DANIEL - CHAPTER 10
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
10:1. “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long; and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.”
This chapter introduces the last recorded revelation given to Daniel. Two years earlier, in the first year of Cyrus, some of the Jews had returned to Israel to rebuild the Temple, but Daniel, perhaps because of his advanced years, had remained in Babylon.
Though both his names, Daniel and Belteshazzar, are used, it is significant that the revelation was given to the man whom God knew as Daniel my judge is God. This name implies obedience, reminding us that God’s revelations are given only to those who are obedient.
“... the time appointed was long,” is also translated “even a great warfare,” “a true revelation of a great conflict,” “betokening a great distress,” and is understood by many commentators to refer to the character of the time that would intervene between the giving of the revelation and the fulfillment of what was foretold. No one will deny that the long years since then have indeed been characterized by distress and warfare.
10:2. “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.”
10:3. “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
His prayer recorded in chapter 9 leaves no doubt that his mourning was occasioned by the sins of his people that had made necessary the chastisement of the seventy years of captivity in Babylon, but the fasting (denial of literal appetite being symbolic of refusal to gratify fleshly lusts) tells us that he was careful not to be himself guilty of the sin which he deplored in others.
10:4. “And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel.”
10:5. “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:”
10:6. “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
Hiddekel, another name for the Tigris river, was also the name of one of the four branches of the river which flowed out of Eden (Ge 2:14), though since that river flowed eastward toward Assyria, it would seem that the two are not identical. Hiddikel means riddle of the (date) palm: riddle of lightness, and may very well be a figure of the written Word, for the palm tree is associated with righteousness (Ps 92:12), and the Word itself with light (Ps 119:130); and inasmuch as it can be understood by the believer, but not the unbeliever, it is a riddle. Daniel’s being beside this river would indicate perhaps that the Word is inseparably linked with man’s understanding of the mind and will of God. His continuing to fast and pray for three weeks until an answer was given, attests both his patience and the reality of his concern. His persistence rebukes the shallowness of our own concern regarding spiritual things, for no honest heart will deny that our concern rarely lasts three days, much less three weeks.
Some refuse to accept the man of verses 5 and 6 as the Lord Jesus Christ, on the grounds that he is identical with the man of verse 10 who touched Daniel, and who required the help of Michael, the archangel to overcome the prince of the kingdom of Persia - the contention being that Christ would require no such help. It seems certain, however, that the man of verse 10 is an angel, while the One of verses 5 and 6 is the Lord Jesus Christ. The parallel between this description and that of Christ in Re 1 leaves little doubt that this man is the Lord Himself.
Linen is the Biblical symbol of righteousness, so that his being clothed with linen points to His being Christ Who is clothed with righteousness. Gold is the symbol of glory, and as the girdle of His loins, points to the glory that belongs to Christ. The beryl was the stone on the high priest’s breastplate, generally believed to have been inscribed with the name of Zebulun, which means “dwelling.” This would remind us that Christ is the One in Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells (Col 2:9). “... and His face as the appearance of lightening.” Can anyone doubt that this is the same face from which the heavens and earth flee away in Re 20:11? “... and His eyes as lamps of fire.” In Ps 11:4 we read, “... His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.” Not even our thoughts are hidden from those lamps of fire. “... His arms and His feet like in color to polished brass.” Brass is the symbol of judgment, reminding us that He Who upholds all things will also judge all things; and those feet, once nailed to Calvary’s cross, will trample upon every foe. “... and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude.” The still small voice of Christ, discerned today only by the ear of faith, is lost in the roar of earth’s rebellions multitudes, but the day is near when those voices will be silent, as His voice, like the sound of many waters, pronounces their doom.
10:7. “And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves”
This is remarkably similar to the experience of Saul and his company on the Damascus road, Acts 9, and a lesson we may glean from it is that the natural man, unfit to receive any Divine communication, can only tremble and seek to hide himself when he hears God’s voice. Since Daniel’s companions “saw not the vision” it is to be presumed that their quaking resulted from hearing the sound of the voice. God’s voice can produce only fear in the heart of the natural man, for the simple reason that it must pronounce judgment upon all who aren’t sheltered under the blood of Christ. Their hearing the voice, but not seeing the vision, is the OT foreshadowing of 1 Co 2:12, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The natural man may read the Bible, but he can’t understand it. That is a privilege reserved for the believer. Their fleeing to hide themselves reminds us of what is written in Re 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth ... and every bondman ... hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
10:8. “Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.”
It is never otherwise: he who would be the recipient of the Divine counsels must be alone with God. It is to the man who spends much time alone with his Bible that God’s revelations are given today.
“... and there remained no strength in me....” It is only in the presence of God that the littleness of man is fully perceived.
“... for my comeliness (vigor) was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” It is only in the light of the Divine Presence that man’s complete corruption is seen, and his vaunted strength shown to be utter weakness. But if it is in the presence of God that man’s corruption and weakness are revealed, it is in that same Presence that the all-sufficient remedy is found. It is there that the believer may exchange his corruption for incorruption; his weakness for strength. In that Presence Paul was assured, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Co 12:9).
10:9. “Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.”
This is the attitude of reverence that becomes us in the presence of God. Sadly, it is an attitude little seen in the gatherings of God’s people today.
10:10. “And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.”
10:11. “And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.”
If we have been correct in viewing the man dressed in linen as the Lord Jesus Christ, then this one who now touches Daniel must be another, an angel, for in verse 13 he declares that he had been resisted for twenty-one days by the prince of Persia, and had had to have assistance from Michael. This obviously could not be true of Christ.
Even when lifted up by the hand of the angel, and assured that he was a man greatly beloved, Daniel “stood trembling.” The irreverence that marks the men of the world in their attitude to authority today has unfortunately invaded the Church. There is little reverence to be seen amongst those professing to belong to Christ.
10:12. “Then said he unto me, Fear not Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”
This verse has much to teach us. It was because Daniel had set his heart to understand, that he was given the vision. God imparts His knowledge only to those who seek it, and the seeking must be wholehearted. Little is revealed to the casual searcher.
The context indicates that Daniel’s determination to seek knowledge was expressed in prayer, a fact which would teach us that prayer has an essential part to play in the acquisition of spiritual knowledge, see, for example, Mt 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” The same assurance is given in regard to wisdom which is the wise use of knowledge, for unless wisely used, knowledge is of little worth, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas 1:5).
As we have noted already, however, the desired knowledge wasn’t given immediately. In God’s permitting the evil spiritual prince of Persia to delay the angel sent with the answer, Daniel’s sincerity and patience were tested; and both being found perfect, the answer was given. This is encouragement to persevere in prayer, and in the pursuit of knowledge.
10:13. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.”
The prince of the kingdom of Persia is the evil spiritual prince appointed by Satan to rule unseen over the realm of Persia. He is one of the evil rulers of darkness mentioned in Eph 6:12, “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.” The power of these evil spirits may be gauged from the fact that this one had the power to delay for twenty-one days the holy angel sent to Daniel, the angel being able to complete his mission only after being assisted by Michael the archangel. (Michael is here called “one of the chief princes,” but in Jude 9 he is called “the archangel”).
As there was an evil angel ruling unseen over the Persian realm, the Scriptures indicate that there are similar evil spirit rulers of all the kingdoms of earth. But verse 21 refers to Michael as “your prince,” i.e., the holy angel assigned by God to watch over Israel. We may estimate the value of Israel in God’s sight when we realize that Michael is the archangel, and if God sets such value on His earthly people, who can estimate the value He sets upon spiritual Israel, the Church, composed of those redeemed by the precious blood of His Son? He has assigned holy angels, not only to watch over them, but to serve them, “Are they (the holy angels) not all ministering (serving) spirits, sent forth to minister (serve) for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:14).
10:14. “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.”
“Thy people,” are the Jews, and the “latter days” throughout Scripture refer to the Tribulation. Daniel was about to be shown what would befall the Jews in the Tribulation, that age of judgment being then in the far distant future (many days), but now in our day, imminent.
This verse removes any doubt as to the nature of the knowledge which Daniel sought: he desired to know what Israel’s end would be. Sinful and rebellious though they were, he loved them, and desired only their blessing. In this respect he and Paul were kindred souls, for the Apostle’s similar concern for Israel is told out in Ro 9:2-3, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh....” This is the true shepherd’s heart, and sadly, such men are rare today, as we know by experience, and as is declared by Paul, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers....” (1 Co 4:15). Great as was the concern of both these servants of God, however, their love for rebellious Israel pales into insignificance when compared with the love of the good Shepherd, Who from the cross to which they had consigned Him, prayed, “Father, forgive them....” (Lk 23:34).
10:15. “And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.”
The communication prostrated Daniel, leaving him weak and speechless, though it seems that his condition was due, not to the revelation itself, but to the awe he felt in the presence of the angelic messenger. Whatever other lessons we may miss, one stands out clearly in this section: God would emphasize the need for reverence in His presence. If Daniel was so affected by being in the presence of an angel, how great is the need for reverence on our part when we come into the presence of God in our Church gatherings!
10:16. “And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.”
The context makes it clear that this was not the Lord Jesus Christ, but an angel in the form of a man, see for example verse 21, where he speaks of receiving help from Michael. The omnipotent Christ needs help from no one.
