Strengthened by a Messenger From God
1. How was Daniel blessed for having a keen interest in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose?
DANIEL’S keen interest in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose was richly rewarded. He was given the stirring prophecy of the 70 weeks regarding the time of Messiah’s appearance. Daniel was also blessed with seeing the faithful remnant of his people return to their homeland. That occurred in 537 B.C.E, toward the end of “the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia.”—Ezra 1:1-4.
2, 3. Why may Daniel not have returned to the land of Judah with the Jewish remnant?
2 Daniel was not among those who traveled back to the land of Judah. Traveling may have been difficult at his advanced age. In any case, God still had further service in mind for him in Babylon. Two years passed. Then, the account tells us: “In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia there was a matter revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the matter was true, and there was a great military service. And he understood the matter, and he had understanding in the thing seen.”—Daniel 10:1.
3 “The third year of Cyrus” would correspond to 536/535 B.C.E. More than 80 years had passed since Daniel was brought to Babylon along with the royal offspring and Judah’s youths of noble birth. (Daniel 1:3) If he was in his early teens when he first arrived in Babylon, he would be nearly 100 years of age by now. What a marvelous record of faithful service he had!
4. In spite of Daniel’s advanced age, what significant role would he still play in Jehovah’s service?
4 In spite of his advanced age, however, Daniel’s role in Jehovah’s service was not over. Through him, God would yet proclaim a prophetic message having far-reaching significance. It was to be a prophecy that would reach down to our times and beyond. To prepare Daniel for this further task, Jehovah saw fit to act in his behalf, to strengthen him for the service ahead.
A CAUSE FOR ANXIETY
5. What reports were likely causes for concern to Daniel?
5 Though Daniel did not return to the land of Judah with the Jewish remnant, he was keenly interested in what was taking place back in his beloved homeland. From reports that reached him, Daniel learned that all was not going well there. The altar had been reestablished and the foundation of the temple had been laid in Jerusalem. (Ezra, chapter 3) But the neighboring nations were in opposition to the reconstruction project, and they were scheming mischief against the returned Jews. (Ezra 4:1-5) Indeed, Daniel could easily have become anxious about many things.
6. Why were conditions in Jerusalem troubling to Daniel?
6 Daniel was familiar with Jeremiah’s prophecy. (Daniel 9:2) He knew that the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of true worship there were closely related to Jehovah’s purpose regarding His people and that all of this would precede the appearance of the promised Messiah. In fact, Daniel was highly privileged to have received from Jehovah the prophecy of the “seventy weeks.” From it he understood that Messiah would come 69 “weeks” after the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:24-27) In view of the devastated state of Jerusalem and the delay in building the temple, however, it is easy to see why Daniel could have become discouraged, dejected, and low in spirits.
7. What did Daniel do for three weeks?
7 “In those days I myself, Daniel, happened to be mourning for three full weeks,” says the account. “Dainty bread I did not eat, and no flesh or wine entered into my mouth, and in no way did I grease myself until the completing of the three full weeks.” (Daniel 10:2, 3) “Three full weeks,” or 21 days, of mourning and fasting was an unusually long period. It apparently ended on the “twenty-fourth day of the first month.” (Daniel 10:4) Hence, the period of Daniel’s fast included the Passover, observed on the 14th day of the first month, Nisan, and the following seven-day festival of unleavened bread.
8. On what earlier occasion had Daniel earnestly sought Jehovah’s direction, and what had been the outcome?
8 Daniel had had a similar experience on an earlier occasion. At that time, he was perplexed about the fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy regarding the 70-year desolation of Jerusalem. What did Daniel then do? “I proceeded to set my face to Jehovah the true God,” said Daniel, “in order to seek him with prayer and with entreaties, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Jehovah answered Daniel’s prayer by sending the angel Gabriel to him with a message that greatly encouraged him. (Daniel 9:3, 21, 22) Would Jehovah now act in a similar way and provide Daniel with the encouragement he sorely needed?
AN AWE-INSPIRING VISION
9, 10. (a) Where was Daniel when a vision came to him? (b) Describe what Daniel saw in the vision.
9 Daniel is not disappointed. He goes on to tell us what happens next, saying: “While I myself happened to be on the bank of the great river, that is, Hiddekel, I also proceeded to raise my eyes and see, and here was a certain man clothed in linen, with his hips girded with gold of Uphaz.” (Daniel 10:4, 5) Hiddekel was one of the four rivers that had their source in the garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:10-14) In Old Persian, Hiddekel was known as the Tigra, from which came the Greek name Tigris. The region between it and the Euphrates came to be called Mesopotamia, meaning “Land Between Rivers.” This confirms that when Daniel received this vision, he was still in the land of Babylonia, though perhaps not in the city of Babylon.
