Daniel receives another vision in chapter 10 in the third year of Cyrus, which was Daniel’s seventieth year in captivity. Daniel was in a three week period of mourning, probably because only 40,000 of the Jews had returned to Israel when Cyrus allowed them to go home. Daniel himself probably didn’t return to his homeland because he was too old to make to 900-mile journey and also because God was using him in Babylon in his position of government.
While Daniel is grieving, he receives a vision which he emphasizes to his readers is true. It is a fantastic vision beginning with a preincarnate view of Christ! Some commentators believe that it was Gabriel appearing to Daniel but the text uses terms ascribed to deity and the language parallels the description of Christ in Revelation chapter one very closely. Daniel’s response was one of utter weakness and falling to the ground, similar to others in the Old Testament who saw the preincarnate Christ, and the men who were with Daniel were unable to see the vision, although they fled.
After this vision of Christ, a hand reaches out and touches Daniel. Because of the antecedent connecting this hand with verse 11, it seems that this hand belongs to an angel, probably Gabriel, and not to the preincarnate Christ described in the previous verses. Gabriel was most likely sent to Daniel in answer to his prayer that began 21 days earlier (Daniel 9:16-19).
Gabriel explains that he was on his way to Daniel but was detained by the prince of Persia and could not break away from him until Michael came and helped him. He continues explaining how he will return to the fight after leaving Daniel and then will face the prince of Greece.
Through this dialogue, we learn for the first time in Scripture of tutelary (guardian) angels directing the destinies of human leaders and nations. We knew that angels existed but did not know of their direct involvement in men’s affairs. We know from Scripture that angels are much stronger than men and therefore conclude that the princes of Persia and Greece must also be angels (wicked, and therefore called demons). The word for “prince” here is the same word used for “principality” in Ephesians 6:12 and denotes a special classification of evil angels who seek to influence the decisions of human governments to promote the program of Satan—the “prince of this world.”
We can conclude from Daniel 10 that the Devil tries to sway world kingdoms by assigning evil principalities to interfere in the affairs of government. Gabriel was about to disclose to Daniel the future of the kingdom of Persia and the demon in charge didn’t want that information out! He also didn’t want the Jews to return in preparation for the Messiah’s coming!
A direct application for us from this passage is to pray for those in authority over us. Governments are continually bombarded by demonic influence. Revelation and Jude inform us of the spiritual war that rages and so, as Romans 13 instructs, we ought to pray consistently for our authorities and for the spiritual warfare going on.
The vision of Christ, coupled with the truths the angel Gabriel shared, left Daniel without strength and breathless. But Gabriel touched him and strengthened him. He spoke truth to him: “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage” (verse 19). The Bible tells us that the touch and the truth strengthened Daniel and he was able to receive the vision. This is completely compatible with what we know of angelic power from the life of Jesus (specifically during his 40 days of fasting and in the Garden of Gethsemane).
It is clear from Daniel 10 that evil angels under the direction of Satan seek to thwart the plan of God and attack His people but God has His angelic messengers and warriors that always ultimately triumph in the cause of God.