Today is the final day in our 46th week, reading the Bible through in a year. Our scriptures today are: Daniel 10-12; John 20.
There's a lot that I could write about, from our scripture readings today. Generally, I like to write about the common themes that emerge between our OT and NT writings, if a common theme exists. In this case, the common theme is found in Daniel 12:2-3 and the whole chapter of John 20--the theme of resurrection. But, since I've so recently written a bit about resurrection in my post "Can a Christian Believe in Reincarnation?" I'll leave that subject alone for now. Let's just say that we've got a lot to look forward to, if we're believers in Christ!
I could write about end-time prophecy and talk about the 70 Weeks of Daniel that we already read about in Daniel 9. Or, I could talk about the parallels between the Greek despot Antiochus Epiphanes, who is mentioned in Daniel 11:21-35; and Antichrist, who is discussed in Daniel 11:36-45.
But instead, I think I'll focus on the spiritual battle that unfolds in Daniel 10:4-11:1 (ESV). I'll give it to you in its entirety.
On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.
And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord's servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince. And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.
This short passage of scripture tells us a lot about angels, demons, and spiritual warfare. First, we get a fantastic description of a Cherub, which is a warrior angel. Unlike the six-winged Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), whose primary job is worshiping God, Cherubim are chiefly warriors. Billy Graham calls them "God's secret agents." Though Daniel was the only one in his group who actually saw this Cherub, others who were around him had some sense of dread that made them flee. Daniel alone saw the heavenly being, who was so fearful that it caused him to pass out.
Then the angel revives Daniel and tells him about the spiritual-political struggle in which he, the angel, has been engaged. We learn that the heavenly realms have an interest in worldly politics, and even engage in warfare to determine earthly outcomes. The "prince of Persia" with whom this angel contended, and against whom Michael the archangel came to his aid, is not an earthly prince but a demonic monarch. As Michael is described as the guardian of Israel, we get the sense that each nation has angels assigned to guard it. Likewise, satanic strongholds exist in every country. Celestial battles take place as Lucifer and his angels try to gain supremacy over the forces of Heaven. But God is almighty, and His armies will always be victorious!
Next, we see the great care that the angel takes to encourage and strengthen Daniel.
“O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you...Fear not."
Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.”
And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
What great encouragement it is to know that angels are concerned with the strengthening of God's people! I've known people who have told me that they have received a touch from an angel. Angel touches encourage and empower God's people during times of difficulty. Just as the angel encouraged Elijah in 1 Kings 19:3-8, providing supernatural sustenance and strength, so the angel nourished Daniel with a touch and words of grace. In the same way, God's secret agents can empower you during your times of need.
Finally, the angel functions not only as a warrior and caregiver, but as a supernatural messenger. God wanted to reveal His truth to Daniel, and an angel was the bearer of His word. Throughout the Bible, angels appear to give prophecies, visions, warnings, encouragements, and explanations to God's people.
How wonderful it is to know that our paths are guarded by unseen forces, that when we're afraid or weak we can be empowered by heavenly hands, and that magnificent messengers are ready to fly to your side with a word from God, at a time when you most need it. Thank God for His heavenly warriors, His spiritual caregivers, His speakers of truth to our lives! Thank God for His angels!