THE LAST THREE CHAPTERS OF Daniel are largely given over to the final vision, a vision of a heavenly messenger and his revelation (Dan. 10:1-12:13). This chapter (Dan. 10) establishes the setting. The date is 537 B.C. The first group of exiles have returned to Jerusalem. The reminder that Daniel’s assigned name is Belteshazzar, and the mention of Cyrus, tie this chapter to 1:7, 21. The setting includes several remarkable features:
(1) The heavenly messenger is more radiant than Gabriel and mightier than Michael (the only named angels in all of Scripture), and has power to strengthen Daniel.
(2) Far from being exhilarated by the experience, Daniel is so drained of energy and even speech and consciousness that three times he must be revived by the visitor from God. Cf. Deuteronomy 5:26; Acts 9:8; 22:11. All this, Joyce Baldwin writes, “is a salutary reminder of the majesty of our God and of the amazing condescension of the incarnation.”
(3) Daniel is a man highly esteemed by God (Dan. 10:11, 19). The thought is stunning. What serious Christian would not give everything for a similar encomium? Does not Jesus teach, in effect, that we ought to pursue the “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21)?
(4) The three-week delay (Dan. 10:12-14) unveils conflict in the heavenlies. The prince of the Persian kingdom is apparently some angelic being connected with Persia; similarly for the prince of Greece (Dan. 10:20). Michael, “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13), is “your [Israel's] prince” (Dan. 10:21). The hierarchy of angelic beings is not governed by the relationships of their earthly counterparts. As there is war between good and evil on earth, so is there war in heaven. In the same way that observing earthly people and powers might lead the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control, so also this delay in the movements of angels has caused the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control in heaven either—since clearly there are many contingencies of which we are not normally aware. But that is to draw a conclusion that Scripture rules out of order. Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson well: God “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and with the peoples of the earth” (Dan. 4:35, italics added). There is a terrible war going on, but this takes place under God’s sovereignty; in its affirmation of God’s utter dominion the text insists, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing…. No one can hold back his hand” (Dan. 4:35). So there is space for conflict, resolve, perseverance—and for faith and utter confidence.