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Daniel 10:1-11:1: The Cosmic Battle Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 November 2012
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I keep a running collection of good quotes concerning preaching. One of my favorites comes from a fellow pastor, Barry Maxwell, who I met in college and is an excellent writer. Here is his quote: ďAs you stand behind the wooden altar this Sunday you do so not to be popular, eloquent, admired, impressive or paid. No, you stand there as an eternal servant of God, vested with the mysteries of God, clothed with the robes of Christ, stewards of the Spiritís riches. Indeed, God will have orchestrated history that you would open your Bible before His people at that moment.

You stand in a graveyard calling corpses to life, which apart from Godís sovereign power, is profoundly silly.  And though the grave stones may remain intact and the earth untouched, the heavenly places will shake under the weight of the gospel.  The rulers and authorities in the unseen world will have shuddered and rejoiced as the preacher uttered Godís words.  The enemy will have suffered yet another blow as he strives against the church.  They cannot do otherwise because Godís word is never ineffective.Ē 1  Powerful words.  But are they true?  I mean, is there really some sort of cosmic battle going right now as we hear from Godís Word?

Daniel 10 teaches us that there is indeed a spiritual battle raging unseen.  The vision that begins in this chapter will take us through the rest of the book.  Chapter 10 functions as an introduction to the vision, which will be given in 11:2-12:3, followed by some brief instructions to Daniel concerning the vision.  So then, what happens in chapter 10 and what can lessons can we learn?  We will begin by briefly walking through the text and then move to some lessons.

What happens

As we have seen with all of the visions, Daniel begins by giving us the setting.  Look at verse 1.  This vision takes place during the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, or around 537-36 BC.  Cyrus has let some of the captives go back to Jerusalem, but not all is well with Godís people.  Reconstruction is moving slowly and many have not returned from captivity, including Daniel.  Thus, we see that Daniel is fasting and praying to the Lord for help and strength.  Look at verses 2-3.  Daniel continues to labor in prayer on behalf of Godís people.

While Daniel is praying, he is once again given a vision, which he has already described as a great conflict.  Yet, the vision begins with the appearance of an angel.  Look at verses 4-9.  This is a powerful vision.  Daniel sees a man that is clothed in white, with a golden belt, with a face like lightening, eyes like flaming torches, and his legs and arms like shining metal.  If that is not enough, his voice sounds like a multitude.  Who is this?  Some think that this is God, or the pre-incarnate Christ, since He is given a similar description in Revelation 1.  Yet, since this messenger has been sent and is even delayed in his coming, it seems better to view this being as an angel from God.  When the angel speaks, Daniel passes out.  If Godís messengers are this powerful, what does this say about His greatness and His power?

After Daniel passes out, the angel revives him and begins to speak to him.  Look at verses 10-14.  The angel strengthens Daniel and tells him that he is greatly loved.  He tells Daniel not to fear because his prayers have been heard.  In fact, the angel tells Daniel that he has come because of Danielís prayers.  Of course, the question at that point is what took you so long?  Daniel had been praying for twenty-one days before the angel came.  So the angel explains that the prince of the kingdom of Persia had delayed him until Michael, another angel, came and helped.  With these words, the Lord gives us a brief glimpse into what is taking place behind the scenes.  Daniel is praying for understanding and help and encouragement.  The Lord sends him an angel that has to fight another ruler in the spiritual realm just to get to Daniel and encourage him.  Thus, there is indeed a cosmic spiritual battle taking place that is unseen to us.

Once again, Daniel is weakened by the vision.  Look at verses 15-17.  Daniel is overwhelmed by the vision and by what the angel is revealing to him.  He continually requires strength and he is continually given strength, this time by seemingly another angel.  Yet even then, what he says reveals that he is still struggling for strength.

Thus, the angel touches him one more time and speaks to him again.  Look at verses 18-11:1.  Finally, the angel begins to prepare Daniel for the vision that will come in chapter 11.  He is in battle with the prince of Persia and after that will war with the prince of Greece.  But he has come to encourage Daniel with the vision of chapter 11, which we will look at next week.

What we learn

So then, what lessons for our current conflict can we learn from this passage?

First, we learn that prayer is one of our primary means of fighting.  Have you ever wondered why prayer can be so difficult at times?  I think one reason is because prayer is spiritual warfare.  Prayer is frontline battle.  It is laboring in the trenches for the glory of God and the good of His people.  One of my commentatorís writes: ďMost of us think of prayer as a retreat from the action, not as an offensive weapon with which we attack the enemyÖIn reaction to this, we must cultivate a mindset that sees prayer as a powerful tool by which to foil Satanís schemes and destroy his handiwork.Ē 2  When we pray, we are engaging in serious warfare.

