Dr. Tremper Longmann III
The Book of Daniel - OT666-19
Introduction to the Fourth Vision
So now we turn to the final of the four visions that are described in chapters 10 to 12. And of course, the Book of Daniel ends with certain instructions to Daniel that stand outside this vision. But the the the final section here has a basic three-part structure. That Chapter ten is an introduction to the vision. It's kind of a narrative introduction to the vision itself. And then chapter 11 two through 12 three is a description of Daniel's vision, followed by in verses four through 13 God's instructions to Daniel. And in this talk we're going to focus in on the introduction of the vision, the Chapter ten and Essence. And it's very fascinating what happens here and gives us an interesting insight into the spiritual realities that lie behind human actions, which is somewhat rare, particularly in the Old Testament. So we're where we have a narrative introduction. And by the way, I maybe a quick comment here that I haven't really talked about authorship of the Book of Daniel, and I think people assume that Daniel's the author, and he may well be, but the author is anonymous. What's really important, I believe, to depend is the idea that Daniel in the sixth century is the recipient of these visions which are being described here rather than some later author after the facts. But on the other hand, these are stories about Daniel, and they're also visions that are given a third person Narration So it may be someone else inspired by God who, who has passed down these reliable descriptions about Daniel and his visions later. So in the third year of Cyrus King of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel, who was called Balthasar. Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. So this is the latest date given to us in the Book of Daniel. We don't know when Daniel died. We don't get a report of that. But he's had a long life. I mean, you think third year of Cyrus would be approximately 536, maybe 537. Remember that the opening of the Book of Daniel is 605 B.C. My superior math skills tell me that's about 68 years between 605 and then 537. How old Daniel was when he was deported to to Babylon is is not clear, except that he's described as a very young man. And so I kind of picture him as an adolescent. So perhaps Daniel is in his late seventies, early eighties. We're not sure. But it's God has given him a long life. He's survived through the entire neo Babylonian period and now is in the early Persian period where he if we understood Daniel nine correctly, he's beginning to see the fulfillment of the process that's described in the 77th. So but it's also interesting that the narrator chooses to remind us that Daniel was called Balthasar, and you kind of wonder what purpose that might serve. That's an appropriate question to ask in terms of a kind of literary analysis of a narrative text. And it might be simply reminding us that, yeah, the exile's still going on. In another type of sense. Daniel is still a servant in a foreign court. So so we get a kind of general announcement and preview of what the visions about. It's about a great war. And, and then we get in verse two, Daniel's. Reaction to the message without hearing the details yet, because at that time I Daniel mourn. For three weeks I ate no choice food, no meat or wine, touch my lips, and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. This where he's Daniel and we've seen this, of course, in the previous visions that when he has them, they're disturbing to him. He worries about them. I don't think he doesn't understand them until the interpreting angel comes. I commented on verse three earlier the idea that during this three-week period, no choice food, no meat or wine touch my lips, which indicated to us that when Daniel refused to eat the the provided food and drink the wine offered by the King, that it was a temporary measure, not a lifestyle choice determined by religious duty or anything like that. Here it also mentions no lotions at all. It's a reminder that the ancient near Eastern climate is extremely dry and that people who were able to use lotions to hydrate their skin. So he's just disturbed. He can't take care of himself. Then it says on the 24th day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the Great River, the Tigris. It's kind of interesting to notice the date here, the 24th day of the first month, which indicates that this period of three-week mourning included the period of time where the Passover and the unleavened feast of unleavened bread would have been celebrated. I'm not sure it adds anything to the meaning of the text, but numbers 28 versus 16 to 25 talk about how Passover is to be observed between the 14th and 21st day of the first month. And here three days after that, the interpreting angel comes. And so but before he looks up and there before me was a man or I should comment that he's on the Tigris River. Now the Tigris River is one of the two rivers that basically defined Mesopotamia. This is the river to the north on which the city of Nineveh was located, but not that is said to be in Denver. But he's away from Babylon and he's not at Susa. He's on the Tigris and he looks up and there before me was a man dressed in linen with a belt of fine gold from footpaths around his waist. Linen, by the way, is a garment associated with priests. Not that this is a priestly figure, but priests were required to wear linen next to their bodies, as is known area. I'm not even sure we can exactly locate it, to be honest, but it is associated in scripture with the best quality gold. