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Chapter Ten The Angelic World
The last great prophecy, or revelation, made known to Daniel is detailed for us in chapters 10-12. It is the most detailed of all the prophecies given in the book. It commences with Daniel’s day and culminates in the ushering in of the kingdom.
It is important to notice that here, as elsewhere in the prophetic Scriptures, it is distinctively Daniel’s people who are in view (see verse 14). We will find nothing here, nor elsewhere in the Old Testament, about the church of the present dispensation. Misunderstanding this point has caused much confusion in the interpretation of prophecy.
We see from Ezra 1:1 and from Daniel 10:1 that two years had elapsed between the time that King Cyrus gave permission to the Jews to return to Jerusalem and the time that Daniel had this vision. He himself was not one of those who returned. He was in a position requiring his attendance to the king, and was an aged man, probably about ninety years old. We see him waiting quietly for the time when he was to leave the world behind, in which he had seen so many changes and upheavals. But his heart was concerned about the remnant of his nation who had gone up to the place of Jehovah’s name. We find him in deep grief, deep sorrow of heart-that sorrow of heart which perhaps only those know who, as Daniel, share in the true condition of God’s people. Even those who had gone up to Jerusalem failed from the very beginning in carrying out the mind of God fully. They went up with a measure of enthusiasm and were gathered back to their holy city in ruin, but slothfulness and indifference to God’s glory soon began to eat away at them. Alliances were formed with the strangers surrounding Jerusalem, so that God received very little glory from their returning to the place of His temple and altar.
No doubt Daniel knew and felt all this and his heart was grieved over it. He knew too that those who went up were very few compared with those who remained at ease in the land where their bondage had given place to indifferent toleration. As we see in the book of Esther, they seemed quite content with the measure of liberty they enjoyed; they apparently had no heart for that which had so large a place in the mind of Daniel. He is found bowed before God in deep grief, mourning “three full weeks” (perhaps better translated, “weeks of days;” it confirms that to which I called your attention in the previous chapter, regarding the use of the word week). During this time of his mourning he tasted no pleasant bread, flesh, or wine, neither anointed himself at all, until the three whole weeks were fulfilled.
At the end of that time, he was by the great river Hiddekel. Looking up, he saw a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold. His body is described as being like the beryl, his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire. His arms and his feet were like polished brass and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. The description brings to our minds that portrait of the glorified Lord Himself as given in the first chapter of Revelation. It seems evident that this messenger who appeared to Daniel was not really a theophany, but a created angel, because he required the help of Michael in his conflict. When Daniel beheld him, the men who were with him fled to hide themselves; they did not see the vision, but a great quaking fell on them. Left alone in the presence of this majestic being, the prophet’s strength was turned into weakness. He was on the ground as one in a deep sleep, yet he heard the voice of the angel. A hand was stretched forth that touched him and set him on his knees, though he still had to support himself with the palms of his hands. Then the messenger spoke, saying, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent” (11). At this the prophet stood up trembling.
The angel then said:
Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia (12-13).
We get a remarkable insight here into the unseen world and the conflict even now being carried on in heavenly places. And may we not find here also the reason why many of our prayers do not seem to be answered when and as we would desire to have them? For three whole weeks Daniel had been before God in earnest supplication; he prayed, he besought, he interceded on behalf of his people, yet no answer had come. Had Daniel ceased praying, he might have given up the object of his prayers and declared that God turned a deaf ear to his petitions. But the angel told him that at the very beginning of his supplication he had been sent from the very throne of God to reveal to Daniel that which would rest his mind in regard to God’s purpose and the final blessing of His people. But for twenty-one days this angel had been fighting his way through the fiends of the upper air. The prince of the kingdom of Persia (not Cyrus himself, but evidently an evil angel delegated by Satan to seek to influence the hearts of the Persian kings against the people of God) had prevented this holy angel of the Lord for twenty-one days. Nor could the divinely sent messenger prevail until Michael, here called “one of the chief princes,” and in the New Testament “the archangel,” came to help him.
