When I get stressed out by something dramatic going on in my life, I can’t eat as much food as I normally would. I tend to eat smaller portions and just lose some of my appetite. That appears to be what happens to Daniel here in verses 1-4 of Chapter 10.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
~ Daniel 10:1-3
Daniel doesn’t seem to be fasting, which would be eating no food at all. But it appears he’s eating smaller portions and less rich food. This fasting of sorts was Daniel’s act of “mourning for three weeks”, probably because of the recent trouble that the Jewish people were struggling with. At the end of this time of self-denial for Daniel, he has a vision. Chapter 10 is the first part of a three part vision that is relayed to us in Chapters 10, 11, and 12. (We’ll cover the other two chapters next week.)
4 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!
6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
~ Daniel 10:4-6
This description of a man clothed in linen that suddenly appears is strikingly similar to the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:
And in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
~ Revelation 1:13-15
However, it seems doubtful that this is Jesus since the Lord wouldn’t need the help of the angel Michael to come help him get out of a jam (in vs 13 below). It seems more likely that this is an angel who we see in the Bible as sometime “clothed in linen” and also reflecting the glory of God.
7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. ~ Daniel 10:7
Often, when God’s Holy Spirit is present men and women flee the scene. We see something very similar in Exodus when God speaks to the Israelites:
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”
~ Exodus 20:18-19
It certainly happened here. The Bible tells us that the people Daniel was with didn’t even see the vision but nonetheless “great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves”. When that happened in Exodus, Moses was left alone with God.
I love what Moses tells the people in the following verse in Exodus:
And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
~ Exodus 20:20
As Christian believers, we have a healthy respect for the awesome power of God that could be described as “the fear of the Lord”. God Almighty has the power to condemn my soul to hell for all eternity. I have a good healthy respectful fear of His awesomeness.
However, God does not desire that we remain in true “fear” of Him. Rather, we can accept the wonderful gift of forgiveness and salvation from Christ through His death for our sin. Once we do that, the perfect love he shows us casts that fear out. We no longer have to “fear” God in the same way that an unforgiven sinner does. Healthy respect for His awesome power? Yes! Fear of His wrath and condemnation? No.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
~ 1 John 4:18-19
So back in Exodus, Moses tells the people “God has come to test you…that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin”. Moses is saying be afraid of God Almighty so that fear may direct you to love and respect God.
8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.
9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
~ Daniel 10:8-9
This incredible vision left Daniel completely weakened and helpless to the point of being so exhausted that he collapsed on the ground in a deep sleep.
I remember a day when I was about 15 or 16 years old when some friends and I were asked to work down at our big downtown park for the Fourth of July celebration. We were hired at the last minute to just show up early on the Fourth and work until they sent us home. We got there about 7am and we worked with little to no breaks until close to midnight that day. My jobs that day were hauling garbage, running food back and forth, and for much of the day I was cooking hotdogs over a giant pit.
I don’t remember being so exhausted ever before in my life. It was the first time I’d worked such incredibly long and hard in a single day. At the end of the day I collapsed absolutely exhausted, immediately fell asleep, and I know I didn’t stir until the next morning.
I imagine Daniel feeling much the same way. Yet, then he is grabbed and picked up to a kneeling position on all fours and told to stand up straight and pay attention!
10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.
11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
~ Daniel 10:10-11
When an angel grabs you and pulls you up off the ground, you behave and listen!
12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. ~ Daniel 10:12
There is so much to learn in verse 12!
Set your heart to understand
The angel tells Daniel that “from the first day that you set your heart to understand” your words were heard. The Bible tells us very explicitly that we are to focus on God and His word – the Bible. This is our instruction book! Our minds and hearts are to be SET to understand. Synonyms for ‘set’ are: ‘firm, confirmed, established, determined’. We are called to absolutely determine to understand the heart and the will of God!
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
~ Colossians 3:1-2
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God.
~ 1 Chronicles 22:19a
Humble Yourself Before God
The angel also told Daniel that he had set his heart “to humble yourself before your God”. Humility is not something that comes naturally to anybody I know. It is human nature to think of ourselves first. However, the Bible tells us we as humans have every reason to be humble before the awesome God that created us from the dust.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
~ Micah 6:8
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
~ 1 Peter 5:6
Your Words Are Heard
One of the other lessons we learn in verse 12 is that God hears our prayers. We’ve talked about this in our study many times. God hears our prayers! We serve a God who created the entire universe out of nothing! He loves us so much! He wants us to call out to Him. A conversation with God can simply be like a conversation you have with anyone else.
We have raised four kids. In our home, we have two dogs, three cats, multiple chickens, and a single duck. I know by the clucking sound of the chickens in the morning that they want to be let out of their coop, or that they are hungry. By the whiny sound my dog makes, I know that she needs to be let outside. When our cats are grouchy, they yowl and complain and we hear it and understand. And my kids? I love my kids so much, and I ache for them to tell me when they have a need I can help with.
God loves us that much and so much more! Your words are heard.
I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
~ Psalm 116:1-2
I Have Come Because of Your Words (God Answers Prayer)
We studied this a little bit last week when Daniel was crying out to God and the angel came down in response to Daniel’s prayers. The angel told Daniel:
At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.
~ Daniel 9:23
We see a similar lesson here in Chapter 10 when this angel comes down in direct response to Daniel’s prayer. Now, let me be clear on this: God will not necessarily respond to you by sending you an angel that you can see and talk with. That didn’t keep me from asking for it when I was a kid though! However, what I’ve learned is to pray for God’s will to be done above all else. Sure, I make my own wishes known. I tell God how I’d like things to turn out. But I try to pray for God’s will first because His way is always best.
13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
14 “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
15 When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.
16 And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.
17 “For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”
18 Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.
19 And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.
21 “But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.
Verses 13-21 describe this spiritual battle that has been going on – completely unseen by Daniel. It’s important for us to know and to remember that spiritual warfare is going on that we cannot see.
This angel has been battling demons, including one called the Prince of Persia, when the angel Michael came to his aid. Apparently the job given to this angel of heaven is to reveal the future of Israel to Daniel, and that is something that Satan doesn’t want known.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
~ Ephesians 6:12
Ephesians 6 gives us incredible instruction on how to “put on our spiritual armor.” It starts with reading the Bible and prayer, and we should be doing both daily.
Set your heart on the Lord.
Humble yourself before Him in prayer.
Know that he hears your words.
Believe that He answers your prayers!