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In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
The third year of Cyrus was 534 BC. In his first year, he had decreed that the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild their temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 1). However, although the Jews were now free to go home, only a few had taken Cyrus up on his offer. Because of this, Daniel was greatly concerned, and it caused him intense emotional and spiritual pain. He was in the twilight of his life now, being well past 90 years old. Even so, he fasted for 3 weeks and did not so much as bathe. Because of his great heart and deep concern about God's chosen people ... he was given a glimpse behind the curtain into the spirit world. The spirit world, by the way, is the real world that is the foundation under our physical world and its universe. It is a realm that is very mysterious to we earthbound humans, yet, it is far more tangible and real than any mere physical reality. It is the realm of true reality ... the reality of God and His Christ, the city of God, saints, thrones, angels, demons, Satan, Heaven, Hell, and the Lake of Fire. Both Colossians 1:16, and Ephesians 6:12, speak of it.
For by him (Christ Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Col. 1:16
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12
Daniel states that on the twenty fourth day of the first month, as he was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris ... he looked up ... and saw a man standing before him. From Daniel's description of the man, there is little doubt that the Person he saw that day was none other than the pre-incarnate Son of God. His description is almost identical to that of the glorified Christ whom John saw in Revelation 1. How wonderfully appropriate and incredibly special this vision was. Daniel was coming to the end of his life on Earth and, in a manner of speaking, was at the very door of Heaven. And who shows up? Jesus. Isn't that just like our Lord? One of His greatest desires is that his saints be with him and see him in all of his glory. As we have it in his prayer for us in John 17:24,
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
So, the pre-incarnate Son of God himself appeared before Daniel that day, in all of his beauty and radiant glory. It was an incredible circumstance and wonderful privilege for Daniel ... beholding his Savior and God ... there on the bank of the Tigris River. At long last, he was able to look upon the very one he had so long studied, prayed to, fellowshipped, and walked with, all those many years. That he was, indeed, the pre-incarnate Christ ... is virtually without question. Let's break down Daniel's description here.
1. ...his robe was made of fine linen. This was the prescribed material for the garment of the High Priest (Exodus 28:39; cp. Revelation 1:13; Hebrews 4:14-15).
2. ...his belt was of the finest gold around his waist. This is an accessory of a King (cp. Revelation 1:13).
3. ...his body was like chrysolite. Chrysolite is a beautiful, light reflecting, clear stone. I'm not sure if it has a particular connection here, but chrysolite was the first stone in the fourth row on the Ephod that was worn by the Aaronic High Priest. It stood for the tribe of Levi (the tribe of priesthood under the Law).
4. ...his face was like lightening. What an analogy. When Daniel looked upon the face of the one standing before him ... it was blinding to behold (cp. Revelation 1:13).
5. ...his eyes like flaming torches. This speaks of the fact that this was the omniscient One who knows all things and reads one's thoughts afar off (cp. Revelation 1:14; Hebrews 4:13; Jeremiah 23:24).
6. ...his arms and legs were like the gleam of burnished bronze. This speaks of the hardened limbs that will one day execute judgment upon the ungodly. He alone is the Judge of the Whole Earth (cp. Revelation 1:15; John 5:22).
7. ...his voice was like the sound of a multitude. This spoke of his raw power. He is the Omnipotent One ... the one who spoke all things into existence and presently holds all things together by the word of his power (cp. Revelation 1:15; Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:3).
Beloved, as was the case with Daniel that day, one day you and I too will see and stand before this same, glorious, Savior and God. That being the case, how should we prepare for that awesome day?
Here are a few suggestions.
