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(Last update 7/3/00)

On of the more interesting examples of angelic involvement (in the vision of prophecy as Maimonides refers to it) can be found in the book of Daniel, chapters 8-12. We will select specific verses for examination, concentrating less on the prophecies themselves, and mostly on the messengers -- the angels:

Daniel 8:15-19 - And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.

Daniel 9:2 - In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem

Daniel 9:20-27 - And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Daniel 10:7-21 - 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. 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. 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. 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.

Daniel 12:4-6 - But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

Analyzing these verses, we find the following:

8:15-19 - Here we see the angel acting as an agent in the role of carrying out the prophetic will of God -- in this case not by creating a visible miracle, but rather by passing along information from the Godhead directly to Daniel.

In our equation involving light, mass and energy in the spiritual realm we have:

Spiritual Light Spiritual Mass (Entity) Spiritual Energy
The vision of the future Angel(s) appearing to Daniel Understanding of the revelation

Gabriel takes on the form of a man before Daniel. It would seem that Gabriel did not actually manifest himself in the physical realm, but rather Daniel (in similar fashion to Enoch) was given sight into the spiritual realm.

9:2 - This is a key verse that is often overlooked. Daniel's entire prayer in chapters 9 and 10 is in the context of the seventy years of captivity as described in Jeremiah. God made a specific link between these years in captivity and the number of shemita cycles that Israel had missed, stating that for each year they were in captivity the land would lie fallow. Earlier in Daniel, we saw the great feast put on by Belshazar. Why is this feast being held at this time, and why did Belshazar use the stolen Temple implements to mock God?

The answer is that the seventy year prophecy was not a secret. Belshazar and his astrologers were well aware of Hebrew teachings, including those about shemita and all that Jeremiah had said concerning the kingdom that placed Israel into captivity itself falling. What Belshazar and others (including Daniel), were not aware of, was exactly when the seventy years had begun, as Israel went into captivity in stages. Belshazar had incorrectly calculated that the seventy years had passed, and was celebrating his "victory" over the God of Israel, as he and his kingdom were still standing. That night several things happened: God's finger wrote upon the wall of his palace, Belshazar died, and Babylon was taken over by the Medo-Persians. (Perhaps he was off by 1 day?!)

All of this is the background to Daniel chapter 9, where we find the prophet petitioning God to explain to him the meaning of the seventy year prophecy. As he is to learn, there is more to this seventy years than the immediate literal fulfullment.

9:21-22 - Gabriel "flew swiftly" and "touched Daniel." Neither of these should be taken in a literal sense. When Scripture speaks of angels swiftly flying or moving, it is not describing physical motion. As mentioned earlier, distance in the spiritual realm is not measured as it is in the physical world. Here, the language would indicate that Daniel was being given entry into spiritual space, where Gabriel began to grant greater revelation upon him. This movement would be the rapid impartation of revelation from the Godhead, through the angel, to Daniel (as seen in the table above).

9:23 - The prayers of the righteous are heard by God, but sometimes there are reasons beyond our understanding why God takes His time in answering. This can be seen in the verse, "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth," whereby the angel informs Daniel that God heard his prayers and sent forth an angel to reply from the moment Daniel began praying. This is repeated in 10:12, where further explanation is given.

9:24-27 - This is Daniel's famous prophecy of the Messiah. Knowing that Daniel had specifically been seeking insight into the 70 year captivity, we now have the angel explaining a deeper meaning to this time period. Each of the 70 years represent a full shemita cycle (each being seven years long), totalling a period of 490 years. Daniel is told that this time period is directly related to the arrival of the Messiah and the next Kingdom offer.

(Click here to read an article about the Kingdom offer.)

This Kingdom offer would be rejected however, and the Messiah would be cut off after 69 of the 70 shemita cycles. The 70th shemita cycle would be put off to a time in the future. When it would finally take place could in fact be influenced by the actions of God's people. If they merit it, Messiah will come sooner than later. This teaching is prevalent in Judaism. (See the article on the Kingdom offer.) This might explain why Yeshua, in the Gospels, said that He did not know when His return (the 70th shemita cycle) would take place. It isn't that He did not "know" -- rather, that event is not fixed in time, per se, as the people could hasten or delay it.

On a side note (one we will discuss more fully later in this study), we see the idea of "seventy sevens" one other place in Scripture. In Matthew 18:22, Yeshua teaches that we are to forgive seventy times seven times. Of course, he does not mean a literal 490 times is all that is required. Rather, what we see here is Yeshua providing a "balance" between God's judgment and mercy.

10:12-20 - Here we have a further declaration that Daniel's prayer had been heard. Beyond that however, we can also see several principles regarding how angels work:

  • God had given the assignment of giving greater revelation to Daniel to an angel - most likely this is Gabriel. (Principle: a specific task is given to a specific angel.)
  • This angel had to complete another assignment before embarking on this one. (Principle: angels are given one assignment at a time.)
  • This assignment was fighting with "the prince of the kingdom of Persia," which is a demon. (The term "prince" is often used to represent spiritual beings, good and bad, including Michael, Yeshua and haSatan.) This "prince" is given specific jurisdiction over Persia. (Principle: there is a link between angels and physical areas/kingdoms.)
  • This delay took "21 days" and the angel Michael came to take over for this angel so that he could fulfill his task with Daniel. He would then return to the task of fighting with the prince of Persia. (Principle: one angel is assigned per specific task.)
  • Persia is in control of Daniel's people at this time as Cyrus is on the throne (10:1). This would indicate that the angel combating the prince of Persia is fighting a battle on Israel's behalf. He is restraining Persia for a time. He will depart when it is time for the Selucid Greeks to come take over Persia's role as Israel's oppressor (10:20). (Principle: angels may be given assignments for a specific or limited period of time.)

10:15-19 - Here we see Daniel becoming weak due to the intensity of receiving such revelation from an angel of God. Daniel is strengthened however, enabling him to continue. Here is an example of God being both the cause and effect in a "spiritual transaction." (See previous section.)

10:21 - Michael is consistently portrayed as being perhaps the most powerful of the archangels, fighting the more difficult battles in the heavenlies and having an important role in the last days (Daniel 12:1, Jude 9, Revelation 12:7). As angels have a job of "restraining evil angels," there is a likelihood that it is Michael who is the force bridling the activities of the greatest of the evil ones, the anti-Messiah. (Compare the language in Daniel 10:20 to that found in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. We also see Michael being "assigned" to haSatan himself, in Jude 9.)

12:6 - Here we see one angel asking another to explain, "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" Here we have a sixth principle: Each of the angels has knowledge limited to what is in "their domain."