Day 259: Behind the Curtain (Daniel 10:12-14)

Set of Hamilton

12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

Daniel 10:12-14
Through the Bible: Daniel 10-12

When I was in high school, I was involved in drama, chorus, and theatre. It was always interesting to contrast what was going on behind the curtain with what was happening on stage. As the audience gathers, all they see is an empty stage or a closed curtain. Backstage, however, is a frenzy of controlled chaos. Actors are getting into costume. Stagehands are moving sets into place. Prop masters are getting props where they need to be. All the while the tech director, lighting designer, prompters, musicians, sound engineers, and a host of others are in communication with the director, all working to make sure the vision of the creator is realized onstage.

The book of Daniel is like that. We don’t always (if ever) get a peek behind the curtain the way Daniel did. But we can be certain that God hears our prayers from the moment we begin praying, and that there is an entire backstage crew that is at work, bringing the production to life according to the vision of our Creator.

Daniel 10 begins with the prophet receiving a word during the third year of the reign of Cyrus. Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, which made this 536 BC, fifty years after the temple was destroyed; and sixty-six years since Daniel was first deported to Babylon. The text doesn’t specify the contents of this message, only that it pertained to a “great conflict.”

After receiving the message, Daniel mourned for three full weeks. It is worth noting that this time of mourning went from the third day of the first month to the twenty-fourth day. The first month is when Jews are to observe Passover, According to Leviticus 23:5-7, Jews were to observe Passover and the feast of unleavened bread from the 14th day of the first month to the 22nd day. However, there is no record of the Jews ever observing Passover while they were in Babylon, which seems to be the context of Psalm 137.

Daniel, who was in his eighties by this point, was probably wondering if he was going to live to see the exile end. He knew from reading Jeremiah that the exile was going to last for seventy years (see Daniel 9:1-2). But there is still four years to go. He may have wondered if God was even hearing his prayers anymore.

It is at this point, two days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread would have ended had the Jews been allowed to observe it, that Daniel has his vision of an angelic being. The unnamed angel (possibly Gabriel, since he is mentioned in 8:16) gives Daniel a peek behind the curtain. He explains that for the three weeks Daniel was in mourning, the angel was doing battle with the Prince of Persia. No, not the video game, but apparently a demonic spirit that oversaw Persia. He assures Daniel that from the moment Daniel began praying, his prayers were answered.

Beloved, notice this: three times in two chapters, Daniel is described as a man “greatly loved:”

“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.”
‭‭Daniel‬ ‭9‬:‭23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.”
‭‭Daniel‬ ‭10‬:‭11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthened me.””
‭‭Daniel‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬-‭19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In each case, three things are emphasized:

  • When Daniel is weak and confused, he is reminded that he is loved.
  • When Daniel is reminded he is loved, he is able to understand the visions.
  • With understanding comes strength.

Beloved, God won’t always give you the privilege of seeing what is behind the curtain. But please know that just because the show hasn’t started yet, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything going on backstage.

It’s nearly showtime.

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