is that God does answer prayer (and then pray our hearts out to Him).

Verse 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."

God sent His answer immediately, but some demonic being and his minions (the super- natural powers behind the country of Persia), blocked the answer, until this (God’s) angel received help from a more powerful angelic being named Michael.   Only then could this first angel respond to Daniel’s prayer.

These verses are incredible and wonderful, because they reveal so much about so-called "unanswered" prayer. To act for God is to incur the opposition of the enemy, and to pray is to act for God.  Prayer is always a spiritual battle, and we must be ready to fight at all times.  Paul said "put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.   For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12).

We are to persist in prayer (we are to keep praying until the answer is there).  That is the teaching in Jesus’ parable of Luke 18:1-8, in which He uses the example of the widow (who kept pestering an unjust judge); teaching us to pray and not lose heart.  Prayer is faith in action - note that Jesus closed the parable with the statement, "when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?"

Paul showed us that we need to pray fervently and pray in concert with others.   "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me" (Romans 15:30).  "Strive together" is the Greek "sunagonizom" which is our English word "agonize." You and I are to agonize together in our prayers to God.

Verse 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."

"Your people" is a clear indicator that this prophesy is about Israel.   It would be in the future to Daniel ("days yet future"), and the phrase "the latter days" is a reference to the 70th week, the time of the Great Tribulation.  As noted before, the Lord wants to give His people understanding.   I have personally seen this during long years of praying and trying to comprehend His Word. He specifically answers those prayers and He does want us to understand.

Verse 15.  "And when he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless."

Daniel was not only seeing beings of awesome appearance, but he also was seeing "what will happen" (verse 14) to his people.  He was in awe because of those visions and because of the touch of God, but there was more.  Daniel had the love for his people that we should have for ours, and the same applies to his love for God.  Because he cared so much, he hung his head toward the ground, and he could not utter a word.

By the way, you will be interested in what J. Vernon McGee said about this verse.   He commented, "When people have had a vision of an angel but it doesn’t seem to have affected them very much, I know they really didn’t see an angel."   It certainly is true of the people of God in Scripture, that when they have encountered one of God’s messengers, the experience touched them very deeply.

Verse 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.’"

As men (people), we are not fit to approach God, and cannot be near the beings that stand in His Presence – Daniel certainly knew that.  He was also continuing to experience great concern for his people, but his recognition that we do not belong in God’s Presence, was overwhelming. Isaiah learned this also.  The Seraphim were calling to one another (Isaiah 6:1-7), "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory."  Isaiah properly answered, "Woe is me, for I am undone.  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

Encountering God and the holy beings of God, both Isaiah and Daniel learned the nature of sin. Isaiah received the touch of forgiveness, and I am sure the touch Daniel received also conveyed that forgiveness.  Soon Isaiah was able to answer the Lord’s question, "Whom shall I send…" with the answer, "Here am I, send me!"  Isaiah’s sin was forgiven, as was Daniel’s.  We need our sin taken away, if we are to approach God.  When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he correctly shouted, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).  This "Lamb," this Jesus, is the One for you and for me.

Verse 17-18.  "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.  Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me."

Verse 19 will indicate that another element in Daniel’s weakness was fear.   He was afraid.  Fear for his people, that is true, but he also felt unworthiness to be in the presence of this angelic being.  It’s important to remember that Daniel had been a top Babylonian (or Persian) official for most of his adult life, and yet he was awed by this being; because Daniel was a humble man.  He did not think of himself that way – He was simply a man in touch with God, but to "see" God is to also see ourselves in comparison with Him.  No comparison exists at all, for God is holy and we are not.  There are no words for meeting God, in His Word, and in prayer.

I love the song, "He Touched Me", for He does touch us with love and forgiveness. Sometimes the touch of God is direct, as in Luke 7:10-16, when Jesus touched the coffin of the woman’s dead son.  (He said "Arise", and the boy returned to life.)  Other times God sends angels, as in this verse.   Most amazing of all, He sends people – just like you and me.   The Book of Acts is full of the touches of God (direct, as when Jesus met Paul on the Damascus Road; and indirect, as the angels sent to rescue Peter).  God has not forgotten you.  God knows your need.  God will help you and provide for you, in every way. Even His "No" is really a "Yes", for He has something better in store for you.

Verse 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.’"

Daniel was now able to listen.  Much like the words which came to Isaiah (35:3-4), Daniel was now "strengthened."  He had been made strong and no longer did he fear.

"High esteem" speaks of the high importance God places upon his people.   This is not to denigrate the importance of Daniel in any way - God loves all His little ones.  Even when I disciplined my children, I loved them, and my discipline often was because I was concerned for them.  I definitely was imperfect in raising my children, but God is Perfect in His treatment of you.  Here are ways you can expect He will deal with you (as in this verse):

1) He will heal your fear.  God intends that you will trust in Him, to the extent that you will no longer need to be afraid.  2) He will give you peace.  You can count on it – you will eventually know the peace of God. 3) Courage.  Gideon (Judges 6-8) is interesting, because God took an essentially fearful little guy, and turned him into a man who acted in concert with the will of God. 4) Strength. He will make you strong for all situations. But it will not be your strength (II Corinthians 12:9), it will be His Strength in you; and you will become useful in the service of God.

Verse 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.’"

Daniel didn’t fully understand, and we usually don’t either. Certainly the feelings we have ("How could this happen to me?) suggests we lack understanding.  God gives us angels, other people, the Holy Spirit, His Word, and most of all, His Son – He intends that we will understand.  Jesus guaranteed us that we will experience the "cross" in our lives (Luke 9:23-26), and in those verses it is suggested we often will lose everything, in order to gain that which is much (infinitely) better.  Just like Daniel lost much but was given much, we often lose a little before we receive a lot.

The "prince of Persia" within the context of Daniel 10:13 and this verse, is a demonic being, which controlled people and the land they held, in the area of Persia.   Now we meet another one, the "prince of Greece."  We have many fine "tools" that have come from the Grecian culture, including democracy, republicanism, the Olympic Games (as Chuck Smith points out, Paul was likely a fan, as in the analogy of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27); theories of warfare, and much more.  We can trace the later Renaissance in Europe, right back to Greece.  Yet, how much of this was inspired by the "other side?"  We don’t know.  But, if I am given a hammer, I will not ask questions about its past but prayerfully use it when I need to build something.  And I will look for the good in "our" form of government and attempt to work within the system to help those in need.

Verse 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."

This angel had a job to do, as indicated in verse 20, including a battle with the forces of evil, in the spiritual realm. Paul said we are in that battle also ("we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" – Ephesians 6: 12).  In that context, Paul told us to arm ourselves (Ephesians 6:10-17) and protect ourselves, with truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, and salvation.  He continues in verse 18, that we are to be "praying always."  The "preparation of the gospel of peace" was a factor here, for the angel was sent that Daniel would know what "is inscribed in the writing of truth," the written Word of God.

That is what God counts as valuable for you, also.  Just like the rest of us, you have certain goals.  You may want to help others in life, or be a good friend.  You may want to make a lot of money, give good advice to others, be a good worker, or whatever.  But God’s first choice for you is that you will be "rightly dividing the Word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).  He wants you to find true faith in all areas of your life, especially in times of trouble, for He wants to protect you from the "forces" mentioned here in Daniel.  The kind of faith we need "comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).   We need His Word.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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