Derek points out that Scripture speaks of “heavens” in the plural, and then gives us his understanding of the three divisions. God is in the third and highest heaven and Satan is in the second. Using the experience of Daniel, Derek reveals how demonic forces in the second heaven can actually hold up answers to prayers.
And then we get the real motivation of Satan, of Lucifer. Let’s call him Lucifer until he becomes Satan. Verse 17:
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.”
What was the initial motivation of Satan? What was the first sin? Pride. That’s right. We need to remember that always. The first sin in the universe took place in heaven, not on earth. It was not drunkenness, it was not adultery, it was not even lying. It was pride. And believe me, it is still far the most deadly and dangerous of all sins. And lots of churchgoers who would not commit adultery or get drunk, are very easily enticed into pride and don’t even realize how dangerous it is.
Now I want to deal with a question that comes up in many peoples’ minds. They say: “Well, if Satan was cast out of heaven, how can it be that he’s still in the heavenlies?” The answer is very simple. There is more than one heaven. “The heavenlies” are plural. In the first verse of the Bible heaven is presented as plural. “In the beginning God created the heavens [plural]... the earth [singular].” And if you trace it all through the Bible, heaven is presented as plural.
We will just look at two Scriptures. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 2, Paul is talking about people who have had remarkable experiences in the supernatural realm, and he says:
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body I do not know or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows) such a one was caught up to the third heaven.”
Now before I became a preacher I was a logician. Somebody once misheard me say I was a magician, but that’s not so. And logic has still stuck with me and my logical mind tells me: If there is a third heaven, there has to be a first and a second. You cannot have the third of anything without the first two. So if there is a third heaven, as Paul indicates, then there are at least three heavens. Heaven is plural. One other Scripture, just to confirm that, in Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. Speaking about what happened between the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection and ascension, it says:
“Now this He ascended, what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? [This is talking about Jesus.] He also who descended is the one who ascended far above all the heavens that He might fill all things.”
You notice the phrase “all the heavens.” Again, it is not correct to use the word “all” of less than three of anything. That is the minimum. Years ago, when I was principal in a college for training African teachers in Kenya, one of my students came to me and said: “All my parents have come to see me.” So I said: “I understand what you mean, but you cannot say that because in English you cannot use ‘all’ if there are only two. It has to be at least three.” And so when Paul says, “Jesus ascended far above all heavens,” again, the minimum that will qualify is three. Personally, I think that is the total. That is my personal opinion. You do hear people say sometimes, not so often these days, “I was in the seventh heaven.” I would suggest you had probably better not use that. I understand the phrase comes from the Koran, the Islamic book, and I don’t think there is any Biblical authority for more than three heavens. So if you’re feeling really happy, it is all right to say, “I was on cloud nine” because the Bible indicates there is a lot of clouds.
Now I will offer you an opinion. This is simply something that seems probable to me. You don’t have to believe it. You can go to heaven without agreeing with me. You may get there sooner than I do! But I believe the third heaven into which this man Paul knew was caught up, is the heaven of God’s presence, God’s dwelling. And there, he says, he heard unspeakable words. The very words of God Himself. Now I’m inclined to believe the first heaven is the visible heaven that we see. So the second must be between the first and the third, somewhere between our planet and the heaven of God’s dwelling there is another heaven. This is again my opinion. I think there are a lot of things in the Bible that confirm it, and in our experience. So between us and God is a satanic kingdom. I think this has got a lot to do with things that happen in our lives.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “praying through.” Praying through what? I know, when I first sought the Lord, as a person who did not know Him, I tried to pray for an hour and could not utter a word. Yet I was earnestly seeking Him. And then somehow I broke through. I believe, looking back, I broke through satanic forces that were opposing me coming into direct personal contact with Jesus. That was the turning point in my whole life. So don’t laugh at the old-time Pentecostals who talk about “praying through.” Some of their methods may be a little bit unconventional but the truth is there. This is part of our spiritual warfare.
I’ll give you a few examples in just a few minutes, but I think if you begin to realize that there is an opposing kingdom between you and God, it will make a lot more sense in your spiritual experience. It will teach you lessons in prayer.
I want to turn now to the book of Daniel which contains a great deal of useful information in these areas. And I want to take an incident in the life of Daniel which, I believe, illustrates the principles that I’m trying to bring out. The chapter that I want to turn to is chapter 10. And if you are really interested, in your own time you need to study this chapter carefully, but to economize on time I’m not going to read the whole chapter, I’m just going to give a brief background. At a certain point, when Daniel was a very mature believer, he gave himself to fasting for 21 days (3 weeks) with what has become called a “Daniel fast.” He did not abstain from all forms of food, but he ate only very simple, basic food and he took no wine, no fancy drinks. As it says in The Living Bible, “Of course no desserts.” He was earnestly seeking God for an understanding of the future destiny of his people, the Jewish people. And for three weeks he prayed and nothing happened. See, this is an illustration of what I’m talking about. And then a marvelous, mighty, heavenly being came with the answer to his prayer. So powerful was the presence of this being that the other people with Daniel simply fled in terror. And Daniel was left absolutely bereft of physical strength, just almost like John later when he saw Jesus after the resurrection and ascension, he said, “and I fell at His feet like one dead.” But this angel had come with the answer to Daniel’s prayer. He had been sent from God.
The point that I want to emphasize is: The first day Daniel started to pray the angel was sent. But he did not arrive till three weeks later because on the way from God’s throne to Daniel’s presence on earth he encountered satanic opposition. The opposition he encountered was not from human beings; no human being could withstand an angel like that. It was not on earth, it was not in God’s heaven, but it was in some area between the heaven of God and earth. I believe, the area of Satan’s kingdom. In other words, the angel had to break through Satan’s kingdom to arrive with the message that God had sent him with. And this is what he says, and he’s going to be talking about certain beings, one called “the prince of Persia,” others called “the kings of Persia,” and later “the prince of Greece.” And as you look at these, you’ll find that none of them are human beings. They are all angelic beings, satanic angels who did their best to oppose the coming of the angel to Daniel.
Let me point out something that I think is thrilling. Daniel’s prayer set all heaven in motion. It set the angel of God on his way and it stirred up the angels of Satan to oppose. And Daniel had to pray through; he had to hold on for 21 days before he got the answer. So, dear brothers and sisters, sometimes when you are praying and you don’t get an answer, it’s not because you are praying for the wrong thing. In fact, it is because you’re praying for the right thing, but there is opposition. And one of the things that we’ll be seeking to look at in these talks is how to overcome the opposition—how to pray through, how to break through, how to win the victory over these forces.