Title: SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN THE HEAVENLIES
Text: Daniel 10:1-21
Spiritual warfare is something that exists and goes on daily whether you see it or not…whether you believe it or not. Concerning that latter phrase, I urge you to believe what the Word of God has to say rather than what others may say about it. The Word of God is our authority and we are to take what it says over anything else.
Before we tackle our chapter of study, let’s look at the New Testament foundation for Christians, for that is the foundation that will help us to interpret what we will read in this Old Testament chapter. 2 Cor. 10:3-6 Here we see that our war is not with other people…not even in non-believers or Satanists…our war is with the spirit that works within them. Secondly, we see that our weapons are divinely powerful…powerful enough to destroy fortresses (strongholds of Satan)…destroy speculations (things people of disbelief propose in opposition to God)…and destroy things lifted against the knowledge of God (false ideas about God’s existence and science that is twisted to oppose God). Thirdly, we see here that sometimes the biggest spiritual battle is in our mind (the voice of evil speaking to us), but God has given us the Sword of the Spirit to take every thought captive and fight against disobedience.
Next is: Jude 1:9 Though brief, this passage highlights that there was an argument between Michael the archangel and the Devil about doing something (we don’t know what it was) with the body of Moses. Though Michael is a powerful war-angel of authority, he didn’t confront the Devil head-on…rather he called upon the Lord to rebuke him.
Next is: Luke 22:31-32 and Job 1:6-12 Here we see Satan has access to the heavenlies to attack us, lie about us, and get permission to sift us like wheat. But the good news is that he is limited in his activities because God is all powerful and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can endure (1 Cor. 10:13). All that Satan does is under the watchful eye of our Lord and Savior.
Let’s look at one last passage: Eph. 6:10-12 Here we are encouraged to put on the spiritual armor of God to fight against the schemes of the Devil. Once again we see that our struggle is not against others, but against: powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. It is this passage that describes what we will see throughout Daniel chapter 10. Read Text.
1. Verse 1 says that a message was revealed to Daniel about a great conflict. There are two possibilities of interpretation here: actual conflict (war) between countries, or spiritual conflict. Which do you think it is, and why? (BOTH, but mostly spiritual conflict, because of the activity of a spiritual being in this chapter, and the mention of Michael, the archangel, coming to aid the messenger.)
2. Verse 1 says that Daniel understood the message and the vision. What do you think brought that about? (Understanding came as a result of his prayers in 10:12.)
Insight: Evidently Daniel was praying for wisdom concerning the future of his people. In the three previous visions God had already revealed much pertaining to Israel’s fate, but Daniel desired to know more.
3. Daniel combined prayer with fasting, and this vision was the result. Why fast in connection with prayer? (It demonstrates sincerity to God by denying one of our strongest urges…to satisfy hunger.)
Insight: Fasting is a personal matter between you and God. It is voluntary. Moses, David, Esther, Daniel, Paul and Jesus fasted. When our world lies in deep spiritual darkness, perhaps more of us should follow the examples of those before us.
4. Where was Daniel when he was praying and the messenger came? (On the banks of the Tigris River.)
Insight: Daniel chose to leave the capital, Babylon, in order to pray. Uninterrupted time away with the Lord always proves to be fruitful.
5. While praying, Daniel lifted his eyes and saw a man standing there. From the description, do you think this man was earthly or heavenly? Why? (His appearance; the other men with him did not see him, but ran away…not likely if this was a man of flesh. Daniel became very weak because of the appearance of this messenger. Since this man brought a message from God, most likely this was Gabriel, the messenger angel. Clearly this messenger is inferior to God: he was “sent”, and he required the help of Michael to fight against other angelic forces (v.13). Gabriel appeared to Daniel previously to give him a message: 8:15-16; 9:20-21.)
6. What insights do you see in 10:12 that encourage you about your prayer time?
Insight: I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times it seems my prayers fall on deaf ears. This passage shows us God hears and responds right away, but there are times of delay…for reasons we cannot see this side of heaven. God dispatched an angel as soon as he heard Daniel’s prayers.
7. What triggered such a response from God that He would send a messenger angel? (Daniel set his heart on trying to understand what was happening with his people and he humbled himself before God by fasting.)
Insight: Setting aside our own agenda and openly setting our heart to seek God’s will results in God’s response and revelation.
