Robert Duncan Culver


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Dr. Robert Duncan Culver

X.            Chapter 10: A Vision of God

A.     Introduction

The careful student should read the last three chapters of the book as one before attempting to study the portion before us. These three chapters are really one section, comparable to one of the pre­vious chapters, each of which is truly a unit. The previous chapters reporting Daniels visions[606] each first relates an introductory vision of God, then a description of its effects on the prophet, next additional revelations and, finally, an interpretation of their meaning. Approximately the same takes place in this final section of three chapters. Chapter ten records the initial vision; chapters eleven and twelve contain the main revelations and interpretations. Several distinct prophecies, or oracles, of Daniel begin with the date when the author received them.[607] The appearance of a date in the first verse of chapter 11 gives the impression that here also is the beginning of a new oracle, but it is a false impression, for it falls in the midst of a speech by the revealing angel begun in the preceding chapter. This is a capital example of the casual and careless manner in which some of the chapter divisions of our Bible were made. They are, after all, only the inventions of more men, not al­ways well conceived or executed.

The section for this present study includes the initial vision, then further revelations imparted by the angel concerning the future of Israel in intercourse with certain nations of antiquity. These matters culminate in the oppressions of Antiochus Epiphanes[608] in the last half of the second century B.C. These events are now all a part of ancient history. Throughout these last three chapters of the book God is, so to speak, “filling in the picture” sketched out in the prophecies of the earlier parts of the book. Chapter two gave the grand outline; chapter seven renewed the outline from a different point of view, enlarging upon the fourth Gentile kingdom in the end-time, and providing further information about the kingdom of Messiah; chapter eight enlarged details concerning the second and third kingdoms with special emphasis on conflicts of the third (Grecian) with the Jews. Chapter nine related wholly to the future of the Jews. Now, chapters ten through twelve fill in the details, adding very im­portant new revelation concerning "last things" such as the resurrec­tion of the dead, the judgments, final rewards, Antichrist, and the Great Tribulation. Most of these "eschatological" matters will come up for treatment in the final chapter of this book.

There is nothing more natural than for men to desire literally to see God. This is true even of ungodly men who little realize what they desire.[609] Philip's "Lord show us the Father, and it sufficeth us",[610] is an example of the persistence of this desire and in our Lord's answer is an explanation of the ignorance of the manner in which it is usually expressed. The Psalmist's prayer, "As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" is an example of the beauty with which man can express the desire, and of the possible ennobling influ­ence of it.

The chapter before us describes the appearance of God to a godly man, for the great angel or the preincarnate Son of God, the being whom Daniel saw, has all the marks of divine presence. Every occurrence of idolatry is an example of the possible misdirection of this desire with consequent corruption of all that might be good in mankind.

The tenth chapter relates a true culmination in the growing spiritual experience of the prophet. In chapter two he is represented as having a dream by which he interpreted another's dream. In chapters four and five he likewise interprets the experiences of others. But in chapter seven he receives subjective internal visions of his own, in which he sees great sights, interpreted by an angel from out of the vision. In chapter eight, evidently in a state of spiritual ecstasy wherein he was transported many miles to a different time and place, where he received a vision of the future. In chapter nine he saw the angel, Gabriel, with his own natural eyes in his own room at Babylon. In chapter ten he seems to have experienced actual sight of the Son of God in his own room. Thus the revelatory experiences of this man of God are a growing thing, climaxing in an immediate sight of the Son of God.

B.      The Circumstances of the Revelation (10:1-4)

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. (Daniel 10:1)

The date, the third year of Cyrus, is very important. It explains why Daniel was in mourning. The rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple of the Lord had been interrupted. According to Ezra 1:1 ff. king Cyrus decreed that the Jews might return to their homeland in the first year of his reign. Less than two years later the foundation of the restoration temple was laid.[611] But immediately oppositions from renegade Jews in the vicinity stopped the work and discouraged the workmen.[612] Commentators as early as Calvin, bringing secular history to the interpreter’s task, have pointed out the Cyrus' son Cambyses was regent during certain campaigns of his father at this time, and being of a less benign character than his father, decreed the cessation of the building activity. Besides this, not many Jews had responded to the invitation to go home to Palestine, a matter of great concern to Daniel.

