“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Daniel.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
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.
I think the most impressive thing about this — the final vision of Daniel — is that he understood it! Perhaps it is because he had prepared his heart:
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.
I wonder what he was mourning. Was he still grieved over Jerusalem? Had Shadrach, Meschach, and/or Abednego died? Or some other personal or spiritual grief of which we know nothing?
There’s no way to know, but blessed is the one who mourns, for he shall see the glory of God:
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.
Yowza! As far as I know, this is the first public vision in Daniel, and perhaps the Old Testament (depending upon how you define “vision”, of course). It reminds me a bit about Paul’s encounter on the Damascus Road, especially given the reaction of his companions:
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.
Of course Daniel ain’t doing so good himself:
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.
Then, for reasons I can’t imagine, the vision segues into a dreams. Or is it one vision interrupted by a nap?
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.
At any rate, this allows Daniel to get back on his feet — eventually:
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and [upon] the palms of my hands. 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.
I am struck by the tender regard — even honor — the angel holds for Daniel. Which is perhaps unsurprising, given his mission:
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.
Hmph. Kind words, but if Daniel’s so honored, why’d he have to mourn for three weeks?
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.
Whoa. There’s a host of theology in that one verse, though it goes — literally! — where angels fear to tread. Suffice it say that there are greater powers at work, some of them hostile to Daniel’s people. Perhaps that is part of the reason why this message was sent to Daniel, to help him understand the higher-level narrative being played out:
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.
Not that he finds this any great comfort:
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
Whoops. This is all a bit too much for an old man, though he gets a little help:
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.
Hmm. I wonder if that was the original motivation for his mourning: his sorrow at all the tribulations his people would endure in the future. Having so humbled himself, he is now even more bereft in the presence of such glory.
Fortunately, that glory is not disconnected from grace:
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.
Whew. It has taken almost a dozen verses for Daniel just to pull himself together. So what’s so gosh-darn important that he has to fly down here and terrify Daniel half to death in order to show him how “dearly beloved” he is?
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.
Whoa. And one more bonus comment from Chapter 11:
Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, [even] I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
Okay, what in heaven’s name is going on here? Literally!
The easiest way for me to make sense of it is that there is a certain duality between earthly communities and heavenly powers. One of the things we’ve learned in physics — to the extent of our current understanding — is that many of what we once called “Laws” (e.g., Gravity) are really forces carried by specific particles. In the same way, is it not possible that what we perceive as cultural trends or political movements may somehow (I dare not even guess how) mirror higher-order spiritual realities?
Of course, one could simplify things greatly by assuming that these putative spiritual beings are merely metaphors for various earthly realities. But, that would make them merely a) derivative, b) passive, and c) inert. The whole point of this visitation, as far as I can tell, is to help Daniel realize that this is not the case. Rather, that we are merely seeing the “underside of the tapestry“, and that on the other side an epic battle between God and evil is being played out. Moreover, we are not merely passive victims in that drama, but active participants, who — once we understand what’s going on — can both anticipate and influence the outcome.
At least, that’s the hope…
God, I confess that — unlike Daniel — I am not hungry to see you. Most of the time, I’d rather remain unaware of the grand drama being played out in the spiritual realms. I don’t want to mourn the great evil overtaking my people. Father, forgive me. Open my eyes. Help me to know that I am greatly beloved, that I may love others as you love them. Make me a player, a warrior, a voice in the wilderness; that I may understand the times, and know what to do. For the sake of your name, and the name of Jesus, in which I pray. Amen.
About the Title:
Latency can mean either ‘delays’ or ‘the state of being hidden.’