Daniel’s speaking immediately after the angel had touched his lipsindicates that he had been dumbfounded by what he had seen and heard as recorded in verses 5 to 9, and now, enabled to speak again, he can only express deep sorrow at the revelation given him of what trials were yet to befall his people prior to their being brought into the enjoyment of millennial blessing.
10:17. “For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.”
The vision and the communications recorded in verses 5 to 9 had left the prophet, not only dumb, but also weak and breathless, so that he pleaded his inability to even talk with the angel in spite of having had his speech restored. All of this declares how inured we of this present day have become to God’s communications. The most profound truths of Scripture leave us unmoved, and because of this our worship has degenerated into a mere ritual, and our service - the little of it we render - a loveless busyness. Is it any wonder that the activities of the average church are nothing more than what one has fittingly described as “the clanking of ecclesiastical machinery”? Can there be any doubt that our weakness, our lack of knowledge, our inability to worship, our unfruitful service, and our countless other ills, are in no small measure related to our lack of reverence? We fear God so little that we have no compunction about disobeying Him. If we would see again the power of God in our midst, there must be the penitent cry, “Give us that reverential fear that will make us tremble to disobey Thee. Restore to us that sense of wonder that will cause Thy Word to warm our hearts, stir our souls, and energize us to worship and work in the same spirit as impelled the Psalmist to say, ‘I delight to do thy will, O my God’ (Ps 40:8). Deliver us from mere ritualistic worship, and loveless busyness instead of happy joyful service. Implant within our hearts the reverential fear that marked men like Abraham and Joseph, so that we might know again the blessing our disobedience has hindered for so long.”
10:18. “Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,”
10:19. “And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not; peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.”
The one who touched him was an angel, and by his touch he imparted what Daniel needed most - strength. But God always gives “exceedingly abundantly.” The prophet was not only strengthened, but assured that he was greatly beloved, an assurance designed to banish all his fear and impart peace, so that he could continue to hear what the angel had to say. Can there be doubt that this has been recorded to encourage reverence on the part of every other servant?
10:20. “Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.”
This seems to indicate that the angel was going to return to continue the battle which he had had to leave unfinished in order to complete his errand to Daniel. Whatever elation the evil spiritual prince of Persia may have entertained at the angel’s quitting the battle, was to be short-lived: the angel was going back to finish it, and there is no uncertainty as to the outcome, “... when I am gone forth (back to the battle), lo, the prince of Grecia shall come,” History records that shortly thereafter the great Persian empire fell to the Greeks, indicating, perhaps that the conflicts among the nations are but the earthly reflections of those battles between the forces of good and evil, fought in the invisible realm of the air which is ruled by the prince of darkness - that rule however, being exercised only by God’s permission. There is no doubt that it is to these evil spiritual forces Paul refers in Eph 6:12 “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.”
The fall of literal Persia implies the defeat of the spiritual prince of Persia; and though by God’s permissive will, Greece was allowed to become Persia’s successor, that empire was in turn overthrown by Rome, which will in turn be overthrown by Christ at His return to end the Tribulation, and establish His millennial kingdom.
In the implied successful completion of that interrupted battle by the returning angel, we may be intended to see, perhaps, a figure of the Lord’s victorious return at the end of the Tribulation, to complete what Satan may have wrongly reckoned to be the “uncompleted” battle of Calvary. But that battle only seems incomplete. The defeat of the prince of Persia was as certain when the angel left the battle as it was when he returned. That day when a seemingly defeated Christ cried, “It is finished,” Satan’s defeat was as certain as it will be when a returning victorious Christ casts him into the abyss for the duration of the Millennium, and then into the lake of fire for eternity.
10:21. “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.”
The revelation given to Daniel wasn’t in the Scriptures existing at the time, so clearly the reference to “that which is noted in the scripture of truth” must relate to what was in the mind of God, but not yet disclosed. There are several references in Scripture to God’s books, though obviously the term is figurative, since He in Whom all knowledge resides, has no need to keep a written record, e.g., David wrote, “In thy book all my members were written ... when as yet there was none of them” (Ps 139:16); and in Re 3:5 it is written, “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” and in Re 20:12 we read, “... and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books....”
The latter half of this verse declares that the only one who assisted the angelic messenger in his struggle with the evil spiritual forces behind the throne of Persia, was “Michael your prince,” or “the prince of your people,” i.e., of Israel, a fact which makes it clear that Michael has been appointed as the special spiritual guardian of Israel. It would appear therefore that it is he who fights for her against the evil spiritual forces arrayed against her. Apart from that angelic ministry Israel must long ago have been destroyed.