A. Daniel's vision of the mysterious man.
1. (1-3) Introduction: Daniel's state of heart.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
a. In the third year of Cyrus: By this time, the first wave of exiles had returned under the leadership of Ezra (Ezra 1-2).
b. The message was true, but the appointed time was long: Daniel 10 sets the stage for the spectacular prophecy (message) of Daniel 11, which describes a time of great persecution and testing for the people of Israel.
i. Walvoord on the appointed time was long: "The implication is that the period in view is a long and strenuous one involving great conflict and trouble for the people of God."
c. Mourning three full weeks: Why was Daniel in mourning? Some think it was because so few Jews had returned with Ezra from exile. Others believe it was because Ezra faced severe opposition in rebuilding the temple.
i. Daniel did not go back with Ezra's group of exiles because he was about 84 years old at this time. Daniel could serve the exiles better from his high position in government than he could with them in Jerusalem.
ii. "I think too that Daniel's sorrow was occasioned partly by the repetition of those words to him: 'The vision is true, but the time appointed is long.' " (Spurgeon)
d. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth: It would be wrong to call what Daniel did "fasting." The Biblical idea of fasting is to abstain from food altogether. Daniel definitely practiced a form of self-denial, but it was not fasting.
2. (4-6) Daniel sees a glorious man on the banks of the Tigris River.
Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
a. A certain man clothed in linen: Commentators divide over the identity of this certain man. Some say this is Jesus, noting that the description is remarkably like what John saw in Revelation 1:12-16.
Clothed in linen
Clothed with a garment
Waist girded with gold
Girded about the chest with a golden band
Body was like beryl
Face like . . . lightning
Head and hair were white like wool
Eyes like torches of fire
Eyes like a flame of fire
Feet like burnished bronze
Feet were like fine brass
Sound of his words like the voice of a multitude
Voice as the sound of many waters
b. Others say the certain man is an unnamed angel of high rank, noting that Jesus would not need the assistance of Michael, mentioned in Daniel 10:13.
i. We also know that Ezekiel saw angelic figures clothed in linen (Ezekiel 9:2).
3. (7) Daniel's companions are terrified, yet unseeing.
And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
a. I, Daniel, alone saw the vision: This shows that there was something supernatural about this vision. Daniel saw what he saw regarding the glorious man, but his companions could not see it.
i. This is like the latter instance of Saul on the road to Damascus, when his companions could not hear the same voice from heaven that he heard. These cases remind us that we can be close to the presence and power of God, yet miss the message through lack of spiritual perception.
b. The fled to hide themselves: Of course they couldn't see the vision if they were hiding from it.
4. (8-9) Daniel's reaction to the sight of the man.
Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
a. No strength remained in me: As godly as Daniel was, he was "undone" by this vision of the glorious man. Daniel's experience shows us that even the holiest of men fall short before God and even His closest associates.
b. My vigor turned to frailty: Wood says of this word frailty, "The word suggests a death-like paleness, combined with a grotesque wrenching of facial features."
i. "To judge by the description, the trance experienced was not one to envy." (Baldwin)
B. The message to Daniel.
1. (10-11) The "certain man" introduces himself to Daniel.
Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
a. A hand touched me: As Daniel was laid out in weakness by this experience, he was strengthened by the touch of a hand.
b. O Daniel, man greatly beloved: This is the second time Daniel is called greatly beloved (Daniel 9:23 previous to this). Each time it is in relation to Daniel's being favored with a great and significant revelation of the future.
i. "It did not do Daniel any harm to know that he was greatly beloved of God; or else he would not have received that information from heaven. Some people are always afraid that, if Christian people obtain full assurance, and receive a sweet sense of divine love, they will grow proud, and be carried away with conceit. Do not you have any such fear for other people, and especially do not be afraid of it for yourselves. I know of no greater blessing that can happen to any man and woman here, than to be assured by the Spirit of God that they are greatly beloved of the Lord." (Spurgeon)
c. Stand upright: When it was time for Daniel to hear and understand, he needed to stand at attention.
2. (12-14) The angel explains his coming to Daniel, and the opposition he faced on the way.
Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."
a. From the first day . . . your words were heard: God responded to Daniel's prayer the very moment he made his request known. Daniel had been in great and serious prayer for three full weeks (Daniel 10:2).
b. I have come because of your words: We can't pass this over lightly. An angel was dispatched because of Daniel's prayer. This is another of many reminders in the Book of Daniel that prayer matters. It isn't merely a therapeutic exercise for the one who prays.
c. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me: Since this prince is able to oppose the angelic messenger to Daniel, we know this is more than a man. This prince is some kind of angelic being, and we know he is an evil angelic being because he opposed the word of God coming to Daniel and stood against the angelic messenger.
i. The word prince has the idea of a ruler or authority. This fits in well with the New Testament idea that angelic ranks - including demonic forces - are organized and have a hierarchy (Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:16, Colossians 2:15).
ii. Apparently, this was a demon of high rank that opposed the answer to prayer. On three occasions, Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11).
d. Withstood me twenty-one days: Since the angel was dispatched immediately and Daniel's period of prayer and self-denial was 21 days (the three full weeks of Daniel 10:2), we see that the answer to the prayer was delayed by the prince of the kingdom of Persia.
i. The correlation between Daniel's time of self-denial and prayer and the duration of the battle between the angels and the prince of the kingdom of Persia establishes a link between Daniel's prayer and the angelic victory. Since the angelic victory came on the 21st day, we can surmise that if Daniel would have stopped praying on the 20th day the answer may not have come.
ii. "There may be hindering factors of which a praying Christian knows nothing as he wonders why the answers to his requests are delayed. Nevertheless, he is to keep on praying. It may be that he will not receive an answer because he has given up on the twentieth day when he should have persisted to the twenty-first day." (Archer)
e. Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: In other passages Michael is associated with the battle between good angels and evil angels (Revelation 12, Jude 9).
i. Came to help me: This phrase may be the most compelling reason to think that this "me" is not Jesus, despite the remarkable similarity between the certain man of Daniel 10 and the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1. Though Jesus received angelic assistance as an incarnate man (Mark 1:13, Luke 22:43), it is difficult to think of Him needing or receiving angelic help before the incarnation.
f. Now I have come: Why did God allow such a conflict? He certainly could have blasted away in a moment any demonic opposition. God's plan probably was to use the time of delay to develop Daniel as a man of persistent prayer.
i. Persistence in prayer is not necessary because God's reluctance needs to be overcome. It is necessary to train us.
ii. Daniel success makes us reflect on our failures. How much angelic assistance or insight has never been realized, or greatly delayed, because of a lack of persistence in prayer?
g. What will happen to your people in the latter days: The vision of Daniel 11 and 12 is focused on the latter days, though it also relates to the closer time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
3. (15-19) Daniel is strengthened in his weakness.
When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, "My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me." Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, "O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!" So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me."
a. I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless: Daniel started on the ground (Daniel 10:9), then stood up (Daniel 10:11), and now is back on his face again.
b. Because the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me: The ancient Hebrew word translated sorrows has the thought of twisting or writhing pain. It is used several places for labor pains in childbirth. Daniel is so severely affected by this vision that he can barely breathe, much less deal with prophetic complexities.
c. One having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me: This was not God, but an angel. God touched Daniel through an intermediary.
i. It is the touch of God that brings strength. Daniel was touched by God, and received strength. But "Many churches today are marked by a well-organized, heavily staffed, and adequately financed impotency." (Strauss)
4. (10:20-11:1) The angel introduces his message to Daniel.
Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince. Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him)."
a. I must return to fight with the prince of Persia: Daniel was about to receive the answer to his prayer, but the battle was not over for his heavenly messenger. First he must battle the prince of Persia, then the prince of Greece. God is watching out for Israel, working behind the scenes in the spiritual realm.
i. "The heavenly warfare is to be directed against first Persia and then Greece, because each of these in turn will have power over God's people." (Baldwin)
b. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince: Michael seems to be an angelic guardian of Israel, battling against the demonic representative of Persia or any other who opposes God's people. On earth, Israel seemed lowly and weak but in the heavens Israel had the mightiest representative of all.