In the last essay we studied the vision of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel, chapter nine. In this essay we move to the final vision of the book found in 10:1-12:3. This final vision has three parts, or three sub-visions, within it.
The first sub-vision is that of a visitor by the Tigris River in chapter 10. Then in the first 39 verses of chapter 11, the visitor reveals a vision of future events regarding certain coming kings And that is followed in 11:40 through 12:3 by a vision of the end-time.
In this essay we will study only the first sub-vision, the vision of the visitor in chapter 10. Verse one tells us that this vision took place in the third year of Cyrus of Persia. That seems to be a very concrete date. But actually there are two possible ways to figure the first year of Cyrus.
Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 B.C. But he placed Darius the Mede on the throne of Babylon in that year, rather than ruling over it personally. Therefore one could consider 538 B.C. to be the first year of both Cyrus and Darius.
But then Cyrus personally took the reigns of the Babylonian government two years later in 536. That was the year when the exiles returned to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation and rebuild the temple. Of course, this means that one could interpret 536 to be the first year of Cyrus, because it was the first year he personally reigned.
Therefore, the third year of Cyrus, the year when God gave Daniel this final vision, could have been 535 or 533, depending on which year Daniel used to begin counting the years of Cyrus’ reign. In either case it probably occurred after the return of the first exiles to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation and rebuild the Temple.
There is no evidence that Daniel ever returned to Palestine. He was in his eighties by the time the Exile ended; and since he held such a high position in the Babylonian government, he undoubtedly believed that God wanted him to stay where he was. From what we know of Daniel, he certainly would have given up his high position and returned if God told him to do so.
Here, as in chapter nine, God gave Daniel a vision during a time of prayer and meditation. In this case Daniel had chosen to fast and pray during the first month, which was Nisan. At the time the vision came, on the 24th of the month (v. 4), Daniel had been in spiritual retreat for three weeks (v. 3), which interestingly would have been right through the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, which took place on the 14th through the 21st of Nisan.
If you look at verses 2-9 keeping in mind the vision of Christ in Rev., chapter one, there is some similarity of imagery to the appearance of this person in Daniel’s vision and that of Christ in Rev. one. Therefore some have interpreted this visionary person to have been an Old Testament appearance by Christ.
Others believe it was an angel. I agree with this latter view for a couple of reasons. First, the person was functioning as a messenger, which is the primary function of angels. And second, in verse 13, the visitor told Daniel the prince of Persia held him up for 21 days, and that the archangel Michael had to come to his aid. All of these facts seem more characteristic of an angel than of the Lord himself. But absolute certainty is not possible.
As you can see, when the visitor spoke to Daniel, the strength went out of him, and he fell prostrate in a trance before the visitor (vv. 8-9). But the messenger touched Daniel, and his strength returned (v. 10).
To my mind verses 10-14 is an extremely important passage. It reveals several significant things about the spiritual realm more clearly than any other passage in the Bible. I say that because the relationship between events that take place in the spiritual realm, and those that take place in this physical realm where we live, is one of the great biblical mysteries. And this passage provides some real insight into the matter.
First of all, this is one of the many passages of Scripture that reveal that there is a spiritual realm, where real activity among real spiritual beings takes place at the same time that we are active in this realm.
Second, it reveals that there is an ongoing conflict in the spiritual realm between good and evil beings. In response to Daniel’s prayer, God sent the visitor to him with a message. But “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” attempted to stop him, and did hold him up for 21 days. Only the intervention of the archangel Michael enabled him to continue his journey.
This teaching is supported in the New Testament in Jude and the Revelation. Jude, in verse nine of his epistle, informs us that Michael is an archangel, and that back in the days of Moses Michael had a conflict with the devil over the body of Moses. This story illustrates the mystery about which we are speaking. Michael and the devil, both part of the spiritual realm, had a conflict over the body of Moses, which was part of the physical realm.
Revelation 12:7-9 also supports this mystery. Those verses tell us about a war that took place in heaven, which of course is in the spiritual realm, between the devil and his angels on the one hand, and Michael and his angels on the other. The result was that the devil and his angels were cast out of heaven to the earth. Of course the earth is part of the physical realm.
Third, the passage reveals that evil spiritual beings seek to influence what is happening in this physical realm. The reference here to a “prince of the kingdom of Persia” is not a reference to Cyrus, the human ruler. It is a reference to a spiritual being associated with Persia who was opposed to God’s will in relation to Daniel’s situation.
Fourth, the passage reveals that what happens in the spiritual realm can affect what happens here. Daniel’s prayer was heard immediately. But the conflict in the spiritual realm resulted in the answer being held up for 21 days.
And Fifth, on the positive side, this brief passage reveals that prayer uttered in this physical realm can affect what is happening in the spiritual realm. As we have seen, Daniel’s prayer here caused a whole series of events there. The messenger was dispatched to Daniel. “The prince of the kingdom of Persia” sought to intervene, and Michael moved to counter that action. Therefore prayer is extremely important in more ways than we usually acknowledge.
Now then, before we move on to the next paragraph, we must not forget the visitor’s statement in verse 14. The visitor told Daniel that the vision he was going to reveal to Daniel was “for days yet to come.” And that certainly proves true, as we shall see in a future essay.
In verses 15-19 Daniel once again loses his strength, but is revived by the visitor. The most important thing in these concluding verses is found in verse 20. The visitor indicates that the warfare in the spiritual realm will continue. He must return to do battle with the prince of Persia, with whom he left battling Michael earlier. And he prophesies that after that he will have to battle the “prince of Greece.”