Looking at the book of Daniel today, Derek leads us to discover how God’s kingdom operates. Initiated by Daniel’s fasting and prayer, angels came forth to battle in the heavenlies. It’s a teaching you won’t want to miss!
It’s good to be with you again as we follow through our theme for this week, the theme of “Spiritual Warfare.” In my previous two talks this week I have explained that, as disciples of Jesus, we find ourselves involved in an all-out spiritual war that affects not only the entire globe on which we live but, indeed, the entire created universe. As representatives of God’s kingdom, we are confronted by an opposing kingdom, Satan’s kingdom, a highly organized kingdom of evil spirit beings (persons without bodies, one translation calls them) and the headquarters of this kingdom are located in the heavenly realms.
Yesterday I devoted my talk to explaining the fact that Satan’s headquarters are in the heavenly realms. I pointed out that the Bible reveals that there are at least three heavens: the visible heaven which we see, another heaven called “the third heaven” which is God’s dwelling place (also called the “heaven of heavens”), and somewhere in between these two another intermediate heaven. I suggested to you that it is this intermediate heaven where Satan’s kingdom is located and from which he directs his war against God’s kingdom and, in particular, against us as God’s people here on earth.
Today I am going to turn to the book of Daniel for a specific example of spiritual warfare that casts further light on the location of Satan’s kingdom. In fact, I’m going to be describing a battle of angels. We will turn to Daniel 10. In this chapter, Daniel describes how he set himself to pray and seek God for a revelation concerning the future of His people Israel. And for three weeks he devoted himself with special intensity to prayer and waiting on God. At the end of the three weeks, an angel from heaven came to Daniel with the answer to his prayer. The angel was so glorious and powerful that all the people with Daniel were scattered and he was the only one who remained to receive the revelation. Now I am going to read Daniel’s own words describing this visitation in Daniel 10:2-6:
“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. And 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.”
As I have already mentioned, Daniel’s companions could not stand this glorious apparition and just disappeared. Then the angel began to speak to Daniel and I’m not concerned with all he said but only with one part of what he said in verses 12 and 13:
“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.’”
It is important to see that the first day that Daniel started praying, his prayer was heard and the angel was dispatched with the answer. But the angel didn’t arrive on earth with Daniel until three weeks or twenty-one days later. What kept the angel three weeks on the journey? The answer is that he was opposed by Satan’s angels. Somewhere in the journey from the heaven of God to earth, he had to go through the kingdom of Satan, the territory of Satan, Satan’s kingdom in the heavenlies. And there he was opposed by evil angels who tried to prevent him getting through with a message to Daniel. This is how he describes it:
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days [Note that’s why the angel took twenty-one days, because he had resistance, opposition in the heavenlies.] then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes [or chief angels, or archangels], came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.”
Notice all this took place in the heavenly realms and we are able to identify certain angelic beings. The leader of Satan’s angels is called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia,” the chief ruler over Persia. Related to him and apparently under him, were various “kings” or lesser angels. And then, on God’s side, the angel that came to help the original angel sent with a message to Daniel was the archangel Michael. Now, in Daniel 12:1, we read this about Michael:
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise.”
The word “great prince” we can interpret as “archangel.” This particular archangel, Michael, stands guard over the sons of Daniel’s people; in other words, the children of Israel. So Michael, in some special way, is charged by God with watching over the interests and protecting Israel. And because this whole revelation centered around the future of Israel, it was very much in the interests of Israel that the messenger should get through. So when the first angel was held up, then the archangel Michael came to help him and they battled there with the Satanic angels for twenty-one days. The Satanic angels, as I have already said, were represented by one who was known as the prince of the kingdom of Persia, the supreme ruler) and under him various kings or subordinate rulers who, I would imagine, had various areas of authority. For instance, there might be one king over each major city of the Persian Empire, one over each major ethnic group, perhaps one also over each of the various religious and pagan cults of the Persian Empire. We get this picture of a highly organized structured kingdom with various areas and descending levels of authority and its headquarters are in the heavenlies and it is a kingdom of rebellious, fallen angels, spirit beings, persons without bodies.
At the end of Daniel 10, the angel again speaks about this conflict. He says to Daniel (verse 20):
“Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia...”
In other words, the battle against this evil satanic angel that dominated the empire of Persia was not yet complete. There would be further war in the heavens. So the angel continues:
“...I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.”
In other words, once victory has been gained over the evil angel that rules the empire of Persia, the next empire that will arise will be the empire of Greece and that also will have its own specific evil angel that is the ruler or prince of Greece.
And then, right at the end, the angel that is speaking to Daniel says this:
“Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”
So we see again that the archangel Michael is specifically associated with protecting and watching over the interests of God’s people Israel. And we see that it took the united strength of the first angel and of Michael to overcome the satanic ruling angels in Satan’s kingdom that were opposing the outworking of God’s purpose for Israel.
You might say, “Why particularly Persia and Greece?” Let me remind you that there were four major Gentile empires that successively dominated Israel, their land, and the city of Jerusalem from about the fifth century B.C., and onwards. They were: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and finally, Rome. So Persia and Greece were significant because, at that time, they were the two dominant Gentile empires. We see from this that the battle centers around God’s people and God’s purposes. That, I believe, is still true today. Wherever God’s people are and wherever God’s purposes are being worked out, that is where the spiritual battle will be most intense.
And let me offer you my personal opinion again that at this time, in the days in which we now live, the center of the conflict is once again over Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
Finally, let me point out to you the effect of Daniel’s prayers. To me, this is somewhat staggering. When Daniel started to pray on earth, in a sense, it set all heaven in motion, both the angels of God and the angels of Satan. That gives us a terrific insight into what prayer can do. Also, I’m impressed by the fact that apparently God’s angels needed the help of Daniel’s prayers to get them through and accomplish their mission. Again, that gives us a tremendous insight into the effectiveness of prayer.
Well, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of “Spiritual Warfare.” I’ll be speaking about the weapons and the battleground.