Daniel
Introduction 1 A Message Revealed 2-3 Daniel Mourns 4-6 Daniel Sees the Lord Jesus 7-11 Powerless 12-13 The Battle Behind the Scenes 14 The Content of the Prophecy 15-19 Daniel Is Strengthened 20-21 The Writing of Truth
Introduction

The last three chapters form a whole. We find historical information about the actions of gentile powers with God’s earthly people from the time of the reign of the Medes and Persians until the final liberation under the reign of Christ. The key verse is: “Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet [future]” (Dan 10:1414Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet [future].”). This shows that what matters is what will happen to Israel “in the latter days”. We will see that these “latter days” for Daniel concern both the near and far future.

1. Daniel 10 is the introduction. In this chapter we are told about the time in which Daniel receives the messages, the circumstances in which he finds himself and what the effect is on himself, what it does to him.

2. In Daniel 11 a prophetic sketch is given of the events that take place in connection with the kings of the countries north and south of the holy land. The areas north and south of Israel are the two most important areas of the four into which the Greek-Macedonian empire has fallen apart.

3. Daniel 12 shows God’s actions with a faithful remnant of the Jews at the time when the people went through the great tribulation of three and a half years. This period precedes the establishment of the kingdom of Christ.


A Message Revealed

1In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and [one of] great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.

We find ourselves “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia”, which is the year 536 BC. It is the time that the first part of the people, a remnant, has returned to the land. That happened in the first year of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-3,51Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying:2“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.3Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.5Then the heads of fathers’ [households] of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.). However, Daniel did not go along with them. That will undoubtedly be because God has told him to stay in Babylon. But his heart is with the returnees. Despite his old age, his interest and involvement in the ups and downs of God’s people has not disappeared, but is as great as ever.

A message is revealed to him. In the joy that will be present with him about the return of (a small part of) the people, there is also insight with him about how the people will be doing. He knows that the return will not bring the promised blessing for the land. The restoration of altar, temple and city will only apply to a small part of the people and will also only be temporary.

The remark “the message was true” shows the deep conviction that the revealed message will definitely happen. There is no doubt in his mind that this is so, although the time of fulfilment will be long in coming and will not take place until long after his death. This certainty will be of great use to the consolation of the Jews who will have to go through the foretold time of great struggle that will come upon the people.

Unlike other visions, about which he has questions and which he also asks, he understands what is revealed to him now. What is being presented to him is clear.


Daniel Mourns

2In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.

Daniel receives this revelation of the message while humbling himself (verse 1212Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding [this] and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.). Why does he do that? Is there no reason to be happy about the partial return of God’s people to the promised land? Surely it means a new start in their spiritual history, would it not? Are expressions of joy and celebration not more appropriate? But the man of God feels the sinful past and the present weakness and he also foresees the great misery that will come upon God’s people in the future.

Among those who have returned, the young people have indeed expressed their joy because of the rebuilt altar. That joy is fully appropriate for them. At the same time the elderly are crying because they have the memory of the former glory of God’s house, with which the restored altar stands in sharp contrast (Ezra 3:1212Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ [households], the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,; Hag 2:33‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?).

It is good when a revival that takes place by God’s grace offers space for both expressions of feelings. The young people will experience a revival as a refreshment and the elderly as well. For the elderly, however, there will be an additional awareness that the perfection of honoring and praising God will only become a reality when Christ comes. They will therefore be characterized more by prayer and confession at every revival than by joy, although there will also be room for joy among them.

Daniel’s feelings show that he knows the people. He also knows the people who have returned and what they will experience in the future. That now prevails within him. That brings him to mourn. His humbleness is not only a matter of his mind. His body also shares in it. For three weeks he takes nothing tasty. He only takes what is necessary. He even refrains from taking care of his body. He is so busy with God’s people, with whom he feels so much connected, that all that is pleasant, permissible and also necessary for life is pushed into the background.


Daniel Sees the Lord Jesus

4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with [a belt of] pure gold of Uphaz. 6His body also [was] like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.

