Messiah shall be Cut Off: The Vision of Christ in Daniel 10

In Daniel 10, an amazing vision of Divinity is given. I believe this vision is of the pre-incarnate Christ. Jesus existed before His birth; after all, he is God Himself. The Word was with God and was God, through Him all things were made. Identifying this figure with Christ though is not easy. The text of the NKJV reads:

4 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in colour, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigour was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

The figure could be an angel. Angels are not fat children with feathery wings, but immensely powerful beings whose sound and appearance naturally terrify humans. In chapter 8, Daniel meets Gabriel, and this is what happens:

17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” 18 Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.

Note that Daniel is afraid and requires strength. In the first passage, however, his terror and weakness are far more intensive, suggesting that the figure is far more terrifying and awesome than even an angel.

Secondly, compare this person with one described by the apostle John in Revelation 1 

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Although identical similes are not employed (face like lightening/sun; voice like a multitude/many waters; limbs like brass/burnished bronze), they confer similar descriptions. The eyes are also similar (flaming torches), and the golden accoutrement is present on both occasions. The figure in Revelation is clearly Jesus Christ: who else can claim to have died and yet be alive? Who else holds the keys of death and hell? I propose that both are visions of Jesus, one prior to His incarnation, one post-ascension. At this point, liberal scholars would suggest that John simply copied Daniel; this foundation of unbelief is not worthy of further discussion.

The third reason is the immediate context of Daniel’s vision. Prior to his seeing the figure, we are told he engaged in a period of mourning for three weeks. No specifics are offered for this other than that a message was given to him. We are not told what this message was, so it may be a reference to the previous revelation in chapter 9, which includes the following 

“And after the sixty-two weeks

Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;

And the people of the prince who is to come

Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

The whole of chapter 9 paints a bleak view of the future, but the lines quoted above must have cut Daniel to the heart- Messiah will be defeated. Surely the Messiah will be triumphant, confounding Israel’s enemies and ushering in peace and plenty? Perhaps Daniel sought further explanation or assurance that he had correctly understood. The glorious vision of Christ would have afforded him such assurance as he needed. Although Daniel hears Christ speak, His words are not recorded for us. I am going to be so bold as to wonder aloud what Christ said to His prophet:

‘Beloved Daniel, do I look like someone who can be defeated? I shall one day be cut off, but that was My plan since the beginning of time. Although I die, I come back to life, for I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’


Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay