Chapter 10 A Look Behind The Scene

A number of Jews had returned to the land at the end of the seventy years in Babylon, as we saw from the first chapter of Ezra (some say possibly some 50,000 of them). In the second verse of our chapter we read that Daniel mourned three full weeks, just two years after this exodus to the land had taken place. He certainly could not have been mourning about the end of their captivity; it was a matter for rejoicing. He probably mourned as he thought of the pitiable smallness of it all; just a few returned among so many. He possibly mourned over the indifference of those who had stayed in Babylon, or, on the other hand, of the weakness and feebleness of the whole movement and of the low spiritual state of those who did return. He may have heard of the quarrels and dissensions among the returned exiles, and certainly the whole thing was humble and sad. It did not match in any way the glorious promises of Israel’s future blessing which had been revealed to him by the Lord. He felt in heart like the older ones who had gone back, as told in Ezra 3:11-13:

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

The older ones felt keenly the sharp contrast between the glory of Solomon’s temple and the poor imitation of that day. It is so today, where young people often are very enthusiastic about things, the older believers mourn the sad condition spiritually among the saints, compared with the zeal and holiness and Christian fellowship they used to know. It is good to be grateful for the truth that is being held (as these still laid the foundation of the temple), and the foundation of the temple of God is Christ in His atoning death (I Cor. 3:11). It is good instead of criticizing to turn to the Lord and pray for deeper spiritual life. There is always such a great need for confession, while looking to God for spiritual revival and greater spiritual power.

In the first verse we read that Daniel had a revelation given to him and had been made to understand the vision. It was concerning a long war, as the phrase “the time appointed was long” in verse 1 should read. There seems no doubt that the revelation concerns the long wars that were to come, as related in the eleventh chapter in detail. Since Daniel understood this, it means he grasped the sad truth that many years of dis- tress lay before his loved people, and so it is little wonder that he fasted and mourned. There probably were the additional reasons which we suggested above.

In answer to Daniel’s deep exercise of heart, a glorious Person appears to him and this can have been no other than the Lord Jesus Himself; the One Who in similar aspect appeared to John (Rev. 1:13-16). The effect of this visit was much like to the effect it had on the apostle John; both fell prostrate at His feet (v. 9; Rev. 1:17). Daniel records (v. 7) that he alone saw the vision; those who were with him did not. This reminds us of the experience of the apostle Paul who saw the same majestic Person—not on earth but in heaven—of whom also it is said that those who journeyed with him “stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man” (Acts 9:7). Daniel’s comeliness was turned into corruption and he retained no strength (v. 8). In the presence of God the holiest of men feel their utter sinfulness and nothingness, and this is truly a healthy experience. How lovely to see the progress in Daniel’s life and experience: he begins it as a young lad, with purpose of heart standing true to God and His Word; God reveals His mind to him in the dreams he was able to understand and interpret (even as we grow in the knowledge of the Word); the angel Gabriel appears to him twice (8:16; 9:21); at last the very Person of the Christ of God comes to him. Every Christian today ought to know the blessedness of a realized presence of Christ, but, as here, there are steps that lead up to this.

From the tenth verse to the end of the chapter it is apparent that another now speaks to Daniel (v. 13 proves that it is not the Lord Himself, for He needs help from nobody). Most likely it is the same Gabriel who had come to Daniel before. Twice over he addresses Daniel as a man “greatly beloved” (vv. 11, 19). He has been sent to reveal to him that which is to befall the people of Daniel—the Jews—in the latter days (v. 14), and he goes on to do so in the last two chapters of this book. These chapters are of tremendous importance, and their understanding is essential to knowing what God is doing and will do in connection with Israel and the world, and incidentally hinting at the position of the church in this day of grace.

From the moment Daniel had begun to pray about these matters, he is assured by the angel that the answer sped on its way toward him (v. 12), but it took twenty-one days for Gabriel to reach him. This is in contrast to what we see in 9:21 where Gabriel, flying swiftly, came while Daniel was still praying. How encouraging both there and here to see that God hears and answers prayer, though the answer does not always come immediately. Many saints have waited patiently for the answer to their desires, expressed for years in prayer.

The prayer here was not recognized immediately, not because God could not have done so, but because Gabriel had an important appointment on the way to Daniel. He tells us about it in this chapter, and it throws a most interesting and solemn light on a realm beyond our vision; it gives, for good reasons, a peep behind the scenes, into the world of demonology. Satan’s activities delayed Gabriel and his partner Michael. He says, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days.” Needless to say, this “prince of Persia” could not have reference to a human king or ruler, for no mere man could possibly and successfully delay a mighty angel of God. It is clear that we are introduced here to those powers of evil-fallen angels—of which the Bible has a good deal to say. For instance, we learn that Satan is the commander-in-chief of hosts of wicked angels (Matt. 25:41); we read that they are called “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12). We learn here the amazing truth that angels—emmissaries of the devil—are actually in charge of nations, so that they are called the “prince of Persia” or of Greece (v. 20). Satan himself is called the “king of Tyrus” (Ezek. 28:12). We all know that the devil claimed all the kingdoms of the world as his, and our Lord did not question his claim (Luke 4:5, 6). It seems from our text that in every nation Satan has appointed an invisible ruler even as God appoints the visible human rulers, for we read that the powers that be are ordained of God. Satan maintains a vast political “lobby” in every nation to influence and agitate the human potentates; through human instrumentality to advance his wicked interests, both in the political and religious arenas, he is ever trying to exert his evil will and purposes through the governments of nations. This is quite clear from our chapter. How intensely serious this is. How well we can see it right now in laws passed that definitely are aimed at curtailing Christian liberty. One can almost feel the Satanic influence behind many of these things in our day.

In all of this we do not forget that God is on the throne; though Satan does his evil best, he can do nothing unless God in His wisdom permits it. In our chapter we see how God’s messengers—these two mighty angels —were sent to resist Satan’s manipulations. Apparently some matter of great importance to Israel was under discussion or treatment at the Persian court (v. 13). Gabriel was sent, and Michael, especially in charge of Israel’s affairs (12:1), came to help him. This Michael is of course not the Lord Jesus, as some would have it, for it says (v. 13) that he was one of the chief princes, and that could not apply to Christ. No, Michael is the only one of the angels called the “archangel” (Jude 9), and it is evident from Scripture that his special post was to look after Israel’s interests. In our chapter his name appears for the first time on the pages of Scripture, though he is mentioned in Jude 9 as the angel who disputed with the devil about the body of Moses. These two angels stayed at the court of Persia for three weeks, apparently to resist the devil on a matter of great importance; it seems most likely that it concerned the return of Israel to their land, for the decree as to that return had been issued just two years before this. Anyhow, it concerned the people of Israel, and Satan sought to hinder their interests.

After being told about the delay in coming to him, Daniel again is overcome and feels his utter weakness (v. 16). The first thing Gabriel does is touch his lips, and then Daniel is able to speak. Isaiah had a like experience (Isa. 6). The man “greatly beloved” is told, “fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.” And when he had spoken unto him, he was strengthened (v. 19). “Knowest thou,” says Gabriel, “wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia [still some unfinished business at that court]: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come” (v. 20). These last two verses of our chapter introduce us to the next chapter, which deals almost entirely with the kingdom springing out of the Grecian empire, giving us the marvelously accurate details of its history until the day of Antiochus Epiphanes, as we shall see in chapter 11. The purpose in showing all this to Daniel was to let him know that which was to befall Israel in the latter days (v. 14).

“I will show thee,” ends the chapter, “that which is noted in the scripture of truth” (v. 21). While there are many details unfolded in the next chapter, that which was to befall Israel in the latter days had even then been unveiled by many of the Old Testament prophets, in the books Gabriel here calls (the only time in the Bible) “the scripture of truth.” Israel’s future tribulation and the subsequent beneficent reign of their Messiah had been foretold many centuries before Daniel lived, so there is nothing new as to Israel’s future, except the details to be shown now in the coming chapters of this fascinating book.