Vision and Prophecies – Daniel 10–11

Read the Passage: Daniel 10-11

The Glorious Man (10:1–9)

This chapter begins in “the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia” (Dan. 10:1), which was 536 BC. Chronologically, this is three years after the prayer and prophesy recorded in Dan. 9. Two years had passed since Cyrus’ decree to let Israel return to Palestine (cf. Ezra 1:1). As Ezra 1–6 and Neh. 7:4–73 reports, Zerubbabel had already led a group of roughly 50,000 Israelites back to the Promised Land. Here in Dan. 10:1–3 we learn that Daniel had not returned with the exiles. This was likely due to his advanced age, as well as his continued political service in Persia. Dan. 10:2–4 notes that Daniel received a vision when he was in a time of deep mourning. Among other reasons, this mourning may have been on account of the relatively small group of exiles who had returned to Palestine, or it may have been on account of the present trials facing the returnees (cf. Dan. 10:16–17).

At Dan. 10:4–9 Daniel identifies the exact time and place of his vision. It was three days after the Passover as he was by the Tigris River. Here Daniel records that he saw a glorious man. From the description of this man in Dan. 10:5–6 it is clear that this was a theophany—that is, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ. Note the parallels between the details recorded by Daniel and those later reported by John in Rev. 1:13–17. Both Daniel and John describe Jesus as being girded with a golden band around His waist (or chest), having eyes of fire, having feet like burnished brass (or bronze), and having a voice like many waters (or a multitude). Note, too, the similarities with the earlier description of God the Father at Dan. 7:9–10. Further, both Daniel and John had similar reactions to seeing Christ—that is, they fell at His feet (cf. Dan. 10:7–9; Rev. 1:17).

Greece and Persia (10:10–11:19)

At Dan. 10:10 we are informed that Daniel was touched by a hand, likely that of Gabriel, who had earlier served as a messenger and interpreter for Daniel (cf. Dan. 8:16; 9:20–23). Gabriel encouraged Daniel, noting that he had been sent by God to help (cf. Dan. 10:11). Further, Daniel learns that God had heard his prayers (cf. Dan. 10:12) and that he was loved by God (cf. Dan. 10:19). Also, we learn that the vision recorded in the following chapters entails information about “what will happen to your people in the latter days” (Dan. 10:14). Gabriel’s purpose in coming was to “tell Daniel what is noted in the Scripture of Truth” (Dan. 10:21). From Gabriel’s comments about a prince of Persia (cf. Dan. 10:13) and prince of Greece (cf. Dan. 10:20) we are reminded that behind earthly realities—including people and nations—are spiritual forces (cf. Eph. 6:12–13).

The prophecies that follow in Dan. 11:2–19 can be difficult to interpret. As we noted, however, this material is about the then future of the Jews “in the later days” (Dan. 10:14). As we’ve previously observed, this time period was from Daniel’s time until the end of the Old Testament era (cf. Dan. 8:17). Thus, while these prophecies were future for Daniel and his people, they are part of our history books. In short, this passage refers to specific event and kings, such as: (1) the four coming Persian kings, who were Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius Hystaspis, and Xerxes—cf. Dan. 11:2; (2) Alexander the Great—cf. Dan. 11:3; (3) Alexander’s four generals, who were Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy—cf. Dan. 11:4; and (4) the interaction between these rulers, and their successors, in the years prior to the arrival of Christ—cf. Dan. 11:5–19.

Antiochus Epiphanes (11:20–45)

Just as was the case in Dan. 8:8–14; 23–25, so here in Dan. 11:20–45 the focus of this prophecy is the future ruler known as Antiochus Epiphanes. Recall from our earlier study that Antiochus was the Seleucid ruler who conquered Egypt and Armenia, before invading and oppressing those in Canaan from 171–165 BC. The 6.5 years of oppression under Antiochus Epiphanes is referred to in Dan. 8:14 as lasting for 2,300 days. The events of Dan. 11:20–45 can be applied to various events that transpired in the second century BC under Antiochus. However, as is the case with other prophesies, so here it seems that dual fulfillment is intended, with Antiochus being paradigmatic of antichrist—that is, all those (especially world rulers) who reject Christ. This seems to be especially true of the prophecies recorded in Dan. 11:36–45. This dual fulfillment of prophecy brings to mind John’s later teaching about antichrist (cf. 1 John 2:18).

Application Questions:

  1. Like Daniel, how can we end our lives and ministry well? Have you thought much about or spent much time planning for your life’s end?
  2. Why do you think Daniel had not made the return trip to Palestine with Zerubbabel? Why was Daniel in mourning for three weeks at this time?
  3. What parallels can you draw between Daniel’s description of the glorious man at Dan. 10:5–6 and John’s description of Christ (cf. Rev. 1:13–17)?
  4. How can Christians resist “principalities. . . powers . . . rulers of the darkness . . . [and] spiritual hosts of wickedness” (Eph. 6:12) in the world?
  5. How important is it that we are able identify every aspect of the prophetic dreams and visions that are recorded in the Bible?