Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 24

Chapter 24: Daniel’s Vision of a Man ~ Daniel 10:1-11:1

Q1 – Why was Daniel highly esteemed? Why did his words elicit such a response? (Daniel 10:10-12)

A1 – This scripture gives us a bit of insight as to Daniel’s character. He set his mind to gain understanding, and he humbled himself before God. Those traits are just as fitting for Christians today as they were for Daniel, so let’s examine them a little further.

First, concerning setting his mind to gain understanding. Daniel was a prophet of God, meaning he was someone chosen by God to be His messenger. Often we think of a prophet as being someone who foretells the future, which God’s prophets did on numerous occasions. Prophets of God were also disseminators of information. They proclaimed whatever message God needed to get out to the people. (Remember that the written word of God was not widely available to the people except when it was read during their assemblies.)

So if Daniel, as a prophet, was already receiving information from God, what does it say about him that he set his mind to gain understanding? It shows how diligently he sought to learn even more about God and what His desired of His people.

This brings us to the second trait that was mentioned concerning Daniel—he humbled himself before God. What exactly does it mean to be humble? By our modern day definition, a person who is considered humble is often seen as being submissive, ineffective, unassuming, and possibly low in rank or status. Yet, in the Bible, humility is considered an admirable quality.

Consider the character of Moses. In Numbers 12:3 we are told that Moses was very humble, more humble than anyone else on earth. Yet, he was one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history. What made him humble? He never became proud or haughty, even though he had received great authority from God. He continually relied on God and not on his own wisdom and understanding. For more insight into Moses’s character, read the whole chapter of Numbers 12 where his brother and sister spoke against him because he had married a Cushite or Ethiopian woman. God called them out and struck Miriam with leprosy. Moses, instead of being angry and resentful toward them, begged God to heal his sister, which God did. This truly speaks to the character of Moses. (Pull up this site for an extensive discussion on the subject of “Humility,” which includes numerous scripture references.)

So in humbling himself before God, Daniel acknowledged God’s sovereignty and totally submitted himself to God’s authority. By setting his mind to gain greater understanding, he essentially acknowledged that he didn’t know all. He looked to God to supply his needs, and it’s no wonder that God, in turn, responded. Daniel seemed to embody Proverbs 3:5-8 (NIV), below. Being a highly educated man of God, it’s likely he knew this scripture well. (Take time to read the whole wonderful chapter concerning wisdom.)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”

Q2 – Why do you think Daniel mourned so deeply and so long after this revelation concerning a great war?

A2 – There could be several reasons why Daniel was so deeply affected by this revelation. First of all, centuries of future happenings are condensed in these last three chapters in the book of Daniel (10-12), all of which deal with the same vision. It’s likely this was too much information—in the extreme!

Supposing that this vision spanned from Daniel’s lifetime through the great tribulation of the Christians in about 67-70 A.D., that would be a time period of close to 600 years. What if all the happenings of the last 600 years of our history were condensed into a short video followed by a narrative explaining it? Even if you are a history buff and were familiar with most of the events, it would still probably make your head spin. Now think about how it would affect someone with no prior knowledge of these events!

Another thing to consider is that it seems the man dressed in linen did not appear to Daniel until after his three week period of mourning. Going without an explanation for so long probably increased Daniel’s level of anxiety. Often our fear of the unknown turns out to be worse than dealing with the reality itself.

But probably the greatest reason Daniel mourned so deeply was that even before he received the divine explanation, he could tell really bad things were going to happen. He knew the Jews would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, but he also knew it would not last. In the longer term, the Jewish way of life as they had once known it would be over. Monumental events were going to occur, and he knew that much grief and suffering lay ahead for his people.

Q3 – The one speaking to Daniel mentions several “princes” who evidently are engaged in various struggles. Does there seem to be a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes which humans are not able to see?

A3 – Occasionally, the scriptures let us glimpse into the spiritual world. In Daniel 10:13, 20, 21 and 11:1 we are provided such a snippet. These verses help us understand a bit about the great struggles in the spiritual realm which seem to occur on behalf of humans.

Are the “princes” mentioned in these passages what we usually refer to as angels? Evidently so, because here Michael is called one of the chief princes, and we know that he is an archangel (Jude 1:9). From other Bible verses that mention Michael, he seems to be a warrior who goes into battle against Satan (Revelation 12:7) and that he is the protector of God’s people (Daniel 12:1).

We also know that not all angels are good, that there are fallen angels who rebelled against God sometime before the fall of Adam and Even in the garden. Satan, also called Lucifer, seems to be their leader. These fallen angels, often called demons in the New Testament, work to influence humans to do evil.

Some Bible scholars feel that the scripture in Revelations 12:3-4 (NIV) indicate that a third of the angels fell with Satan when he rebelled—“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.”

Peter tells us that these fallen angels will be punished on the day of judgement: “… God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment …” II Peter 2:4 (NET). So their fate has already been determined, and it would seem the objective of their spiritual warfare is to bring as many humans down with them as possible. (The really Good News—humans are able to receive forgiveness of their sins because of Christ’s sacrifice and spend eternity with God! This is something the angels long to look into—see I Peter 1:10-12.)

How is this warfare carried on behind the scenes? God gave humans a free will. We are free to choose our actions, and it’s up to us whether we do good or evil. So while Satan doesn’t make us do anything, he does know our weaknesses and finds ways to appeal to them. Peter tells us he’s like a roaring lion, prowling around just looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).

Recall when Jesus was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. Don’t you expect Satan picked the most appealing things he could think of with which to tempt Jesus? What a victory it would have been for Satan if Jesus had yielded! You can bet he pulled out all the stops. The Hebrew writer also tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way just like we are (see Hebrews 4:14-16).

So you can expect to be tempted to sin. However, remember what Paul tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

James gives us further instruction on how to deal with temptation: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:7-10, NIV).

Remember that the underlying root of your struggles is not with other people—it goes much deeper than humans. Paul explains that we are actually engaged in spiritual warfare, and he tells us how to fight it:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17, NIV).

And then Paul tells us to pray, pray, and pray some more! (See Ephesians 6:18-20.)

[To learn more about angels, the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry provides a great deal of information. Pull up this page, “About Angels,” and click on the various topics.]