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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.

This language all tends to the same purpose — to assure us that Daniel did not write his own comments with rashness, but was truly and clearly taught by the angel on all the points which he committed to writing, and thus all hesitation is removed as to our embracing what we shall afterwards perceive, as he is a faithful interpreter of God. He first states he saw a vision. He had said so before, but he repeats it to produce a due impression; he calls the vision great, to arouse our attention to its importance. He adds, he was deprived of all vigor; as if he had been rendered lifeless by the blast of the Spirit. Thus we gather the object of the exhibition of all these outward signs; they not only bring before us God speaking by the mouth of his angel, but they prepared the Prophet himself, and trained him to reverence. God, however, does not terrify his sons, as if our disquiet was with him an object of delight, but solely because it is profitable for us; for unless our carnal feelings were utterly subdued, we should never be fit to receive improvement. This necessarily requires violence, on account of our inborn perverseness; and this is the reason why the Prophet was reduced to this state of lifelessness. Even my comeliness, or beauty, or appearance, was turned to corruption; meaning, my deformity was similar to that induced by death. He adds lastly, I did not retain my vigor. He uses a variety of phrases to shew himself depressed by the heavenly blast, for but a slight amount of vitality remained, and he was scarcely preserved from actual death. We ought to learn to transfer this instruction to ourselves, not by the vanishing of our rigor or the changing of our appearance whenever God addresses us, but by all our resistance giving way, and all our pride and loftiness becoming prostrate before God. Finally, our carnal disposition ought to be completely reduced to nothing, as true docility will never be found in us until all our senses are completely mortified; for we must always remember how hostile all our natural thoughts are to the will of God. It afterwards follows; — but I cannot proceed further today; I must delay my comment on the next verses till to-morrow.

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