February 25, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXV: Daniel's Final Vision - Preperation

Daniel’s last recorded vision extends from Chapter 10 until the end of the book and is one literary unit. In this vision an angel appeared to the prophet and reveals to him the coming future history of Israel from the Persian period or Daniel's current time when the vision was given until the coming of the Kingdom of God that was ultimately to come.

To some extent they more or less reiterate things already reviewed about the interaction of the Greek empire with God's chosen people. It is here that we are given more information about the Antichrist and the tribulation period of the last days. A threefold division of the final revelation is apparent:

Preparation for the Vision (10:1–11:1)
Contents of the Vision (11:2–12:3)
Daniel's Final Instructions (12:4–13)

Chapter10 is an introduction to the message itself and relates the setting. There is a vision of an awe-inspiring heavenly person, and the arrival an interpreting angel to give wisdom to the prophet. The really interesting part of this chapter is its angelology or what it tells us of the angelic realm. It truly states important facts relative to angels and demons and their respective interests in the people and work of God.

Context of the Vision

Daniel’s final vision came in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia. It is around this time the lions’ den incident took place. Daniel interjects his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, to emphasize that he was indeed the same individual spoken of earlier in the book. Considering Daniel would've been advanced in years it is probably his condition would've prohibited making the arduous journey to his homeland with the other Jewish returnees.

Daniel is clearly "skitzed out" by this vision since it, “it concerned a great war” or was “one of great conflict". The Hebrew text reads literally “and a great war” or “conflict,” with the verb to be supplied. The phrase could refer to a great earthly war (or wars) that would occur in the future, or it could even describe spiritual warfare between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. The text does not delineate between the two no matter how hard an interpreter imposes or forces meaning on the text. It is quite possible that both are implied as they are not specified either/or. The conflict in these last chapters could be conflicts between nations or angels as they intermingle with one another. Daniel understood these visions and this understanding came as an answer to Daniel’s prayers (cf. 10:12). It would appear that Daniel was again praying for wisdom. This should be great assurance to us that pray for wisdom also. By now the Jewish captives had returned to Palestine. Work on the temple was being opposed by the Samaritans, and it is possible that reconstruction had already been halted (Ezra 4:5, 24).

For three weeks Daniel had been fasting when he received the revelation—“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips.” It should be noted that Daniel’s diet was not now restricted to vegetables as it had been when he first arrived in Babylon (chapter 1:12, 16). This indicates therefore shows that normally Daniel had no aversion to eating meat as such but only those meats that were not prohibited by the law. He was not a vegetarian or vegan. When he was able to consume foods of his own choosing, he again included meat as part of his diet.

Heavenly Being With Gold From Uphaz (10:4–9)

Daniel was beside the Tigris in a bodily presence, not in vision, when a heavenly being appeared to him. Verse 5's “there before me” is a translation of הִנֵּה hinnēh, “behold, look.” Hinnēh is an interjection that clearly articulates the amazement of the prophet at this heavenly being. Daniel is dumbstruck here which is saying a lot considering everything he has already been through in his life. Daniel is on the river bank, and he “ looked up” as whomever this was, he/it was above the prophet. It is interesting that this entity was called a “man” because he appeared in human form, was dressed in white “linen” garments. White linen being associate with Levite priests (Exodus 28:42, Leviticus 6:10, etc). Whether they were linen or not is irrelevant, it is clear they are symbolic of purity (Isaiah 1:18). Later in Revelations the saints in heaven also are also arrayed wearing white robes (Revelation 3:5; 6:11; 7:9, 13). Whoever this was...they were holy.

So Who Was It?

It seems to me that this person was God not only because of the overwhelming effect of his presence on Daniel who had already been in the presence of angelic beings but because of the similar description of the theophany presented in Ezekiel 1:26–28 and the even closer parallel to the portrait of Christ in Revelation 1:12–16. In 12:6 this “man in linen” also seems to have had knowledge that transcended that of the other angels, and in 12:7 he took a divine oath. A common rebuttal to this raised against this is that the angel described in vv. 10–14 was clearly inferior to God. For example, this angel was “sent” to Daniel and required Michael’s help to fight against other angelic forces (v. 13). It is quite possible that the “man dressed in linen” and the interpreting angel introduced in v. 10 are distinct personalities. Therefore the personage described in 10:5–6 can be a theophany

In Daniel 10:7 Only Daniel saw the heavenly person in the “vision,” but there were other men felt a supernatural presence. So much so that the experienced “a great trembling and terror and were overwhelmed”. They chickened-out and ran away as Monty Python skits would say...just as I would have in the same instance! This is similar to Paul's experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1–7).

Angel’s Explanation To The Man Greatly Loved (10:10–14)

The vision of Christ has passed, and the interpreting angel enters the picture by touching Daniel and raising him from the ground so that he was resting on his “hands and knees.” Daniel was then told to listen carefully which is totally understandable considering just how confusing the next message would be as much of it was buried in veiled terms.

