If chapter nine describes the process of repentance we must pass through in order to be fully rid of selfishness, then chapter ten is the next logical step, and carried us into the early stages of repentance. With this in mind it is possible to see the final six chapters of Daniel as a completing sequence of spiritual development from an awareness of the presence of evil and the initial judgment on it, as shown in chapter seven, a state of self examination and a vision of the horrors of evil in chapter eight. Chapter nine follows then with the first rejection of evil from the force of conscience, and chapter ten begins the series of temptation. The very long eleventh chapter completes the series with the total rejection of selfishness, and chapter twelve is a beautiful image of the new state breaking into our minds, as a result.
The process of repentance initiates states of temptation From our human perspective there is often no break in the time-frame or progression of these states, and we simply move from one to the next—and at times seem to be sliding backwards because we have more than one evil we repent of, and are often tempted in different areas of life and on different levels. The process of regeneration, as we have seen in this study of Daniel is not a simple linear progression from one state to the next.
All spiritual life begins in states of selfishness and evil (Or "condemnation," see Divine Providence 83). A person before beginning the process of repentance is led by the love of self and of the world, "and these delights prevent him from knowing that he is in evils, for every delight of love is felt as good". A second state, the state of "reformation" begins when the person "begins to think about heaven on account of the joy there; and thus concerning God from whom the joy of heaven comes to him" (Divine Providence 83).
Unless people reflect on it, they miss the distinct difference between these two states. The first is our Nebuchadnezzar/Belshazzar combination governing our inner and outer being, when everything we feel, think or do is permeated with selfishness. As we saw earlier one of the flaws of that state is its inability to reflect on itself. Thus we have Daniel, or our conscience, to show us alternatives to selfishness, to inspire us with thoughts of heaven and the Lord. However, these thoughts also show us the discrepancies between our state and the ideal state of heaven, with the result that we enter into states of temptation because our vision of truth motivates us to turn aside from selfishness.
This introduces the third state or the active state of being reborn. Regeneration begins “when a person desists from evils as sins, and it progresses as he shuns them, and is perfected as he fights against them; and then, as he from the Lord conquers them, he is regenerated” (Divine Providence 83:6).
From this passage we can clearly see that "regeneration" is a process. There is probably no point at which one can say "now I am regenerated," for there are always evils to desist from, shun and fight, and so there is a perpetual perfecting of our human spirit.
Chapter ten begins in the now familiar way of introducing a time and a ruler. It begins in the "third year" of Cyrus, king of Persia. These opening words, which mark a passage of time in the historical sense indicate a passage of state in our spiritual journey. Spiritual life is a process, and we move from one state to another in an orderly progression. The "third year," as we have seen several times before means the end of one state and the beginning of the next, and to understand this sequence we have to place each "year" into the context of the chapters which have gone before it.
The prayer of repentance in Daniel chapter nine takes place in the first year of the reign of Darius. As such it depicts the dawning of a new state in which a person who has seen the evils of his or her live, is moved by their conscience to repent. Both chapter five and chapter eight describe the move away from evil. Chapter six and nine, then have Darius in common, with chapter six setting the historical scene with Daniel being elevated to second in command of Babylon—a man much prized and treasured by Darius. Thus we see a progression in which the conscience is lifted up and given power over our minds.
The way in which the power is given, however, is shown in the repentance prayer of chapter nine, for without repentance we cannot engage our evils, face them, or defeat them.
It follows, then that we are ready for the next state, symbolised by Cyrus, king of Persia. The Persians came to be a military and political force under Cyrus. While the Medes controlled Babylon, the Persians gathered force on their eastern border. By 550 BC Cyrus had overrun the Median empire, by which time Daniel had been in Babylon for about fifty-five years. He would have been somewhere between sixty-five and seventy-five years old. When the time came for Cyrus to attack Babylon, the city fell "with astounding ease" (Bright 1972:360) in 539 BC As John Bright writes, “the Babylonians were more than ready for a change, while toleration was characteristic of Cyrus. Neither Babylon nor any of the outlying cities were harmed. Persian soldiers were ordered to respect the religious sensibilities of the population and to refrain from terrorising them. Oppressive conditions were ameliorated” (Bright 1972:361).
The historical man Cyrus embraced the gods of Babylon. He publicly worshipped Marduk, and claimed his right to rule as given by the gods. Yet as we saw in chapter nine, Cyrus also made the proclamation allowing the Jews to return to Israel and begin rebuilding the temple at government cost. Perhaps it is because of this generosity of spirit and action which accords the high representation Cyrus enjoys in the internal sense. Certainly he was a king of a completely different mould from either Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar. Bright comments that "Cyrus was one of the truly enlightened rulers of ancient times" (Bright 1972:362).
Could this enlightenment come from the fact that Persia originally lay to the east of Babylon, and the east represents the Lord (Cf. Apocalypse Explained 600). Or it could be Cyrus' allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem—in itself something loaded with meaning.
Whatever the reason is, however, Cyrus has a most exalted representation, for he represents the Lord in His Human (Arcana Coelestia 8989:6). This can be clearly seen in Isaiah's prophecy, where he refers to Cyrus as "the Lord's anointed," and we are told that this means that in these verses "Cyrus" represents how the Lord from His Divine goodness acting by means of His Divine truth subjugated the hells during the glorification process (The Lord's glorification is the process of how the Lord took on a human from Mary, making it possible for the hells to attack Him. Drawing from the Divine love within, He defeated them one after another and made them subject to Himself. In the same process, by purifying the human from Mary, He made it possible for the Divine to descend to the level at which human beings live. Human regeneration is a finite version of the Lord's glorification, except that while the Lord acted from His own power, humans have no power of their own, but draw it from Him), and keeps the hells forever under his control (Apocalypse Explained 298:11).
Cyrus must have the same representation in the book of Daniel because of the context in which he is introduced. We see him, for the first time, after the prayer of repentance in chapter nine, and, as we have seen repentance introduces a new state, one of temptation and spiritual development.
The state of repentance presupposes two things, firstly that a person is aware of active evils within him or herself, and secondly that one is aware of the wrongness of the evil. The great difficulty in repentance is reconciling ourselves to giving up things our conscience has labelled evil. It is difficult because the other side of our personality, the side which favours the evil, may not see it as evil. Our minds at this stage are divided into two camps, almost as if there were two people within us.
Daniel's vision takes place in the third year of the reign of Cyrus because repentance brings the Lord close to us. As a person prays to the Lord for help to overcome, so the Lord grants that help as well as the sense of hope, comfort and inward joy. Without the Lord's power we have no ability whatever to fight against our sins (Arcana Coelestia 1661, 8172, 10481), because our resistance to evil is really the presence of the Lord acting in us to hold us back from committing the evil (Arcana Coelestia 929). The art of repentance is coming to believe that this is so, and learning to put our confidence and trust in the Lord—not an easy thing to do when a significant part of us resists this process with all its might.
