In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision (verse 1).Two years after the vision given to Daniel in chapter 8, a revelation came to him that is stated in this verse as 'being true'. As we seek to understand chapters 10, 11 and 12 of this Book, we might be permitted to think, speaking from our human experience, that what follows is fantastic. So the Lord Who speaks to us through His servant, adds these words to take away any such thoughts.
We have seen that the prophecy of the 70 x 7 recorded in chapter 9 contains two main features:
In chapter 10 verse 14 we read: 'Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days'. The prophecies then of chapter 9, and of chapters 10, 11 and 12, speak of the same time period and are closely allied. See also chapter 9:27 and 11:31,32.
The opening revelation of chapter 10 denies the success of all human schemes for peace and world improvement. The Hebrew word 'TSABA' is elsewhere translated 'warfare' and 'host', and this is the correct rendering here: 'a long warfare', or as Rotherham puts it 'a great warfare'. It is indeed great in importance that we understand it, for what follows is war not only on the earth, but in heaven, a warfare not only between armies of flesh and blood, but among principalities and powers.
The events recorded in the Book of Revelation find their place in this prophecy. The 'war in heaven' (chapter 12:7); 'war with the Lamb' (17:14); 'the war of the beast against the two witnesses' (11:7); 'the war of the dragon against the seed of the woman' (12:17); and 'war with the saints' (13:7), are all included in this 'great warfare'. For our learning the veil is removed, and we catch a brief glimpse of those mighty principalities and powers spoken about by the apostle Paul when in Ephesians 6:10-13 we read of 'the world rulers of this darkness', and 'spiritual hosts of the wickedness'.
In verses 2 and 3 of chapter 10, we are told that Daniel mourned and fasted for three weeks, and then a heavenly messenger came to him:
... a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude (verses 5,6).
Daniel was not able to stand in the presence of this glorious one, whose appearance is not unlike the One described in Revelation 1:12-15 Who was seen by John. The effect on John was to fall at His feet as one dead, and Daniel and his companions were also powerfully affected. Although only Daniel saw the vision, his companions turned and fled and Daniel was left alone, having lost all strength, and hearing the voice, was in a deep sleep. A hand touched him and set him on his knees, and again called Daniel 'a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent (verse 11).
Despite the majesty and power of this heavenly messenger, he was held up for twenty-one days (three weeks) by the 'prince of the kingdom of Persia' (verse 13). It is at once obvious that this could not be any ordinary prince of flesh and blood, for if Daniel, the beloved servant of the Lord, collapsed in his presence, surely so would any other mortal. Not until Michael, one of the chief princes, came to his help, could this mighty being accomplish his mission. We understand therefore that there are not only kings and princes upon earth, but there are Satanic representatives at the courts of kings ever seeking to frustrate the purposes of God. The king of Tyre of Ezekiel chapter 28, is another illustration of this.
This delay explains Daniel's reason for fasting three weeks. In chapter 9, no sooner had he uttered his prayer, actually even while he was praying, the answer came. Here he was kept waiting twenty-one days, and like the Psalmist, he had to 'wait patiently for Him'. Some inkling of the power of Satan is given us as the veil is lifted here, and light is given as to the reason why Daniel had to wait this length of time. After hearing this explanation, Daniel had become dumb, and his strength had gone from him, but his lips were touched that he could speak, and he was strengthened, to hear and understand.
And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men ... said, O man greatly beloved, fear not ... I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth (verses 16-21).
Former visions had made Daniel ill, and this was no exception. However, he was given the strength he needed, and the preparation of heart to endure the unveiling of the wickedness that was to usher in the events of the time of the end upon the earth, concerning the nation of Israel. Angelic ministry has been their portion all the time they have been in favour, and Michael as we shall see from chapter 12:1, was Israel's special messenger and protector. In Jude verse 9 we read: 'Yet Michael the archangel ...'. He is therefore someone who is of special prominence, as that title is unique.
Chapter 11 is exceedingly difficult to understand -- what events took place before, what events have already come about, and what are still future. It is quite impossible to understand it unless we refer back to chapter 8.
The opening verses of chapter 11 refer back to the Persian and Greek kings, ending in 'the mighty king', Alexander the Great, then the dividing up of his empire among his generals. With the introduction of two kings, namely the king of the north and the king of the south, some claim that the events that took place between the king of Syria, Antiochus, and the king of Egypt, Ptolemy, fulfil this prophecy. However, we read in chapter 10:14 -- 'Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days'. The first three verses of chapter 12 should be read on from verse 45 of chapter 11 and confirm this.
Michael, Israel's mighty angelic messenger, shall stand up, and the nation will have to endure the great tribulation which will go on for three and a half years under the heel of the 'man of sin'. However, those who overcome this terrible time and remain faithful to the Lord, will be gloriously rewarded, 'every one whose names shall be found written in the Book'. If this is so, verses 5 to 20 foreshadow events that are yet to take place in the future. On the other hand, Dr. Bullinger suggests that this is past history to us today, but was to happen in the future when actually written by Daniel at the time he was living.
At any rate, from verse 21 onwards all the events recorded here are to take place in the yet future. In verse 36 the king described is the 'man of sin' who is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and Revelation 13:5-7. In Daniel 11:38 he honours the 'God of forces', or munitions, who could be Satan himself. He it is who energizes this man of sin, and in Revelation 12:9, is called 'the great dragon ... that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world'. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 we read of this spawn of Satan, this wilful dictator, being destroyed by the splendour of the coming of the Lord Jesus. What a time of rejoicing that will be for those who have endured such affliction in Israel!
We read in verse 4 that God reveals to Daniel that he is to close up the words He has made known to him, 'even to the time of the end', and this command is repeated in verse 9. Dr. Bullinger in The Companion Bible explains that a more correct translation of the rest of verse 4 should read, 'many shall apostatize, or revolt, or even go raving mad, and wickedness shall be increased'. This would be confirmed by verse 10.
In Revelation chapters 5 and 6, a sealed book will be opened at the time of the end by the Lord Himself; no one else will be able to do so.
There does not appear to be any explanation as to who the two men were who were seen by Daniel in verses 5 to 7. Daniel himself was not able to understand, but was anxious to know 'what shall be the end of these things?' He was, however, not allowed to do so. 'Go thy way', was the reply to his question, but evidently he was reluctant to do this, and was given only a part answer to his question. This includes two time periods that extend the 'time, times, and an half' in verse 7. These are one thousand two hundred and ninety and one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days, in verses 11 and 12, namely thirty and forty-five days respectively.
Dr. Bullinger gives a likely explanation for these two figures in Appendix No. 90 of The Companion Bible. Briefly he suggests that the extra days may be a period of mourning for the nation of Israel for their rejection of the Lord Jesus when He came to them as their Messiah. Possibly also a period devoted to the building of the new and glorious temple given to us by Ezekiel in chapters 40-42. Maybe it will include a period during which the nation will be gathered out of all the Gentile nations of the earth, and return to their own land.
Finally verse 13 speaks to us of Daniel's sure and certain resurrection. 'But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest (in death), and stand in thy lot (in resurrection) at the end of the days' (and then receive your allotted inheritance).
Surely Daniel will be numbered among those who will inherit a place in the heavenly Jerusalem as 'an overcomer', the holy city described so vividly in the Book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.
N. J. DREDGE