saw in the last chapter the Daniel was greatly puzzled over the vision given to
him. In fact, Daniel is worried about several things the vision being just one.
In particular he's also concerned about the state of Jerusalem, and why its
wall building has not been done. We know this because we can correlate the
dates and Ezra and Nehemiah with the date given here in the kingdom. The
problem is described as follows:
Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard
that the people of the exile were building a temple to the LORD God of Israel,
they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' households, and said to them, "Let us build with you, for
we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days
of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here." But Zerubbabel and
Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers' households
of Israel said to them, "You have nothing in common with us in building a
house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the LORD God of
Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us." Then the
people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from
building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the
days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
(Ezra 4:1-5 NASB)
is the physical problem. The spiritual problem is the vision he has been given.
He knows from the prophet Jeremiah that the desolation of Jerusalem will last
70 years. Therefore he knows that now is the time for Jerusalem to be restored.
He is not content however with book knowledge; he adds to it prayer and
point is very important for us. It often happens that our knowledge is
incomplete in providing us what we think is the evidence we need for the faith.
The solution was found long ago: as one philosopher put it, "I believe,
therefore I understand." True knowledge in involves faith as well as book
learning. So it is that he goes to God in prayer to find that which may not be
derived from the records of the faith.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a
message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was
true and one of great conflict, but he
understood the message and had an understanding of the vision. In those days,
I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty
food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all
until the entire three weeks were completed. On the twenty-fourth day of the
first month, while I was by the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I
lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in
linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of
pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was
like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like
flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the
sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. Now I, Daniel, alone saw the
vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a
great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. So I was left
alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural
color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the
sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into
a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Then behold, a hand
touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said to me, "O
Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you
and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." And when he had
spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, "Do not
be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on
understanding this and on humbling
yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to
your words. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me
for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to
help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. "Now I have
come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the
latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future." When he had spoken to me according to these
words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And behold,
one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth
and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, "O my lord, as a
result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength.
"For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for
me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in
me." Then this one with human
appearance touched me again and strengthened me. He said, "O man of high
esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be
courageous!" Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said,
"May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." Then he said,
"Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight
against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of
Greece is about to come. "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in
the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against
these forces except Michael your prince.
(Daniel 10:1-21 NASB)
may begin by asking about the character and nature of angels. It is relatively
rare to encounter a study of angels, for the simple reason that the Bible makes
clear they are not to be worshiped. Rather, they are the messengers of God.
can see clearly that these are created beings. If God creates something, he has
a purpose for it. We may ask what the purpose of an Angel is. There are several
answers to this, but these three serve to cover most instances:
they are the messengers of God, and often enough the instrument of God. We
see for example the Angel being used to destroy large numbers of people.
Mary's vision announcing the birth of Jesus was by an Angel.
we know that they are sent to minister to the righteous. Throughout most
of Christian history the church has taught that each of us has a guardian
are particularly associated with the final judgment. We know that when
Christ returns the Angels will come with him in huge numbers.
are not given much information about Angels. But there are some things we do
we know that they are organized in various levels of the hierarchy. We
have titles like Archangel, cherubim, Seraphim and so on.
also know that they are interested in human affairs. We find them looking
into human affairs, inquiring as to the time and place of prophecy, and
otherwise concerning themselves with the politics of the human race. This
passage is an example.
are considered to be wise, mighty, holy and in innumerable. And beyond
that we are not given very much information.
how little we really know about Angels, it is not surprising that we have seen
some distortion concerning them.
greatest distortion comes from Milton: in his Paradise Lost, he sets up
Satan as the ruler of hell. This he most certainly is not. Satan is a
fallen angel, and he leads a band of angels deceived. Hell is reserved for
him and his angels, but not for his rule.
with Faust, we have Satan as an urbane and cosmopolitan figure. It is the
old myth that evil is enlightening. You must remember that Satan is a
liar, and the father of lies. He and his demons have some of the same
characteristics as Angels, but you need to understand that in spiritual
warfare there is a right and there is a wrong. Be on the right side
artists have portrayed Angels as soft and feminine. They tend to be rather
fluffy, given completely inadequate wings, and look for all the world to
be harmless. The angel in Scripture usually announces his presence with
the phrase, "fear not."
me give you a different picture. This is a picture of the Annunciation by an
artist named Rossetti.
this painting you can see the look of peril on Mary's face. She is not at all
happy; the angel is not at all fluffy; and she realizes that this is the most
serious. Look at the angel's feet: they're on fire. Mary gives you all the
impression of a woman who has been cornered in her own house. She's afraid, and
has every reason to be afraid.
must mention one other detail. It frequently occurs in the Old Testament that
you see a figure named "the Angel of the Lord." Most scholars agree
that this is the pre-incarnate Christ. Since Daniel does not fall down and
worship this angel we assume that this angel is not Christ before the incarnation.
the most important aspect of spiritual warfare is this: it exists. Most
Christians would prefer to ignore it; those that don't often prefer to make him
into a major part of their religion. The correct response is rather in between;
as seen here, spiritual warfare is quite real. But the weapons of the Christian
in this conflict indicate clearly that we have a different part to play than
that of the angels. Indeed, I can think of no better phrasing than Paul had for
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the
strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able
to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against
flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world
forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces
of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in
the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore,
HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF
RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF
PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be
able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition
pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with
all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:10-18 NASB)
are in spiritual warfare. But our part in that warfare is not the same of that
of the angels.
addition to Paul's writing, Daniel here gives us three weapons the Christian
may use in spiritual warfare.
first is fasting. The question might well ask, "why should I fast?"
There are at least three good reasons (which I got from Thomas Aquinas):
serves as a bridle to the flesh. It is hard to think of spiritual things
when you are eating and drinking merrily. By fasting you put the body
under control, and therefore it is not in opposition to spiritual warfare.
is also a outward sign of inward repentance. When people know you're
fasting, the logical question is, "why?" It helps you prevent
your mind is not on your body it can be on the things of the Lord.
next is prayer. Have you ever wondered why you should pray for your country?
Here's the answer; look what Daniel's prayers have done. How this works I do
not know, but I do know that it works. The righteous people of God are
permitted to intervene on behalf of their nation.
of it this way: in intercession, it is always the strong who intercede for the
weak. I doubt our president praise for this nation with any great fervor. But
all he has is political power. We have contact with the King of Kings and Lord
of Lords. Who should be pray for whom?
there is the act of humbling oneself. In those days it was done with sackcloth
and ashes. We don't have such a formula today. But is still true; humble
yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.
addition to the weapons Paul outlines in Ephesians 6, I would add two things to
your list of weapons the Christian must have:
there is the life in the Spirit. If your Christian existence is not in
touch with the Holy Spirit, you will be miserable at spiritual warfare.
But if you walk in the Spirit every day, you will soon begin to see that
your prayers are answered and that those you care for our cared for by
there is the virtue of patience. Daniel got no results for three weeks ---
but he continued to pray.