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Daniel

Spiritual Warfare

Daniel  10

(Eph 6:12 NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

“90% of the battle in spiritual warfare,” said David Butts, “is to know that it exists.” For that reason, God has given us Daniel, Chapter 10:

 

(Dan 10 NIV) In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. {2} At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. {3} I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. {4} On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, {5} I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. {6} His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. {7} I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. {8} So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. {9} Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. {10} A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. {11} He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. {12} Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. {13} But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. {14} Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come." {15} While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. {16} Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, "I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. {17} How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe." {18} Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. {19} "Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong." When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength." {20} So he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; {21} but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

Daniel in Spiritual Warfare

Fasting

Fasting is not a subject much approached these days, except by preachers wishing to indicate to their congregations that they have a long way to go before they can class themselves with men like Daniel (we have a long way to go). It is one of the rudiments of spiritual warfare, and therefore brings up the question: why?

The answer is in the basic nature of human beings. They are amphibians. Unlike the animals of the field, they are spiritual in nature. Unlike the angels, they are also bodily. What happens in the body affects the spirit, and vice versa. This can be seen in fasting as well. If you are eating, drinking and “partying hearty,” can you at the same time be mourning the wickedness about you? It would be hypocrisy to try.

There are certain points of spiritual warfare brought out in this chapter:

·        Daniel fasted for three weeks. The angel was delayed 21 days. This is not a coincidence. There are two views:

·        Frank Peretti’s view would be that Daniel’s fasting and prayer so influenced the world of spiritual warfare that the “prince of Persia” was overcome. {Most scholars understand the prince of Persia to mean a demonic being under Satan given oversight of that nation.}

·        The view here is different: Daniel is being allowed to “wait upon the Lord.” In God’s good time, he sends Michael.[1]

·        Fasting is usually accompanied by

·        Prayer

·        Confession

·        Mourning

·        Jesus has some specific injunctions about the misuse of fasting. Unfortunately, fasting can become a way of appearing “super spiritual.” Listen then to the words of our Lord: (Mat 6:16-18 NIV) "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. {17} But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, {18} so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Daniel’s problem

Why is Daniel fasting? The answer can be found by comparing dates in this book and others, particularly Ezra and Nehemiah. Daniel is probably mourning over what is happening in Jerusalem:

(Ezra 4:1-5 NIV) When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, {2} they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, "Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here." {3} But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us." {4} Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. {5} They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

(The date is approximately 534 BC). Why is it going so badly? One reason is that so few Jews returned to the city. And why is this?

·        One reason is the opposition encountered. Many of us avoid conflict, even if the conflict is in God’s name. (Remember, you are an amphibian!)

·        A second reason is the desire for comfort

·        A third reason might be this: this is not the generation led into captivity. If those led captive had not taught the love of Jerusalem (commanded!) to their children, why would they wish to go?

{It may be asked here why Daniel didn’t go. Remember, this guy is pushing 90 years old.}

So, then, in response to this faithful man, God sends an angel. At this point all the trouble in spiritual warfare for the 20th century Christian begins.

Images of Angels

Before we can begin to understand what angels are, and their function in spiritual warfare, we need to identify and clear up some misunderstandings about them. These misunderstandings spring from two common uses in art which can be taken amiss when applied outside art:

·        Graphic artists - painters especially - often use angels as symbols in their work. When they do, they must (quite literally) draw you a picture. We sometimes forget that a painting is not a photograph.

·        Literary artists - writers and poets - often use angels the same way. They become symbols of the struggle of good and evil. Sometimes those symbols are stretched well beyond the Scripture.

The study of the picture of angels is well beyond the scope of a Sunday School lesson; we can but touch the highlights:

·        Dante’s Inferno uses angels quite properly.

·        Milton, in Paradise Lost, portrays angels with much more grandeur than the Scripture. He also gives us the idea that Satan is the ruler of hell, and thus many have concluded that Satan is the opposite of God.

·        Goethe, in Faust, gives us the Satan who is urbane and cosmopolitan -- and his opponents therefore stuffy and judgmental.