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs, like the gleam of burnished bronze and his voice like the sound of a multitude. Now, I'm sure artists have tried to depict this rather literally. I don't. I think that the description is really emphasizing the awesomeness of God. His is his glory, because I do think this is God, by the way. And the reason why I do think this is God is because it's very similar to a description of God that you find in Ezekiel. So if you turn to Ezekiel chapter, well, a couple of places in the sequel, Ezekiel Chapter nine. Verse two says that, well, there we see and I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. So in this description, it's just a description of a person clothed and linen Ezekiel one. And here we might read verse 27. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist. Well, let me start in verse 25. Then there came a voice from above the bulb over their heads as they stood with lowered wings above the bulb over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli. And high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up. He looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and from there down, he looked like fire and brilliant light surrounded him like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day. So was the radiance around him. And then Ezekiel response of this by falling face down when he heard the voice speaking, so were we. We see a similar description of the glorified Christ and revelation, which I'll bring out in a further lecture when I talk about connections between Daniel and Revelation, though I don't think we're to read this as some kind of reference to the pre-incarnate Christ. I think this is a reference to Yahweh in his magnificence, his awesomeness, and in his glory. So. Oh, and I wanted to read at this stage a quotation from a book by Christopher Rowland, a British Old Testament scholar, is an expert in apocalyptic, where he talks about these parallels between Daniel and Ezekiel. The first four words of Daniel ten five revealed very close contact with the Ezekiel nine two. Though the overall impression given by the vision is of a closer connection with the first chapter of Ezekiel. The phrase his loins is found in Ezekiel 127 to describe the human figure and the more explicit references to the different parts of the Angel's body and Daniel ten six seem to be a development of the more reserved outlook of Ezekiel. In the same verse, the eyes of the angel are said to be like flaming torches. Similar phenomenon is said to be in the middle of the living creatures in Ezekiel 113 whereas in Ezekiel 116 the wheels of the chariot are said to be like the gleaming of crystal light. And Daniel the word Tarshish. Chris The light is now transferred to the description of the body of the angel. The body and feet can be paralleled in Ezekiel 123 and one seven respectively. And the voice of the Angel Daniel ten six bears some resemblance to the phrase a sound of tumult like the sound of a host in Ezekiel 124. The phrase like the gleam of burnished bronze, as quoted verbatim from Ezekiel one seven, where it's used of the legs of the living creature. So the description that the narrator gives of Daniel's perspective of what he sees is drawn from various parts of the book of Ezekiel. So. So then it goes on and says, I. Daniel was the only one who saw the vision. Those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. This kind of reminds me of, you know, the vision that Paul has in Acts Chapter nine, where it also says that others didn't see what he was seeing. But notice here that they are nonetheless find that they're overwhelmed. So I was left alone gazing at this great vision. I had no strength left. My face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. A hand touched me and sat me trembling on my hands and knees. Okay, so. Towner. Sibley Towner, in his commentary on Daniel, says that this is the first administration of what he calls celestial first aid. And we're going to see it also in verses 16. Then one who looked like a man touched my lips and I opened my mouth and began to speak in verse 18 again. The one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. I like that phrase celestial first aid in this context. The question is who is this figure and what relationship does this figure have to the person described in the previous verses? Some people think that this is an appearance of God himself to Daniel. I find that improbable because this is the person who had to have Michael fight his way through the Spirit Prince of Persia to get Daniel, which is something that I wouldn't associate with the omnipotent God but can understand more readily in terms of, you know, even a powerful spiritual figure like like Gabriel and Michael. So, so so I, I think I think it now. And the angel that talks to Daniel is not named, but, you know, I kind of feel that if that were to assume that this is Gabriel, I'm going to call the Angel Gabriel. Even if I'm wrong, it's not going to distort our understanding of the chapter. A hand touched me and sat me trembling. My hands and knees, he said. Daniel, you who are highly esteemed again, the honorific applied to Daniel that we saw in Chapter nine. Consider carefully the words. I am about to speak to you and stand up for. I have now been sent to you. And when you said to said this to me, I stood up trembling. Okay, so I don't know. This word trembling is an interesting word to me. It's in Hebrew, it's already or a form of the verb rod. And and I think it's actually an appropriate response on the part of Daniel. Remember that wisdom Literature teaches the fear of the Lord. And later, Paul will talk about work out your salvation with fear and trembling. And and there is a even today, some devout Jews are referred to as the hardy, you know, the trembling ones. So. So, you know, but still, then the figure of the the spiritual person, Gabriel says to him, Do not be afraid. Daniel, since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the Prince of the Persian Kingdom resisted me 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me