Through the mind and attitude that Daniel has, he is able to receive communications from God. He even sees an apparition of the Lord Jesus in a vision. The description given here is at least reminiscent of Him. This description resembles the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1 (Rev 1:13-1513and in the middle of the lampstands [I saw] one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.15His feet [were] like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice [was] like the sound of many waters.). For Him it is in prophecy and He will fulfill everything.

His whole appearance radiates overwhelming glory, holiness, majesty, strength and authority.

1. He is “dressed in linen”, which speaks of purity and clarity, of perfect righteousness (Rev 19:88It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.).
2. His “waist”, a picture of the power of the walk, is girded “with [a belt of] pure gold”, which speaks of divine glory.

The different characteristics of His Person are further compared each time with an element from nature, which is indicated by the word “like”.

3. “His body”, His figure, is reminiscent of beryl. This precious stone has amongst others a red, blue, green, yellow, purple and even a colorless variant
4. “His face” and “His eyes” have a radiance of lightning and flaming torches. This speaks of His all-pervading and judgmental abilities, where nothing can escape His attention.
5. “His arms and feet”, speaking of his acts and walk, are like the gleam of polished bronze, which speaks of an unbreakable exercise of right. His judgment is perfectly righteous.
6. Finally, His voice is reminiscent of the sound of a tumult. “His words,” which He pronounces, overpower any other sound.


Powerless

7Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. 8So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. 9But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. 10Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.

What Daniel sees makes a great impression on him and takes his strength away. We see something similar with John on Patmos when he sees the Son of man (Rev 1:17a17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,). Thus the Lord also shows Himself to us as we concern ourselves with His future and that of His people. When we see Him in His majesty and think that He holds the future in His hand and governs it, we too are filled with awe, and will fall down before Him.

The appearance of the Lord Jesus is personal to Daniel. The men who are with him do not see Him. Yet His appearance to Daniel also affects them. They feel the presence of an impressive heavenly figure, without being able to touch, see or hear anything. That fills them with terror. They flee and hide. It is similar to what happens to Saul and his companions when the Lord Jesus appears to Saul (Acts 22:7-97and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’8And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’9And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.).

Daniel remains alone, while all his strength has flowed out of him. He feels totally without strength. It’s said here twice. Also, all color leaves his face. When he hears the sound of the words of the Lord Jesus, he falls asleep. He is so exhausted, both physically by fasting and mentally by what he sees and hears, that he becomes unconscious. He lies with his face on the ground, indicating that he did not fall asleep in the usual way.

With Daniel we see what the effect on a person is when the Word of God comes to him with power and enters into him. The words of the Lord Jesus and His appearance have the same effect. The Word of God and the Lord Jesus are identified. The words of the Lord Jesus reveals Who He is. His words represent His Person.

Then a hand touches Daniel. This is not the hand of the Lord Jesus, but of an angel. The sequel shows that it is no longer the Lord Jesus Who acts and speaks, but an angel. But there is power in the touch, because it is thereby that Daniel, though still trembling, sets from his lying position on his hands and knees. Then the angel encourages him by naming his name and adding that he is “a man of high esteem”.

This tells him that he is in God’s favor (Dan 9:2323At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell [you], for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.). He is therefore able to pay attention to the words the angel will speak. He has to stand up for that. The standing position is the right one to listen attentively to what the angel has to say, because that is what he had come for at that moment. Daniel does what the angel says and stands trembling. He is still impressed by everything he experiences.

Here too we see that prophets are ordinary people. They do not always immediately recover from a shocking experience, even if they are still very encouraged. It is not about fear of God, but about the reaction of body and mind to what they experience. Prophets are not supermen who receive and pass on messages unaffected. Their whole being is involved in the service they do.

So it will be with us when we read and hear God’s Word and when we are in prayer. What comes to our attention does something with us if we really desire to know the meaning of God’s Word and have in mind the welfare of His people, the church.


The Battle Behind the Scenes

12Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding [this] and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

As a special consolation, Daniel is told that he does not have to be afraid. The words “do not be afraid” have been a great encouragement to many believers in difficult circumstances over the centuries. It seems that Daniel has become afraid that his prayer would not be heard. This can be deduced from the word “for” that follows. It took a long time before an answer was received.

