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Conflict of Nations and Heavenly Powers


In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The word was true, and it concerned a great conflict. He understood the word, having received understanding in the vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. 3I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris), 5I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. 7I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision, though a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled and hid themselves. 8So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. 9Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.

10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11He said to me, “Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12He said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia, 14and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.”

15 While he was speaking these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16Then one in human form touched my lips, and I opened my mouth to speak, and said to the one who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision such pains have come upon me that I retain no strength. 17How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking, no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. 19He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I am through with him, the prince of Greece will come. 21But I am to tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth. There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.

He here relates how he was strengthened, by the angel’s exhortation. He now begins to raise himself from his former position, and the angel now orders him to raise his drooping spirits, and calls him a man greatly beloved We have previously discussed this word, which some refer to Daniel’s zeal, and take it passively, because he was inspired with a most invincible ardor through anxiety for the common welfare of the Church. I rather incline to the opposite view, thinking him so called through the force of his desires, because he was dear and precious to God. By This epithet the angel wished to animate the holy Prophet, and to calm and quiet his mind for listening to what he so ardently expected. Understand, therefore, he says, or attend to, the words which I shall speak to thee, and stand upright. Some translate it, in thy station, but “station” does not refer to the position of the body. I have already shewn how the Prophet was not now quite prostrate; his face was towards the earth, while he was supported by his hands and knees; and we now perceive him raised another step. This doctrine is profitable to us, because many think themselves utterly neglected and deserted by God, unless they immediately regain their mental rigor. But God does not all at once restore to life those whom he has rendered all but lifeless, but he conveys new life by degrees, and inspires the dead with fresh animation. We perceive this to have been done in Daniel’s case. Therefore I am never surprised when God raises us gradually by distinct steps, and cures our infirmity by degrees; but if even a single drop of his virtue is supplied to us, we should be content with this consolation, until he should complete what he has begun within us. Lastly, this passage unfolds to us how God works in his servants, by not rendering them perfect all at once, but allowing some infirmity to remain until the completion of his own work.

Daniel afterwards adds, When he heard this address, he stood up. We here observe the effect and fruit of the angel’s exhortation, as Daniel no longer needed to support himself on his hands and knees. He could stand upright, although he adds, he remained trembling Although thus erect in body, he was not entirely free from feelings of dread; and, though he stood upon his feet, he was not yet relieved from all trepidation, even at the angel’s command. This confirms my previous remark — God leaves in his servants some signs of fear, to remind them of their infirmity; they venture to raise themselves by hope above the world, but they do not forget they are but dust and ashes, and so restrain themselves within the bounds of humility and modesty. It now follows: —

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