Right off the bat it is crucial to note that the prophecies in this revelation that have been fulfilled were fulfilled were fulfilled literally and exactly. This establishes a pattern that those that have not been fulfilled would standout as not being fulfilled. When they do get fulfilled they will be "dead on the money".

Michael, comes to the interpreting angel’s aid. Michael became involved interceding for Israel, because Israel was entrusted to Michael’s care (v. 21). He was the "Prince" of Israel. It says he was “detained there with the king of Persia” which appears to mean the angel was prevented from leaving the area ruled by the king of the Persian Empire. It is here we really begin to get a glimpse inside of the spiritual realm and we begin to see the scope of angelic spiritual warfare running in parallel to the world we see around. We see that they are at times-nearly synonymous. It is quite possible that in angelic warfare, these “kings” likely spiritual principalities who attempted to control Persia. Most likely evil ones. Literally...Gabriel had been on his way from heaven with a message for Daniel but had been prohibited by the "prince of Persia". Michael apparently is "called in for back-up" and helped him to have victory over this foe, and Gabriel was then able to continue his journey. since it was referred to as the Prince of Persia just as Michael is the Prince of Israel, it is assumed that it is angel. A fallen one: Demon. It is possible this may have even been Satan as this "prince" was so extraordinarily powerful, that it took two archangels to keep him at bay. Persia having pretty much ruled the world at this time would've lent credibility of Satan concentrating his energies there. Here we see the magnitude of the forces we work against that are of this world. People often say they want to be an aggressive soldier for God and fight demons and the Devil head-to-head. God is already done that work. Don't be an idiot. By saying this, you show how little you understand the evil and subversive forces in this world. Stand your ground in Christ but don't be and arrogant idiot. You'll end up getting. We later see (v.10) the conflict was resumed after the revelation was delivered.

Israel has a mighty angelic supporter in the heavenly realm. It would be reasonable to assume regardless of Israel’s political, military, and economic status, its existence is assured because no earthly power can resist Michael.

So what do we learn with certainty from this passage? Angels are real and they are both good and bad (demonic). They can absolutely influence the affairs of human beings including governments and idiots like Antiochus and the Antichrist. Even today we can see the profound influence Satan has in his attempt to sway earthly governments. One needs only look at the recent tyrannical empires like Nazi Germany, Stalin led Soviet Union and Mao Zedong’s China and God knows what lies in the future. This warfare is an unending struggle until the Kingdom of God arrives in full forever.

While it is entirely possible for God to annihilate all the forces of Hell in a finger snap, He allows them limited and finite powers just as he allows humans their stupidity of sin. In both cases the exercise of free will in opposition to the Lord is permitted by Him when he sees fit as it will eventually work out to His ultimate glory. If He didn’t permit it…it couldn’t even take place. You’re only allowed to sin because God lets you! In the case of humans, we should be thankful He affords us this time to come to our senses rather than vaporizing us because of our sin. It’s called mercy and grace based in love that He has not already done so.

In Daniel 10:14 the angel now declares the purpose for his visit. Daniel’s prayer had been for insight concerning the future of his people, the Jews, and God was granting him knowledge about these matters. In Daniel 10:20, Daniel was asked if he knew why the angel had come. The question obviously was rhetorical since the answer had already been given in vv. 12 and 14 and would be reiterated in the next verse.

Interestingly the angel announced that soon he must “return to fight against the prince of Persia,” a battle that
would continue for two centuries which ironically is just about the length of Persian rule (539–331 B.C.) until Alexander the Great takes over. This most certainly means that behind the scenes of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah this battle is concurrently being waged. Hmmmm… I find this interesting. The angel also says that later “the prince of Greece will come”. The implication is that he would fight against this prince also. This evil spirit would come later when the empire of Greece rose to power, indicating that the angelic conflict would continue into the time of the Greek Empire. This also tells us with certainty that these empires ascent to power were clearly demonically fuel. It makes one wonder, if they were, which others? Most? Some? Ours?

In verse 21 we see a mention of the “Book of Truth” and this symbolically refers to God’s plan for Israel and the world. It is here we see the grand overarching plan of a sovereign God alluded to in a rather mundane concept. It is a book…that has documented the plan of God. A plan that will unfold exactly as it is written in the book. This is similar to the idea of the "Lambs Book of Life" containing all the people saved by the blood of Christ as determined before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8).

Chapter 10 ends with a comment that no one except Michael supported Gabriel in his spiritual warfare—and it is clear it is because no one else was needed. We then see the infamous chapter break of Chapter 11:1 that should’ve been part of Chapter 10 as the first verse of 11 is still speaking of the context of the end of chapter 10 and the mutual aid between Michael and the interpreting angel.

[More in the next post...]

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