I grant you that all this is very mysterious. It is something altogether outside of the sphere of human cognizance. We know nothing whatever about the conflicts continuously being carried on in the unseen world except what we can learn from our Bibles. But this much is clear: Here was a man who was praying earnestly on earth, and God had heard that prayer in Heaven. In answer to it He sent an angel, but for three weeks that angel was hindered from reaching Daniel. That hindrance was in the unseen world and by such a power that the archangel himself was needed to overcome it.
I would like to bring a few other Scriptures to your attention that deal with this solemn subject. In the first chapters of the book of Job we find the sons of God presenting themselves before the Lord, and we are told that Satan came also. The sons of God are clearly an order of angelic ministers engaged in carrying out the will of God in connection with this world: He “maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire…Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:7, Hebrews 1:14) Satan, the foul leader of the evil hosts, walks unabashed among these sons of God. He acts as one who has no fear of rebuke in that company. He comes before the throne of God as the great adversary and accuser of the brethren; he accused Job to the very face of God, and desired to test Job’s faith. The Lord did not deny his demand, but delivered Job into his hands-for Job’s own good, as we know. So we gather from this Scripture that God is able to use even the devil to carry out His own purposes for the blessing of His children. He has not been outwitted by Satan but uses him all through this present time.
In Luke 22:31 we read Jesus’ words to the apostle Peter: “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” The devil is the sifter of God’s wheat. The Lord wants His wheat sifted; He does not want a lot of chaff. But when the devil is used to sift God’s wheat and His children are put into the devil’s sieve, not one grain of the wheat is lost; the devil is simply used by God for the separation of the chaff from the wheat. Do not despair then if, like Job and like Peter, you are put into the devil’s sieve. It is God Himself who is letting you be sifted like that. He has seen the chaff in your life, and He wants the real to be separated from the false. But I directed your attention to these Scriptures that all might see that good and evil angels alike have direct access to the presence of God.
In 2 Chronicles 18:0 we have the account of an alliance entered into by Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Ahab was a wicked king, the ruler of the ten tribes. Jehoshaphat was in large measure a man of God; but unhappily he was a man who could not say no. He was of too yielding a character for his own good and the good of the kingdom of Judah over which he ruled. At Ahab’s request he had promised to go out to battle to help him against his enemies, but he desired also to consult a prophet of the Lord. Ahab brought in a host of the prophets of Baal who all predicted a glorious victory. This did not satisfy Jehoshaphat, so Micaiah, a prophet of Jehovah imprisoned for his faithfulness, was brought from his dungeon to declare the mind of the Lord. When he came, the king of Israel said, “Shall we go… to battle?” And Micaiah replied ironically, Oh yes, “Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand” (14). But the king detected the tone of irony in his voice, and Ahab adjured him to tell him the truth. At that Micaiah drew aside, as it were, the veil from the other world and declared that he had seen a multitude of spirits surrounding the throne of God. One of these, in obedience to the divine permission, had been sent forth to become a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets to seduce the wretched idolatrous king to his destruction. Here again we see the same thing that is brought before us in the book of Job-angels, both good and evil, having access to Heaven.
In the third chapter of Zechariah we have a beautiful picture depicting the same lesson. Joshua the high priest, the representative of the whole nation of Israel, stood before the Lord clothed in filthy garments-a picture of one chosen of God and yet defiled by sin. An adversary is there to accuse him, but the angel of Jehovah is standing by. Who is that mystic angel of Jehovah? It is He of whom Jehovah said, “My name is in him” (Exodus 23:21). He illustrates the Lord Jesus Himself, the messenger of the covenant. What did Jehovah say when Satan attempted to accuse? “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan;…is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2)
This brings out two things: first, there is God’s sovereign electing grace, and then there is redemption. That is why God could recognize and own the remnant of Israel in spite of their failures. Jehovah’s answer to Satan was, “I have chosen him.” For “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” But this is based on redemption; He said to those who stood by, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to Joshua He said, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (4). The presence of the angel of the covenant points on to the cross. At the cross the covenant would be ratified in His precious blood; He became man to suffer death and cleanse from all iniquity those whom He redeemed to Himself. Thus we have full redemption, and the brand plucked out of the fire.
Now let us link this with that important passage in Revelation 12:0. Remember that it speaks of something that is still future.
There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (7-10).
This gives us the end of Satan’s place as the accuser with access to Heaven. He is driven out by the same Michael who came to the assistance of the angel who spoke to Daniel in our chapter. This event will take place in the midst of the seventieth week as described in Daniel 9:0. After that no foul spirit will ever have access to the presence of God.
Ephesians 6:11-12 is a passage of great importance: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against [wicked spirits in heavenly places]” (literal translation). The Christian’s foes are these wicked spirits; like the prince of the kingdom of Persia, they are ruling the hearts of men in these days of darkness. We are warned against their wiles. The great business of Satan at the present time is to seek to deceive the people of God with things that seem to be in accordance with His mind but which are really deceitful imitations.
When Joshua and the people of Israel entered the land of Canaan, God told them to utterly destroy all the nations that dwelt in it. But the Gibeonites, filled with terror, sent an ambassage to Joshua, pretending to have come from a long distance. By means of their moldy bread, ragged clothes, and worn shoes, they deceived the leaders of Israel into entering into a league with them. Thus the Israelites were misled by not being on their guard against the wiles of the Canaanites. We too will be deceived by the strategies of our great adversary if we are not careful to continuously ask counsel of the Lord. In Ephesians 6:0 we are told that our warfare is with the world rulers of this darkness. Who are these world rulers? They are not the kings, prime ministers, or presidents of this world. These great and often good men have to do with the temporal government of this world; they are the powers that be, ordained of God. Yet they may be like the little figures on the chessboard in the hands of the real world rulers of this darkness.
In Daniel 10:0 we learn that the prince of the kingdom of Persia who withstood the angel of the Lord twenty-one days was one of the world rulers of this darkness. The prince of Grecia of verse 20 was another one seeking to influence the hearts of the Grecian rulers against the will of God. On the other hand, notice what Michael is called in the last verse. He is designated as “Michael your prince”; in chapter 12:1 he is called “the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.” Michael the archangel seems to have special care for the people of Israel. Thus, while evil angels were seeking Israel’s ruin, Michael and his hosts of benevolent angels were protecting their interests.
You will remember how efforts were being made at that very time to thwart God’s purposes concerning the Jews. Sanballat and his companions sought in every way they could to hinder the progress of the work of the Lord at Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:0). What was happening on earth was evidently intimately connected with, in fact the result of, what was going on in the upper air. Satan is called the prince of the power of the air; his angelic subordinates and God’s holy angels were warring in connection with the attempt to carry out that which God Himself had planned for His earthly people.
Perhaps the chief of all the world rulers of this darkness is described in Ezekiel 28:11-18. The first ten verses of the chapter concern the prince of Tyre. But from the eleventh verse on we have a very different being, one who is clearly superhuman, designated as the king of Tyre. Of him Ezekiel says:
Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Was all this true of any earthly king of Tyre? Surely not. But it was true of the great prince, the unseen ruler, who was leading the kingdom of Tyre to its doom. How readily rulers and nations obey the orders of these malignant spirits; having lost Heaven for themselves, they now seem to find their delight in contriving the rain of mankind! God in His grace is seeking man’s blessing and has given His Word and Spirit to guide in paths of righteousness and peace. He has sent forth hosts of unfallen elect angels to influence leaders to prefer justice and holiness to unrighteousness and iniquity. Yet the heart of man is so perverse that in his natural state he is ever ready to be led by the devil.