8. Now for the verse that unfolds the scene of spiritual warfare in the heavenlies: 10:13. Gabriel was dispatched immediately, but he was delayed in getting to Daniel. How long, and why? (21 days, had to battle against the kings of Persia.)
Insight: Remember our passage in Ephesians 6? Our struggle is with powers, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Notice the plural of kings of Persia. Normally there is only one king, but in this case, there are multiple spiritual forces over Persia. Angels are not detained with earthly kings on earth, so these are spiritual “world forces of darkness.” Persia was the assignment of these evil angels, which makes sense. Persia ruled the world in that day, and Satan would surely have concentrated his efforts in this influential area to oppose Israel, God’s people. Though this influence in the heavenlies, we see results on earth…the Samaritans were rallied against Israel, even up to the time of Christ’s appearance.
Insight: Perhaps for us too, delays of answered prayer may be the result of spiritual warfare going on before God’s help breaks through. But there are times God permits us to wait for our prayer answer in order to teach us lessons of spiritual commitment, patience, and faith. Yet we have to trust there are also times that God’s wisdom sees the proper time has not yet come, and so we must wait for things to fall in place.
9. 10:13 says that Michael, the chief prince, was dispatched to help Gabriel break through. What does this tell us about Michael? (He was a “good” territorial angel assigned to Israel’s protection. See 10:21; 12:1. He must have been a stronger angel; in fact, he is the war-angel from other passages. Michael helped Gabriel to gain victory over the kings of Persia so that he could finally get through to Daniel.) Rev. 12:7-12
Insight: From this passage we have evidence that angels are real, there are good and bad angels, angels can influence human affairs, they inspire human governments, they are invisible, spiritual warfare is being waged that involves angels and believers, this is an ongoing struggle (see 10:20), God’s angels act on behalf of the saints, and God’s angels are victorious over Satan’s angels.
Insight: Don’t think that Satan’s angels have the power to thwart the will of God. While God can override the united resistance of all forces of Hell if He chooses to do so, He allows demons limited powers of obstruction and rebellion to accomplish His ultimate will that we see only in part. As we saw in Job 1:12 & 2:6, Satan is never allowed to go beyond the limits set by God. Take comfort, “Greater is He who is in thee than he that is in the world.” 1 Jn. 4:4
10. In verses 10:14-17 Gabriel revealed understanding of the vision, which pertained to things of the last days. Notice Daniel’s reaction. Do you think you are fully ready for some of the things you seek from God?
11. After strengthening Daniel by a touch and encouraging words, Gabriel reveals that he must return to the conflict that he just came from, but this time the struggle would be greater because the prince over Greece was joining the fight against him. This verse reveals another insight about spiritual warfare…can you figure out what it is?
Insight: Gabriel knew that the prince over Greece was coming. Satan’s plans are not secretive to God; He knows what’s about to come down upon us, and so He will dispatch the help that is needed for the size of our struggle.
Insight: Indeed the struggle would continue…it would continue for two centuries, for the Persian rule lasted from 539-331 B.C. This struggle involved all the decisions pertaining to the Jews during the Persian period (the reconstruction of the temple, deliverance for the Jews during the time of Esther, permission for Ezra and Nehemiah to return, and the construction of Jerusalem). But with the coming prince of Greece, this is a prophetic revelation of the rise of the Roman Empire that was a significant world power during the time of Christ, especially with the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanies, the one who martyred Christians and desecrated the Temple.
12. What does 10:21 reveal about the spiritual warfare facing Daniel…and then what does it reveal about our spiritual warfare?
Insight: Evidently Michael was especially dispatched to guard Israel (Michael your prince). The more intense the struggle, the stronger the angel that is dispatched to watch over us. No one else was needed…Michael could do the job! Oh that we could see with the eyes of Elisha to see those who invisibly fight on our behalf! 2 Kings 6:13-17
"O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength.” 10:16
I wonder if God were to reveal to us the rest of our days if we might have the same reaction. But we can be comforted by this rich time in the Word of God, for we have learned that intense struggles are under the watchful eye of an Omnipotent and Omniscient God that dispatches help that is stronger than the opposition. We may not see the angels there fighting on our behalf, but we can trust that they are there, and that help is on the way.
Take courage my friends…our God is greater!!!! I’ve read the Book and I know that we win in the end!!!!
Peace to you.