because I was detained there with the King of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future for the vision concerns. A time yet to come. Okay, let's pause here and reflect on what's going on here. So. In the previous chapter. Remember, Gabriel came to Daniel even while he was still prey. I mean, it was immediate and his words were heard and heavenly. Got there quickly. But here there's a 21 day gap, which Gabriel feels like he needs to explain to Daniel. And the explanation is interesting. He says that they were resisted by the Prince of the Persian Kingdom. Now, Calvin thinks that this is a reference to a human ruler. But later on, Michael, who is clearly an angel, is referred to as you're that is Daniel's prince. So it seems much more likely to me, and it's commonly understood that the Prince of Persia is not a human ruler, but rather a spiritual power that is associated with the nation, Persia. And later, we're going to hear about a prince of Greece that Michael will need to fight. So what are we to make of this? Are there spiritual powers that are associated with nation states? Well, there's one passage that I think suggests that it is, though. There's a question associated with it. Let's turn to Deuteronomy 32. Deuteronomy is Song of Moses. Verse 30 of chapter 31 introduces it by saying, and Moses recited the words of the song from beginning to end and the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel. And then I'll read down to first eight, which is the verse we want to focus in on this. Listen, you heavens and I will speak here, you earth the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like do like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God. He is the rock. His works are perfect and all his ways are just a faithful God who does no wrong. Upright and justice. He they are corrupt and not his children, to their shame, their warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your father, your Creator who made you and formed you? Remember the days of old? Consider the generations long past as your father and he will tell you your elders and they will explain to you. So here's verse eight When the most high gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind. And this is a reflection back on Genesis 11 and then Genesis ten, which describes the division of the descendants of Shem Japheth and Ham into 70 different nations. He set up boundaries for the people according to the numbers of the Sons of God. Now, if you're following along in the Navy and perhaps another translation, what you read is acquiring the numbers of the Sons of Israel. The Navy footnote says the following. It says Mass erratic attacks, Dead Sea Scrolls. See also Septuagint. Sons of God. When you see that combination, by the way, Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint. Typically. You understand that? That's probably the more reliable original text. And I'll have to ask and I the person why why they go in this direction. It's much more likely that the Septuagint, which tends to minimize these types of references, would change it to sort of to appeal to later Jewish sensibilities. But the idea seems to be that God divided up the nations among the Sons of God, which is a reference to his angelic powers. Okay, So and then I mentioned this an earlier place that back this background would help understand to the idea that the Egyptian gods are actual spiritual powers. They're not really gods capital G, but they are spiritual powers who are associated with the Egyptians and who inhabit their religious imaginations. Because Exodus 1212 says, on this night, I will have victory over the gods of Egypt. So. So I think the best understanding of Deuteronomy 32, verse eight, in short, is that is that God does associate Angela as associate spiritual powers with particular nations. Now, it raises an interesting question. Of course, God is not going to say, Hey, you demon, go hang out with Egypt or watch over Egypt. It raises questions that we can't ultimately answer in terms of what's the relationship between a people and their spiritual power. And Walter Wink has written an interesting series of books about the powers where he suggests that there's kind of a symbiotic relationship between the people of a nation or an institution and the spiritual power associated with them. I think it's very speculative, but interesting to think about that. But bottom line, I from Daniel ten and from Deuteronomy 32, and there are some other passages as well that are that are much more implied than explicit. I think it is right to say that that there are spiritual powers that are associated with nations, and that's what lies behind Daniel ten here now in a maybe. Well, when we're done looking at Daniel ten I will make a few comments about contemporary some contemporary Christians who want to talk based on this passage about battling what they call territorial demons because it derives from here. So I'll talk about that after we look at the rest of the chapter, picking it up. And now verse 15, while he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. Then when who looked like a man touched my lips and I open my mouth and began to speak, I said to the one standing before me, I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my Lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my Lord, My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe again. The one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. Do not be afraid. You who are highly esteemed, he said. Peace. Be strong now. Be strong. When he spoke to me, I was strengthened. Said, Speak my Lord, since you have given me strength. So he said, Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the Prince of Persia. And when I go, the Prince of Greece will come. But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one