In the present age our conflict as Christians is said to be with principalities and powers who are not of flesh and blood. This makes it evident that there are degrees in rank among angels, whether fallen or unfallen, as there are in human armies. The special effort of these organized hosts of Hell is now to deceive the people of God by replacing Christ and His truth with other things that would keep God’s people from receiving their blessing. Coupled with this is the effort to hinder exercised souls from coming to the knowledge of the truth at all by imitating that which is of God. Those who seem about to obey the truth are turned aside into the devious mazes of error.
Have you noticed how every precious truth of Scripture has its Satanic counterfeit? It has been so from the very beginning. Scarcely was the glorious gospel of grace proclaimed when the devil introduced men secretly among the assemblies of God whose object was to turn that very grace into lasciviousness. The apostle taught that the Christian was not under law, but grace; the antinomian was almost at his heels to cry, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” It is the same in our day. Let the precious truth of the indwelling and gifts of the Holy Spirit be declared, and Satan will follow with false gifts and another spirit, leading even earnest souls into the wildest fanaticism. Let the truth of new birth be insisted on, and the devil will raise up teachers after his own heart to tell men that being born again means simply “rising out of the self-life into the spiritual, reaching out after the higher ideals, seeking to make that which is highest, noblest and best of ourselves; thus saving ourselves by character” (a quotation from a New Theology sermon).
Again, let one begin to preach about the blessed truth of the rapture of the church and the Lord’s return, and you will have the wicked spirits in heavenly places poisoning men’s minds with unscriptural and false conceptions about this solemn and important theme. The second advent then becomes a byword in the minds of some intelligent people and they become sick and tired of the whole thing. But these are just the wiles of the devil against which the believer is warned; we need to be on our guard, remembering the admontion, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Thank God, the hosts of the upper air are not all malevolent. You remember at the siege of Dothan, in answer to the prayer of Elisha, the Lord opened the eyes of the prophet’s servant and he saw the mountains round about full of fiery chariots (2 Kings 6:17). “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him” (Psalms 34:7). O beloved, we too need opened eyes! Then we would see the angelic host camping around us for our protection and watching over us for good. Thus we would fight on with new courage, clad in the whole armor of God, knowing that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.
In closing this solemn subject, let me say a word to the unsaved. These wicked spirits of which I have been speaking are determined on your soul’s damnation. They will use every effort known to hinder your salvation and to seal your doom. How much then you need to learn the lesson that in yourself you have no strength or power; you are a poor, weak, easily-deceived soul led by Satan and imposed on by his wicked hosts. Only One can deliver you from your dreadful foes; that One is the blessed Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross “that through death he might destroy [render powerless, or annul] him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Call on Him and be delivered from the fearful and superhuman enemies who desire your eternal ruin, for it is written that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Let us now, after this long parenthesis, turn back to Daniel 10:0. In the fourteenth verse the angel tells Daniel that he had come to make him understand what should befall the Jews in the latter days. At this Daniel set his face toward the ground and became dumb. Another angel then drew near and touched his lips. At that point Daniel spoke aloud and said to the glorious being who stood before him, “O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me” (16-17). The ministering angel touched him again and strengthened him; he told Daniel not to fear but to be strong. At this Daniel asked the revealing angel to continue. He told him that he must return to fight with the prince of Persia, and that when he had gone the prince of Greece would come. But first he was commissioned to show Daniel “that which is noted in the scripture of truth” (21). This is clearly a record kept, not on earth, but in Heaven. The omniscient God has outlined the events to occur in the kingdoms of men long before they come to pass on earth. This revelation is given to us in Daniel 11:0.
“In the volume of the book” it was written of the eternal Son of God, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalms 40:7-8). Just as every step of Christ’s journey from the throne of the universe down to the cross of Calvary and back to the throne, even to the ages of ages, was foreknown from before the foundation of the world, so God has foreseen all that is to transpire on this planet in the affairs of men. In the “Scripture of truth” recorded in Heaven all is ever before His eyes; let Satan and evil men rage as they will, He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
The Christian heart may surely rest and rejoice in the knowledge that at all times,
God sits as sovereign on His throne,
And ruleth all things well!
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Daniel 10". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany