Series on Daniel.
Rev Hans Vaatstra
Reading: Revelation 1:9-20
Text: Daniel 10
A revelation of Cosmic Conflict
Reading: Revelation 1:9-18, Text Daniel 10
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that behind the struggles you experience the temptations, the doubts , the struggles with sin, the conflict you experience and see around you there are spiritual forces at work both good and evil.
In Hebrews 1:14 we read that the angels of God are ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation
In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul wrote “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers and against the cosmic forces of darkness and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
How do these spiritual forces manifest themselves? What will the outcome of the struggle be? How are we to equip ourselves in this struggle? These are some of the questions Daniel 10 helps answer.
So far in the book of Daniel we’ve been reading about the history of Israel during their years of exile. During this time the nation Israel had lost its sovereignty and were subjugated by the kings of other nations including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus king of Persia. God’s prophet Daniel was acutely aware of the reasons behind Israel’s demise. It was because Israel transgressed the law of God. They had become faithless and turned away from God and turned to the idols of the nations around them. Daniel confessed these sins in a long and earnest prayer of confession which we looked at last week in chapter 9. In response to Daniel’s prayer the Lord sent his angel Gabriel with a prophecy of the future that there would be an end to transgression, that sin would be atoned for and that everlasting righteousness would ensue.
This would be fulfilled in part with the return of the exiles to Jerusalem more fully when Christ came and atoned for sin on the cross and finally and completely when he comes again in glory. So we can see three fulfilments of Daniel’s prophecy finally resulting in that much longed for state of everlasting righteousness. But that that was still a long way off for Daniel and the nation Israel in 535 BC. There were and are still more battles to be fought. And so this prophecy was given to help warn and prepare God’s people of the conflicts which lay ahead. It was also given to reassure us that those who trust in the Lord would find a safe refuge and certain victory in him.
So here in chapter 10: 1 we find Daniel receives a message of “great conflict” which caused him to mourn for three weeks during which time he abstained from most if not all the comforts of life. His concern for was for Israel, why all this conflict where was God?
Soon after Daniel was by the river Trigris when he lifted up his eyes and saw a vision that affected him to an extraordinary degree. Previously he had seen visions of angels and other visions which greatly disturbed him but this was different. The men who were with him were terrified and fled. Daniel himself fainted and collapsed on the ground.
The vision was of a man dressed in linen and wearing a belt of pure gold. He had a bright, shining face, blazing eyes arms and feet of burnished bronze. The sound of his voice was like a tumult. The exact identity of this man is unclear in the passage itself. He is not given a name. His words were not unlike the words of angels but the effect he had on Daniel is more like the kind of effect that the immediate presence of God has on people who know they are sinful. A similar encounter was experienced by the apostle John had when he encountered the risen and glorified Christ on the Island of Patmos. This is recorded in Revelation chapter 1. John fainted because of what he saw and heard. There is also the encounter the apostle Paul had with Christ on the road to Damascus and which was recorded for us in Acts 9. Paul’s companions fled in terror and Paul himself fell blinded to the ground. So comparing Scripture with Scripture gives us the strongest indication that the appearance of the Man to Daniel was an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ.
This assumes that before Christ appeared in the flesh 535 years later he was already there in OT times working among God’s people. It also supports what John 1:1 says that” in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and that all things came into being through him.
Now what is also characteristic of Christ in this passage is his loving and gracious response to those who fear him. Daniel felt a hand touch him and he heard kind words being spoken to him. He called Daniel a man of ‘high esteem’. We can take that to mean that he was loved and favored by the Lord. We also see the same kind approach to John when he fell as Jesus feet as though dead. John also felt a hand on his shoulder and heard the familiar words of the savior; do not be afraid.
There is a great deal of comfort in that for us. As sinful beings we are naturally apprehensive at the thought of meeting God. But here we learn that God’s response to those who are poor in spirit, fear the Lord is always a kind response. Look at verse 11. The Man tells Daniel to ‘stand upright’ and commends him for his diligent efforts to understand the word of God.
What follows in verse 13 is a new revelation to Daniel about what was behind the complex political situation he and the other exiles faced. He said “The prince of Persia was withstanding me for 21 days then behold Michael one of the chief princes came to help me for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.”
On hearing that Daniel appeared to be stunned. The text says he was rendered speechless. The Messenger touches Daniel lips an action which strengthened and encouraged Daniel. He then continues with the explanation of the future. This explanation was consistent with earlier visions Daniel had received, the succession of kingdoms. The prince of Greece would follow the prince of Persia as the dominant political power in the region.
But who are these princes? It says that the angel Michael, one of the chief princes helped the man fight against the princes of Persia and Greece. These are not earthly princes. These are principalities and powers in the heavenly realms who have influence over the inhabitants of earth.
What this means is the conflicts and tensions between earthly powers and the people of God are reflected and fought out in the spiritual realm.
So, in verse 13 we find that the subjugation of the people of God by the Persian empire is reflected in the battle between the prince of Persia and Michael. The prince of Persia mentioned there is therefore one of the forces of evil in the heavenly realms according to Ephesians 6: 12. Similarly the threat to God’s people from the Greek empire was reflected in a spiritual battle in the spiritual realm between Michael and the prince of Greece.