·        In the 19th century, angels were fashionable painted (and reproduced cheaply) as sweet young girls. The image never occurs in Scripture. (But see also what a great artist, Rosetti, did in Ecce Ancilla Domini).

·        Finally, in our own time, we have Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. In this work people are constantly dropping to their knees to pray about one or another angel or demon. There is no instance of such in the Scripture; our only injunction is “deliver us from the evil one.”

So what do angels look like, “in person?” In this section, we see the fear and terror (verses 6-8) that such a being produces. It is not always so. We have some other instances.

Like ordinary men

(Gen 19:1-3 NIV) The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. {2} "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning." "No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square." {3} But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.

Indeed, even an archangel can appear to be ordinary:

(Luke 1:11-20 NIV) Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. {12} When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. {13} But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. {14} He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, {15} for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. {16} Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. {17} And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." {18} Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." {19} The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. {20} And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

(I consider this passage fascinating. You can almost hear the tone of offense in Gabriel’s voice. Perhaps today he would say, “You talking to me?”)

Shining in white

When God wants to let you know that you’re in the presence of an angel, he changes their outfit:

(John 20:10-12 NIV) Then the disciples went back to their homes, {11} but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb {12} and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

(Acts 10:30 NIV) Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me

So why would I want you to know what they look like? Consider the injunction of the Scripture:

(Heb 13:2 NIV) Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Any questions?[2]

The Functions and Purposes of Angels

Having seen the “what” of angels, we must now see the “why.” The key to understanding this is to know what the word means. “Angel” is a transliteration of a Greek word which means “messenger.” That is the primary function of the angels: to deliver the message. Paul tells us that the Law itself was delivered by angels (Acts 7:53).

As such, they are sent to minister to the saints, as the author of Hebrews tells us:

(Heb 1:14 NIV) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

But this is not all. The angels have yet a part to play in human affairs, at the return of our Lord. They are to judge the wicked!

(Mat 13:41-42 NIV) The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. {42} They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Note that the weeding out applies to the kingdom; it is the wicked, the weeds of the grain which is the church, which will be thrown out by the angels.

Man and Angels

In our sinful nature, it is often a temptation to worship the lesser to avoid facing the Almighty. Angels offer such a temptation:

(Col 2:18-19 NIV) Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. {19} He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

(Are the readers of This Present Darkness listening?)

Indeed, there is a reason why the worship of angels is forbidden to the Christian. Not only because of the first commandment (as if that were not enough), there is a common sense point: someday, the saints will be superior to them. Indeed, the Scripture plainly tells us that we will be their judges:

(1 Cor 6:2-3 NIV) Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? {3} Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Summary

What have we learned?

·        Spiritual warfare is real. Daniel shows us here that fasting, prayer, confession and humbling oneself are among the weapons of that war.

·        Angels -- spiritual messengers -- are real also. They are often misrepresented. If we meet one (Hebrews 13:2) we may be unaware of it, and therefore should be hospitable to all.

·        Angels exist to minister to us and to weed out wickedness from Christ’s church.

·        At the last, we will judge the world and the angels as well.

All this is so. The question is not the reality of spiritual warfare; the question is, “what are we doing about it?”


[1] There is some debate as to whether or not this is an angel. Some scholars hold that this must be the angel Gabriel, who is named elsewhere in Daniel. Others hold it to be the pre-incarnate Christ. Still others hold the binary view that the first vision is of Christ, while the conversation is with Gabriel. My own view is that this is Gabriel, for two reasons. First, how could the Christ be resisted for 21 days? Second, Daniel does not worship this being -- the sign of the Christ before the Incarnation. (See Judges 13, especially verse 18).

[2] It may be of more interest to see their characteristics. They are created beings (Col 1:15-16); immortal (see Luke 20:27-36); obedient to God (I Peter 3:22 -- but see Jude 1:6 for the disobedient); meek (Jude 1:9); innumerable (II Kings 6:15-17); mighty (Psalm 103:20); holy (Mark 8:38) and elect (I Timothy 5:21). They come in different orders: seraphim (Isa 6:2); archangels (I Th 4:16); authorities, powers (I Peter 3:22) and “principalities” (Ephesians 6:12 in KJV).

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