Daniel reminds his readers that his name "Belteshazzar", con­ferred by Nebuchadnezzar "after the name of" his "god" was not his real name.[613] Probably known by all as Belteshazzar, now, the old saint wished to let his continuing loyalty to his God, Jehovah, be pro­claimed. Renewal of his name, Daniel—God's judge—did just that. No longer in public office,[614] the old man now could de­vote more time than ever to the concerns of his people, spiritual and otherwise.

This reminds us that old people, no longer able to be active in the affairs of men may be more active than ever in the affairs of God by prayer. Of the very aged Anna, Luke reports that she "was of great age…which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day".[615] No aged Christian is ever "superannuated" with God. The prayers of Daniel's later years made those years the most effectual for God of his whole life, and dur­ing those very same years came his greatest spiritual experiences.

There is probably no place in the entire Bible where there is more emphasis placed upon the absolute reliability of the reports and upon the absolute truth of the matters reported. “The thing was revealed,” says the prophet. This means that the “word” or “message”, both more appropriate than “thing,” as translation, was revealed from heaven. Not only so, the "thing [616] was true." The accom­panying miraculous signs were such as to render disbelief in the divine origin of the experiences and messages impossible. "The time appointed was long" is an obvious error of translation, for it should be that "the warfare was great" or even "the suffering was great." This means that these things came to Daniel in the midst of extreme physical and mental suffering. So far from looking back upon his vision of the Godhead as a pleasant experience, he honestly could say that it almost killed him, and except for special strengthening, would the experience have killed him. But these very sufferings were part of the experience of divine presence which rendered the "matter" so unquestionably true. Daniel's words about understanding the "matter" or "vision" showed that Daniel had no great problem in understanding most of what he was told by the angel. Daniel 12:8, which says he "understood not”, seems to relate only to the cryptic words immediately preceding.

In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. (Daniel 10:2, 3)

There is not a hint that Daniel observed this period of special religious exercise in anticipation of the revelatory experience that care, For one thing, it was the regular Passover season and all true Jews would be concerned with special fastings and other religious exercises. But the affairs of his people being in such a low sate Daniel gave himself especially to prayer.

We learn a good deal here about the right kinds of fasting and abstinence. Note that asceticism was not his usual practice. It is clear that ordinarily Daniel drank the usual wines, ate the fine breads, and took proper care of his body. He was no monk. The Bible generally disapproves of asceticism as a way of life.[617] And it is ridiculous to prescribe invalid and unscriptural distinctions between "fish" and "flesh." The plain facts are that Daniel reduced his diet and, eating only the simplest of nourishing foods, made eating and drinking only a means of keeping alive rather than a pleasure. Omitting the usual anointing left his skin in the dehydrated condition so uncomfortable to natives of the rear East and Mediterranean area. He made his external condition agree with his internal condition as an aid to importunity and continuity of his prayer. He was doing everything possible to let God know that he really meant business. It is amazing, in view of the nearly total lapse o the custom today, how much the Bible has to say in recommendation of temporary limitation of food and drink and elimination of all delica­cies as an accompaniment of true repentance and of importunate prayer. One thing is sure: Jesus expected his disciples to fast and pray [618] going as far as giving specific instructions for it.[619] The Bible furnishes many examples of the most holy of men proclaiming and participating in prayer accompanied by fasting.[620] Perhaps one of the greatest recommendations for fasting is the example of our Lord.[621]

Fasting and similar rigorous religious exercise can, however, be wrongly interpreted and overdone. Calvin’s warning is most helpful. After pointing out that the special reason for Daniel’s fasting was the depressed condition of his people he adds:

“We must diligently notice this; for many celebrate fasting as if it were a principle part of the worship of God. They think it an act of obedience peculiarly pleasing to God. But this is a gross error, since fasting by itself ought to be treated as a matter unimportant and indifferent. It deserves no praise unless with reference to its object. Now the objects of fasting are various; the principal one is this, to enable the faithful suppliantly to deprecate God's wrath with the solemn testimony of their repentance, and to stimulate each other to more fervor in their prayers. Ordinar­ily daily prayers do not require fasting; but when any great necessity presses upon us, that exercise is added by way of help, to increase the alertness and fervor of our minds in the pouring forth of prayer.[622]

I was by the side of the great river, which is Hidaka. (Daniel 10:4)

The "Great River" in the Old Testament is ordinarily the Euphrates.[623] The Hiddekel (Tigris) may with equal right be called "the great river," for although it is only about 1150 miles long as compared with 1670 miles for the length of the Euphrates it falls more rapidly and carries much more water than the Euphrates. Hiddekel, the Hebrew name following the Assyrian, means River of the Date Palm. According to A. H. Sayce, Tigris is a Persian name formed by a play on a word in their language meaning "an arrow"—a reference to the swiftness of the stream.

