Daniel 10: Explaining the delay
Jul 23, 2015
After the angel revived the old prophet enough to raise himself to his hands and knees, we read in Daniel 10:11,
11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand [biyn, “to separate mentally; distinguish; discern”] the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.
So Daniel stood up, although we are not told specifically that he was awake. If he awoke at this point, then his “deep sleep” was quite short. The angel called him a “man of high esteem.” The Hebrew word is chemda, which comes from the root word chamad, “to desire, covet.” The noun form also mean “precious.”
The implication is that Daniel was held in high esteem not only on earth but in heaven. It is a testimony to Daniel’s integrity. The angel later referred to the prophet in the same way in Daniel 10:19.
The reward of seeking answers with a heart of integrity was understanding (biyn). Revelation is good, but without understanding, it is useless. There is no point in receiving revelation unless it is to bring understanding. In some cases, of course, the understanding is reserved for a future generation, and so some revelation toward the end of the book of Daniel is “sealed” for a future time. Yet in chapter 10 the angel came to impart understanding of the divine plan.
The importance of understanding is known to the enemy as well, for we see that they fought against the angel that was bringing understanding to Daniel. They would not bother fighting if the understanding had little value and importance. Understanding is very important, and the word (biyn) is used 19 times in the book of Daniel.
The Spiritual Resistance
Daniel 10:12-14 says,
12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.”
Often when we pray, we do not think that God has heard us, so we continue to pray, wondering if we have been heard. But God does hear, even if we receive no immediate answer. Nevertheless, Daniel shows us that it is appropriate to continue in prayer (or fasting) until the answer is revealed. In this case, Daniel fasted 21 days.
The angel then informed Daniel of a spiritual conflict that was taking place unseen in the heavens. Who was this “prince of the kingdom of Persia”? Obviously, it was a spiritual being that was in some way associated with the kingdom of Persia. In those days it was commonly believed that each kingdom was ruled by a different god, and under each were lesser gods who ruled cities or regions. The greater the kingdom, the greater power the god was thought to have.
Yet the one resisting the angelic mission was called a “prince” (sar, “prince, ruler, chief”), which is a term used of many earthly leaders. Derivations of this word have been used in other nations: Tsar, Czar, Caesar, and Kaiser. Is there a connection between men on earth and spiritual beings in the heavens? I believe so.
From my understanding of spiritual warfare, I have learned that the spiritual prince (or principality) ruling a nation primarily works through its king or leader. These kings or leaders are often unaware of this, but the relationship exists nonetheless. It is a spiritual law that heaven and earth must bear witness in order to establish anything. Hence, it requires agreement of both a spiritual and an earthly being to fulfill this law. This law is applicable to both sides of the conflict between light and darkness.
In other words, Cyrus of Persia was the earthly counterpart to the heavenly “prince” resisting the angel. There is no indication that Cyrus understood his role in this, but as an unbeliever, he was influenced by spiritual forces beyond his conscious awareness. In the broad picture, Cyrus was the king of the second beast nation, which was to come to an end at some point in the future. Even if Cyrus were a benevolent king, he would have opposed any suggestion that his kingdom would end. Beast kingdoms, by definition, believe that their right to rule lasts forever.
In this way, all beast nations are opposed to God and the divine plan. They do not realize that there is a heavenly Kingdom that alone has the divine right to rule without coming to an end. Babylon, the previous kingdom, had only a seventy-year mandate from God. If they had believed the word of God through the prophet Jeremiah, Belshazzar would have stepped down and given his kingdom to Cyrus, rather than resisting him. In the same way the Persian kings would later resist Alexander the Great.
There is no reason to think that Cyrus was consciously opposing the angel, but it is plain to see that in his heart he opposed the message itself. That was sufficient to be in agreement with the spiritual prince over Persia, and this agreement empowered the prince of Persia to oppose the angel with the message for Daniel.
Spirit, Soul, and Body
We all have spirit, soul, and body, as Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The human spirit is our point of contact with the spiritual world. It has a mind of its own that is distinct from the mind of the soul (called the “carnal mind”) and the mind of the body, which we know as the brain.
Everyone’s spirit is a distinct entity that may be pictured as an entire person, because it is the counterpart to the earthly man or woman that we think we are. When we identify ourselves with the earthly man, or think of ourselves as being this earthly being, we are then led by the carnal mind and are subject to the dark forces in heaven. In Romans 8:7 Paul says (The Emphatic Diaglott),
7 because the mind of the flesh is enmity to God; for to the law of God it is not subject; nor, indeed, can it be.
By way of contrast, speaking of his spiritual mind, Paul says earlier in Romans 7:22,
22 For I am pleased with the law of God according to the inward man.
Paul tells us that the carnal mind refuses to be subject to the law of God, but that he had declared himself to be identified with the “inward man,” by which he means his spirit, which was in agreement with the law of God. We then can measure our level of carnality according to our agreement with the law of God. If we are in disagreement, we know it is the carnal mind that is dominant. If we agree with the law of God, we know it is the spiritual mind that is dominant in our lives.
I must hasten to add, however, that there are other factors involved in this. The carnal mind is also legalistic, while the spiritual mind is lawful. To be legalistic is not the same as being in agreement with the law of God.
The point is that we (like Cyrus or any other man) are all involved in an epic battle in the heavens, whether we are conscious of it or not. All carnal minds are empowering the dark side. All spiritual minds that are in agreement with the word of God and led by the Holy Spirit are empowering the forces of light.
I have engaged in spiritual warfare many times and have seen glimpses of this epic battle in the heavens. I have seen demonic forces being helped by the spirits of carnal men who think they are on God’s side but who are deceived by their own carnal thinking. The root cause of this deception is that they identify themselves with the old man (Adam) and his soul-man (1 Corinthians 15:45).
This deception can cause Christians, as well as unbelievers, to fight against God in this battle. Most of this is inadvertent, of course, but the result is the same. Those who are into Satanism or Witchcraft are trained in the art of spiritual warfare and fight Jesus Christ on a conscious level. Tragically, they are able to recruit carnally-minded Christians to fight on their side. I have seen this personally.
Daniel 10:13 says that Michael came to assist the nameless messenger angel to break through the resistance, and for this reason Daniel was able to receive his message. Both Michael and the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” are called princes (Hebrew: sar). It is plain that these princes are spiritual and not earthly princes. Yet each spiritual prince has an earthly counterpart. As we will see later, Michael’s earthly counterpart was Daniel himself. In Daniel 10:21 the messenger angel speaks of “Michael your prince.”
In other words, Michael was Daniel’s angel. One’s angel determines one’s calling. Daniel’s earthly calling was a reflection of his heavenly calling. Knowing this, we can also say that the nameless angel, too, had an earthly counterpart. We are not told who this was, but he must have been a true man of God and a spiritual warrior. Even so, in this case it took two men with their powerful angels to break through the heavenly resistance from the prince of Persia.
In the first century A.D., the Sadducees denied the existence of angels. Either they were unfamiliar with the book of Daniel, or they simply did not understand his writings. There are some today that also deny the existence of angels, claiming that such biblical references are speaking of earthly men. Yet the fact that angels take the form of earthly men and are even called “men,” does not mean angels do not exist. Angels have earthly counterparts as well who work together, but this does not disprove the existence of angels. Hebrews 1:14 says about angels,
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of [dia, “through”] those who will inherit salvation?
In other words, angels minister through their earthly counterparts.
This is part 54 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones