The angel revives Daniel and tells him he has come to give Daniel a message from God in answer to Daniel’s prayers. A demon had prevented the angel for three weeks from reaching Daniel. The angel’s message is about Israel and the future.
After fainting and falling flat on his face, Daniel is revived. He writes, behold, a hand touched him and set him on his hands and knees, though he is still trembling from fear. The visitor apparently picked him up by the collar and set him on his hands and knees. He speaks to Daniel again, attempting to comfort and revive him, 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. The man identifies himself as a messenger who has been sent to Daniel, telling him that Daniel is held in high esteem. The angel appears not to want to address the man of high esteem while prostrated or kneeling. Rather he wants the honored man to stand upright, and see the angel eye to eye. This makes it clearthat Daniel is being honored by the angel’s presence. To this point Daniel only feels dread. The angel is trying to coax Daniel to progress from being on all fours to stand upright on his two feet and converse on equal footing.
With these words encouraging Daniel, he stands up, though still trembling. We can imagine him standing, but wobbling. The messenger continues, Do not be afraid, Daniel. He explains that from the first day that Daniel set his heart on understanding and on humbling himself before God, his words were heard. This heavenly messenger, an angel, has come in response to Daniel’s words. Evidently, Daniel had been praying to gain understanding during his scheduled three week fasting and mourning period (v. 2 & 3). At the end of chapter 8 Daniel stated:
“And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.”
It is probable that Daniel was praying to gain understanding of the visions he had seen previously, that no one understood.
Just as in Chapter 9, Daniel’s words were heard by God, and God immediately sent an answer (Daniel 9:23). In that instance, God’s messenger arrived with an answer before Daniel had even finished his prayer. Yet here in Chapter 10, Daniel notes that he has been in mourning and fasting for three weeks. We can presume Daniel also prayed, since the angel said he was heard.
The angel addresses the delay of God’s response. God had sent the angel right away to speak to Daniel, as soon as Daniel set his heart on understanding by entering a three-week period of fasting and prayer. But something blocked his arrival for a time. It is a curious, rare passage that gives us a glimpse of the spiritual wars waged beyond our sight. This angel tells Daniel that the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding him for twenty-one days, the duration of Daniel’s mourning. Daniel’s mourning could be connected with his repentance and sorrow over Israel’s unfaithfulness (Daniel 9:1-19).
The messenger was prevented from reaching Daniel for these three weeks because of the resistance from the prince of Persia. It is clear that this is a spiritual force, since it contended with the angel dispatched to give Daniel understanding. Is is also clear this spiritual entity had great power, since he is called a prince. Intriguingly, he is called the prince of Persia. As we saw in 10:1, Cyrus is the human king of Persia at this time. Yet there is a spiritual prince that also appears to have authority over Persia. Persia wasthe most powerful earthly empire at the time. We know this prince had power and that it was opposed to God’s will because it deterred the angel from reaching Daniel for the full three weeks of Daniel’s time of mourning and fasting.
It seems likely, since this spiritual power opposed God’s will and God’s messenger that it was a demon. “Demons” are former angels who rebelled against God and continue to rebel. The Bible regularly speaks of demons, angels, and Satan. We are told by the Apostle Paul that the war that believers are engaged in is not actually against other people, but against evil spiritual powers, “For 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” (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus Himself identifies Satan as “the ruler of the world” for the time being (John 14:30).
Elsewhere in the Bible, Paul explains that sinful living is Satan’s agenda; our natural sinful state prior to faith in Christ is “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2). Satan is part of the corruption of the world, going back to the Garden of Eden. He and his fellow fallen angels work in the world against the will of God. They have, presently, the power to influence leaders and nations, and to battle with God’s angels. It seems there is a spiritual dimension that mirrors human political subdivisions, and impacts events. In Revelation 2:13, Pergamum, the capital of the Roman province of Asia, is said to contain “Satan’s throne” (Revelation 2:13). Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 indicate that God’s design is to have humans replace Satan and have dominion over the earth, and silence Satan, who is the accuser (Revelation 12:10).
We are not told exactly how the prince of Persia delayed the messenger angel, but clearly this angel needed help before he could reach Daniel with God’s response. The angel had been left there with the kings of Persia; he alone was in some sense trapped by the chief demons who worked to influence the Persian empire, when Michael, another angel, came to help the messenger. Michael is called one of the chief princes, an angel great in power who could outmatch the demonic forces holding the messenger back.
This same Michael is mentioned in the Book of Jude, where he rebukes Satan in the name of the Lord when disputing over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9) and in the book of Revelation, where he will lead other angels in a future battle to cast Satan (called ‘the dragon’) and his demons out of Heaven for good, “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war” (Revelation 12:7). In verse 21, the messenger angel calls Michael your prince, which indicates Michael is the prince or captain over the Jewish people. Michael is also one of the chief princes, so it appears God appointed one of His top angel captains to guard His people.
It seems the revealed vision was of great importance to the heavenly powers – to the powers of darkness to prevent it from being revealed, and to the forces supporting the people of God that it be revealed. This underscores the value of the revelation.
Michael came to help—hefreed the messenger angel who had been left there with the kings of Persia. Perhaps the messenger angel was imprisoned on order of the spiritual kings of Persia. The word translated prince is often translated “captain.” The picture seems to be that a plurality of demonic kings over Persia sent their captain to capture the angelic messenger, and he was detained for three weeks in their presence, until Michael came and secured his release. Perhaps he rebuked them in the name of the Lord, as he did to Satan in disputing over the body of Moses.
The messenger then came directly to Daniel. He explains the purpose of his message: 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. This is a direct answer to Daniel’s heart, to gain understanding, which transpires, as we are told in 10:2. The understanding Daniel sought was connected to his people, the Jewish nation.
We are not told whether Daniel’s continued prayers during the twenty one days played a direct role in Michael being sent to free the messenger. But it does seem that the messenger was freed just at the time Daniel had determined for his fasting and mourning to end.
Although the message pertains to Daniel and his people, Israel, it pertains to the days yet future, the latter days for Israel. We will see that all the events described in Chapter 11 were future to Daniel, but are now past history to us. Chapter 12 describes events that remain future, both to Daniel then, and to us now. Daniel had understanding, and certainty of Israel’s future wellbeing. We should have even more certainty, given that so many of these events have transpired just as predicted.
The vision of Chapter 9 ended with the “anointed one” (Messiah) being “cut off” after 69 “weeks” and a prince who destroys Jerusalem, who commits “abominations” and makes “desolate.” It seems reasonable that Daniel would be in mourning for his people, and their apparently dismal future. As we shall see in this vision that stretches from chapter 10 to the end of the book in chapter 12, this vision will predict an ending where justice prevails, and Daniel will rise again to play a meaningful part. It is perhaps the understanding Daniel was seeking, how these catastrophic events for his people could pave the way for a fulfillment of God’s great promises of blessing to Israel. It is doubtful Daniel would have understood all the political comings and goings that will be predicted. But it seems certain Daniel gained the understanding he was seeking that God would grant mercy to Israel (Daniel 9:19).
10 Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He 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. 12 Then 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. 13 But 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. 14 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.”
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