The language of verse four indicates that Daniel was "by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel" in the flesh, rather than in spirit. In chapter eight [624] where it is clear that he was in Shushan by the River Ulai in vision, or spirit, the language is significantly different. There is not a word, as near as I can discern, to indicate the any of Daniel’s experiences of this chapter were “in the spirit.” Rather, he is represented as being very much “in the flesh” and as being brought to the very border of physical death because of those experiences. The things he saw, then, might therefore better be called "sights" than "visions," since visions in this book are mainly subjective experiences.

C.      The Description of the Revelation and of its effect (10:5-9)

Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold 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 color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. (Daniel 10:5, 6)

There is a serious problem of interpretation here. Is the "man clothed in linen" the same as the angel who later talks with him? In any case, whom did Daniel see?

There are many who think the angel who does the talking later is Gabriel, the angel of revelation in the preceding portions and that the One seen in the magnificent vision is none other than the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his preincarnate state. Others think they are the same, and these usually also think the person to be Gabriel.

In favor of the identifying of only one person, an angel, is that both references speak of the one seen as "a man" or "one like the similitude of the sons of men.[625] Further, in a situation where it is a natural assumption there is no clear indication that the two are not the same.

In favor of identifying the first with our Lord are several matters.

                     i.            Firstly in Daniel 7:13, a clear prophecy of Christ, the Lord is described as a son of “man”—very similarly to the description here in chapter ten.
                   ii.            Secondly, in a parallel type of vision seen by Ezekiel, the prophet sees one who is by almost all interpreters identified with Deity, the description being again of one with "the appearance of a man".[626] Other features of Ezekiel's description are similar to many of Daniels.
                  iii.            Thirdly, the similarity of the description to that which John gives of the Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:12-20 is so great as to be almost identical. These similarities will be noted as we proceed.
                  iv.            Fourthly, he stands above the waters, set apart, whereas the angels on the banks do not dare to stand there.[627]
                   v.            Finally the angels in the vision appeal to this "man" as having superior knowledge, knowledge of the future which belongs only to God.[628]

So impressive is this evidence that another has most beautifully said, "We are compelled to recognize in this veiled Personality the Christ of the New Testament, and are led to place this closing vision of the Book side by side with that scene witnessed on the Sea of Galilee, when through the darkness a Figure was seen walking on the angry waters, whilst through the roaring of the tempest was heard a well-known Voice, saying to His ter­rified followers, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid."

As to the details of the sight—the linen appears to signify purity, being regularly worn by the priests as undergarments.[629] Perhaps here it merely indicates fine clothing to indicate h excellence of the person. The girdle (or belt) was a regular item of attire, and still is wherever people wear robes or gowns. Its purpose was to hold the garments in place and under which to "tuck up" the clothing to get it out of the way when any active work or play was begun. The common Biblical reference to girding oneself was to indicate preparation for immediate action. A girdle of gold would have been a cloth belt with heavy god embroidery and ornamentation. This was a mark, in ancient times, of high station.[630] The word "beryl," to which his body is compared, is a word of unknown meaning. It is the word tarshish, a name elsewhere in Scripture for some place far to the West and of ships. It was probably some rare and beautiful gem. The lightning refers to unusual brilliance, as do also the lamps of fire and the polished brass. The white of the linen, the brilliance of the gold, the flash of the Tarshish, the glare of the lightning and of the fire and brass all combine to present a picture of overwhelming brilliance, such as no human eye could look upon steadily. The descrip­tions of our Lord's transfiguration on the mountain top, before the startled eyes of Peter, James and John are very similar, while John's picture of the Lord as he saw him on Patmos corresponds in almost every detail, adding as a kind of summary, "and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength".[631] His words sounded "like the voice of a multitude," that is, of a crowd of people. All of these de­tails combine to show that this was no earthly mortal, and probably no created being either. They appear to set Him apart as the Son of God, Himself.[632]

