Today we finish the book of Daniel. Chapter 10 begins with an introduction written in the third person (10:1). Verse 2 then begins in the first person. This has added to the controversy over the book.1
The book begins with Daniel in a time of fasting and earnestly seeking God. Note that this takes place two years after Cyrus’s decree that the Jews could return to the land (v. 1 – see 2 Chr 36:22-23). After three weeks of fasting and praying (v. 3), Daniel is standing at the Tigris river and has a vision of a man (v. 5). This man is described as other heavenly figures are described in other apocalyptic visions in the Bible. He was clothed in linen (see Ezek 9:2-3). He wore a belt of gold (see Rev 1:13, 15:6). His body was like beryl (v. 6 – see Ezek 1:16). his face was like lightning (see Matt 28:3). He had eyes of fire ((See Rev 1:14). His limbs were like burnished bronze (see Ezek 1:7, Rev 1:15). His voice was like a great multitude (see Rev 19:6).
Daniel alone sees the man (v. 7) and falls into some kind of trance (v. 9). This heavenly being was sent to Daniel when he first started fasting and praying (v. 12). The prince of the kingdom of Persia (v. 13) is another heavenly figure, albeit a wicked one. This would be one of the demons/gods that were given authority over the kingdoms of the world after Babel (see Deut 32:8 and 29:26). This demon was over Persia, which is where Daniel now lived. We see that Michael, a “chief prince” (commonly called an “archangel” – see Jude 9), came to “help” this heavenly figure. This reveals the spiritual reality (and spiritual war) that lies behind the physical world. This angel now reveals to Daniel what will happen to his people in “the latter days” (v. 14).
Daniel is struck mute (v. 15), but “one in the likeness of the children of man” (adam) touches him and heals him (v. 16). Both the angel (vv. 5-9) and this man represent Christ. That the demon “withstood” Christ should not be understood as fighting against Him. That would not be much of a fight (as we will see). The Hebrew literally says “stood opposed to Me.” This wasn’t a battle. This is a picture of the opposition of the powers of darkness to God and His plan of salvation.2 Michael fought against this demon. In apocalyptic writings, Michael is the angel that fights against the powers of darkness (see v. 21, Jude 9, Rev 12:7).
We saw in the vision of chapter 7 that the “son of man” (ish as opposed to adam) was Christ in His humanity. Here, He is “in the likeness of the children of man (adam),” in other words, in the likeness of sinful flesh (see Rom 8:3). It is by taking on physicality that God fought against the spiritual powers of darkness! Note the “fear not” (see Lk 12:32) and the “peace be with you” (see Jn 20:19, 21, 26) of verse 19 (see also v. 12).
In verse 20, Christ will go to fight against the price of Persia, but it won’t be much of a fight, because the prince of Greece will then come. He is speaking of the end of the Persian empire and the beginning of the Greek empire. We see that God is indeed sovereign over kingdoms. We also see that there is a spiritual battle behind the physical wars of nations.3
Chapter 11 continues the same vision. Th “Me” in 11:1 is still the pre-incarnate Christ in Daniel’s vision. Christ stood up to confirm and strengthen him. In other words, God decided that Persia would take power from Babylon (see 5:31). He has also decided that He will give Persia over to Greece (vv. 2-3 – see 8:2-7). What is described next echoes what we have already seen. Alexander the Great will die and the kingdom of Greece split into four smaller kingdoms (v. 4 – see 7:6, 8:8).
In verse 5 we have the rise Ptolemy I, and then Seleucus I overtaking him. In verse 6, we have Antiochus II (grandson of Seleucus I) marrying Ptolemy’s granddaughter, who is subsequently killed by Antiochus’s first wife. The branch in verse 7 is Ptolemy III. Verse 9 is Seleucus coming in battle against Ptolemy III. Their sons will go to war (v. 10). In verse 17, the agreement is the marriage of the son of Antiochus III and Cleopatra I. Then Rome will defeat Antiochus III in battle (v. 19) and Seleucus IV will rise to power (v. 20).
The contemptible person of verse 21 is Antiochus Epiphanes, whom we have already considered. He will be very powerful (vv. 22-24) and the Seleucids will ultimately defeat the Ptolemies (the two strongest of the four kingdoms that follow Greece – vv. 25-27). It is then that Antiochus IV Epiphanes will come against the Jews (vv. 28-31), and the Maccabean revolt will take place (v. 32). The events predicted here are amazingly accurate, which has led many to place the writing of Daniel so late – it is to them too accurate not to be recording history past.