Are their any lessons from Daniel 10 that encourage us in the warfare of prayer?  Yes, let me just mention a few.  First, we should be encouraged in prayer because the Lord loves us.  Have you noticed how many times the Lord has told Daniel that He loved in the past few chapters?  In this chapter He tells him twice.  Look at verse 11 and 19.  The Lord delights in Daniel.  He loves Him.  And He has loved us by sending His Son to pay for our sins.  Such love should encourage our prayers.  Second, we should pray because the Lord hears us.  Look at verse 12a.  God heard Danielís prayers and He hears our prayers.  Do not doubt that.  Always know that He hears you.  Third, we should be encouraged in our prayers because the Lord responds to us.  Look at verse 12b.  The angel came because Daniel prayed.  God hears our prayers and responds to them.  We will consider this further in a moment.  Finally, we should pray because the Lord strengthens us for the fight through prayers.  Over and over again Daniel is strengthened in this passage.  Granted we might not be strengthened in the same way, but the Lord does give us strength for the battles we face through our prayers.  For these reasons and more, we should pray!

Second, we learn that we are not alone in this battle.  There is a serious conflict raging that we cannot see.  Daniel was praying because of the situation with Cyrus, the king of Persia.  Yet, the angel tells him that he is doing battle with the prince of Persia.  Thus, the earthly, physical battle mirrors the spiritual one.  We call this spiritual warfare.  The clearest, but not the only, passage in the New Testament teaching us about this battle is Ephesians 6:10-20, which we read as our call to worship.  Paul tells us that the spiritual battle is still taking place.  Unlike under the Old Covenant, we no longer battle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Just as in Danielís day, there is a war going on unseen.  How do we engage in this battle?  Paul tells us take up the full armor of God and to stand firm against the Devil.  We are to fill our lives with truth, righteousness, and faith.  We are to protect ourselves with the helmet of salvation and the gospel of peace.  And we are to fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is Godís Word.  And as we said earlier, we are to fight on our knees in prayer.  Pray for your lost neighbors.  Pray for your lost friends and family members.  Pray for our country and for our leaders.  Pray for the Church.  Pray for one another. 

Although we are not given the whole picture of this cosmic battle and we must be careful in our approach to spiritual warfare, it does not mean that we can pretend like the battle is not real.  It is real.  The New Testament witness to this fact again and again.  Yes, there are those who go farther than what the text permits.  For example, some say that based on Daniel 10 we should be praying against certain spirits that are over nations (like the prince of Persia or the prince of Greece).  Yet, Daniel is not told to pray against them.  We never see an example of that.  I do believe we should pray against the enemy, particularly in light of the practice of Jesus and Paulís instructions in Ephesians 6, but I think our focus in prayer should be for belief and for victory over sin.  But the thing we cannot do is ignore the fact that we have a real enemy and that we are in a battle.  God has given passages like Daniel 10 to teach us this truth and Ephesians 6 to instruct us in the fight.  The enemy wants us to ignore such passages, but we must not.  We must fight.  We must engage.  We must believe.  We must know the truth.  We must learn how to wield the sword of truth through study and memorization.  And we must pray.  We must labor in prayer for the good of Godís people and the glory of His name.

In fact, the battle is raging right now.  The enemy hates the Word of God and wants to do everything he can to keep you from being encouraged in your battle against him.  But he cannot stand against the Word, against Daniel 10, against the sword of the spirit.  He tells you to be afraid.  He tells you to focus on your circumstances.  He tells you to look at all the evil going on in this world right now.  He tells you to back down, donít worry about spiritual things, focus on something else.  He tells you that you are going to lose this war.  But listen to the words of the angel again: O man, greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.  The enemy cannot stand against our God and His plan to redeem a people.  He has already lost this fight.  The battle was won on a hill outside of Jerusalem, when our Savior willingly gave His life to defeat the enemies of sin, Satan, and death.  When He rose victorious over the grave, the cosmic battle was decided.  He has won.  And all those who turn from their sins and put their faith in Him will share in His victory.  So, be encouraged Church.  The angels are fighting.  The saints are fighting.  The Church is fighting.  And we are all being led by the King who will never be defeated, for His Kingdom is everlasting and His dominion will never end.  Amen.

1 Taken from a blogpost under the title: ďCherish the PulpitóIt may very well kill youĒ (October 7th, 2004).
2 Tremper Longman III, Daniel NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1999), p. 263.

~ William Marshall ~


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