It is partly because of this that the opening verse of chapter ten is so objectively stated, as if some narrator other than Daniel himself is telling the story. Certainly one could read into this that Daniel was not the author of this verse, because he only begins speaking in the next verse and seems so detached in the present verse. However, another way of looking at it is that this detachment is really the result of two forces present in our minds as we repent.
The side of goodness is represented by the statement that a message was revealed "to Daniel." As we have seen earlier, Daniel represents our conscience, or the pattern of our thoughts drawn from the knowledges we learn in the Word. When a person believes these things to be true, he or she separates him or herself from the merely worldly knowledges we accumulate from our environment. The other side of us, the Babylonian or selfish side, does not see Daniel this way. Nebuchadnezzar almost immediately renamed Daniel "Belshazzar" as if in denial of his Jewish roots. In this we see the selfish side of us as willing to know truths, even truths from the Word, but to see them as no different from the many things our environment teaches us, and certainly not as a motivating conscience.
At the time of repentance these two sides dwell within us, ready to pull us in two directions as we begin the process of temptation, or the battle of evil against our states of love and goodness.
After the introductory verse, which seems to narrate Daniel's experience, Daniel himself begins to relate the account of his vision. This verse can also be seen as part of the first thing said in this section, because it sets the scene and tone for the rest of the vision.
Daniel's description begins with the words "in those days." As we have seen before, time in the Word always describes state, and the state Daniel here describes is the state of temptation following from repentance. He describes this as a state of mourning.
When a person experiences temptation after the act of repentance, the person passes, as it were, into a spiritual mourning: We mostly associate the concept of mourning with death, especially the loss of a loved one. Yet all losses indicate a mourning of some sort or another. The act of repentance is no exception. When a person repents, his or her mind is lifted up from a selfish state into a higher light. The person is able to: see his or her actions with relative clarity, or at least clearly enough to understand that they are wrong and be willing to reject them.
As the states of selfishness reassert themselves- such as we saw the satraps do in the reign of Darius when they tried to trick him into killing Daniel, so we begin a spiritual battle, the battle of temptation. The first casualty of that battle is the clarity with which we had seen our evils. It is more difficult to see the wrong in something when part of our mind wants to embrace it. In those states our mind is divided into two. The understanding may KNOW that it wrong, but the will WANTS to follow the wrong path anyway, and unless we are very careful, the will will cloud our understanding, and we will loose our perception of the wrongness of our feeling, thought or action. If this happens, we give into the temptation.
So Daniel described his state as being one of mourning—mourning for the clarity of thought which the conscience presents before us to help us repent our sins. In. a spiritual state of mourning we may feel as if our understanding of truth has ceased (Arcana Coelestia 3580:3), and our understanding of truth, which had prompted us to repent, has been destroyed (Arcana Coelestia 4763). We come into this state because, as temptations begin to intensify, the turn our minds away from the Lord and His Word, focusing our thoughts and feelings upon ourselves so that we no longer receive His truths (Cf Apocalypse Revealed 492).
This state has to run its course—Daniel said he was in a state of mourning for "three full weeks." There is no short cut through the work of temptation, we should not pray to the Lord to take it away, for the prayers of those who ask for their temptations to be removed are not heard in heaven. To ask the Lord to remove these is counterproductive. We are told that the “prayers of those who are in temptations are but little heard; for the Lord wills the end, which is the salvation of the man, which end He knows, but not the man; and the Lord does not heed prayers that are contrary to the end, which is salvation” (Arcana Coelestia 8179).
So Daniel remained in that state for three full weeks. During that time he recounted that he "ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into his mouth." It is interesting how often when we are in a troubled state we loose our appetites. Food holds no appeal to us. This lack of appetite is just as true in times of spiritual combat as it is in natural troubles.
The reason why Daniel lost his appetite was because of the significance of food. When we eat the food becomes a part of our bodies, nourishing us from within and giving us the energy and sustenance to carry on our lives. Eating spiritual food does the same for our spirits. Spiritual eating is the appropriation of states of goodness and truth (Arcana Coelestia 3149, 3568, 3570), which can be compared to food and drink
Notice the sequence of ideas that make up Daniel's fast, He says he ate no "pleasant food, meat or wine." As we have seen many times in this study, lists. like this indicate a developmental series of ideas, which need to be explored. However, before we begin this exploration it is important to point out that the word "food" does not appear in the original. While the term used in the original language can mean "food," it is more specifically "bread" made from grain or corn (Brown Driver Briggs # 3899, Strong's Definition # 3899).
It is important to make this distinction, for while bread may be a staple diet, "food" as a generic term can mean things other than bread made from grain or corn. In the internal sense this kind of precision is important, for example in the Lord's prayer it is said, "Give us this day our daily bread," which would have a different meaning from "our daily food." Similarly in giving the Holy Supper the Lord took bread and broke it, saying this is My body. The fact is He chose bread from amongst the food on the table to represent His body.
The "bread" is so important is because it symbolises everything good and truth with a person (Arcana Coelestia 2165). Goodness and truth are the nourishment of our soul, and together they form the presence of the Lord within us. The Lord is present in us in our love and faith towards Him, especially in the uses we perform towards other people.
In the highest sense "bread" symbolises the love of the angels of the Lord's. celestial heaven, which is the greatest love one human being can express towards another. The essence of this love is humility, for the person in this love "acknowledges and believes that he is something vile and filthy (Arcana Coelestia 1594:4)." This may seem like strong language, but the whole process of the self-examination in chapters seven and eight and the repentance of chapter nine leads to this assumption. The point of this humility, however, is not to denigrate the human spirit for the sake of denigration, but to make it posib1e for us to identify and remove the blockages which allow the Lord to flow into and vivify us. It is hard for us to come to this recognition, but unless we do we can never then experience the liberation of knowing that all true goodness with us comes from the Lord Himself. Freed from selfishness we are able to embrace one another as angels do. Angels do not love their neighbour as much as themselves, but more than oneself (Arcana Coelestia 1594).
Thus when Daniel described his state of mourning he described how no pleasant bread came into his mouth. When we are in a state of temptation we loose the sense that we are evil. All the work of self-examination goes down the drain as our selfish side exerts itself. We saw this very clearly in chapter four when Nebuchadnezzar, having seen his dream of the tree being cut down, and being humbled in the interpretation, still announces himself as the greatest. The result is that he looses his rationality and ends up like a wild beast for seven years.
Much the same thing happens to us. We can acknowledge the origin of evil, and see it in ourselves. We even pray to the Lord for deliverance from the evil. Yet as soon as that old selfishness exerts itself once again we fall right back into it. We loose the clarity of sight, which showed us the nature of evil, with the result that our ability to love our neighbour more than ourselves disappears. No pleasant bread comes into our mouths.
