In Daniel 10, we find Daniel fasting and mourning for three weeks while an angelic messenger fights to get past the “Prince of Persia” to deliver a critical piece of communication. We learn that Michael the archangel comes to the aid of the messenger, who is then able to reach Daniel. This whole description gives us insight into some facts about angels. For instance, it shows us they have actual locality. They are not all places at once, but must travel to get from here to there. It also gives us a peek into what I call the “dark side” — the invisible warfare taking place all around us.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
— Daniel 10:1–6
This angel is not named. We know he’s not Gabriel, because Daniel had already met Gabriel in Chapter 8 during the reign of King Balshazzar before the Persians took over. This glowing individual was a new visitor. Some scholars believe this man was the Lord Jesus Christ, but there are parts of this story that don’t fit that interpretation. It seems more likely that Daniel was meeting a very senior angel.
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
— Daniel 10:7–10
There are a couple of interesting things about this. First, Daniel alone saw the angel. This reminds us of 2 Kings 6:17, when the servant of Elisha could not see the protective angelic host until Elisha asked God to open his eyes. It’s also notable that every time someone in the Old Testament is confronted with a glorious being like this, the reaction is one of awe and humility. This is intense awe, the kind that causes a great man to fall with his face on the ground, helplessly weak and trembling.
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, 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.
— Daniel 10:11–12
This angel has come in response to Daniel’s prayer. Daniel has been fasting and praying for three weeks, and just now this heavenly being arrives as a response to Daniel’s prayer. God did not wait three weeks to send the angel; we learn he was sent immediately, but the messenger found trouble on his way to deliver the message. We are soon introduced to another principality, another spiritual power in high places:
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. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
— Daniel 10:13–14
The angel is not talking about the human ruler in Persia. He is referring to the spiritual power behind the human kingdom, a supernatural agency that has resisted the messenger’s effort to deliver his message. The angel wasn’t able to travel straight from the throne room of God to Daniel because a spiritual enemy got in his way. He had to battle his way past the spiritual prince of Persia, and he failed to succeed until the archangel Michael arrived to help him.
That is one reason I don’t think this angelic being is an incarnation of Christ; I don’t believe Christ would have needed Michael as backup. This angel is glorious and burning, with eyes on fire, but he still needed Michael’s help to fight past his opposition and arrive before Daniel.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, 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. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
— Daniel 10:15–21
Notice the compassion of the angel. He sees Daniel lying on the ground, with no strength even to talk. First the angel touches his mouth, and Daniel is able to speak. The angel then touches Daniel and gives him strength, kindly calling him, “greatly beloved.” He tells him “fear not; peace be unto thee, be strong.” He is very loving to Daniel, and he gives him strength.
The angel appears to Daniel in the form of a man. He’s a brilliant, glowing man, but still in man form. He has come to give Daniel the vision that is described in chapters 11. This is an exquisitely important vision regarding the end times. It details in advance the reigns of Alexander the Great and the generals who took over after he died, but it also describes events that will take place during the reign of the Antichrist. The angel points out that when he’s finished giving his message, he’ll have to return and fight with the Prince of Persia again. And after the Prince of Persia is dealt with, he’ll have the king of Grecia to confront.
The angel gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of our visible world. From this messenger’s brief explanation, (“Hi, I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic was terrible,”) we learn that behind these world empires are angelic adversaries, and there is a war going on that we don’t get to see with our biological eyes. There’s a tension there. This angelic messenger had to fight past enemy lines to give Daniel his message. The prince of Persia will resist him again after he leaves Daniel, and the prince of Greece is next in line. The Greek Empire did follow the Persian Empire, but that was 200 years later!
There is full blown warfare taking place behind the scenes, in the metacosm if you will. Daniel fasted 21 days, and it took the messenger 21 days to get through. We can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Daniel had terminated his fast after 19 days. We know that God heard Daniel’s prayers — the angel encouraged Daniel of that fact — but the math tells us that God sent the angel to Daniel as soon as he began praying. May we be mindful of this in our prayers and pray with hope, confident that as we set our hearts to understand and to humble ourselves before God, He hears our prayers as well.
This excerpt is from Dr. Chuck Missler’s new book Angels Vol. II: Messengers from the Metacosm, available in Paperback and eBook formats.