We’re very near the end of Daniel now, because although there are three more chapters for us to study including the one we’re studying this evening, these three last chapters belong together and contain one more vision which Daniel received from the Lord. So, we’re near the end of the book of Daniel.
But what have we seen so far? Well, some time ago I suggested that the chapters are so arranged that everything in chapters 1 to 4 are — in a sense — repeated in chapters 5 to 12. So, chapters 4 and 5 about about humbling proud kings. In chapter 4 it was Nebuchadnezzar who boasted about his greatness, but who was immediately humbled and became insane for a time, living in the fields like an animal, until at last his senses returned and he acknowledged the greatness of the Lord. In chapter 5 it was Belshazzar who defiled the Lord’s holy things which had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem; and immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote a message on the wall which only Daniel could interpret and which announced that the Lord had numbered the king’s days and his kingdom was about to end. And do you remember? That same night, the Medes and Persians captured Babylon and Belshazzar was killed. So, chapters 4 and 5 were about humbling proud kings.
Chapters 3 and 6 were about the Lord delivering his faithful people. In chapter 3 the Lord delivered Daniel’s three friends. They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image which he had set up. Even when the king threatened their lives, they still refused to bow down and worship the image and they confessed their faith in the Lord. And so they were thrown into the fiery furnace. But when the king looked into the furnace, he saw that they were unharmed and he saw a fourth figure with them, and the fourth figure looked like a son of the gods. God himself had come or he had sent one of his angels to deliver his faithful people from the flames. And then in chapter 6 the Lord delivered Daniel from the den of lions. Daniel’s enemies tricked the king into passing a law forbidding the people from praying to the true God. But Daniel kept praying to the Lord, just as he always did. And his enemies saw it and reported it to the king who had no choice but to throw him into the pit. But the Lord was with Daniel and he closed the mouth of the lions and Daniel was raised up out of the pit unharmed. So, chapters 3 and 6 were about how the Lord delivered his faithful people.
And then chapter 2 and chapters 7 to 9 were about earthly kingdoms and Christ’s kingdom. The earthly kingdoms are destined to perish, but Christ’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. And so, in chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about a great statue which was made up of different materials. But then it was knocked down and destroyed by a rock; and the rock grew and became a mountain that filled the earth. And Daniel interpreted the dream and explained that the great statue stood for four great earthly kingdoms; and the rock stood for Christ. The earthly kingdoms were destined to perish, but Christ’s kingdom will grow and grow until it fills the earth. And in chapters 7 to 9 we again read about different kingdoms and different kings who would rise to power in the world. Some would do terrible things to the Lord’s people. But in the end, every earthly kingdom and every power which sets itself up against the Lord will be destroyed. And so, chapter 2 and chapters 7 to 9 are about how every earthly kingdom is destined to perish; and Christ’s kingdom alone is everlasting.
So, what about chapter 1 and chapters 10 to 12? Well, in chapter 1 we read how Daniel and his three friends were taken away from Jerusalem into exile. And in chapters 10 to 12, we again read about the exile, but this time, the Lord’s vision is about the end of the exile. However, it’s also about things which will happen after the exile. And it’s also about the resurrection from the dead. So, in exile, Daniel longed for the time when God would let his people return to the Promised Land. But the Lord was able to reveal to Daniel that not only would the Jews be allowed to return to Israel, but he had something far, far greater in mind for his believing people, because in the end he will raise their bodies from the dead so that they will dwell with him in body and in soul in the new heavens and the new earth for ever and for ever. And so, we’re near the end of Daniel. And the end of Daniel is about the end of the exile; but it’s about the end of death and everlasting life in God’s presence. And this final vision begins in chapter 10.
Now, not a lot happens in this chapter. And perhaps when we first read it, we think to ourselves that it’s not very important, because it’s really only the introduction to the final vision; and we’re eager to get on and to find out what the last vision contains. So, chapter 10 might not seem that important. But in fact this chapter is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. And it’s one of the most important chapters in the Bible because it teaches us that there’s more to life than what we can see around us. People look at the world and they look at everything they can see around them; and they very often think that this is it. This is all there is. And when they try to make sense of the world, and when they try to make sense of what is happening in the world, all they think about is this world which they can see and they try to explain everything according to the things in this world. And believers very often do the same: when we try to make sense of the world and what is happening in the nations and what is happening in the church and what is happening in our own lives, we very often limit our thoughts to this world and to what the people in this world are like and to what the people in this world are doing and to what we’re able to do ourselves. You know, the advancement of Christ’s kingdom depends on me and what I do.
But Daniel 10 teaches us that behind this world and behind everything we can see there’s another world; there’s an unseen world. Behind this world around us, there’s a spiritual realm, a heavenly realm, where there’s a spiritual battle going on. And what happens in that spiritual battle in the heavenly realm affects what is happening here on earth. So, this is a very important chapter of the Bible, because it teaches us that what happens here on earth is affected by what is going on in that spiritual, heavenly realm which none of us can see. And so, let’s turn to this chapter now.
Verses 1 to 3
And so, Daniel tells us in verse 1 that he received a revelation from the Lord in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia. Cyrus, you’ll remember perhaps, was also known as Darius. We read about him in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 and he was mentioned at the beginning of chapter 9. And Daniel tells us that the message he received was true and it concerned a great war. But it wasn’t about a great war on the earth; instead it was about a great war which took place in the unseen, heavenly realm.
Well, what are the circumstances leading up to this revelation from the Lord? That’s what verse 2 is about. At that time, Daniel had been mourning for three weeks. And during that time of mourning, he kept himself from choice food. In other words, he kept himself from fancy food and wine and maintained a simple diet as a sign of his mourning. Furthermore, he used no lotions on his body, which in those days were used for washing. This too was a sign of his mourning.
And though he doesn’t tell us the reason for his mourning, we can work it out. Two years had passed since Cyrus has issued the decree to allow the Jews in exile to return to Israel. And though some had returned, the number who returned to the Promised Land was pitifully small compared to the number who entered it in the days of Moses. And though they had begun to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and were able to lay the foundation, their progress was slow and difficult. And Ezra — in his book about the return from exile — tells us how many of the old priests and Levites and family heads who had seen the former temple wept aloud when the saw the foundations for the new temple, because it did not match at all the glory of the old temple. And then Ezra tells us how their enemies came to discourage them and to oppose them and to do what they could to prevent them from rebuilding the temple.
Well, two years before, when news of Cyrus’s decree came to Daniel, he must have been elated: at long last, the Lord’s people were allowed to return to the Promised Land. But now, in the king’s third year, Daniel’s joy had turned to sorrow and mourning, because the temple was still in ruins. And so, for three weeks Daniel mourned for Jerusalem. And the time of his mourning coincided with the time of the Passover. How do we know that? Well, in verse 4 he mentions a date: the 24th day of the first month. We’ve been learning recently on Wednesday evenings that the Passover was held every year on the 14th day of the first month. So, when the Israelites would normally remember and give thanks to the Lord for the way he had once delivered them from Egypt, Daniel was in mourning and he was praying for the Lord to come to their help once again.
Verses 4 to 9
And so, on the 24th day of the first month, when Daniel was standing on the bank of the Tigris River, he received this revelation from the Lord. He looked up and there before him stood this man who was dressed in linen, which is what a priest might wear. He also had a belt of the finest gold and his body, we’re told, was like chrysolite, which is a gemstone. And what about his face? Well, his face was like lightning; and his eyes were like flaming torches; his arms and legs were like the gleam of burnished bronze; and his voice was like the sound of a multitude.
Now, many commentators suggest that this was an angel, sent from the Lord to speak to Daniel; and his appearance reflected the majestic glory of the Lord. However, other commentators believe that this person who appeared to Daniel is the Eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ. So, before he was born in Bethlehem and became incarnate, he appeared in human form to Daniel; and though he appeared in human form, his glory and majesty and his holiness shone forth from him like fire and lightning.
And the reason for saying that this is the Son of God is because the description of this glorious man matches very closely what we read in Revelation 1 where the Apostle John saw the Lord Jesus, risen and exalted to heaven. In John’s vision, the Lord was dressed in a long robe. He didn’t wear a gold belt in John’s vision, but he was wearing a golden sash. His eyes were a blazing fire; his feet were like burnished bronze; and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. And what about his face? Well, in John’s vision his face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. So, the description of the Lord in Revelation 1 matches closely what we read in Daniel 10. Or think of the way the Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. Do you remember? He appeared with a bright light which blinded Paul. And so, I tend to side with those commentators who think that this man who appeared to Daniel is the Son of God.
Well, Daniel tells us that although there were other people with him, the others did not see what he saw. Nevertheless they were overwhelmed with terror; and they ran away and hid. And Daniel himself became weak: his strength left him; his face became pale; and he felt helpless. And he tells us in verse 9 that he fell to the ground in a deep sleep, with his face to the ground. Well, no doubt this means that he was overwhelmed by what he saw and fainted. And even when he was revived in verse 10, he remained trembling on his hands and knees. And we read of the same kind of thing in verses 15 to 17 where Daniel complained that his strength was gone and he was overcome with anguish and he needed the one who was with him to strengthen him.
People often speak irreverently of ‘the man upstairs’. Or you get these people who claim they have had visions from the Lord; and they boast about it. Or years ago you had what was known as the Toronto Blessing when people rolled around on the floor, laughing, claiming it was the Holy Spirit who made them laugh. And yet when a true prophet like Daniel received a vision from the Lord, he was left weak and feeble and exhausted; and those around him were in terror. That’s how people respond whenever they encounter the living God who is holy and powerful and whose appearance is frightening. They don’t laugh or boast or speak irreverently about the Lord. No, they fall down before him in terror and anguish, because he is so great and holy.
Verses 10 to 14
Well, this glorious man spoke to Daniel and explained that he had been sent to say to Daniel that from the first day that Daniel set his mind to gain understanding and to humble himself before the Lord, his words were heard. In other words, three weeks ago, when Daniel began to mourn for Jerusalem, and to pray about it, the Lord heard his prayer. As soon as he began to mourn and pray, the Lord heard him. Perhaps over those three weeks, Daniel had wondered whether the Lord was listening; and whether the Lord was going to answer him. And we’ve wondered the same thing, haven’t we? We’ve humbled ourselves before the Lord, we may even have fasted, and we’ve prayed. We’ve prayed for someone we’ve known. We’ve prayed for the church and for believers around the world. We’ve prayed for the extension of Christ’s kingdom. Or we’ve prayed for something important to no one else, but ourselves. And we wondered whether the Lord was listening; and whether he was going to answer us. Or we’ve wondered how long must we pray before he will answer? Well, here’s this glorious man who is probably the Son of God himself who has come to Daniel to let him know that on the very first day, on the very first day, that he began to pray, the Lord heard him. The God we worship is a God who hears and answers the prayers of his people.
And then this glorious man — who is probably the Son of God — explained that he had come in response to Daniel’s prayer. But why has it taken him three weeks to arrive? Well, he explains in verse 13, that ‘the prince of the Persian kingdom’ resisted him for 21 days. He would have arrived earlier, but he was hindered from coming.
Who is this ‘prince of the Persian kingdom’? Well, since this prince opposed the Son of God, we have to conclude that this is a fallen angel, an evil spirit, who has been assigned in some way to the Persian Empire. Later we’ll read about ‘the prince of Greece’, who is therefore an evil spirit assigned in some way to the Greek Empire. And so, this seems to suggest that Satan has his agents in every land who have been assigned by him to oppose the purposes of God and to do what he can to oppress the Lord’s people. The Lord was on his way to Daniel to answer his prayer for Jerusalem; but one of Satan’s wicked agents got in his way and delayed him.
But then we read how Michael — and this is the archangel Michael who we read about in Revelation 12 — came to help him. Now, the fact that this glorious man needed Michael’s help is one of the reasons why some commentators say this can’t be the Son of God. The Son of God, they argue, doesn’t need the help of angels. But they’ve forgotten — haven’t they? — how angels came to minister to the Lord Jesus when he was being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness. And they’ve forgotten how an angel came and strengthened him when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. On those two occasions, angels came to his assistance. And here in Daniel 10, we read how the archangel Michael came to help the Lord; and, with Michael’s help, the Lord was able to come to Daniel in answer to Daniel’s prayer.
And what had the Lord come to say to Daniel? Well, in verse 14 he says that he has come to explain to Daniel what will happen to his people in the future. Now, the NIV translates his words as ‘in the future’. But really his words should be translated:
I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the latter days.
That is, in ‘the last days’. And ‘the last days’ — you may remember — refer to that period of time between the first time the Lord came to earth and the second time the Lord comes to earth. In other words, we’re living in the last days which will culminate in the resurrection of the dead when Christ comes again. And sure enough, near the end of this final vision the Lord reveals to Daniel in chapter 12 that the day is coming when the dead will be raised and the Lord’s people will shine like the brightness of the heavens.
10:15 to 11:1
So, the Lord had come to reveal to Daniel what would happen in the last days. But then he explained to Daniel in verse 20 that he would soon return to fight against the satanic prince of Persia. And he warned that the satanic prince of Greece will come too. And the reason he mentions the Greek Empire is because, after the fall of Persian Empire, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great would become the next superpower in the world. So, first he’ll be battling with Satan over Persia; and then he’ll be battling with Satan over Greece. And the words of the Lord to Daniel make clear for us that when one spiritual battle is over, another one will begin, because the Devil’s enmity towards the Lord is implacable and his opposition to the purposes of God in the world is relentless. He was opposing what the Lord was doing in the Persian Empire. And then, he was going to oppose what the Lord would do in the Greek Empire.
But then, the Lord explained that he was going to reveal to Daniel what is written in the Book of Truth. Do you see that in verse 21? And that’s what chapters 11 and 12 are about. The Book of Truth contains God’s plan for the history of the world. Even though Satan is his enemy and will do everything he can to oppose the Lord and his purposes for the world, nevertheless, the Lord knows exactly what the future holds and he’s got it recorded in his Book. And the reason he knows what the future holds is because he is the one who has planned the future; and who has determined what will happen; and who rules over all, so that his plans will be accomplished despite Satan’s opposition. He rules over all, and he rules over Satan, so that in the end — despite the Devil and everything the Devil tries to do to thwart the Lord — the Lord’s plans will be accomplished and all his purposes will be fulfilled. And in the end, when the Lord comes again, in glory and with power, the Devil and all who have sided with him in his opposition to the Lord will be destroyed; and Christ will rule over all; and his people will be raised from the dead to live with him and to reign with him over all.
Well, we read in verse 1 of chapter 11 how this glorious man supported the archangel Michael in the first year of Darius the Mede. He’s referring back to the time when the Lord moved King Darius to issue the decree to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But since that time, the satanic prince of the Persian kingdom was at war in the unseen, heavenly realm in order to thwart God’s plan on earth. That’s why so few of the Jews returned. That’s why those who began to rebuild the temple found the work to be so hard and difficult. That’s why people came along to discourage them and to distract them and to hinder their progress. The rebuilding of the temple was hindered because of this great spiritual battle in the unseen, heavenly realm between the satanic prince of the Persian kingdom and the great archangel Michael and the Son of God our Saviour.
And so, the Lord has revealed to us in this chapter that there is far, far more than all we can see around us, because not only is there this world, which we can see, but there’s the unseen heavenly realm. And in that unseen heavenly realm, there’s a great spiritual battle going on between the Lord and his angels and the Devil and his satanic forces. And just as the Devil did what he could to frustrate the purposes of the Lord in the days of Daniel. and just as he did what he could to oppose the people of God in the days of Daniel, so he does what he can to frustrate the purposes of the Lord and to oppose the people of God in our day. This chapter enables us to understand that what happens on earth in our day is very much affected by what is happening in the unseen heavenly realm.
And so, as we seek to serve the Lord in our day and to make the gospel known and to persuade sinners to believe in the Saviour, we need to understand that we’re not really wrestling against flesh and blood, because our struggle is with the rulers and the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. And so, we need to put on the full armour of God so that we’re able to take our stand against the Devil’s wicked schemes. And what else? We’re to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. That’s what the Apostle Paul says to us in Ephesians 6. Since we’re wrestling, not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, we need to pray. That’s what Daniel had been doing: his three weeks of mourning were three weeks of praying. And that’s what we need in our day: men and women who understand that there’s a battle going on in the unseen spiritual realm, because the Devil and all his demons are trying to thwart the purposes of God. And so, we’re to pray to the Lord for his help to stand firm; and we’re to cry to him to do his will here on earth.
And what else? Well, we need to remember that the Devil cannot succeed. He cannot succeed. We’ve seen already in the book of Daniel that in the end, the only kingdom left standing will be Christ’s kingdom; and every power that rises against him will be destroyed. And in Revelation 20, we read how the Devil has been bound by Christ the Saviour. The Devil is strong, but the Lord Jesus is even stronger; and he’s been able to bind Satan. So, though Satan is battling against the Lord in the heavenly realms, his power is limited; and in the end, he will be destroyed, because when Christ our Saviour died for sinners, and when he was raised victorious from the grave, Satan lost his power over us. And despite all Satan’s efforts to thwart the plans of the Lord, the Lord’s kingdom will continue to grow throughout the world through the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Spirit until Christ our King comes again.