Now notice that Daniel continues his list, no meat or wine came into his mouth. "Meat" represents the external things of love in our lives, the behaviours associated with loving our neighbour (Cf. Arcana Coelestia 574, 627). We call these behaviours "charity" ("Meat" represents charity, see Arcana Coelestia 5204). When a person shuns or removes selfishness from their lives, the removal results in external behaviour, which is the outward expression of their love towards others.
In a similar way, he drank no wine. "'Wine" represents a persons faith (Arcana Coelestia 1071:4). People often think of faith as a commodity, or a possession. One Bible, in notes about faith describes it as "your title deed to eternal life" (The Open Bible. 1975. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc. Page 1151). But faith is not a possession as such. One acquires faith through a process of learning spiritual truth from the Word, coming to see the truth of the things learned, and then putting one's trust and confidence in those teachings.
The truths making up faith are described as "water" in the literal sense of the Word. In the story of the Lord turning water into wine one is shown how the truths, by the person acknowledging them to be truth, are turned into spiritual truth, or faith. Faith changes from being an intellectual exercise into a matter of life when a person uses the truths, which make up faith to guide and direct his or her life.
In a state of temptation this process doesn't take place. In his state of mourning Daniel ate no bread, and no meat or wine came into his mouth. In this verse, then, we get a wonderful picture of how, as our evils reassert themselves after a period of repentance, we do not loose our sense of being evil, which makes it possible for us to be lured back into our old evils. At the same time, our love for others and our basic faith are shaken.
We can compare this state with two incidents in the historical section. First Nebuchadnezzar in Chapter four dreams of the mighty tree being cut down. This describes how one's selfishness is brought under control. The process is a form of inward temptation, similar to the images and visions of evil Daniel relates in chapters seven and eight. Yet even with the knowledge of the impending rejection of evil, Nebuchadnezzar still allowed his self-esteem to lead him, with the result that he ended up like a wild beast for seven years.
The second incident is the story of Darius the Mede, who promoted Daniel to a position of high honour, but allowed the satraps to appeal to his vanity with the result that Daniel was cast into the lion's den.
Both of these incidents show how after repentance people fall back into their old ways. Nebuchadnezzar represents our inner man and Darius our external. Together they are us. When we repent the idea of repenting begins in our inner being, and it has to be expressed in our outer, more public self. At the beginning of the process we may indeed be overcome by the enormity of our evils, but after a while they begin to reassert themselves, we loose the urgency or immediacy of the need to overcome them, and relapse into a state of temptation. We eat no bread, no meat or wine enters our mouths.
In addition to not taking food, Daniel also did not anoint himself at all. "Anointing" is the ancient custom of pouring oil over something in order to make it holy for example kings and priest were anointed as an external sign of their office, and internally as a sign that they represented the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 3009, 9144, 10019, 10118 et al).
By being anointed with oil (the oil used was olive oil) means to come into a state of goodness resembling that the Lord Himself, for He was the "anointed," meaning that His Divine love for the entire human race came down into the human form of Jesus Christ, making it possible for what had been an invisible love in the Old Testament to become completely visible in the New. For this reason anointing hold a high place amongst the rituals and practices of the people of Old Testament times, as a prophecy that the Lord would indeed come into the world.
To "anoint oneself' therefore, means to come into states which are receptive of the Lord's presence and one does this by learning faith and bringing into the practice of charity.
This makes it clear how in times of temptation, like Daniel, we do not anoint ourselves. Daniel could not do so because his state represents a time in human life when, as our concept of evil blurs—described by not eating bread, meat or wine—so our ability to do good also disappears. In this state we may know the truths of the Word in an intellectual fashion, but we do not live them (Arcana Coelestia 9272:5). The immediate result is that genuine goodness vanishes, and with it all our love for others and our willingness to act in accordance with our conscience ( Thus we lose our celestial love, which is the love of the Lord above all other things (Arcana Coelestia 9277). In other words, we relapse into our former state of selfishness as if the repentance never took place.
This state of mourning lasted for three weeks, representing a state of fullness. One cannot hurry temptation. Our spiritual battles run their own course, and it is up to us to keep our hearts and minds open to the Lord, thus keep the Daniel side of our lives alive. The Lord's teaching on fasting in the New Testament is of great importance to remember here. As we have seen from Daniel’s experience in a state of mourning, on fasts. Fasting, therefore, represents a state of temptation. Yet our temptation should not be public. As the Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount, we should "anoint our head and wash our face." In other words, even though we might be tempted to relapse into evils associated with selfishness, still we ought to continue to do good to other people, reaching out to them in love and charity. If we continue to do this, the temptation will eventually pass, for as we are told, “Act precedes, man's willing follows; for that which a man does from the understanding, he at let does from the will, and finally puts it on as a habit and it is then insinuated in his rational or internal man. And when it has been insinuated in this, the man no longer does good from truth, but from good; for he then begins to perceive therein somewhat of blessedness, and as it were somewhat of heaven. This remains with him after death, and by means of it he is uplifted into heaven by the Lord” (Arcana Coelestia 4353).
Daniel's' time of mourning passed after three weeks. He recounts how on the twenty-fourth day of the first month he "was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris" when his vision began.
A temptation by definition is a battle between goodness and evil in our will and truth and falsity in our understanding. The object of temptation is to confirm a person in a state of goodness and truth, which happens as the person, rejects their inclinations to and activities of evil. Thus the Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar states have to be brought down and replaced first with Darius and then with Cyrus states.
In the temptation following a state of repentance the two sides of our personalities are clearly demarcated. On the one side we have the loves of selfishness, and on the other the Daniel, our conscience which connects us to the Lord, enabling us to draw from His power, and, armed in this way to shun and resist evil. In the process the attraction for the evil is weakened, and we are able to confirm the leadership of our conscience.
Temptation does finish. Daniel describes coming out of this battle as the "twenty fourth day of the first month." As in all other composite numbers in the Word, "twenty four" refers to a specific state—although it is more easily seen if one uses the old fashioned expression of "four and twenty."
"Four" as we have seen before, describes a state of conjunction (Arcana Coelestia 9103, 6157). This is the uniting of the two sides of our minds in opposition to the unholy alliance of our selfishness and all the thoughts and actions which underpin it. In a state of temptation we must know why we are resisting an evil, that is, we need to see the evil as an evil. Then we must want to resist it. When this happens our win for goodness and our understanding of truth are brought together and we act in one mind. When we know something is evil, and so we don't want commit that act, then the evil looses its attraction for us. As this happens the evil looses its hold over our minds, and we are set free.
The number "four," then, describes the union of minds. The number twenty describes the state of peace we come into when the hold of the evil is broken. We can reach the number twenty in several ways, but generally it represents a state in which our combat with temptation ceass for a while, and we enter into a state of peace and quiet.
While Daniel was in this state he found himself beside the great river, the Tigris.
While Daniel was in this state of peace he found himself beside the great river, the Tigris. The Tigris, or Hiddekel (See Strong's #2313) was one of the two great rivers forming the Boundaries of Mesopotamia. It is first mentioned in the book of Genesis as being one of the rivers flowing through the Garden of Eden. Daniel finding himself beside this river is important in the internal sense because it describes the heightened states of awareness following temptation.
One of the characteristics of temptation is the sense that our knowledge or perception of evil disappears. It makes sense, then, that as the temptation passes, so one becomes aware once again of the nature of one's evils. Daniel standing on the banks of the River Tigris, or Hiddekel describes this awareness.
The Hiddekel is an east flowing river. As we have seen before, a river describes one's intelligence (Arcana Coelestia 7323), and the "east" represents the Lord. Thus this river describes how as temptation passes, our thoughts turn towards the Lord and He gives us insight into our states. In the exposition of the Genesis story where the River Hiddekel is mentioned we are told that it refers to "reason or the sharp sightedness of reason” (Arcana Coelestia 118).
Thus Daniel has entered a new state, one completely different from his mournful fasting. His questions about the captivity of Israel in Babylon were about to be answered. In a similar way, we are able to begin to see a way to finally break and leave behind our personal Babylon.
As he stood on the banks of the river, Daniel saw a vision completely different in form and outcome than the vision he had had beside the River Ulai in chapter eight. In that vision he saw how selfish states overrun the progress we make against evils as the he-goat trampled the ram. He watched in horror as the goat's horns spread across the land. In terms of our spiritual development the vision in the eighth chapter marks the low point of our spiritual life, and is • directly responsible for the repentance of chapter nine. The vision in this chapter, however, is very different Seen from the perspective of repentance and the temptation it brings, the vision inspires hope for the future.
As Daniel lifted up his eyes and looked he saw a man clothed in linen, and around his waist was a girdle of the gold of Uphaz. To understand the following verses we need to remind ourselves once again that Daniel represents our conscience which gives us the ability to face our selfish states and draw from an inner love of goodness and truth. When we are in temptation our conscience falls victim to our selfishness, just as the ram fell victim to the he-goat. Yet the conscience is the presence of the Lord in us, leading and guiding us through the maze of human pride and arrogance resulting from selfishness.
When we come out of temptation still willing to fight the evil within us, to break its hold, then we are like Daniel coming out of his fast, finding himself on the banks of the river. It was then, as he stood there, that Daniel lifted up his eyes and saw this wonderful vision.
If the Hiddekel represents the "sharp sightedness of reason" breaking into our minds as the temptation clears, the phrase "lifting up our eyes" represents light breaking into our eyes, or our understanding (That the "eyes" represent the understanding, see Arcana Coelestia 2701, 275, 4526 et al). To lift up our eyes describes the lifting of our understanding from immediate concerns to higher things, and from this one's understanding is filled with a "mental view, perception, and thought” (Arcana Coelestia 8160. See also Arcana Coelestia 2789, 2829, 3198, 3202, 4083, 4086, 4339). As our conscience reasserts itself, so we find our heads clearing, so to speak, as we reflect backwards on the truths which lead us to repent in the first place. Thus we lift up our eyes, and focus on guiding truths.
As Daniel lifted his eyes he saw a certain man, clothed in linen and girded with gold of Uphaz. He didn't know it at the time, but this "man" was sent to help him in his crisis. The "man" was an angel in whom the Lord was present (Arcana Coelestia 9872, Apocalypse Revealed 830) with His Divine truth (Arcana Coelestia 9406, Apocalypse Explained 504, 77). Angels, who keep us in a state of spiritual balance, always surround us. In temptation, however, the Lord "gives His angels charge over us, to keep us in all His ways" (Psalm 91:11). Temptation is an attack from hell, and, unless the Lord protected us in this way we would succumb. He is present with us in these times, His love surrounded by His divine truth, or wisdom, inspiring us to remember and hold fast to the conscience.
So Daniel saw this man. He was clothed with linen and girded with gold.. The linen represents the pure and genuine truths from the Word (Arcana Coelestia 9872, Apocalypse Revealed 671, Apocalypse Explained 951). In times of temptation the Lord leads us by our consciences. He calls to mind our beliefs, our ideals, and the memories of truth, which He has been laying up in our minds throughout our lives. These truths form the basis of our resistance to the evil.
If one thinks about it, one will find that in times of temptation our greatest defence is the knowledge that something is wrong, and the memory of this knowledge is often sharply etched on our conscious minds during those times
Yet in the actual state of temptation that knowledge looses its sharpness, depicted by no wine coming into Daniel's mouth. After the temptation passes, and one regains one's senses this knowledge returns. We find, ourselves becoming increasingly convinced of the truth and may see with great clarity that the attitude, or feeling, which had tempted us, was completely wrong.
Thus the man wore a linen garment. The garment was gathered together by a girdle of gold. As we have seen several times before, gold represents goodness. The reason why people turn away from evil is because it interferes with their ability to love and worship the Lord. We cannot serve two masters, we must choose one. The selfish side of us tries to focus our lives inward on self with the result that we become our own gods. The good, altruistic side of us focuses outwards into a life of use and service to others and through this into a love of the Lord Himself.
The gold in the girdle, therefore, represents our greater love for the Lord that ties and binds all our insights of truth together, making them a coherent oneness. When we both know the truth arid want to live according to it, we are armed against further attack from the hells, and:will be able to meet them when they arise.
As Daniel watched he noted other things about this man: his body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire., his arms and legs like burnished bronze in colour, and the sound of his words was like the voice of a multitude. All of these attributes are images of the presence of the Lord's truth with us that will help, us in times of temptation.
The insights of truth we have in these times are not only restricted to the deeper "theological" truths that make up our faith, but also insight into the nature of our very lives. Remember that this chapter was written in the reign of King Cyrus, indicating genuine progress on our part. One can expect to see some effects of this progress in our lives, for as we repent and overcome in states of temptation, so gradually we are led away from the evils of selfishness and their consequences. Our lives change.
The image of the man's body depicts the progress we make. First we are told that his body was like beryl. Beryl, or tarshish as it is called in the original language, is a yellow coloured stone (Brown Driver Briggs # 8658), which because it flashed with an inner light was included in the breastplate worn by the high priests of Israel (Exodus 28:20). The doctrines tell us that beryl represents the goodness arising from the act of turning away from evil, thus the good of charity (Arcana Coelestia 6135. The first act of charity is to shun evils as sins against the Lord. True Christian Religion 435).
