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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 pursues his own narrative in which he appears prolix, but not without design. This prophecy required all kinds of sanction for the purpose of inspiring unhesitating confidence in it, not only with those Jews of that generation, but with all posterity. Although the predictions of the eleventh chapter have been fulfilled, yet their utility is manifest to us as follows: first, we behold in them God’s perpetual care of his Church; secondly, we observe the pious never left destitute of any necessary consolation; and lastly, we perceive, as in a glass or in a living picture, the Spirit of God speaking in the prophets, as I have observed before, and shall have occasion to remark again. Daniel, therefore, has good reasons for impressing us with the certainty of the vision, and with whatever tends to prove its reality. He says, I alone saw the vision; but the men who were with me did not see it; just as the companions of Paul did not hear Christ’s voice, but only a confused sound: they did not understand his language, as Paul alone was permitted to comprehend it. (Acts 9:7) This is related to promote belief in the prophecy. Daniel’s power of hearing was not superior to his companions, but God intended to address him alone. Thus the voice, although like the voice of a multitude, did not penetrate the ears of those who were with him. He alone was the recipient of these prophecies, as he alone was endued with the power of predicting future events, and of consoling and exhorting the pious to live them a knowledge of futurity even to the last day. Should any one inquire how he carried his companions with him while he was probably lying on his bed at a distance from the bank of the river, the answer is easy. He had his domestics with him; the river’s bank only existed in the vision, and he was carried completely out of himself, and thus his family would be acquainted with the ecstasy without being aware of the cause. Daniel then continued at his own home, and only visited the bank of the river during the vision; although many witnesses were present, God struck them all with astonishment, while Daniel only perceived what is afterwards narrated. God deemed him worthy of this singular honor to fit him to become a teacher and instructor to others. The men who were with me, says he, saw not the vision; but a great terror fell upon them This distinction, as I have stated, shews Daniel to have been selected as the sole listener to the angel’s voice, and as receiving the information which he was afterwards to convey to others. Meanwhile, God intended many witnesses to notice Daniel’s entire freedom from any delusion through either a dream or a passing imagination. His companions, then, were fright-eyed This terror proves the Prophet to have been divinely instructed and not to have labored under any delirium. They fled, therefore, into hiding-places It afterwards follows: —

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