In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was made plain to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar. The message was true. It dealt with a big war. He understood the message, the understanding coming by revelation:
"During those days, I, Daniel, went into mourning over Jerusalem for three weeks.
I ate only plain and simple food, no seasoning or meat or wine. I neither bathed nor shaved until the three weeks were up.
"On the twenty-fourth day of the first month I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris.
I looked up and to my surprise saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist.
His body was hard and glistening, as if sculpted from a precious stone, his face radiant, his eyes bright and penetrating like torches, his arms and feet glistening like polished bronze, and his voice, deep and resonant, sounded like a huge choir of voices.
"I, Daniel, was the only one to see this. The men who were with me, although they didn't see it, were overcome with fear and ran off and hid, fearing the worst.
Left alone after the appearance, abandoned by my friends, I went weak in the knees, the blood drained from my face.
"I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt.
A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees.
"'Daniel,' he said, 'man of quality, listen carefully to my message. And get up on your feet. Stand at attention. I've been sent to bring you news.' "When he had said this, I stood up, but I was still shaking.
"'Relax, Daniel,' he continued, 'don't be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you.
But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia
and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I'm here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what's ahead.'
"While he was saying all this, I looked at the ground and said nothing.
Then I was surprised by something like a human hand that touched my lips. I opened my mouth and started talking to the messenger: 'When I saw you, master, I was terror-stricken. My knees turned to water. I couldn't move.
How can I, a lowly servant, speak to you, my master? I'm paralyzed. I can hardly breathe!'
"Then this humanlike figure touched me again and gave me strength.
He said, 'Don't be afraid, friend. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.' "Even as he spoke, courage surged up within me. I said, 'Go ahead, let my master speak. You've given me courage.'
"He said, 'Do you know why I've come here to you? I now have to go back to fight against the angel-prince of Persia, and when I get him out of the way, the angel-prince of Greece will arrive.
But first let me tell you what's written in The True Book. No one helps me in my fight against these beings except Michael, your angel-prince.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)