The love of the Lord and other people, which results when a person puts away selfishness, is described as the lightning flashing from the man's face. This good comes to our conscious minds as a deeper understanding of the relationships we have with people and how selfishness can harm them. Selfishness prevents goodness' from expressing itself because whenever selfishness is present in an action it will always pollute it. No matter how good an action may seem, the lurking selfishness injects a secret agenda to turn that goodness to one's own advantage. Take the selfishness away, however, through the process of repentance and temptation, and the goodness is able to shine with a clear light in every part of one's being.
It is because of this that the man had feet like 'burnished gold, which is an image of the Divine truth of heaven shining down into the very external activities of a person's life (Arcana Coelestia 9406, Apocalypse Explained 69). Even our inherited good nature is filled with genuine goodness (Bronze = natural good Arcana Coelestia 425, Apocalypse Revealed 775), a state completely different, from the mind when it is ruled by selfishness. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter two, the feet of his image was made of iron mixed with clay, indicating that the weakest point of a selfish life is the external actions of our lives. Yet in this vision the feet of the man were of bronze, or good from the Lord affecting us right down to the very outermost level of our lives.
In this vision Daniel was allowed to see the presence of the Lord, in the form of an angel, protecting us as we develop spiritually. We may not see that angel with our eyes, as Daniel did, but the Lord leads us to a greater understanding of our spiritual life. We need to know we have made progress. The fact that this vision takes place in the reign of king Cyrus indicates that progress, for Cyrus represents the Lord subduing our selfishness and keeping it forever under control. Note the process of action, for the Lord is subduing our selfishness, and the process by which this takes place is the duality of repentance and temptation.
Yet we need to have a sight of goodness, of the benefits of life without selfishness—otherwise there would be no incentive to shun selfishness. We need to know that there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. That hope is given to us in the vision of the man Daniel saw when he was beside the river Tigris. We need to know that the clarity with which we see our evils will be challenged in times of temptation. We equally need to know that temptations do not last forever, that our clarity of thought will return. If we can hang on o to the images of goodness through our' temptation, coupled with the power of the truth that we can reach these stages,' then the Lord will be able to protect us and nurture is from within.
Daniel makes an interesting observation about this vision: he was not by himself when he saw this vision, and yet the men who were with him did not see it. When Daniel saw visions he was not in his body, but his spiritual eyes were opened making it possible for him to see things in the spiritual world (Divine Providence 134, True Christian Religion 157, Apocalypse Revealed 36). These things are of such a nature as cannot easily be put into human terms, although we can come to have some understanding of them by using the correspondences given in the Heavenly Doctrines. This also explains why the men with Daniel could not see these visions either.
Notice that Daniel is very specific in his language here. He does not say "the people" who were with me, but the men. The Latin Bible Swedenborg read uses the Latin term "vir" meaning males. In the Word the term "male" refers to things from the understanding side of our minds, all our thoughts and intellectual insights. Because Daniel represents our conscience his natural home in our minds is in the understanding.
The Lord reveals Himself to us by means of truths from His Word. These enter our minds through our senses and illuminate our thoughts. If we receive those truths and allow them to influence us, they become our conscience, our Daniel.
We also learn many other truths as well from the natural world around us. While these may guide or influence our thinking, because they are not spiritual, they are not a part of our conscience, but may be affiliated to it to help and assist the conscience in its work. For example, if we know that stealing is wrong because it goes against the Ten Commandments, that knowledge can be part of our conscience and helps keep us honest. We may also know that theft is a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence, and because this knowledge is worldly it is not truly a part of our conscience, yet still it may encourage us for external reason to resist stealing.
The men who were with Daniel represent these kinds of knowledges that cannot be enlightened directly from the Lord because they are natural, but can be illuminated indirectly through the conscience. In other words, while the Lord does not lead us through a fear of the law, our fear of the law, when combined by our conscience can and will take on new meaning to us.
This is why Daniel said, "a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves." The state described here is one of great humility.
We would expect that Daniel's response to so wonderful a vision, a vision of hope, would be one of exaltation. Surely we think we would feel a sense of pride, a thrust of joy at knowing that we are not all bad, but that as we make spiritual progress so we become better and better. Such a response, however, is more suitable from Nebuchadnezzar than from Daniel. Pride in our spiritual achievements does not come from the Lord, but from self.
If we were genuinely making spiritual progress, our observation of any goodness in us would be tempered by the acknowledgement that such goodness comes from the Lord alone. As we mentioned earlier in this. chapter, humility rests in the acknowledgement that of ourselves we are nothing and the Lord everything.
Daniel sensed this humility as his strength deserting him and his "vigor turned to frailty." Genuine humility does this to us. For when we come to recognise the Lord as the sole source of all the good we do and all the truth we think, we come to realise how little we are. Up to the point of this realisation we had been buoyed along by the presence of Nebuchadnezzar in our inner being and Belshazzar in our outer, public self. When we repent, however, these states of selfishness in us begin to fail as the Lord draws near to give us the courage and support we need. He leads us to a better understanding of who we are and what we are capable of. Yet selfishness has no strength in His presence, and, like Daniel, we bow down before Him.
Thus Daniel fell down in "deep sleep upon his face, with his face to the ground."
Daniel became aware of a hand touching him and a voice reassuring him. Humility opens our minds to the presence of the Lord, for in that state we acknowledge that without the Lord we are nothing except selfishness and evil. Our redeeming quality, our conscience, is the Lord's truth active in us. So as Daniel lay in a deep sleep with his face to the ground, a hand touched him.
In the modern English translation this passage is given an element of drama which is different from the original. The New King James Version reads: "Suddenly, a hand touched me..." interposing a quality of time quite different from what it should be. The word that should be used is "lo," indicating a sequence of ideas from one state to the next. Thus while Daniel was on his face, as a consequence, a hand touched him.
This follows well in understanding the regenerative series within the story. When we come through the process of repentance and the mournful state of temptation which comes from it, we are able to have a clearer view of our own states, and of how the Lord through His wisdom is leading us. His angel is always there to strengthen our conscience and commitment to shun evil. The result of this is humility, for when we are truly humble we know that the power to shun evils as sins against the Lord does not come from us, but from the Lord alone.
While we are in this humble state we feel again the presence of the Lord, and again through an angel. Daniel's feeling a hand represents our awareness or consciousness of the power of the Lord with us. In the Word a "hand" represents power (Arcana Coelestia 3021), for our hands convey the full thrust of our will and understanding making it possible for us to do things we want to do. By feeling a hand touching him, Daniel represents the way we feel the presence of the Lord in our humility. As this power touched him, Daniel trembled on the palms of his hands and on his knees.
The Lord's presence brings great changes to our lives. When our conscience leads us to the point of humility at which we can recognise the reality of our own selfishness, our lives begin to change dramatically. One cannot stare evil in the face from the perspective of our conscience, and remain untouched. There is recognition that of ourselves we are "vile and filthy" (Arcana Coelestia 1594:4) and with that a fear of harming the wonderful hope the Lord gives to us. Thus Daniel trembled as our consciences tremble in. this state.