What is also noteworthy is that the conflict Daniel had during his three weeks of mourning actually took place during the struggle with Michael and the prince of Persia.
Now the New Testament does shed a great deal of light on what we read here in Daniel 10 about angels and princes in the spiritual realm and how they influence or affect the inhabitants on earth. In Revelation 12 we read about a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the Dragan who is Satan. The Dragon and his demons were defeated and cast down to the earth. Revelation 12:8 says “there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Now in Job chapter 1 we do read how Satan was at one time able to present himself along with the sons of God before the Lord (presumably the good angels) and communicate with God. in Revelation 12 following the battle in heaven described there this was no longer possible. It says “there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
So, when exactly did this take place?
The decisive heavenly battle happened at the same time Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, engaged in and defeated the spiritual powers of evil through his completed work on the cross. His final words were “It is finished” At that moment when the sins of all God’s people were paid for the Devil was thrown down! He could nop longer present himself before God as the accuser the way he accused Job.
Revelation 12:9 says “the great dragon the serpent of old who is called the devil; who deceives the whole world,.. was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Jesus predicted that earlier when he said to his disciples in Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven.” He was cast down to earth as a broken power and is on his way to final destruction.. But he is not there yet. Rev 12 tells us that when Satan was cast down to the earth “he was enraged against the woman and went off to wage war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus, the offspring of the woman meaning the church.
Hence Paul’s urging the church to
put on the full armor of God that you may stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
So summing all this up, what Daniel 10 teaches us is that behind the conflicts we see in the world between good and evil, between believers and those who do not acknowledge God; between the world and the church there is a defeated and desperate evil power known as Satan. He knows his days are numbered. He knows what awaits him. His influence has now been curtailed to those who live on the earth and his target according to 1 Peter 1:8 and Revelation 12:17 is the church to whom he is like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour!
Furthermore his schemes are many according to the Bible. Satan is still the deceiver, tempter and a liar. If we are not careful we can easily fall into the trap of believing his lies. Satan would have us believe we can be good Christians but not belong to a church. He wants to isolate us from the church so that we loose her support, mutual encouragement and avenues of service
He will try to get us believe that all kinds of vice such as drunkenness, homosexuality, looking at porn is fine that everyone does it and what harm will it do?
He wants children to rebel against their parents, question their faith, waste their time believe evolutionary lies taught at schools and universities.
He wants us to stay glued to our television sets and watch the worst programs so that we become more and more indoctrinated by the godless philosophies held by much of the media and evolutionary god-deniers today.
He wants us to believe in ourselves, be proud of who we are to the extent that we think we are superior to others contrary to what Paul says in Philippians 2, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.” That kind of pride led to the extermination of Jews during the Second World War and the random shootings of aboriginals in Tasmania because they were thought to be subhuman.
So Satan’s lies are often the catalyst for conflicts and wars on a global scale or conflicts in our family homes and our own personal struggles.
So what should we do how must God’s people respond to this revelation? We’ve already touched on the need to put on the full armour of God against the devils schemes from Ephesians 6. Lets think that through a little more.
So we need to be aware and on our guard. How? What can help? Well the thing we notice about Daniel is he was a man of prayer and a diligent student of God’s word. Over the years (and Daniel was in his 80s by then) his prayerful diligence enabled him to understand the visions and revelations he was given by God and he was commended by God for that.
So the more we study God’s word prayerfully the better we’ll understand its content. Jesus said seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. Study God’s word diligently, place yourselves regularly under the means of grace. Gain that understanding which will help you take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Paul reiterates this in Ephesians 6. Where we are urged to put on the armor of God, know the truth live by the truth, practice your Christian faith. Don’t live as though you can compartmentalize your faith; that is, go to church on Sundays and live like someone who doesn’t know Christ the rest of the week. Share your faith with others and pray. If there is one thing we learn from Daniels example it’s the importance of earnest heartfelt and regular prayer.
You see, according to Revelation 20:2, Satan is bound, like a beast on a strong chain which restricts him so. He was bound to prevent him from deceiving the nations any further.
That means Satan is powerless to prevent the gospel from being preached and powerless to prevent its spread among the nations. And certainly since the time of Christ the gospel has advanced at an unprecedented rate to the point now where the Christian faith has become the dominant faith worldwide.
Jesus is the one who appears majestically and victoriously at the right hand of the Father, He is the One who overcame death and Hades. He stands among his churches. He is the One who holds Satan on a leash and the one who will consign him into the eternal fire of everlasting destruction.
Trust Jesus Christ and Satan won’t be able to harm you. Obey his commandments and live victoriously over the forces of evil. Remember that when Jesus ministered on earth for three years he got rid of legions of demons, he rebuked the wind and the waves put Satan behind him. He healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind and now through his Spirit, every child that is born and baptized, with every profession of faith in Christ, with every decision to obey Christ rather than self, means Christ is also having the victory through us.
So in conclusion, put on the armor of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil’s schemes. Be diligent in your prayer life and Bible study. Remember who stands supreme over good and evil and who is putting all his enemies under our feet,