Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

Daniel (2010)

Angels

Daniel 10

Lesson audio

We 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)

That 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 supplication.

The 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)

Angels

We 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.

We 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:

  • First 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.
  • Next, 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 angel.
  • Angels are particularly associated with the final judgment. We know that when Christ returns the Angels will come with him in huge numbers.
Characteristics

We are not given much information about Angels. But there are some things we do know:

  • First, we know that they are organized in various levels of the hierarchy. We have titles like Archangel, cherubim, Seraphim and so on.
  • We 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.
  • Angels are considered to be wise, mighty, holy and in innumerable. And beyond that we are not given very much information.
Misconceptions

Given how little we really know about Angels, it is not surprising that we have seen some distortion concerning them.

  • The 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.
  • Starting 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
  • Many 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."

Let me give you a different picture. This is a picture of the Annunciation by an artist named Rossetti.

Rossetti - The Annunciation

In 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.

We 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.

Spiritual Warfare

Perhaps 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 the Ephesians:

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)

We are in spiritual warfare. But our part in that warfare is not the same of that of the angels.

Christian Weapons

in addition to Paul's writing, Daniel here gives us three weapons the Christian may use in spiritual warfare.

The 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):

  • Fasting 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.
  • It is also a outward sign of inward repentance. When people know you're fasting, the logical question is, "why?" It helps you prevent secret repentance.
  • Since your mind is not on your body it can be on the things of the Lord.

The 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.

Think 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?

Finally, 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.

Christian Defense

in addition to the weapons Paul outlines in Ephesians 6, I would add two things to your list of weapons the Christian must have:

  • First, 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 God.
  • Finally, there is the virtue of patience. Daniel got no results for three weeks --- but he continued to pray.

Previous     Home     Next