Daniel 10-12, Angels in the Outfield
In 536 BC, Daniel had another vision. By this time, his prayer of chapter 9 had been answered and almost 50,000 Jews had been allowed to return to Jerusalem to begin to rebuild the Temple. A main point of this vision in ch.10-12 is that some terrible times still remain ahead for Daniel’s people, but eventually God will prevail and His promises will be fulfilled. In Daniel 10:1, the angel told Daniel the message was true and one of great conflict. Historically, we know that after Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East and the whole Persian Empire, he soon died. His four generals split up his kingdom. General Seleucus ruled Syria, Israel, and most of the Middle East. Ptolemy ruled Egypt. Their ambitious descendants were constantly fighting each other with Israel right in the middle. In 175 BC, a vain ruthless tyrant of the Seleucid family ruled over Israel. He hated the Jews, outlawed their religion, set up Greek idols in the Temple in Jerusalem, and sacrificed pigs on the altar. Daniel 11:3-20 predicted the rise of Alexander two hundred years before it happened, as well as the generals and their descendents who ruled over Israel.
Not only is Daniel 10-12 a history lesson about the future, but we get remarkable insight into the unseen spiritual world where holy angels and fallen angels are carrying out their conflict in the heavenly places. Amazingly, we get the information that fallen angels influence earthly kingdoms, and they fight against Israel and God’s people while Michael and his angels protect Israel. Nevertheless terrible times are predicted for Israel, but eventually God’s kingdom will come.
The key verse about angels is Hebrews 1:14, angels are “ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.” My first question is, “Since God is omniscient and omnipotent, why does He need to use angels?” I believe the answer is that God is transcendent and never seen by man, so God uses angels as mediators and messengers. God is too glorious, awesome, and overwhelmingly holy for us to currently see Him or be in His presence. We get an indication of this when He descended upon Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19-20. The people of Israel saw His glory in the cloud and heard His voice like thunder. Afterwards they begged Moses to ask God to never speak directly to them again “lest we die”. The depiction of guardian angels, and angels warring against each other in Daniel helps us better understand Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 150 years ago we had no idea that there was a bacterial world until we had microscopes. We had no idea that there was a whole different world that influenced us and our health so greatly. Germs are real in the tiny parallel universe. In the same way, we can’t see angels, but we know they are there. Just think of the impact angels made in Daniel’s life. In ch.2, 7, and 8, they interpreted the dreams that revealed the four future kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—all of which came true. In Daniel 4, the angel interpreted the dream that the king would go insane, but be restored in seven years. In ch.5, they delivered the “handwriting on the wall” that announced the end of Babylon, and in ch.9 the angel predicted the exact number of years until Messiah would come.
The Vision of the Son of Man
Daniel wrote that while he was standing by the bank of the Tigris River he beheld a glorious sight of a person that was obviously a heavenly being. In verses 5-9 of ch.10, Daniel described the person, and the description is remarkably similar to the person who appeared to John in Revelation 1:13-16. Since it was the glorified Christ in Revelation 1, I think we can draw the conclusion that the man in Daniel 10:6 was also the preincarnate Christ. He had on the same belt, the same dazzling face, feet of burnished bronze, and eyes like flaming fire. Daniel also had the same reaction as John did—he fell to the ground face down. It seems God was rewarding Daniel’s faithfulness with a vision of the coming Messiah.
After this, a second person raised Daniel up on his knees in v.10. Some commentators think it was the same guy as before, both being the angel Gabriel, but it appears to me to be Jesus in v.6 and Gabriel in v.10. Regardless, the trembling Daniel received yet another message about the future, but before delivering it in ch.11, we get some insight into the unseen spiritual warfare going on behind the scenes. In 10:13, the angel told Daniel that he had been contending with “the prince of the kingdom of Persia for 21 days” until the archangel Michael came to help him. Apparently, an evil fallen angel assigned to Persia was resisting God’s purposes and message to Daniel. The Jews were not just facing human opposition, but powerful spiritual beings as well. Once Michael came and helped Gabriel he was freed to bring the message to Daniel. Daniel had been on a three week fast and prayer quest, so now these awesome visions sapped his strength, but the angel strengthened him and encouraged him to receive the message that Daniel wrote down. In 10:20-21, the angel told him that after he delivered the message to Daniel he would return to fight against both the “prince of Persia”, and then afterward he would fight against the “prince of Greece” who was to come. Gabriel would have a continuous battle against the fallen angel of Persia until it was overcome by Greece, and then he would contend with the evil spiritual forces assigned to that kingdom which would be the next world power to arise.
Amazingly, we are given insight that there is more going on in the world than people perceive. When violence and mayhem erupt, there are spiritual influences behind it that are unseen to human eyes. All the super-ambitious ruthless world rulers throughout history have had demonic powers behind them. We stand in awe at the great conquerors like Alexander the Great, but may not recognize that there are greater powers warring behind the scenes. I have always wondered exactly what Jesus meant in passages like John 14:30 when He called Satan the “ruler of this world”. God has allowed the ruler of the fallen angels a certain amount of authority in this world to oppose God’s people. It is part of living in a fallen rebellious world that this intense spiritual warfare is going on, and most people don’t even know it.
Persia, Greece, Egypt, and Syria
The angel proceeded to foretell the short-term future for Israel in Daniel 11. Four more kings of Persia would rule over Israel until a mighty king of Greece would conquer Persia and rule with great power. That King of Greece would soon pass away, and his kingdom would be broken up into four kingdoms. Daniel 11:5-20 predicted that two of those kingdoms-Egypt and Syria-would have various alliances and intrigue that would lead to wars. This section traces the struggle between the “kings of the south” or Egypt, and the “kings of the north” or Syria. Historically, about 250 BC, Ptolemy II, seeking peace, gave his daughter in marriage to Antiochus , but Antiochus and Ptolemy’s daughter were murdered by a rival. In retaliation, Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire and conquered its capital. Therefore, all of the predictions of Daniel 11 actually came true. The rest of v.9-20 is the continuous battling between the kingdoms of Ptolemy and Seleucus from 250 BC until 175BC. Then in Daniel 11:21-35, Daniel was given the prediction of the most despicable ruler of the Seleucid descendants, Antiochus Epiphanes who ruled from 175 until 164 BC. He made several wars against Egypt, but when he failed, he turned his hatred against Israel. After a humiliating defeat in Egypt in 168 BC, Antiochus sent his forces to Jerusalem to suppress the Jewish revolt. They killed thousands of Jews, took over the Temple, outlawed the Jewish religion, and even sacrificed pigs on the altar. Daniel 11:32 correctly predicted that some Jews would go along, but the “people who know their God” would fight back and retake the Temple and city. This of course would be the revolt of the Maccabees, which gave a temporary independence to Israel until the Romans took over the Middle East. Daniel 11:36-45 is fairly cryptic, but probably is prophetic of the end times Antichrist of whom Antiochus was a type.
Guarantee of Restoration and Resurrection
Daniel 12:1 speaks of that future end time period of great “distress” such as has never occurred. I take it this is that same end times period of persecution Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:21. At the end of that time of distress, Jesus will come back and everyone who is a true believer will be rescued, and all those who have passed away will be resurrected to everlasting life (Dan.12:2). In order to stress the certainty of the resurrection, the final parting words to Daniel in Dan.12:13 are “live out your life, then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age”.
I think this parting command can be applied to us all. Life is to be faithfully lived out with the assurance from God that after we pass away, we will rise again for our promised portion of eternal life.