The reason why we come into this state of fearing to hurt the Lord and His goodness with us comes from the hand touching Daniel. Daniel is touched twice more in this chapter, in verse 16 where “one having the likeness of the sons of men touched his lips," and later, in verse 18 when he is touched and strengthened by that touch. In each of these three verses the meaning of touch is the same.
When we touch person three things happen. Firstly we communicate something to that person. We show many of our emotions by means of touch love through caresses, anger through hitting, and so on. Secondly the sense of touch transfers these feelings to another person, so we can soothe and heal or hurt and destroy through the sense of touch. Each touch contains our inner thoughts and feelings. Finally, when we touch someone we evoke a response from him or her, and this depends on the person's reception of our touch.
All this is conveyed to Daniel when the angel touches him. In our spiritual life we are "touched" by an angel when we become aware of the truths from the Lord, which give life to our conscience and which strengthen us both in our resolve and commitment to shunning evils as sins. The clarity of vision expressed by Daniel being beside the Tigris River, and the vision of truth shown in the man standing there, are all part of the presentation of truth to our minds. As we come out of states of temptation we become keenly aware of the force and power of truth, and of communication of truth from the Lord to us.
This truth is transferred to our conscious minds from the Lord. The Doctrines teach that every thought and feeling flows into us from the Lord through heaven, or, from hell (Arcana Coelestia 904, 4249). A person cannot think without this inflowing of thought from angels and spirits around him or her (Arcana Coelestia 5288).
As we open our minds to receive the Lord's truths, so we remove blockages, objections and so on, and the truth communicated to us is transferred into our minds and becomes the essence of our own thought. This cannot happen without our consent, for we must be willing for this transfer to take place. The truth is, however, that in the state of humility we are willing to receive the Lord, for when we are humble and think ourselves evil, and when we think the Lord is everything, then we are willing to be led by Him. Thus the third aspect of a touch takes place in our reception of the Lord's presence. Daniel's response to this reception is one of great fear. He is still bowed down, on hands and knees, trembling as a result of seeing the image of the man beside the River. This trembling is a result of a change of state from being in temptation to suddenly seeing the light of truth, and as a result overcoming the temptation and being led out of it. The Doctrines say, that "all who come suddenly from self-life into any spiritual life are at first afraid, but their love is renewed by the Lord" (Apocalypse Explained 80).
This state of fear can be seen in other places in the Word when angels appear to people. Probably the best example is in the Christmas story, when the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah, Mary and the Shepherds. On each occasion he begins his communication with the words "Do not be afraid."
Being afraid means “to turn away, it is a state of mind disturbed and changed by an imminent or visible danger to the life; but this is one thing with the good and another with the evil; with the good it is a disturbance of mind and a change of state from imminent and visible danger to the soul, but with the evil it is from imminent and visible danger to the life of the body” (Apocalypse Explained 677:8).
An angel appearing to our conscience warns us of danger to our soul. When a person is humble and he or she is aware of inner evils, especially selfishness, then the awareness of truth awakens that person to the spiritual danger around them. Selfishness can creep up on us. We saw earlier how Nebuchadnezzar, although humbled, still counted himself greatest of all things. Darius was no different, for he too exalted Daniel, and yet was willing for people to essentially call himself God. People need a warning signal, and the signal is a state of fear.
Daniel felt this holy fear sensibly, he "trembled on his knees and on the palms of his hands." The, doctrines describe holy fear as being experienced as a sacred tremor, and some times with our hair standing on end and gooseflesh (Apocalypse Revealed 56: "Holy Fear, which sometimes is joined with a sacred tremor of the interiors of the mind, and sometimes with the hair standing on end," i.e. "gooseflesh"). Maybe we feel that angelic presence more as the "pains of conscience" or the sense of guilt which alerts us to the fact that we have been acting contrary to our conscience.
The angelic presence however, served also to reassure Daniel. His words both loved and gentle, "O Daniel., man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." For one who was carried captive to Babylon as a young boy, who had witnessed the passage of kings and emperors, who had see unspeakable pride, arrogance and cruelty, and to whom terrifying visions had been revealed, these words must have been a balm on Daniel's spirit.
Daniel was "greatly beloved." Most simply defined, love is a joining together of two into one (cf. Apocalypse Explained 213: "love effects conjunction and consequent presence…"). In this case, Daniel is conjoined to the Lord, and so is "greatly 'beloved." His state now represents the state of mind we come into when, having sincerely repented and endured temptation on account of it, we enter into a new clarity of vision of the type we would never before 'have dreamed possible. All Daniel's visions, which depict our awareness of the breadth and depth of our selfishness, stand to bolster our resolve to the freed from them. The depth of insight into our selfishness awakes within us a holy fear, and from that fear we are 'lead, by means of our conscience, into the presence of the Lord. Our conscience is the "greatly beloved."
If, in all the chapters leading up to this one, we have wondered about the power of selfishness to utterly destroy people's lives, now we see the counter-balance, the strengthening of goodness to uphold the truth. The angel said to Daniel: "understand the words I speak to you."
Our awareness of selfishness grows in clarity as we come to understand the truths that form our conscience. Each feeling, thought or action derived from selfishness stands in opposition to the truth. Engrossed in selfishness we often miss its real nature, but allow the scales to drop for a moment, and we come to see as never before. The very fact of our holy fear makes it possible for us to understand the angel's words.
Humility prostrates us before the Lord, as Daniel found himself trembling on hands and knees. Yet the Lord's love is such a nature that He continually lifts us .up. "Stand upright," the angel said, "for I have now been sent to you." So Daniel stood upright, trembling.
This represents a change of state in us. The essential quality of holy fear, or the fear of damaging the qualities and states of goodness and truth with us from the Lord, is still present, but from being bowed down with his face to the ground, we are now lifted up. It is interesting to note that when we are on our hands and knees we cannot lift our faces upwards towards heaven, but when we stand upright, we can look upwards, and, as it were, contemplate God.
The change in our minds comes when our conscience gains ascendancy in our minds. Selfishness drags us down, repentance and temptation, while they humble us, make it possible for us to look upward and see new visions of spiritual life we had not before believed possible.
The angel continued to speak to Daniel, saying, "Do not fear Daniel." Here again we see the recurring theme of holy fear representing the change of state we are going through. This makes it possible for us to go through further states of spiritual development, just as Mary in her holy fear was able to mother the Lord, and the shepherds in theirs to come and worship Him.
