Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Daniel 10 - A Vision of Great Conflict

Daniel 10-12 is a single unit, consisting of an introduction (10:1-11:1); a vision (11:2-12:3); and instructions to Daniel following a vision (12:4-13).

I. Daniel’s Vision (10:1-9)
A. Setting (10:1-4).
1. Date – third year of Cyrus, 536 BC (10:1a).
2. Notice Daniel is also called by his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (10:1b), perhaps as a reminder that even though the 70 years of captivity have concluded, Daniel is still an exile in a foreign land.
a) Daniel may have stayed behind because the Lord had more work for him to do (like Esther).
b) Or, as someone approaching their 90s, he may not have been up to a major move.
3. The vision is about “a great conflict,” (10:1c), the coming war in the period between the testaments.
4. Daniel had been mourning for three weeks (10:2).
a) He ignored personal needs like food, wine, and anointing (10:3).
b) This mourning apparently took place during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which took place from the 14th to 21st day of the first month) based on the date of the 24th day of the first month (10:4a).
5. Daniel was on the banks of the Tigris (10:4).
B. Behold, a man (10:5-9).
1. Daniel lifted up his eyes and saw a man, but no ordinary man (10:5-6)-
a) Clothed in linen, the clothing of priests (10:5b; Lev. 6:10).
b) A belt of fine gold from Uphaz (10:5c).
c) His body was like beryl, a crystallized stone (10:6a).
d) A fiery face and eyes (10:6b).
e) Legs like burnished bronze (10:6c).
f) The sound of his words were like a multitude (10:6d).
2. Who is this man?
a) Some commentators (like Edward J. Young) think this is a theophany, an appearance of God the Son. This is understandable based on the similarity of the vision of Jesus in Rev. 1:12-16. However, it is hard to imagine God saying that He could not prevail against an evil being and needed help (10:13).
b) I assume that this figure is an angel.
c) It is possible that there are actually two different figures envisioned: God in 10:5-6, and an angel in 10:10-21.
3. Daniel’s reaction (10:7-9).
a) Though others were with Daniel, only he could see the vision. Nevertheless the other men with him must have sensed something amazing taking place, and fled (10:7).
b) Daniel collapsed in the presence of this man (10:8-9; cf. 8:17).

II. The Message of the Man (10:10-11:1)
A. The heavenly conflict (10:10-14).
1. Assuming the one speaking in 10:10 is the same as envisioned in 10:5-6, the man touched Daniel and helped him to all fours, then told Daniel not to fear and to stand up (10:10-11).
2. He also explained that Daniel’s words had been heard from the first day he humbled himself (10:12).
3. He then explained that he had been withstood by the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” for twenty-one days (10:13).
a) Since he also calls Michael “one of the chief princes,” we can deduce that in this context a “prince” is an angel, similar to the way the NT often speaks of spiritual beings as rulers, authorities and cosmic powers in Eph. 6:12.
b) This text is fascinating because it gives us a peak behind the scenes of what is taking place in the spiritual realm. It indicates that the conflicts and crises we experience on earth are related to and a reflection of a greater cosmic struggle in the “heavenly places” (see also Deut. 32:8-9; Isa. 24:21-23; Eph. 6:10-12; Rev. 12:7-11).
4. Having received help from Michael, this angel has now come to tell Daniel about the fate of his people “in the latter days” (10:14).
B. Daniel’s response (10:15-11:1).
1. First response (10:15-17).
a) Once again Daniel is overcome, and becomes speechless (10:15).
b) Once again he is touched, this time on his lips (10:16a).
c) Daniel explained that he was so overwhelmed that he had no strength (10:16b-17).
2. Second response (10:18-11:1).
a) One final time Daniel is touched by an angel and strengthened (10:18).
b) The angel encouraged Daniel to be of good courage, then explained that he was returning to fight the “prince of Persia” (10:19-20a).
c) Ominously, the angel also says another adversary is coming, the “prince of Greece” (10:20b).
d) Finally, the angel says that Michael, “your prince,” contends side by side with him, just as the angel stood with him in the first year of Darius the Mede (10:21-11:1).

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