In verse 36, we see that overlap of Antiochus Epiphanes with the anti-Christ. The anti-Christ will exalt himself above all gods (see 2 Thess 2:4) and blaspheme God (see Rev 13:6). He will be an idolater who will worship the false gods, who will help him in his campaign against God (vv. 38-39). In verse 40, we shift back to Antiochus Epiphanes. The nations mentioned in verses 41-43 are historic enemies of Israel. Note again the war between nations and remember the spiritual reality behind those wars. He, and the anti-Christ, will be defeated decisively (v. 45).
Chapter 12 continues the vision. After the fall of Antiochus IV, Rome comes to power. But Rome also represents the kingdom of the world in all its iterations. These are the enemies of God and His people under the power of Satan. Michael the archangel who has charge of God’s (spiritual) people will arise to fight a spiritual battle, and a time of trouble will begin (12:1). This is the permanent expulsion of Satan from heaven at Christ’s victory on the cross (see Rev 12:7-19). This is when his tactics change and he turns his attention to deceiving as many as he can (see 9:26-27). But he will not deceive the elect (everyone whose name shall be found written in the book!).
Then at the final judgment (11:45) the resurrection will occur (v. 2). And the elect – those of the church who preach the Gospel of salvation – will be glorified, and the wicked will be judged (v. 3). Daniel is then told to “seal the book” (literally “seal the scroll”) until the time of the end, which is Christ’s first coming (v. 4). This is the scroll that is opened by the Lamb of God though His finished work on the cross (see Rev 5:1-8:5).
Daniel then looks and sees two others on opposite banks of the river (the Tigris – see 10:4) and the first heavenly figure above the river (vv. 5-6). I won’t die on this hill, but I believe this is a symbol of the Holy Trinity. The Father stands across the river (the separation – the gulf – between us). The Son stands above the water – the bridge between man (like Daniel) and the other side of the gulf and the Father. And because of His work, He is with us by His Spirit Who lives on this side of the gulf in His church.
Daniel then hears a voice ask when the end will come (v. 6). In verse 7, the One above the waters (the Son) raises His hands and swears by Him Who lives forever (see Rev 10:5-6 – the “Angel” of Revelation chapter 10 is Christ!) that it would be “for” (which can just as easily be translated “until”) that time, times, and half a time (the 3 1/2 – see what was discussed yesterday). This is when the anti-Christ (depicted in chapter 11) will appear and persecute the people of God horribly. When that persecution is done (“the shattering of the power of the holy people”), all things will be complete.
Daniel doesn’t understand what he’s seen (v. 9). And of course he doesn’t. This is the advantage we have on this side of the cross! Daniel is told again that this is sealed until the time of the end (which begins with Christ’s first coming – v. 9 – see Heb 1:2). After Christ comes, there are those that will side with Him and be made holy, and we will understand (v. 10).
Verses 11 and 12 are the source of much debate. What are these 1,290 and 1,335 days. I don’t know. What we can be sure of (properly understanding apocalyptic writing) is that they are not literal days. It may be that verse 11 refers to the type: Antiochus Epiphanes, and the 1,335 days refer to the anti-Christ, the fulfillment of the type (known as an antitype). Perhaps the gap represents the time between Antiochus IV and the ultimate fulfillment of what he represents. In other words, this may point to the dual fulfillment of the aboniation of desolation. Maybe we’ll know when we get to heaven, and maybe we won’t. But what we do know that we will be with our Lord forever (v. 13).
If this doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know what could…
1 It is clear in many places in the Bible that additions are made to books attributed to one writer (either that, or Moses wrote about his own death after the fact – see Deuteronomy 34). It does nothing to undermine the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. God’s inspiration of the Bible was a process, as the Bible was written over the course of almost 1500 years. Additions, edit, and reorganizations by unnamed people of a single book are no different. God superintended every aspect of the creation of the Bible we have today.
2 The 21 days may even be symbolic. Both the number three and the number seven (especially in apocalyptic visions) symbolize completeness.
3 I find it interesting that before God scattered people over the world at Babel (Gen 11:9) and placed the nations under the authority of heavenly beings (false gods/demons – see Deut Deut 32:8 and 29:26) that the entire unsaved world were all together as one (Gen 11:4). This makes the domain of dark spiritual powers over them – and war – part of the punishment of Babel. This is why God’s blessing for Israel (if they would be obedient) was freedom from war with the nations (see Deut 28:7-10).