A. First, come to love him now. Then, there will be no fear when we behold him face to face. As you have it in I John 3:18-19,
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
B. Second, become his friend now. Then, he will not be a stranger to us when we see him in the flesh. As you have it in John 15:15,
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (KJV)
C. Third, get to know his Word now. Then, there will be no surprises when you and I see him as he is. Did you notice Daniel's reaction to being in the actual presence of his glorious Lord? He collapsed, did he not? Yes, he did. And, so did the Apostle John, when he found himself in the presence of the glorified Christ (Rev. 1:17). What can we say about this? It is certainly not an unexpected reaction. After all, it was God who was standing there on the bank of the Tigris river that day ... the great I AM ... El Shaddai ... the Alpha and the Omega ... the First and the Last ... the Beginning and the End ... the Judge of the whole Earth ... the Ancient of Days ... the Author and finisher of our faith ... the Lion of the Tribe of Judah ... Shiloh ... the King of kings and Lord of lords ... Adonai ... the Holy One of Israel ... Jehovah ... The Lord our Righteousness ... the Son of Man ... the Word of God ... the Bright and Morning Star ... Christ Jesus ... the Son of God! Who wouldn't fall before him?
A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, 'Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.' And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.' While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, 'I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.
Having passed out at experiencing a direct encounter with the living Son of God, Daniel was awakened by the touch of a hand. Looking up, he found he was now in the presence of an angel. When I was in Bible school (back in the dark ages ... lol) one of my professors said of this passage, This is a very mysterious section. And so it is. The things that this angel had to say to Daniel really stretch us, do they not? But they really bring home the reality of the spirit world as well. They give us a glimpse into some of the things that are a daily reality on the other side of the veil ... things that you and I would never dream of in a thousand years. As it turned out, Daniel's prayer had started a war in the spirit world. Perhaps your prayers and mine have often done so as well. If we can get our minds around it ... we will realize that angelic beings move, deploy and fight at the command of our God. And, he has chosen for them to do so in concert with the requests of His saints. No wonder the Scripture exhorts us to, Pray without ceasing (I Thes. 5:17)!
A war had been initiated in the spirit world ... simply because Daniel had asked God a question. As it turns out, it was a question that Satan didn't want answered! So, for 21 days, the angel that was now standing before Daniel had been bogged down in a spiritual war zone over it. Furthermore, reinforcements had to be called up in order to free this angel up so he could continue on to Daniel's location. Michael himself, that great Archangel of the Presence had to be deployed to enter the fray and counter the forces of darkness who had stopped God's angel cold. Wouldn't we have liked to have seen what that battle must have looked like before Michael arrived? Michael will one day participate in another war which the Bible says will be waged throughout Heaven itself. And, when that battle occurs, the outcome will be that Satan himself will at long last be cast out of Heaven once and for all. That war is recorded in Revelation 12:7-12. If you would like to read about it in greater detail, go to Revelation (bottom section of that page).
... A few more thoughts about this encounter before we move on...
First, from the standpoint of end-time prophecy, I believe that verse 14 is the most significant verse in this chapter. The angel told Daniel, I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come. Unless I am mistaken, that statement indicates that this whole vision was for the purpose of informing Daniel, and you and I as well, that the battle that this angel was engaged in ... way back there in Daniel's day ... was just a preview of things to come. The conflict that day turned out to be against the Prince of Persia (the evil demonic principality who is over that earthly kingdom). Apparently, it was round one. Round two would be a much more critical war to be fought in a time yet to come.
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe all that is going on over there in Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq today (the remnants of the Persian empire) may have prophetic significance? Could it be that the battle between the forces of the Prince of Persia and the angels of God is already underway and is really heating up today? Iran has vowed to obliterate God's people, the Jews, and drive them into the sea (genocide) ... removing them forever from the earth. Should you and I be praying about that? The Scripture says, pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). In any case, this vision's core purpose was to highlight that there would be trouble for the Jewish people ... trouble from Persia in the last days. The exact date, however, is not given. Daniel was simply told... in the last days ... it will come.
There are at least two battles in prophetic Scripture that could fulfill this prediction. It could be referring to the Battle of Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16. That battle will involve Persia, along with all the other nations of the world and will take place at the Second Return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation. The second battle to which this could be referring is the Battle of Gog and Magog. It is found in Ezekiel 38 and 39 and in Revelation 20. Persia is specifically named in that battle, and it will take place at the end of Christ's 1000-year reign on Earth. One other possibility is that the angel may have been referring to both. Personally, I believe that to be the case. I say that because the angel spoke in generality ... simply saying, I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future.
Second, don't accept that false theology that teaches there is a great struggle in the spirit world between good and evil ... and that the outcome is in doubt. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our God always prevails and always will. Revelation 12 tells us that Satan and all his demons will be permanently cast out of Heaven one day. Revelation 20 tells us that Satan will be chained for a 1000 years during Christ's Millennial reign on Earth. That chapter also tells us that at the end of Christ's reign, Satan will be loosed for a short period before he is permanently cast into the Lake of Fire ... never to bother anyone again.
Third, keep in mind that with our prayers, you and I are play a key role in the spirit world. Therefore, there is a great need for perseverance and patience. We need to keep praying ... wait for the answers ... and be patient for the outcome. In the real world ... the spirit world ... God and the prayers of his people always prevail. In partnership with him, the wise Christian wrestles for the souls of men and women ... the affairs of mankind ... and the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayers affect the destiny of many and can sway the balances of our world. A good illustration of this is found in II Kings 6. There, we find the story of when the king of Syria sent a great host of troops to the little village of Dothan in Israel to surround it and capture Elisha the prophet. When Elisha's servant saw all those troops surrounding the city, he cried, Alas, my master! What will we do?
'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, 'Strike these people with blindness.' So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. II Kings 6:16-18
The upshot of this story was that Elisha ended up leading the king of Syria and his troops away by the hand because God had stepped in and blinded them all! He could have killed them all, but he didn't. He spared them. And in verse 24 we read, So the band of Syria came no more into the land of Israel. Well fought, Elisha. Well fought!
Coming back to our text, again all this was just too much for Daniel. He was so overcome that he couldn't speak. Then, an angel touched his lips, and he was able to talk. However, that was all that he could manage. He told the angel, I am overcome with anguish because of the vision ... and I am helpless. My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe. Herein lies another very important principle of spiritual warfare, by the way.
Fourth, In the real world of spirit things, God has chosen weak folks like you and me, and our brother Daniel here ... for God to display his strength. As you have it in I Corinthians 1:26-29,
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
Isn't that great? So, beloved, never say, can't! Our God can do anything through you and me. It's true. He can. And, He will ... because ... we're going to let him. Will you "Amen" that? Philippians 4:13, says...
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 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.' 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. 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.
I had to smile when I read these words. Daniel was still waiting for some great revelation, but he didn't understand that he had already received it. At the very beginning of the vision, he was told it concerned a great war. Then, he was introduced to it. It was a war between the forces of God and his people (Daniel and other Jews at that time) and those who opposed them. The two sides were locked in a mortal combat. The stakes were high for God was intent on carrying out his purposes in history in order to mold it and move it on down to...
1. ... glorifying his Son
2. ... delivering, once and for all, for his covenant people, the Jews
3. ... calling out a people for his name's sake from all of humanity
4. ... restoring all things through Christ.
The curtain was lifted a little bit for Daniel, and for you and me, so we could see something of the fray that is involved. The final words of the angel, if I may paraphrase, went something like this, Well, I must get back to the battle against the dark principality of the Prince of Persia. When were done with him, however, the prince of Greece is going to arrive and our battle with him will commence. See you later, beloved man of God. Keep up all that good praying. It makes a world of difference to us! And know that this was given to you as a preview of things to come for your people in the last days.
It is in the reality of that world ... the spirit world ... the fray wages on and, at any one point in time, you and I are either engaging or disengaging ... prevailing or being prevailed upon ... aiding or abetting ... conscious or unconscious ... winning or losing. But one thing is certain ... our God and his people will not fail. His purposes are sure and he, and we, will not fail. I Peter 5:8-9a says,
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
As they say in the Navy, This is not a drill. This is not a drill! The spirit world is the real world and you and I, as the people of God, are intricately involved in it. So .. pray, dear laborers together with God (I Cor. 3:9). God's plan is great and wonderful, and it is on track ... and you and I have been given the high honor of having a key role in it.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
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Click to proceed to Chapter 11:1-35