One of those sayings that get tossed about as a truism of life is that “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” Well, some times are undoubtedly worse than others, but there are really no times that are not tough – not in this world. “In this world you will have tribulation,” Christ said. And be as tough as you want, but, the writer to the Hebrews gives the ultimate truth – that it is appointed to man once to die.
The prophet Daniel was born in difficult times. In his youth, Judah and Jerusalem had been taken captive by the Babylonians. He had been carried off to a far away land, where, in spite of living in a perverse culture, God had blessed Daniel in many ways. And now, as an elderly man about 70 years later, he desires to know what will become of his people.
This chapter, along with the next two that we will also look at this week, is the account of one vision of Daniel and its meaning. The time is the third year of Cyrus = 536 BC, and the 70-year captivity was now over. Exiles from Israel had gone recently to begin to rebuild the temple. Surely there would be good times now.
But Daniel has a terribly upsetting vision of war, and for three weeks he is stricken due to an inability to understand the meaning. Finally, an angel appears – certainly the angel Gabriel, who had come to him before (8:16).
Every so often in Scripture, the curtain is opened just a bit and the spiritual world behind it is visible. Gabriel says that he was delayed in coming due to conflict with what he calls the prince of Persia. This is referencing a demonic angel in Satan’s structure who sought to prevent this revelation from getting to Daniel, and the angel Michael came to his assistance.
Angels are messengers – that is what the word means. They are organized in various ranks in God’s service. Evil angels, known also as demons, are likewise organized by Satan as his workers in the kingdom of darkness. It is a continuously ongoing war in the spiritual realm between these forces. Paul wrote of this reality in Ephesians 6:12 … “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.”
Israel was still going to experience difficult times, and we’ll talk about that tomorrow especially. But in the end, Messiah’s kingdom reigns, and we too anticipate such a day. But until then, there will be tough times, and the only tough people are those who both know the Lord and understand the big picture of God’s work as revealed in Scripture. And that is why we study the Scriptures and write these devotionals – that we may know the Lord and know his workings throughout all of time, culminating in eternity.
10:1 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.
2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 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.
4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, 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.
7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 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.
12 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. 13 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. 14 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.”
15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless.16 Then one who looked like a mantouched 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 feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.