10 What a vision Daniel received! Obviously, he saw no ordinary man when he raised his eyes. Daniel provided this vivid description: “His body was like chrysolite, and his face like the appearance of lightning, and his eyes like fiery torches, and his arms and the place of his feet were like the sight of burnished copper, and the sound of his words was like the sound of a crowd.”—Daniel 10:6.
11. What effect did the vision have on Daniel and on the men with him?
11 In spite of the brilliance of the vision, ‘the men that happened to be with me did not see the appearance,’ said Daniel. For some unexplained reason, “there was a great trembling that fell upon them, so that they went running away in hiding themselves.” Hence, Daniel was left all by himself on the bank of the river. The sight of “this great appearance” was so overwhelming that he confessed: “There was left remaining in me no power, and my own dignity became changed upon me to ruination, and I retained no power.”—Daniel 10:7, 8.
12, 13. What is indicated about the messenger by (a) his clothing? (b) his appearance?
12 Let us take a closer look at this striking messenger who so frightened Daniel. He was “clothed in linen, with his hips girded with gold of Uphaz.” In ancient Israel, the high priest’s girdle, ephod, and breastpiece, as well as the robes of the other priests, were made with fine twisted linen and were decorated with gold. (Exodus 28:4-8; 39:27-29) Thus, the messenger’s clothing indicates holiness and dignity of office.
13 Daniel was also awed by the appearance of the messenger—the luminous glow of his gemlike body, the blinding radiance of his shining face, the penetrating power of his fiery eyes, and the glitter of his powerful arms and feet. Even his commanding voice was fear-inspiring. All of this clearly indicates that he was superhuman. This “man clothed in linen” was none other than an angel of high rank, one who served in the holy presence of Jehovah, from which he came forth with a message.*
A “VERY DESIRABLE MAN” STRENGTHENED
14. What help did Daniel need in order to receive the angelic message?
14 The message that Jehovah’s angel had for Daniel was weighty and complex. Before Daniel could receive it, he needed help to recover from his physical and mental distress. Apparently aware of this, the angel lovingly gave Daniel personal assistance and encouragement. Let us follow Daniel’s own narration of what happened.
15. What did the angel do to help Daniel?
15 “While I was hearing the sound of his words, I myself also happened to be fast asleep upon my face, with my face to the earth.” Likely, fear and apprehension had caused Daniel to fall into a stupor. What did the angel do to help him? “Look!” said Daniel, “there was a hand that touched me, and it gradually stirred me up to get upon my knees and the palms of my hands.” In addition, the angel encouraged the prophet with these words: “O Daniel, you very desirable man, have understanding in the words that I am speaking to you, and stand up where you were standing, for now I have been sent to you.” The helping hand and the consoling words revived Daniel. Although he was “shivering,” Daniel did “stand up.”—Daniel 10:9-11.
16. (a) How can it be seen that Jehovah responds quickly to his servants’ prayers? (b) Why was the angel delayed in coming to Daniel’s aid? (Include box.) (c) What message did the angel have for Daniel?
16 The angel pointed out that he had come specifically to strengthen Daniel. “Do not be afraid, O Daniel,” said the angel, “for from the first day that you gave your heart to understanding and humbling yourself before your God your words have been heard, and I myself have come because of your words.” The angel then explained why there had been a delay. He said: “But the prince of the royal realm of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty-one days, and, look! Michael, one of the foremost princes, came to help me; and I, for my part, remained there beside the kings of Persia.” With the assistance of Michael, the angel was able to accomplish his mission, coming to Daniel with this most urgent message: “I have come to cause you to discern what will befall your people in the final part of the days, because it is a vision yet for the days to come.”—Daniel 10:12-14.
17, 18. How was Daniel helped a second time, and what did that enable him to do?
17 Instead of Daniel’s being aroused by the prospect of receiving such an intriguing message, it appears that the things he heard had an adverse effect on him. The account states: “Now when he spoke with me words like these, I had set my face to the earth and had become speechless.” But the angelic messenger was ready to render loving help—a second time. Said Daniel: “Look! one similar to the likeness of the sons of mankind was touching my lips, and I began to open my mouth and speak.”*—Daniel 10:15, 16a.
18 Daniel was strengthened when the angel touched his lips. (Compare Isaiah 6:7.) With his power of speech restored, Daniel was able to explain to the angelic messenger the hardship that he was enduring. Daniel said: “O my lord, because of the appearance my convulsions were turned within me, and I did not retain any power. So how was the servant of this my lord able to speak with this my lord? And as for me, up to now there kept standing in me no power, and no breath at all was left remaining in me.”—Daniel 10:16b, 17.