And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that the fled to hid themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I re­tained no strength. Yet I heard the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. (Daniel 10:7)

The fact that Daniel only saw the vision, and that the men with him, though conscious that something unusual was taking place, saw nothing, is another feature in common with other appearances of the exalted Christ. Exactly the same sort of thing took place when the Lord appeared to Paul at the time of his conversion experience on the way to Damascus. "Suddenly," says the bock of Acts, "there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth." When he heard a voice and asked who was speaking the answer was, "I am Jesus." As for the men with them, the narrative adds, "the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man".[633]

This part of the story is proof also that all the events of Daniel's experiences here were in the natural waking state, not a vision in the usual sense of the word. That the sight given was supernatural is certain, of course. But the other men present were also aware of the presence of something unusual; they participated in a very reduced way in the experience. If it be objected that Daniel calls the exper­ience a "vision,” it may be answered that the word is used for almost any kind or sight or experience in Scripture. Context must determine the meaning. The context here makes it clear that Daniel saw with the organs of natural sight, his physical eyes. This was no "vision of the head upon the bed" as was the case of his experiences of chapter seven.[634]

There is an important practical truth to learn here also. Daniel did not experience any indescribable joy when, as a man in the flesh, he was brought into the glory-presence of God. Rather, says he, "there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned into corrup­tion, and I retained no strength."[635] He later makes it plain that except for the strengthening of the Lord he would have died. "We ought to learn to transfer this instruction to ourselves, not by the vanishing of our vigor or the changing of our appearance whenever God addresses us, but by all our resistance giving way, and all our pride and lofti­ness becoming prostrate before God. Finally, our carnal disposition ought to be completely reduced to nothing, as true docility will never be found in us until all our senses are completely mortified; "for we must always remember how hostile all our natural thoughts are to the will of God".[636]

When Calvin was pastor he conducted a frequent Bible study for his people at Geneva, always closing with a prayer. May we reverently join in the prayer he prayed after instructing them on the text before us. It is as follows.

"Grant, Almighty God, as thou didst formerly appear to Daniel thy holy servant, and to the other prophets, and by their doctrine did render thy glory conspicuous to us at this day, that we may reverently approach and behold it. When we have become entirely devoted to thee, may those mysteries which it has pleased thee to offer by means of their hand and labors, receive from us their due estimation. May we be cast down in ourselves and raised by hope and faith toward heaven; when prostrate before thy face, may we so conduct ourselves in the world, as in the interval to become free from all the depraved desires and passions of our flesh, and dwell mentally in heaven..."

D.      The Strengthening of the Prophet to Receive a Message (10:10-12, 15-19)

And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. (Daniel 10:10-12)

After the initial blinding flash of the presence of the Lord and the sound of his thunderous voice Daniel lay prostrate on his face. Then shortly a hand touched him. I am inclined to believe, as asserted earlier, that the hand was the hand of another than the "man clothed in linen" [637] whom we have identified with the Lord. Rather, this is one "sent" by the Lord,[638] and who appears to have been associated with Michael as another angel,[639] and with still "other" angels,[640] who are in turn distinct from the "man clothed in linen".[641]

Several suggestions for the believer's private devotional life come to us from this incident.

                     i.            One is that fear is not always and in every way a detriment to us. Fear in the sense of respect is always necessary. An important item missing among the ungodly is that "there is no fear of God before their eyes”.[642] But being afraid of God also has its chastening work. True, god as Father and as tender Shepherd gives us comfort. But a degree of fear of his awful majesty encourages submission, humility, and effort. God did not immediately remove all fear from His servant, for Daniel soon confesses that there was neither strength nor breath in him [643] and required additional strengthening [644] and further assurance.[645] "As God knows fear to be useful to us, he does not wish us to be entirely free from it, as too great self-confidence would immediately produce slothfulness and pride. God, therefore, wishes our fears to restrain us like a bridle, but meanwhile he moderates this dread in his servants, lest their minds become stricken and disturbed, and thus disabled from approaching him with calmness".[646]

                   ii.            Another is that prayer can have a fervor pleasing to God when it is known that it is prayer according to God's will. Daniel knew, and the angel confirmed it, that he was praying according to the will of God. He might therefore warmly petition God. For it the angel commended him.[647] (

                  iii.            Further, in that the angel approved of Daniel for setting his heart to understand "and to chasten thyself before God" and then adding that "thy words were heard" etc., we know that penitence and deep humil­ity are proper accompaniments of prayer. Let us never forget that God is sovereign. We have no right to command him. He is no genie from out of an Aladdin's lamp who will do as bidden by proud and selfish men.

                  iv.            These elements of fear, fervor and penitence, are matched by another—confidence in approach to deity inasmuch as it is approach to one's own God. This is true, of course, only if one is truly a child of God by new birth. The angel told him how he had approached to "thy God".[648] Believing that "he is" and that he becomes the "rewarder of them that diligently seek him"[649] we should pray without “wavering” or vacillation [650] and with a strong heart “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”.[651]

                   v.            Finally, we are taught that the prayer which "changes things" is the prayer of true faith, faith that is from a truly trusting pious heart: "Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me".[652] "The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them".[653]

Reserving for later treatment verses 13 and 14 we note the further stages in the strengthening of the prophet.[654]

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I sake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my Lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man,  and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. (Daniel 10:15-19)

The observing reader will have already noticed two stages in Daniels recovery from his initial shock and fright. The touch of the angel had caused him first to rise from a completely recumbent position, face downward, to his hands and knees.[655] After further words of comfort he gained strength to stand "trembling"[656] But as the angel continued to speak, his face drooped downward and he "became dumb".[657] But a prophet, whose very function is to speak the word of the Lord,[658] must not be dumb. So, the angel touched his mouth and restored his powers of speech.[659] But even with the power of speech restored the overwhelmed and aged prophet had neither strength[660] nor breath[661] to carry on. Therefore, again the angel spoke consoling words imparting strength for the prophet to "carry on".[662]

Aside from the immediate result in the receiving and recording of the prophecy, there is an important lesson in this progressive restor­ation of the servant of God's abilities. Many students have noticed it. God does not always restore us from a fallen condition, whether physical illness or the disgrace and shame of backsliding, by an immediate and complete restoration. As with Daniel, it may be by degrees and over a long period of time as well. It is no reflection on the power of mercy of God that he works in this way. And sometimes the "scars" of our fall remain. As another has said, "God Leaves in his servants some signs of fear, to remind them of their infirmity; they venture to raise themselves by hope above the world, but they do not forget they are but dust…and to remain themselves within the bounds of humility and modesty.”

Viz., “what shall befall thy people.” Daniels’s people were the Jews.  All interpreters acknowledge this. We feel it unfortunate that having acknowledged this to be true many seek methods whereby to transfer the prophecy from the Jews to the church or to the people of God in general. This is not possible on any strict method of adherence to the language Scripture. Our views of the future of the church should be derived from passages which discuss the church. Some of these are the Olivet discourse of the Lord, the Epistles of Paul, of Peter, and of John, including the book of Revelation. This portion of Daniel should be interpreted, in harmony with the angel's instructions, in relation to God's people Israel.

E.       The Conflicts of the Angelic Messenger (10:13, 20, 21)

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13)

Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and how will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. (Daniel 10:20, 21)

The Scripture declares that we must beware of the "wiles of the devil." Then more specifically it is said, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood [663] but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [664] in high places".[665] The Bible never really opens the door widely on this subject—just a gleam of light here and there. These three verses are among the clearest, though there is difficulty of interpretation.

That which is noted in the scripture of truth” (10:21). Though some suppose this to be the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, it seems more likely that this is a figurative expression for the decrees of God. Books appear in a number of Old Testament figures of speech and prophetic symbols.[666]

Although there are interpreters who think that the princes refer­red to herein are the human kings of the countries named, it is the consensus of opinion that they are evil angelic spirits. Daniel had al­ready referred to good angels as "watchers" and "holy ones" in previous chapters.

Calvin, followed by a few interpreters, thought "the prince of the kingdom of Persia" to be the king of Persia. But, when the king is referred to herein he is called "king” not "prince".[667] If Michael was "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people" [668]   then this prince would also surely be an angel. That he was an evil angel is indicated by the fact that he withstood Michael. The fact that Michael is called a "chief prince" and elsewhere denominated an "archangel" suggests that there are degrees of authority among angels, implying some sort of organization.

The Old Testament world was one in which men believed that each nation had its special God. The king of Nineveh called Nisroch "his god";[669] Nebuchadnezzar named Daniel Belteshazzar "according to the name of my god".[670] So strong was this belief that even an apostate Jewish king transferred his worship to that of his conqueror in hope of obtaining his aid.[671] And, though the idols which represented them are everywhere in Scripture declared to be vain, no breath in them, etc., there is also occasional information to the effect that evil spirits, not identical with the gods of the idols, were behind the whole delusion and gaining pleasure from them. Paul declares that "an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God" etc.[672] Yet, having declared the nothingness of the idol and the god it represented, Paul adds most significantly in the same Epistle, "What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [ASV demons], and not to God".[673] It is, therefore, in complete harmony with the rest of Scripture to suppose that the princes of Persia and of Greece who opposed Gabriel were the devil's own angels.[674]

It is important to observe that Michael is mentioned as a de­fender, with Gabriel, of Daniel's people. In Daniel 12:1 it is said that Michael is "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people." In the book of Revelation a great war between Michael and his angel and the dragon and his angels is described.

May this not explain some of the mysteries of the affairs of men? The world is Satan's. He claims it, even declaring his claim in the presence of our Lord.[675] He is the world's god [676] and a prince now working in the hearts of all the unsaved.[677] The world lies in his control and reflects his character.[678] A nation of many millions of the most intelligent and highly educated men on the face of the whole earth were changed from a peaceful republic to a blood-thirsty collective Juggernaut in less than ten years within the memory of millions of people now living. Twenty-one years ago an otherwise keen and useful English diplomat named Chamberlain made foolish decisions at Munich that no loyal Englishman in his right  mind could have made. If God would let a lying spirit lead astray the advisors of Ahab [679] He could and would let another lead a British diplomat astray.

Since Christians wrestle against this demonical array we under­stand why our weapons are not of flesh. Again Paul is our teacher: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…)".[680]

We also understand why the leaders of our nation need our prayers, and why our chief national defenses are not in military array. May these truths lead us all to heed more heartily the Scripture which says: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the eight of God and our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth".[681]

F.       Prophecy of the Immediate Future of Israel in Relation to the Nations (11:1-35)

The thirty-five verses which lie before us relate to matters which are now long past. Two verses are devoted to the fortunes of ancient Medo-Persia its kings. Two verses are devoted to the rise and fall of the great Grecian King, Alexander. The rest is all about the history of the two divisions of Alexander’s empire which lay nearest Palestine, one to its south and the other to its north. The one to the south is known throughout the prophecy as "the king of the south"; the one to the north is known throughout as "the king of the north." A whole succession of kings in each of these is indicated by these two expressions. Approximately 150 years of history is covered. "The king of the south" is the land of Egypt, and its kings of the dynasty of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals who inherited that pact of the empire. "The king of the north" is the land of Syria and its kings of the dynasty of Seleucus, another of Alexander's generals. The Syrian kingdom came to an end when the Roman general Pompeii conquered it for Rome, 63 B. C. It is of more than usual interest that the last of the so-called "kings of the south" was a queen. Her name? Cleo­patra, the woman of easy morals whose amorous relations with the Roman generals Anthony and Julius Caesar are sufficiently celebrated.

This section has much in common with chapter eight. As there, the narrative moves swiftly until it reaches the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. And, as in chapter eight, the climax is a prophecy of the infamous act of that wicked and oppressive king in desecrating the Jewish temple.

1.      Prophecy of the Medes and Persians (11:1, 2)

Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the he fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up against the realm of Grecia. (Daniel 11: 1, 2)

We may only surmise the purpose of the angelic strengthening of Darius in his first year. His first year as vassal-king of Babylon apparently coincides with Cyrus’ first year. Perhaps it had something to do with the kind of treatment both of these kings (except for the unfortunate incident of chapter six) accorded the Jews. It was Cyrus who at this time allowed the Jews permission to return home to Palestine and furnished resources for the return.

