Reading through the Bible together
Daniel received the message of the date of the coming of the Messiah as Savior and another message that the corridors of history would end in the Resurrection. He would rest and be resurrected at the Second Advent. This chapter has his last vision which he then goes on to explain in detail in the next two chapters. Cyrus seemed such a good ruler and Isaiah had much to say about Cyrus. So Daniel and many of the faithful in his day, may have contemplated how long the Persian Empire would last? Daniel did not eat any desirable bread for three weeks, nor any "beef," nor did any grape-juice touch his lips (v. 3).
Many people think that Daniel was a strict vegetarian but he was not. The issue has nothing to do with the politics of vegetarianism, since in our time pesticides and the counsel of Spirit of Prophecy to abstain from flesh products is quite evident. In Genesis 18:1-8 Abraham had a calf prepared for the Lord and the two angels to eat when they visited him. But, world-conditions between then and now are different and we need to listen to the counsels for our time as we have been given.
Now Daniel was walking on the bank of the Tigris river (v. 4), and as he looked up, there was a man in linen (v. 5). His body and face were very bright (v. 6). Only Daniel saw this exceptional man. The others with him did not (v. 7), they were terrified by the strange look on Daniel’s face, and ran away and hid themselves. Daniel saw the vision and no strength was in him and his natural color changed (v. 8). He heard words, and fell into a deep sleep (v. 9). Some church members do that during a sermon.
While his face was to the ground a hand touched him and lifted him on his hands and knees (v. 10). The Messenger said to Daniel that he was sent to make him understand the vision, and that he should stand upright so that he can tell him directly (v. 11). Daniel stood there trembling but he was told to calm down and not to fear (v. 12). "For from the first day you set your heart on understanding and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard."
Here is the secret of God's attention to people’s prayers. Understanding is provided when our orientation is correct. The reason the angel came to Daniel is to explain to him what is going to happen to the Persian Empire about 200 years later, and "to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come" (v. 14). It is not a reference to some palace-politics of Cyrus but to distant events.
This chapter wants to underline the three previous visions: (1) the image vision of Nebuchadnezzar, (2) the wild-animals vision with the coming of the Son of Man, (3) and the domestic animals vision of the 2300 day/years, that the kingdoms will be successive and the Persian Empire will end.
In this vision Daniel is taken to the time when "the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me (the angel Gabriel) for twenty-one-days. He then had to ask Michael, that is Christ, "the Chief of princes to help him. So the Prince of Peace, the Rock of Ages, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, had to come and help him bring Persia under control (v. 13).
When the angel finished his report telling why he came, Daniel turned his face to the ground and was speechless (v. 15). While his face was turned down to the ground his eyes were looking around and he saw Gabriel walking to him and "one who resembled a human being touched my lips" (v. 16). Daniel said to Gabriel standing in front of him: "O my lord!" How could Daniel talk to Gabriel when there was no strength in him? (v. 17).
Gabriel touched Daniel and strengthened him (v. 18). "Peace be with you" he said (v. 19). Immediately Daniel had strength. Then Gabriel explained that 200 years ahead (which in vision was a fast-forward event for Daniel), he would need to fight the prince of Persia and let Alexander the Great, the prince of Greece, come (v. 20). Persia at that time was resisting to give-up the empire to Greece, which was the next phase in divine decree. "And when I (Gabriel) shall go forth” the prince of Yawan (Greece) will come."
Gabriel was simply telling Daniel what was written in the Writings of Truth: that there is no support for an empire like Persia, and all the other empires that follow, unless it would come from Michael, that is, Christ, your Prince" (v. 21).
Prince of Peace, Christ our Savior, we do not want to resist you like empires and then reach the end of their decreed periods. Prepare us to accept what we cannot change. Amen.
Koot van Wyk, DLitt et Phil, ThD.
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea.