In his Fifth Vision, beginning in Daniel 10 and concluding in chapter 12, an angel describes a list of the kings who would drive world history until the time of the Messiah. Futurists, with their desire to read current events into the Bible, will often apply an interpretation to these chapters that puts at least some of these rulers in the future – usually the very near future. By contrast, a preterist interpretation provides a wonderful and awe-inspiring testimony to the power of Scripture as God’s Word. These prophecies amazingly have been fulfilled to the smallest detail. Here we have an accurate outline of history prophesied before any of the events took place, which point to the exact time of the coming of the Messiah. To ensure that believing Jews, such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38), would not miss the Messiah, the vision depicts the major world rulers of Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, leading up to the time of Christ.
In Daniel 10, an angel appears to the prophet Daniel and gives an interpretation of a vision. The vision takes place in about 535 BC “in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia” (Daniel 10:1). Cyrus the Great reigned in Persia from 550 to 529 BC. In alliance with the Medes, he overthrew the city of Babylon during a scene of wild revelry in the court of Belshazzar. The Medes and Persians captured the city of Jerusalem in 539 BC.
Note that in the description of the vision in verses 1-12, the angel appears physically to Daniel and touches him lifting him up. Then the angel commands Daniel to stand on his feet.
1. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
2. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
3. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
4. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;
5. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
A certain man clothed in linen — This is now not Gabriel, but a “man” who closely resembles the Lord Jesus Christ as the Apostle John describes him in Revelation 1:13: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot …”
Whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz — Revelation 1:13 has Jesus … “girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”
6. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
His face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire — “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14).
His arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass — “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace …” (Revelation 1:15)
The voice of his words like the voice of a multitude — “… and his voice as the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:15).
Matthew Henry writes:
There he looked up, and saw one man Christ Jesus. It must be he, for he appears in the same resemblance wherein he appeared to St. John in the isle of Patmos, Revelation 1:13-15. His dress was priestly, for he is the High Priest of our profession, clothed in linen, as the High Priest himself was on the day of atonement, that great day; his loins were girded (in St. John’s vision his paps were girded) with a golden girdle of the finest gold, that of Uphaz, for everything about Christ is the best in its kind. The girding of the loins denotes his ready and diligent application to his work, as his Father’s servant, in the business of our redemption. His shape was amiable, his body like the beryl, a precious stone of a sky-colour. His countenance was awful, and enough to strike a terror on the beholders, for his face was as the appearance of lightning, which dazzles the eyes, both brightens and threatens. His eyes were bright and sparkling, as lamps of fire. His arms and feet shone like polished brass, v.6. His voice was loud, and strong, and very piercing, like the voice of a multitude.
What does the similarity between the vision in Daniel 11 and John’s vision in Revelation 1 signify? The Fifth Vision of Daniel describes in sharp detail the events leading up to the time of Christ. As David Chilton taught, the Book of Revelation is the “capstone” to the earlier vision. When John wrote, the seals to the prophecy of Daniel broke and this vision was fulfilled.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
And, behold, an hand touched me — The text makes it clear that this is not simply a dream, but an open vision of an angel who physically appears to Daniel.
11. 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.
Stand upright — Daniel is commanded by the angel to stand, which demonstrates he is not dreaming or asleep.
12. 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.
13. 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.
The prince of the kingdom of Persia — This refers either to the king of Persia or to an angelic being. The guardian of Persia was perhaps a fallen angel standing in opposition to God’s plan for the Jews’ restoration. Therefore, he desired that the Jews should remain scattered among the nations.
14. 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.
The latter days — This does not speak of the “last days” in an eschatological sense, but of the time in which the prophecy will be fulfilled.
15. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,
19. 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.
20. 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.
I return to fight with the prince of Persia — God himself fights for the people of Israel to force the Persian king to release the Jews, so that the Temple at Jerusalem will be rebuilt and finally the Messiah will come.
The prince of Grecia shall come — This speaks of the time of the end of the Persian Empire that will last until the time of the prince of Greece, that is, Alexander’s conquest of the world, which foreshadows further trouble for the Jews under Alexander’s successors.
21. 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.
Michael your prince — Michael is the angel who is the guardian general of God’s covenant people. Sometimes in Scripture, he is depicted as the archangel, or as “the angel of the Lord,” an appearance in type of the Messiah.