Our holy fear is the result of our spiritual progress to date. Our conscience begins to grow from the moment we begin learning truth, it protects us from the excesses of Nebuchadnezzar's table, as Daniel was protected by refusing to eat the king's food. It enlightens our minds, making it possible for us to see evil and falsity within ourselves and begin the process of shunning them. Thus the process of developing our conscience takes a lifetime, but it is not in vain for because of that conscience the Lord is able to be with us in truth, and lead us through truth so we can be conjoined to Him.
This path of development did come without opposition. As we have seen throughout the book of Daniel, selfishness and evil work continually to overcome and derail the process. The angel refers to this when he says, "the prince of Persia withstood me twenty one days." To withstand the conscience is to engage it in temptation (Arcana Coelestia 1664:2). Although the Writings do not specifically mention the "Prince of Persia," one must assume that he represents the states of selfishness and greed. Some biblical commentaries (e.g. Clarke's) assume that he is Cyrus. In view of Cyrus' correspondence to the Lord, and the role he plays in liberating the Jews from bondage, this is unlikely, unless one sees him in a negative correspondence in this point.
The precise identity of the "Prince of Persia" is not really important here. What is important is that he withstood the angel for twenty-one days. As in all composite numbers in the Word, twenty-one needs special care. It is the same number referred to at the beginning of this chapter when Daniel notes that he "was in mourning three full weeks," i.e. for twenty-one days.
Multiplying seven by three forms twenty-one and both these numbers have the signification of fullness or completeness. The implication is that the states of temptation or combat following repentance must, as we have seen before, follow its course.
What is new in this verse is how the attraction of evil, and the temptations with it, was broken. Note the angel's words, “And behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings. of Persia.”
The angel Gabriel was introduced earlier in the book of Daniel. Now a second angel is mentioned by name. Like Gabriel, Michael is not a single angel, but rather a society of angels performing a specific purpose, in this case helping the being who spoke to Daniel.
Each time Michael is mentioned in the Word it is in connection with a war of protection. In this case he defends the being from the Prince of Persia. Later on in this chapter, it is said "no one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince." In chapter twelve we will be told that Michael "stands watch over the sons of your people." We do not see him again in the pages of the Word until the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, where Michael defends the Woman clothed with the sun from the attack of the great dragon.
The imagery surrounding Michael is one of fighting for protection. In the internal sense he represents the “Defence of that part of the doctrine from the Word that teaches that the Lord's Human is Divine, and that a person must life a life of love to the Lord and of charity towards the neighbour that he or she may receive salvation from the Lord” (Apocalypse Explained 735).
This state of defence necessarily entails fighting against evils and falsities (Apocalypse Explained 735), which is why we see Michael in the role of a soldier protecting. Michael has a special significance for Daniel, however, for Daniel represents our conscience which is made up of the truths we have come to believe and which we allow to govern our lives. These truths are sorely tested in times of temptation, and unless the Lord continually strengthened them from within, we would forget them and fall prey to the assault from hell (Heaven and Hell 595, Arcana Coelestia 2410, 5854, 7479).
Once again Daniel was reduced to a state of humility by the angel's words. He turned his face to the ground and became speechless. This inability to speak has a great bearing on the final part of this chapter. The Modern English renders the phrase "speechless," but both the original and the Latin Swedenborg used use the term "dumb" (Strong's #481. Schmidius uses the term "obmutui," meaning "dumb").
As we saw earlier, the presence of the Lord brings a state of fear and humility. The fear is a holy fear of harming or damaging the wonderful states of love that the Lord shows us is possible. The humility comes from the recognition of the Lord's mercy, which is accompanied by a failure of one's self-life in the presence of the Divine. Daniel is brought into this state in his vision, for he sees the man clothed in linen, and, when he falls to the ground he is lifted up and told not to fear. Again, as the being speaks, he turns his face to the ground and becomes dumb.
One of the aspects of humility is that it makes a person "speechless." In the New Testament we are told of Zacharias the priest who, after seeing the angel Gabriel was "speechless." A person is physically "dumb" when he or she cannot speak. The word in the original language implies that the person is "tongue-tied." The concept carries much the same meaning in the internal sense, for when a person is in humility, he or she is spiritually tongue-tied and can utter no words. “By "utterance" is not here meant that of the voice, or speech, for this utterance is natural; but by "utterance" is meant confession of the Lord, and the profession of faith in Him; for this utterance is spiritual. Hence it is evident what is signified in the internal sense by the "dumb," namely, they who cannot confess the Lord, thus cannot profess faith in Him, by reason of ignorance, in which state are the nations outside the church, and also the simple within the church” (Arcana Coelestia 6988).
Like Daniel we are unable to speak because in holy fear and humility it is almost impossible to lift up our voices to the Lord. Our awareness of the evil side of our being, contrasted with the Lord's mercy, is too much for us.
As we have seen in other parts of this study, the Lord never leaves us at a spiritual disadvantage. He created us human being so we can have a relationship with Him, so that we not only receive His presence, but are able to return it as well. Holy Fear and humility are essential to our spiritual development, but the Lord did not create us to be as dumb animals—even Nebuchadnezzar was lifted out of that state.
So it was that while Daniel was dumb, one, "having the likeness of the sons of men" touched his lips. The image of the "Son of Man" was introduced in chapter seven and eight is an image of the truth developing in our minds which will set us free from the bondage of selfishness and greed. In the current vision Daniel sees "one having the likeness of the sons of men," or the plural form. Truth is a great liberator, for as the Lord says: "If you abide in My word, you. are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" ( John 8:31-32).
The removal of "dumbness," or. the inability to acknowledge and confess the Lord, comes from an acceptance and embracing of the truth. Zacharias is a classic example of this, for when the people wanted to call his son, Zacharias after himself, “he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." So they all marvelled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God” (Luke 1:63-64).
The idea contained in this action is the way truth comes into our minds making it possible for the states of humility within us to be brought to fruition. If humility is essentially the recognition of our evil and the Lord's goodness, then it follows that the reception of His goodness into our lives is dependent firstly on our being willing to accept it, and secondly our willingness to use His power and presence to remove the states of evil which block His presence out of our lives.
When we repent and endure temptation as a result, we are brought into states of humility in which we can see both our evils and the states of goodness the Lord promises us. The awareness of evil renders us spiritually dumb—unable to confess and express our joy in the Lord. The "one bearing the resemblance of the sons of men" touching our lips, is a reminder of the truths we have learned and which form the basis of our conscience. These truths are in reality the presence of the Lord in us, for. each truth forms a vessel in our minds capable of receiving the Divine presence, and thus of lifting us up. Thus there is a communication and transfer of the Divine to us in the form of truths, which we receive in our thoughts as an increased insight into our evils and the actions necessary to over come them.
This is why the "one like the sons of men" touched Daniel, for as we saw earlier, touch contains the elements of communication, transfer and reception. Divine truth is communicated and transferred to us in the reminder of the Lord's presence in all the truths we know, in our commitment to living a life led by conscience, makes it possible for us to respond to the Lord. Our response, like Daniel's is still governed by the recognition of present and active evils in our minds—our selfishness and greed are still there, and we can see them clearly because of our conscience.