19. How was Daniel helped a third time, and with what result?
19 Daniel was not voicing any complaint or making an excuse. He was merely stating his predicament, and the angel accepted his statement. Thus, for a third time, Daniel was helped by the angelic messenger. “The one like the appearance of an earthling man proceeded to touch me again and strengthen me,” said the prophet. The messenger followed that energizing touch with these consoling words: “Do not be afraid, O very desirable man. May you have peace. Be strong, yes, be strong.” That loving touch and those upbuilding words seemed to be just what Daniel needed. The result? Daniel declared: “As soon as he spoke with me I exerted my strength and finally said: ‘Let my lord speak, because you have strengthened me.’” Daniel was now ready for another challenging assignment.—Daniel 10:18, 19.
20. Why had effort been required in order for the angelic messenger to carry out his assignment?
20 Having strengthened Daniel and helped him to recover his mental and physical capabilities, the angel restated the purpose of his mission. He said: “Do you really know why I have come to you? And now I shall go back to fight with the prince of Persia. When I am going forth, look! also the prince of Greece is coming. However, I shall tell you the things noted down in the writing of truth, and there is no one holding strongly with me in these things but Michael, the prince of you people.”—Daniel 10:20, 21.
21, 22. (a) From Daniel’s experience, what can we learn about Jehovah’s way of dealing with his servants? (b) For what was Daniel now strengthened?
21 How loving and considerate of Jehovah! He always deals with his servants according to their potential and limitations. On the one hand, he gives them assignments according to what he knows they can accomplish, even though they may sometimes feel otherwise. On the other hand, he is willing to listen to them and then provide what is needed to help them carry out their assignments. May we always imitate our heavenly Father, Jehovah, by lovingly encouraging and strengthening our fellow worshipers.—Hebrews 10:24.
22 The angel’s comforting message was of great encouragement to Daniel. In spite of his advanced age, Daniel was now strengthened and prepared to receive and to record further remarkable prophecy for our benefit.
Though this angel is unnamed, it appears that he is the same one whose voice was heard directing Gabriel to help Daniel with a vision that he had just seen. (Compare Daniel 8:2, 15, 16 with Da 12:7, 8.) Further, Daniel 10:13 shows that Michael, “one of the foremost princes,” came to assist this angel. Thus, this unnamed angel must enjoy the privilege of working closely with Gabriel and Michael.
Although the same angel who was speaking with Daniel may have touched his lips and revived him, the wording here leaves room for the possibility that another angel, perhaps Gabriel, did this. In any case, Daniel was strengthened by an angelic messenger.
WHAT DID YOU DISCERN?
• Why was Jehovah’s angel delayed in coming to Daniel’s aid in 536/535 B.C.E.?
• What did the clothing and appearance of God’s angelic messenger indicate about him?
• What help did Daniel need, and how did the angel provide it three times?
• What message did the angel have for Daniel?
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Angelic Guardians or Demonic Rulers?
WE CAN learn much from what the book of Daniel says about the angels. It tells us about the role they play in carrying out Jehovah’s word and the effort they put forth to fulfill their assignments.
God’s angel said that on his way to speak to Daniel, he was hindered by “the prince of the royal realm of Persia.” After contending with him for 21 days, the angelic messenger was able to proceed only with the help of “Michael, one of the foremost princes.” The angel also said that he would again have to fight that enemy and possibly “the prince of Greece.” (Daniel 10:13, 20) No easy task, even for an angel! Who, though, were these princes of Persia and Greece?
First of all, we note that Michael was called “one of the foremost princes” and “the prince of you people.” Later, Michael was referred to as “the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of [Daniel’s] people.” (Daniel 10:21; 12:1) This points to Michael as the angel assigned by Jehovah to lead the Israelites through the wilderness.—Exodus 23:20-23; 32:34; 33:2.
Lending support to this conclusion is the disciple Jude’s statement that “Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body.” (Jude 9) Michael’s position, power, and authority made him truly “the archangel,” meaning “the chief angel,” or “the principal angel.” Most fittingly, this lofty position can be applied to none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, before and after his life on earth.—1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 12:7-9.
Does this mean that Jehovah also appointed angels over such nations as Persia and Greece to guide them in their affairs? Well, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, openly stated: “The ruler of the world . . . has no hold on me.” Jesus also said: “My kingdom is no part of this world . . . my kingdom is not from this source.” (John 14:30; 18:36) The apostle John declared that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) It is clear that the nations of the world never were and are not now under the guidance or rulership of God or Christ. While Jehovah permits “the superior authorities” to exist and maintain control of earthly governmental affairs, he does not appoint his angels over them. (Romans 13:1-7) Any “princes” or “rulers” over them could be placed there only by “the ruler of the world,” Satan the Devil. They would have to be demonic rulers rather than angelic guardians. There are, then, invisible demonic forces, or “princes,” behind the visible rulers, and national conflicts involve more than mere humans.
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