The rest is familiar to all students of ancient history. Cyrus, the first king of the Empire of the Persians, being on the throne at the time of Daniel's experience, the first of the three was his son Cambyses who began to reign in 529 B.C. The second was an imposter—called Pseudo-Smerdis by the historians. This man took over the throne at the death of Cambyses. Though A. T. Olmstead, an authority on Near Eastern history thinks Smerdis not an imposter, the consensus of opinion is otherwise. Next came a truly great king, Darius Hystaspis, the man who began serious planning for the conquest of Europe. He was successful in the use of the fabulous riches of his realm for diplomatic conquests. The many Greeks living in Ionia, or Asia Minor, to the east of the Aegean Sea, were largely bought over by his silver and gold. The fourth, Darius' son Xerxes, the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, is the fourth and greatest, referred to here, whose riches would arouse many against Greece. The failure of his expeditions against the Greeks is not men­tioned here. It was largely this Xerxes who aroused the burning wrath of the Greeks.

2.      Prophecy of the Greeks and of Alexander (11:3, 4)

It is not necessary to repeat here what has already been said about these things in connection with chapters seven and eight.

3.      Prophecy concerning Syria and Egypt (11:5-35)

This is an interesting reference to one called “a contemptible person" in this section.[682] When Isaiah 53:3 says of our Lord "He is despised," predicting the attitude the Jews would take toward the lovely Son of God, he uses the same Hebrew word. The vile man who desecrated the temple and slaughtered innocent Jews was the most hated man in Jewish history—save one, our Lord Jesus Christ. They had the same word for both Jesus and Antiochus! How perverted can humanity become? "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter".[683]

It is neither feasible nor profitable in the present exposition to trace the correspondence between Daniel's prophecy of these two kingdoms and the history of the period. The prophecy does not cover every sec­tion of the period, that is to say, there are gaps in the coverage. Neither is present knowledge of the period sufficiently complete to give a full picture. The so-called historical portions of the Old Testament were not given specifically to teach history, only to trace the working of God in the succession of events. We may not, therefore, expect to find strict history, with dates, sequences, etc. always clearly before us in predictive portions.

A helpful confirmation of the Danielic authorship and early date of the book is to be found herein. Egypt is mentioned by name, in such a way as to indicate that it is the king of the south,[684] but the kingdom of the Seleucids, called the king of the north is un- named. We refer to it as Syria, but really that is inaccurate inasmuch it included much more that the geographical area known as Syria, and was unrelated to the Old Testament kingdom of that name. This appears to be because though Egypt was known in the time of Daniel in the sixth century, being a very ancient nation, the kingdom of the Seleucids was not yet in existence, and mention of its name would have been meaningless.

It is at verse 21 that the prophecy becomes most significant, for here Antiochus Epiphanes,[685] the wicked persecutor of the Jews in the second century B. C. is introduced as "a vile person." This is the man who introduced vile pagan worship in the temple, known to the prophet at Daniel 8:13 as "the transgression of desolation" and here at verse 31 as "the abom­ination that maketh desolate." There is similar language used at Daniel 9:27, "for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate" in prediction of a future desecration of a restored Jewish temple in the times of the coming Antichrist. Jesus referred to this as yet future in his time, predicting that it would occur in times just before his second coming, and warning his disciples against it.[686] The prophecies of the sufferings of Israel under Antiochus, then, are like­wise a warning of what is yet ahead.

In the days of Antiochus only those who knew "their God" [687] were able to hold up their heads without shame. It was they who were helped by God, being enabled to "do exploits".[688] The Apocryphal books of Maccabees tell the details and Hebrews 11:34-39 memorializes them as heroes of faith. Many of them were to die for their faith,[689] but their lives were to teach others [690] and their suffering was to make them pure, by the help of God.[691]

These godly heroes of the 160’s and 150’s B.C. were the separatists of their day. They believed in being separate from the pagan vices of the Greeks and from the beautiful lies of the pagan religion and its attractive ritual. They are the main link between Old and New Testaments, for the spiritual descendants of these people who appear in prediction in the Old Testament appear on the pages of our Gospels as the Pharisees—the name means separated ones. It is sad to know that many of them feel far from their original principles.

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