10 In 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.
2 In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 I 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.
In Cyrus’ third year of rule after Babylon had been taken over by Persia, Daniel received a message from God, one of great conflict but true nonetheless. In contrast to earlier messages where Daniel was overwhelmed and confused, this message he understood. Prior to receiving the vision, he had been mourning for three weeks, not eating any tasty food, meat, or wine. He didn’t even use any ointment until the three weeks were completed, perhaps implying that he wasn’t keeping himself presentable because of his intense focus before the Lord in prayer and fasting.
4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5 I 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. 6 His 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. 7 Now 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. 8 So 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. 9 But 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.
Daniel saw a heavenly figure girded in linen and with a belt of pure gold. Whether this was an angel or the preincarnate Christ is not defined for sure, but there are parallels to the image of Christ given in Revelation 1:13-14. That does not mean with certainty that this was a vision of Jesus, for His servants, the angels, could have a similar heavenly appearance. What matters is not precisely who it was as much as what the vision was like and how it moved Daniel and even those who were with him who didn’t even see the vision. Those who were with Daniel could perceive that something supernatural was happening, and they ran away and hid out of fear. Daniel was left alone to see the vision, and it took all of his strength away to the extent that he turned pale. The heavenly figure had a body that Daniel described as being like beryl, likely inferring a bright whitish shine corresponding to his face which had the appearance of lightning. His eyes were bright with burning flames, and his arms and feet were like polished bronze. The imagery pointed to holiness, power, authority, and strength. The figure’s words were like the sound of a tumult, loud and powerful. Daniel heard what the figure said, and then he fell into a deep sleep with his face to the ground, a posture of humility.
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.”
Then a hand, possibly Gabriel’s, touched Daniel and set him on his hands and knees. Still not standing but being on all fours, he was trembling. The angel called Daniel a man of high esteem, for it must have been known in heaven that Daniel was a man loved by God and who loved Him deeply. God always seeks to support those whose hearts are wholly devoted to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). He told Daniel to stand up, which he did while still trembling. He told him not to be afraid, for God had heard Daniel’s prayer right at the beginning. God, knowing what Daniel was going to pray, answered his request immediately. This angel was dispatched to go to him and give him understanding concerning the passage of Scripture that Daniel was humbly and prayerfully trying to comprehend. In an interesting insight into spiritual warfare, the prince of the kingdom of Persia, likely a powerful demonic force which battled on behalf of paganism to lead people astray and away from the worship of God, opposed this angelic messenger for twenty-one days. They fought and strived against one another for three weeks, but it was only after the powerful archangel Michael (Daniel 12:1, Jude 1:9, Revelation 12:7) came to help that this messenger was able to get to Daniel. The angelic messenger had been left to fight for himself against the powerful forces behind the evil being perpetrated through the mightiest nation of the earth (Ephesians 6:10), but Michael helped him overcome. Satan is always working to deceive the masses and raise up those who stand in opposition to God and His followers as well as His chosen nation Israel. God is always more powerful than the devil, and He made sure that, even as He allowed Persia to rule, that His messenger got to Daniel. God is honored as His followers stand true to Him even amid great paganism and corruption. God had shown Himself powerful through Daniel’s testimony, through the testimony of his three friends, and in His humbling of Nebuchadnezzar. He also moved Cyrus to rebuild the temple. Though spiritual warfare goes on, God is always God and the victor in the end. The angel who had finally gotten to Daniel told him that the message he was about to give him concerned what will happen to the people of God in the latter days.
15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. 16 And 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. 17 For 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.”
Already, Daniel was overwhelmed and speechless, and he turned his face to the ground. He had not yet even received the message, but the vision was already powerful. But one who resembled a human, likely another angel, touched his lips and helped him speak. Daniel expressed that the vision had already caused him much anguish and taken all of his strength. It was overwhelming to him to be able to even talk with this angelic messenger. He had no strength left and felt as though he couldn’t even breathe enough to be able to speak.
18 Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19 He 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.” 20 Then 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. 21 However, 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.
The one of human appearance touched Daniel and gave him strength. God always supplies what His servants need to be able to hear from Him according to His Word and to do His will. The being that looked human but obviously possessed angelic power told Daniel not to be afraid but to be at peace, not afraid, and courageous. He needed to remember that he was highly thought of by those in heaven and that God would uphold him, strengthen him, help him, and work through him to accomplish His will. Daniel received strength and asked that the messenger would speak. The message continues through chapters 11 and 12, but the messenger began by explaining the near future. For a time, it would be the angel’s job to fight against the prince of Persia, but soon the prince of Greece would come. God’s plan from before the foundation of the world concerning various world powers and the last days was known by this angel according to some heavenly insight he was given. Thankfully, God reveals the truth from heaven through His Word according to what we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He doesn’t keep secret what we need to know (Deuteronomy 29:29). There would be ongoing angelic warfare, and this angel would have many battles to fight. But Michael would stand with him, fighting on his behalf and on the behalf of those who love the Lord. It also seems that Michael has the express responsibility of battling on behalf of the nation of Israel (Daniel 12:1). Angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) that work for the benefit of the believer in ways that they don’t usually get to see (Hebrews 13:2). But as this passage explains, they do fight relentlessly to serve God’s people and advance God’s plan. Since God is on their side, nothing will be able to thwart His divine plan, but, until the final days, God does allow Satan and his forces to fight against Him. Eventually, Satan will be cast into hell, but for now he is permitted to strive with God and His people. He tempts and deceives them, but God gives believers a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even in the midst of persecution, God is strong and faithful to His own (James 4:7).