supports me against them except my calls Your Prince. So again, references to the Prince of Persia, the Prince of Greece, and the spiritual battle that lies behind the human battle. And so that will be the first thing I want to point out. We talked earlier about the five phases of warfare, God fighting against evil, and I suggested an overly neat division between the phases in the Old Testament, the phase and the New Testament by. Saying that there's a heightening and intensification of the warfare directed toward the spiritual powers and authority. And now I want to nuance that a bit by saying it didn't start in phase four. There was always been a conflict between spiritual powers that that lie behind human conflict. That goes back to Genesis three, right when a serpent appears and challenges God's authority by, you know, tempting Adam and Eve to eat from the fruit of the tree that that God had prohibited them from eating from. That serpent would have been immediately identified by the original readers of Genesis as a as a, as a personal being, evil being because in the ancient East, walking serpents were was the way that evil anti creation forces were conceived. I don't think on first reading, the ancient audience would have said that's the devil or Satan. But we can, as we look at it from the second reading through the prism of the New Testament, where and Romans 16 and Revelation chapter 12, verse nine, the serpent is identified with Satan. So there's a conflict right from the start of the Bible that I also think we talked a little bit earlier about Leviathan as well. Leviathan is a locking serpent and also represents evil and I think is symbolic of Satan and those who are on Satan's side. And Isaiah 27, verse one, which we read, talks about the future slaying of Leviathan. So so it's we get little glimpses here and there in the Old Testament of this spiritual battle. This is probably the. Most extensive kind of glimpse of that spiritual battle. However, I would say that my schema still stands in the sense that that while in the Old Testament we're mostly told about God's battle against. Evil human people, whether it's sinful Israel or are those who attack Israel the flesh and blood enemies of God. In the New Testament, we see how God defeats the spiritual powers and authority on the cross. So. So that's the first thing I want to point out about this chapter. The second thing is to talk a little bit about the use of this passage, to suggest that one effective way of encountering evil in our world is by trying to detect where the territorial demons are. And I'm acquainted with this approach through the work of some of Charles Craft and others that are associated with in the past generation of the fuller, what they call the male center of intercultural studies. But but I remember reading descriptions of of missionaries who go into a city, and what they do is they create a map of where the territorial demons are residing. And then they go there and they pray against those demons. Now, let me start by saying. In a sense, I don't have any real problem with this. I mean, they're praying against evil, right? And usually the places where the territorial demons are, you know, brothels and places that where there are a lot of criminals are places where there are people who resist the gospel in one way or another. But I but I do think the one thing that kind of. Strikes me is that while the New Testament invites us into a spiritual battle, it doesn't use the language of territorial demons. So I just think we need to be a little cautious about developing this into kind of major. Ministry initiative. And I would also recommend a book by Clint Arnold, who talks about these issues called I think it's four views, maybe three views on Spiritual Warfare. It's it's a really helpful book that talks about this issue and others. But now that we've seen the introduction to the vision, we now turn to the vision itself in the next chapter. And as we do, we'll see. It's a vision of a different order than the previous ones that we've seen. And of course, Chapter seven and eight feature nations being represented by various animals in the Vision and Chapter 11. While we'll be talking in terms of a king of the North and a king of the South after talking about the rest of the Persian Empire first. But questions or comments. Can you on a level one, Who's I and him? I know. Yeah. And why are we going back to the first year of Darius the Mede? I was perfectly avoiding that. Yeah. So I think. And the Navy and the Navy puts it in parenthetical expression with the previous half verse. You know, no one supports me. And I think that's Gabriel talking against them, namely the spirit princes of Persia and Greece. Except Michael, your prince. And. And then. And then goes on to say. And then the first year of Darius to me, I took my stand to support and protect him. And yeah, to be honest, do you have a no idea to me? Yeah. So I took my stand to support and protect him. I wonder if I say anything in my commentary. I'm not going to bet on it. So yeah. So when I do have a sentence which says the fight will continue, but before the prophecy, the future goes on. The angel perhaps. Here, Gabriel says that he has been fighting with Michael, the Prince of Persia, since the very beginning, the first year of Darius, the Me. So? So this has been a long, ongoing battle. Well, I mean, actually that's only two years ago. But I think I think it means since the start of the Persian Empire. And I think and then I go on to say this reminds us who tend to think of the Persians, who allowed God's people to return to Judah as much better than the Babylon, even though they're much better than the Babylonians, that these new oppressors are also evil and need to be overcome. God and His angels announced that they will fight on behalf of their people. So, yeah, thanks.