But his fear is unfounded, “for” he is told now, his prayer has come before God from the first day. It also brought God directly to action, for He sent an angel to respond to Daniel’s words. The fact that it took so long to get an answer does not mean that God would not have heard his prayer or would not want to answer it.

What is said here to Daniel may also encourage us with regard to our prayers. We may know that our prayers are heard by God at the same time we say them. Even if we have to wait for an answer, we may know that our prayer has ‘arrived’ with God and is given full attention by Him.

If we have to wait, that is an incentive to persistently pray for a matter. At the same time we may know that from the very first time we prayed for a matter, God is busy answering us. The delay in the answer is a test of our faith and tests our perseverance in trusting Him. If the matter for which we pray really occupies our hearts, we will take the word to heart: “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5:1717pray without ceasing;).

Before the angel tells the answer that he is coming to bring to Daniel, the angel lifts the veil of an event in the invisible world. What he says about this is unique and extremely instructive for us. This gives us insight into the struggles that are being waged in the heavenly places. Here we look behind the veil. Through what the angel says, it becomes clear that behind the earthly powers lie spiritual powers. It is as if Paul speaks to us about the real power we have to deal with. That is not flesh and blood, but these are the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly realms, so not on earth, but in the air (Eph 6:1212For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].).

Every war on earth is the result of an agreement in the invisible world between devilish powers. In the invisible world, there are no distinctions between rival parties. The force ratios in the world, for example, between east and west, are not determined by the parties or countries on earth, but in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there are no contradictions among the powers of darkness, there is no struggle, but complete demonic unity. The dark powers work together to destroy mankind, focusing above all on God’s people.

The prince of the kingdom of Persia is not the earthly prince, but an angelic prince. An earthly prince could never resist an angel on his way with a message from God to one of His own. Demonic princes, however, are so powerful that they are even able to stop an angel of God for so long. This demonic prince, who especially influences the kingdom of Persia, is so powerful that the archangel Michael must be involved. Michael is the prince of Israel. In verse 2121However, 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. Daniel is told that Michael is “your prince”. The people of God have their own angel. Michael is here called “one of the chief princes” and in the last chapter he is called “the great prince” (Dan 12:11“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands [guard] over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.).

We know that angels are used by God in a special way for the protection of His own (Heb 1:1414Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?). Here we further learn that they are the executers of the will of God in His provident actions with people. They communicate to people what God tells them. We also see here that chosen angels help each other in their fight against the apostate angels. Michael was sent to help the angel who was sent to Daniel. This one was stopped by the angelic prince of Persia, which made it impossible for him to carry out his mission. He stayed behind and stood before other angelic princes who had Persia under their sphere of influence. These evil powers were concerned with boycotting God’s work in Persia.


The Content of the Prophecy

14Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet [future].”

This verse gives us an important clue about the main purpose of prophecy. We could call it a key verse, because it opens the door to the content and purpose of prophecy. The angel says that he has come to Daniel to give him “an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days”. This is about the people of Daniel, that is the people of the Jews. All God’s plans for the earth are connected with His earthly people, the Jews. The next chapter should also be seen in this light. Then we are saved from all kinds of misinterpretations.

The main purpose of this prophecy is to show what will happen to God’s earthly people, Israel, in “the latter days”. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, “latter days” means both events in the near future and events in the distant future. in the continuation of the angel’s communications on this subject, our attention will be drawn to events that have been predicted and which were fulfilled fairly soon afterwards. There are, however, other events that point forward to the distant future and are still future today. We have to think of the revelation of the antichrist and the great tribulation that will come over all the earth.

God’s thoughts and plans have Israel as their goal and center, in connection with their Messiah, the true center of all God’s plans. With the nation it is first and foremost about Israel and not about the kings of the north or the south. All the players on the final stage are in a way actors to let all light fall on the protagonist. Then it will become clear that the main actor, Israel, will shine, because this people represents the brilliance of the Director.


Daniel Is Strengthened

15When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. 16And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, “O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength. 17For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.” 18Then [this] one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19He 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.”

Daniel is once again overwhelmed by what he has heard. He bends his head and can no longer utter a word. In the light of the communications that have been made to him, he feels his unworthiness and powerlessness. He feels, as it were, the whole weight of the future rests on him and does not know what to say. It is as if contractions have overtaken him when he sees the vision, as he says after his lips have been touched and he can speak again.

His lips are touched by “one who resembled a human being”. That seems to be someone else than the angel who has spoken to him so far. If so, there is much to be said for saying that we have here an apparition of the Lord Jesus. He touches the lips of Daniel, so he can speak again (cf. Isa 6:6-76Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.7He touched my mouth [with it] and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”). But it may also be that it is the angel who has spoken to him. Daniel addresses him in a respectful manner and addresses him with “Lord”, that is ruler, master. He acknowledges in the angel his superior. He also confesses to him his powerlessness because of everything he has seen.

The reason that all power has flowed out of him is that Daniel has fully empathized with the vision. He was fully involved and it has taken all his strength. He even has no power left to speak to this mighty angelic host. A subject that involves a person’s whole personality cannot be discussed on an intellectual level only. The emotions are also addressed. A subject can be so intense, that someone full of emotion feels incapable of saying anything about it. Breathing can be difficult for someone when he thinks of something poignant and even more so when he thinks about saying something about it.

Then the heavenly being touches Daniel for the second time and strengthens him. This seems to indicate that we are dealing with the angel who came to Daniel. When the Lord Jesus in Gethsémané was in a heavy prayer battle, there also “an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him”, i.e. physically (Lk 22:4343Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.). Again Daniel hears the encouraging words that he is a “man of high esteem” (verse 1111He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.) and “do not be afraid” (verse 1212Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding [this] and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.). Then he will hear the wonderful word “peace be with you”.

There is not much which is greater than living with the peace of God in the heart. If the peace of God is in our hearts, we will not be discouraged by the circumstances because we know that God has them in His hand. And does it make Him restless? Is there anything in the universe that can take His peace away from Him? Of course not. Well, if that peace He has is in us, it will keep our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus Who is our peace (Phil 4:6-76Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.).

The result is that there is power to do what is asked of us. Daniel is reminded of this (cf. Isa 1:99Unless the LORD of hosts
Had left us a few survivors,
We would be like Sodom,
We would be like Gomorrah.
). He is already strengthened by the touch (verse 1818Then [this] one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me.). By the peace it can be said to him that he must be strong (verse 19a19He 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.”), that is to say that he must also use the obtained power. Now it is said in addition (verse 19b19He 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.”) that he is strengthened, while being spoken to. That indicates the effect that good words have. Good words give strength. When we are told something that makes us happy, it gives us new energy. At the same time, there is the desire to hear more of these reinforcing words. Daniel expresses that desire.


The Writing of Truth

20Then 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. 21However, 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.

From this point Daniel becomes a listener. The angel informs him that he will soon return to fight against the satanic angelic princes of Persia and Greece. The battle is always that between demons and the angels of God, with the faithful remnant as the object of that battle. The change of power on earth is the result of a battle in heaven. To see that, our eyes must be opened (2Kgs 6:15-1715Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”16So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.). Our real opponents are in the invisible world. The real opposition is against the people of God.

Before the angel enters into this new battle with spiritual forces of wickedness, he will tell Daniel “what is inscribed in the writing of truth”. The writing of truth is what is known to God. God writes the history and the course of events, that is to say, it is fixed with Him, it is recorded in His heavenly history. The angel will tell us in the next two chapters what is written in it with regard to the latter days. For us, “the writing of truth” is the Word of God. Everything is inscribed in it. That is why we have to read and study that writing. God’s Spirit wants to guide us in this and make the meaning clear to us.

Daniel is assured that “Michael your prince” will firmly stand with this angel in the task assigned to the angel. The angel is facing force majeure. This a force majeure consists of the princes of the empires of Persia and Greece, i.e. the demonic powers that govern these empires. Through these empires, these evil spirits seek to destroy God’s people. They will do all they can to ensure that the angel does not fulfill his service towards Daniel and the people of God. But with the help of Michael, the angel will be able to fulfil his task towards Daniel and the people of Daniel.


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