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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 handful had taken Cyrus up on his offer. Because of this, Daniel was greatly concerned and experienced intense emotional and spiritual pain over it. He was in the twilight of his life now, being well past 90 years old. Even so, he fasted for 3 weeks and had not so much as bathed. Because of his great heart and deep concern for 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 lies behind our physical world and its universe. It is a realm that is very mysterious to us 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 (Jesus Christ) 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 says 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, by the way, is that his saints be in his presence and see him as he is ... in all of his glory. As you have it in his prayer for you and me 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 beautiful and radiant glory. It was an unspeakable event and wonderful privilege for Daniel to behold his Savior and God that day ... there on the bank of the Tigris River. At long last, he was able to look upon the very one he had so long read about, prayed to, fellowshipped and walked with, all those many years. That this was, indeed, the pre-incarnate Christ ... is virtually without question. Let's break down Daniel's description here.
Daniel says his:
1. ...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. ...belt was of the finest gold around his waist. This is an accessory of a King (cp. Revelation 1:13).
3. ...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 the priesthood under the Law).
4. ...face was like lightening. What an analogy. When Daniel looked upon the face of the one standing before him ... it was blinding (cp. Revelation 1:13).
5. ...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. ...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 is the Judge of the Whole Earth (cp. Revelation 1:15; John 5:22).
7. ...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, each and every one of us too will one day 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 that might prove helpful:
A. First, learn 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 he appears. 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, wouldn't you say? 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, aye? They give us a glimpse into some of the things that are the 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. No doubt, your prayers and mine have often done so as well. If we can get our minds around this ... 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 Thess. 5:17)!
A war had been initiated in the spirit world because Daniel asked God a question! As it turns out, it was a question that Satan didn't want answered! And, for 21 days, the angel that stood before Daniel had been bogged down in a spiritual war zone over it. Furthermore, reinforcements had to be called up in order to free up this angel ... so that he could continue on with his journey to Daniel's location. Michael himself, that great archangel of the presence before God, had to be deployed and enter the fray in order to 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, by the way, will one day participate in another war which the Bible says will be waged in Heaven itself. And, when that battle occurs, the outcome will be that Satan will be cast out of Heaven, once and for all. We find that war recorded in Revelation 12:7-12. If you would like to read about it in greater detail, go to my commentary on Revelation at: www.biblebookofrevelation.com/ch9.htm.
I have a couple more thoughts to share here before we move on...
First, from the standpoint of end-time prophecy, I believe that verse 14, is the most significant verse in the chapter. There, 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. That particular conflict, that day ... was against the Prince of Persia (the evil demonic principality that is over that earthly kingdom). And apparently, it was only round one. Round two would be a much more critical war and it will be fought in a time yet to come.
Have you ever stopped to think that ... perhaps all that is going on in Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq today (the remnants of the Persian empire) might have prophetic significance? Could it be that the battle between the forces of the Prince of Persia and the angels of God has already begun ... and is really heating up today? Iran has vowed to obliterate God's people, the Jews, removing them forever from the land of Palestine. Do we need to be praying about that? Wouldn't hurt, aye? The Scripture says, pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). In any case, this vision's core purpose was to predict that there would be trouble for the Jewish people ... trouble from Persia in the last days. The exact date of it, however, is not given. Daniel was simply told, It is coming ... in the last days ... it will come.
There are at least two battles in prophetic Scripture that would fulfill this prediction. It may be referring to the Battle of Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16. This battle will involve Persia, along with all the other nations of the world. It 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 may be referring, is the Battle of Gog and Magog, found in Ezekiel 38 and 39 and in Revelation 20. Persia is specifically named in that battle as well. It will take place at the end of Christ's 1000-year reign on Earth. One other possibility is, that the angel was referring to both. And, I personally 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, please do not accept the false theology that believes 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 he 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 and then permanently cast into the Lake of Fire ... never to bother anyone again.
Third, please keep in mind that, by our prayers, you and I are playing a key part in a holy war in the spirit world. Therefore, there is a great need for perseverance and patience. We need to keep praying and we need to wait for the answers and be patient for the outcome. In the real world ... the spirit world ... God and the prayers of God's people always prevail. In partnership with him, the wise Christian wrestles for the souls of men and women ... the affairs of men ... and the wellbeing of his or her brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayers affect the destiny of many and sway the balances of the 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 in order to surround it and capture Elisha the prophet. When Elisha's servant saw all those troops surrounding the city, he cried to Elisha, Alas, my master! What will we do? Then the Scripture says,
'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! 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, we read, again, that this was all 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. Simply stated, it is this,
Fourth, In the real world of spiritual things, God has chosen weak folks like you and me, and brother Daniel here, through whom he can and will 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. Right!? As we have it in Philippians 4:13,
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 wherein the forces of God and his people (Daniel and other Jews at that time) were locked in a mortal kombat. The stakes were high. God was intent on carrying out his sovereign purposes in history in order to mold it and move it on down to:
1. ... glorifying his Son.
2. ... delivering his covenant people, the Jews.
3. ... calling out a people for his name's sake.
4. ... restoring all things through Christ.
The curtain was lifted for 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 above, if I may paraphrase, were 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 the 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 ... that you and I presently stand. The war 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 prevail. 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 a key role in it.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Click to go to Chapter 11:1-35