1 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
The last of the four visions to Daniel personally runs from chapters 10 to 12. Daniel prepares to receive the vision in chapter ten. He gives the immediate future from Darius through Antiochus in 11:2-35 and the distant future of the 70th seven in 11:36-12:4. The remainder of chapter 12 gives the conclusion to the book of Daniel.
This final vision is a unit that extends from chapter 10 to chapter 12. Chapter 10 introduces the vision with an interlude of context before the vision; chapter 11 gives the prophecy itself, and chapter 12 adds an epilogue to the vision.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.
Daniel received a vision in the third year of Cyrus’ reign over the Medo-Persian Empire (536 B.C.). God’s communication to Daniel was a revelation that incorporated a vision. This is two years after the revelation of Daniel 9. Cyrus issued a decree for the Jews to return to the holy land two years earlier in 538 B.C. Some returned that same year with Zerubbabel. They reintroduced the sacrifices in 537 B.C. (Ezra 3:6) and began to rebuild the temple in 536 B.C. (Ezra 3:8).
Daniel did not return to the holy land with his people. The Bible does not state the reason. He served Babylon until the first year of Cyrus (538 B.C., 1:21). Daniel was probably in his mid-eighties at this time and in retirement.
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
Daniel prayed, fasted and mourned (9:3) for three weeks. His serious distress was over the safety of the Jews who returned to the holy land (Ezra 4:1-5,24).
I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Daniel did not partake in the privileges of Babylon while he was in mourning. He did not eat normal or fancy foods. He was on a fast. Nor did Daniel use skin oil to protect himself from the sun during the three-week period.
Concentration in prayer provides a suitable environment for effective prayer.
Sacrificial acts in themselves do not solicit God’s favor. They do form a suitable environment for heart orientation to God.
God loved Daniel because of his importunity in prayer. His prayers were not flippant but serious. God looked at that serious prayer life and loved him. Dedication to prayer does not gain approbation with God, but a burden of prayer does.
Prayer requires significant concentration and dedication. As Daniel gave his all in prayer, we should “purpose in our heart” that we should not defile ourselves with anything outside the will of God (1:8). We seek the will of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.