The essence of humility is that there is, must be, a further recognition that not only are we, in our own right, evil, but also we have no strength, no innate ability to fight against and overcome that evil. The only source of the strength we need is the Lord Himself.
Daniel depicts this beautifully. Once his lips were touched, his mouth was opened and he was able to speak. His words still indicate the humility arising from the recognition of his evils. He speaks of the "vision of his sorrows overwhelming him."
On the surface Daniel seems to speak of the sorrow overwhelming him. These certainly are the sorrows of the human state, as shown in chapters seven and eight. However, there lies beneath the surface a deeper insight into this.
The original word for "sorrow" comes from a root word meaning 'a hinge' (Strong's ref 6635, Brown Driver Briggs defines the word as "the pivot of a door, or a hinge."). Even the Latin word in the Schmidius Bible used by Swedenborg uses a word that is defined as 'a hinge' (See Schmidius at this ref. The word used is "cardo—is. 1 lit. the hinge of a door. 2. The point around which anything turns). At first glance this word makes little sense, until one thinks of how often life swivels around certain issues, or particular things. Those pivotal or hinging points, in our lives often make the difference between which path we choose and which we reject.
Daniel, touched on his lips by an angel, was aware of the differing paths of his life. It is interesting to note how, when we are in states of selfishness, when Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar controls our inner and outer beings, we seldom reflect on what we are doing. Our primary motivation in states of selfishness is self—if something seems good, or feels good to us, then surely it must be good. Using this logic we justify countless acts of pure selfishness and greed.
Yet in the presence of truth, when we reflect back on our lives, we come to see how often we reach pivotal points in our lives. It is true that each moment of life is made up of countless choices. Yet some of those choices require us to take stock of our lives, to change direction, or confirm the way we are following. Those times are our pivots.
Daniel, lying supine before the angel was taking stock of his own life, and in so doing he represents the activity of our conscience look back over our own lives. It can be a humbling experience. So often we do make the wrong choices, or do not react in the way we should. As we look backwards, so we realise that until we repent and allow our conscience to guide us, the chief pivot, our sorrow, will be the selfishness and greed of our personal Babylon.
Thus Daniel's words to the angel are very apposite: "because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength." So again we see the strong image of humility—we are humbled and saddened by what we have done with our lives to this point.
Yet again the Lord stirs us from within. The angel again touched Daniel and strengthened him. If there is true humility in us, then that humility can receive the presence of the Lord as He communicates His healing love and wisdom to us. The angel's words to Daniel are as comforting to us as they were to him: "O man greatly, beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!"
Our conscience is the "beloved" part of us, because it is the part that admits the Lord's presence to our minds, and so is the gateway to the heavenly peace the Lord gives us. Often in times of temptation and despair this seems unlikely, but the angel's words to Daniel apply just as much to us: "peace to you, be strong."
The angels words to Daniel are reminiscent of the Lord's Words to Joshua as he was about to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land—in the internal sense the two stories have much in common, as they both deal with the subject of conquering evils along the path of regeneration.
The source of spiritual strength is truth (Cf. Arcana Coelestia 4802, 2832)—great strength is attributed to truth because nothing is able to withstand it (Arcana Coelestia 426). Truths form the conscience, which guides us along the paths of life, yet in order for it to do so, to give us the power and ability to resist evil, it is necessary to bring that truth into practice. If truth is the source of strength, then the practice of truth is obedience to the commandments. True spiritual strength comes from the Lord alone, for He alone, from His own power fought against the hells and overcame them. We draw our strength from Him (Arcana Coelestia 1692). This power is given to us by means of angels surrounding us, who fight first commandment. The second is also against evil on our beha1f (Arcana Coelestia 1752, cf. Arcana Coelestia 50, 227, 228, 697, 968).
Spiritual peace and strength come from the power of the conscience to turn our minds away from selfishness. Even when it seems as if we are brought to our lowest, still, we can be lifted up. This is what the angel came to do. Addressing Daniel he poses a question, "do you know why I have come to you?"
The answer follows in his next words. The angel is returning to fight "with the prince of Persia. As we saw earlier in this chapter, the 'prince of Persia' is Cyrus, the king—this vision being seen in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia. Note that the angel says he is going to fight 'with' the prince of Persia. One's initial reaction to interpret that 'with' as 'against'. Yet in the original language, 'with' can also mean 'with', that is, alongside, or on the same side as. The angel is not going to fight against Cyrus, but alongside him against the 'prince of Greece'. When one remembers that Cyrus represents the Lord saving the human race.
In the prophecy in chapter eight Daniel is shown that the male-goat with the large horn is "Greece"—which represents the decline of true religion into idolatry (see chapter eight). Yet note the speaker—the angel who lifted Daniel up and urged him to "be strong."
His words introduce the last battle recorded in Daniel, and its victory in Chapter Twelve. However, notice the terms the angel uses as the basis of his introduction: "I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth." These words in English seem so familiar, for we speak of the Scriptures as a synonym for the Word itself, as indeed it is. In the original language, the term "Scriptures" refers so something written down, a book or a record (Strong's #3791).
The next term "truth" gives us pause though. In the original the term we render as truth takes on a broader meaning of "stability, certainty, truth and trustworthiness" (Strong's #571). This word in turn is derived from a deeper original word meaning “to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet; morally to be true or certain” (Strong's #539).
Looking at these original meanings of the words, one is able to be led beyond the narrow concept of the written word. The angel is speaking of the order of things which will happen when a person, imbued with conscience which had developed from both an understanding of truth and an understanding of one's own selfish states, takes hold in the mind. The whole thrust of the book of Daniel has built up to this point, each temptation, each victory, each vision, one upon another, builds up such spiritual momentum that if the person is willing, the final combats of regeneration can begin.
The angel refers to the "Scripture of Truth," but it is useful to see this as the certainty that if we live according to the Lord's teachings, if we are willing to walk the path demonstrated by Daniel, then our lives will have the same outcome. The truths which guide us will be our light, and the wisdom they give, together with the courage and strength to resist evil will be trust worthy, they will not fail.
Yet how can we be sure? The root word of Truth in this instance draws from concepts of building up, supporting and fostering, and surely this is what the Lord does during the process of regeneration. Each of us begins with a mind empty of truth, yet during the course of our lives we learn truth, values, morals, ethics, all in some form or another. These the Lord supports, fostering them as a parent or nurse fosters a helpless infant. As they develop during the course of life, so the Lord helps us to put our trust and confidence in these truth, until, in time they become a permanent part of our minds.
When truth reaches this stage in us—it is not a process which happens quickly, but through the process of life—then we are ready to face the final battles leading to ultimate victory.