Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gleanings from Daniel [22]

ThisPresentDarknessTrue Spiritual Warfare (Daniel 10)

I come to what is really the final revelation give to Daniel. 

The entire prophecy is contained in the final two chapters of Daniel, 11 and 12.  Chapters 10 through 12 are one literary unit.  The prophecy is broken in three large sections: 

Chapter 10 introduces us to the revelation.

Chapter 11 pertains to prophecies of nations at conflict with Israel.

Chapter 12 pertains to prophecies regarding Israel at the time of the end.

With this final prophecy, we see how God’s dealings with His people Israel and the major nations runs its course.

I. Historical Background (10:1-3)

Daniel opens chapter 10 by writing how this vision came to him in the third year of Cyrus, 536/535 B.C.  A good portion of the Jews would have returned to the land by this time or were preparing to return.  This would also be around the time of the “lion den” incident as recorded in chapter 6, perhaps shortly after it.

You will also note how Daniel not only names himself, but also gives his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar. Quite possibly this is a reminder that this is the exact same guy from right at the start of the exile 70 years earlier. 

Daniel is still in Babylon and this raises the question:  Why didn’t he return to Israel?  There are a few possibilities,

- He was too old to make the trip.

- His responsibilities prohibited him.

- Or more likely, Daniel believed he could serve Israel better if he stayed were he was.

Daniel speaks of a message being delivered, a revelation that is described as both extraordinary and true.  The Hebrew word tsava, is difficult for translators to understand in this passage.  The NKJV, for example, translates the word “the appointed time.”  However, the word more often refers to hard service in the army or warfare, even conflict.  If this message pertains to the events recorded in the last three chapters of Daniel’s book, it is understandable the message revealed to Daniel refers to a great conflict.  Something that was yet to happen a long way off (certainly for Daniel).  This was both a heavenly conflict as well as an earthly conflict Israel will experience.  But knowing the work described by the spiritual beings in chapter 10, ultimately, spiritual conflict was at the heart of the earthly warfare.

It was during this time Daniel experienced a period of mourning.  It is uncertain why that is.  It could be a result of the vision he had received, or the fact he knew the returning Jews were being challenged by the inhabitants as recorded in Ezra.  Whatever the case, Daniel began a fast.  He didn’t eat any choice food (just basic sustenance), and he didn’t oil his body, which in a dry climate of the Iraqi desert, would be uncomfortable.  He did this for three weeks.

II. Heavenly Vision (10:4-12) 

It is the Jewish month, Nisan, on the 24th of that month.  Passover would had been on the 14th.  Daniel is by the Tigris river.  Here, Daniel is physically by the river, not by a river in merely a vision.  The Tigris starts several hundred miles north of Babylon and comes as close as 20 miles to the city.  Daniel may had been away on sort of a retreat.  Perhaps to spend time praying in regards to the message he had received.

He then sees a vision of a man.  The question is asked, “Who is he?”  Some suggest Gabriel from previous occasions, but this man is remarkably different.

First, when this man appears before Daniel he becomes afraid.  The entourage with Daniel are gripped with such terror that they flee, leaving Daniel alone. 

Second, note also the description of this man.  He is described as being girded with gold and his face flashed as lightning.  The description sounds almost identical to the vision of God Ezekiel had in Ezekiel 1:26-28 and John had of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16.  This man appears to be a Christophany, a very vision of God Himself.

However, if this is a Christophany/theophany, it is difficult to interpret the discussion with Daniel.  This individual is said to be withstood by the Prince of Persia.  How exactly can a prince withstand God, especially if the Prince of Persia is a devil? 

One suggestion on how to understand this passage: God limits His authority.  I personally don’t like that view. 

I think a better way to understand the discussion: Daniel is interacting with more than one being.  You have the Man of God – Christophany, and then Gabriel – speaking to, and helping, Daniel. 

Verse 10 would be Gabriel.  He uses similar expression with Daniel as he did in chapters 8 and 9.  Such things as “highly favored one.”  He tells Daniel he has come to deliver a message. 

III. Heavenly Conflict (10:13-15)

Here we have one of the strange revelations in Scripture that reveals to us something about the angelic realm.  This passage raises many questions that are not necessarily answered.

Yet, in spite of it’s unusual account, several groups speculate.  They create whole theologies out of the notion of territorial spirits, big angels and demons who are organized into an elaborate hierarchy and exercise authority over regions of the world, including cities, townships, and neighborhoods.  Two popular novels from 20 years ago, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness fictionalized this view of “spiritual warfare.”

Rather than fantastic, sci-fi understandings of spiritual warfare, what can Daniel’s account tell us?

1). Angels are Real.  Elect and evil angelic beings exist.  Simple enough.

2). Angelic beings, both good and bad, have a hand of influence on human affairs, particularly as it pertains to God’s people.  Somehow - it’s not entirely clear - this “Prince of Persia” (perhaps Satan?) was involved with the Persian government.  We see in other passages that demonic hordes do influence wicked people against God’s people.  They have wanted to eradicate the Jewish nation (Daniel 8, 11) and at the end of days this will also be true with the Anti-Christ, 2 Thess. 2:9, Rev. 13:2, who is empowered by the Devil.

3). There is an invisible, spiritual warfare being waged involving angelic beings and humanity.  Note that Daniel was oblivious to it UNTIL it was revealed.  We know it happens, but we are not entirely sure how it plays itself out.  The Bible does provide for us some insights:

Ephesians 6:11-12.  Paul speaks of the “wiles” or “schemes” of the Devil.  This implies some level of planning, always in the form of ideas or philosophies that in the end, merely appeal to our sinful nature.  How exactly do we engage the Devil’s schemes?  By shouting incantations that supposedly “bind” the Devil?  Claim streets in the name of Jesus? This is not biblical at all.

2 Corinthians 10:1-5 provides some directives.  Here, Paul tells us we are to engage “thoughts,” “minds,” “knowledge” that is lifted up against God.  Real spiritual warfare engages ideas and philosophies and worldviews that are opposed to the knowledge of God.  We don’t attack demons directly, but the rebellious ideas they spread throughout the world that ensnares the minds of sinners.  We do that with the truth of the Gospel.

IV. Heavenly Encouragement (10:15-21)

Daniel’s encounter with God and these angels was overwhelming for him.  He wasn’t jumping up and down with praise – He was scared.  He lost physical strength, but Gabriel strengthens him.  He tells Daniel that Michael, your prince, has been appointed by God specifically to watch over Israel.  Daniel is told that he and his people are not alone in a sea of hostile nations, but God and His choice heavenly host fights for them.



Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...


This was a really good and informative post.

Thank you very much.

11:35 AM, June 22, 2011  
Blogger Jet said...

Great post I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot.

Daniel is told that he and his people are not alone in a sea of hostile nations, but God and His choice heavenly host fights for them.

This might be a stupid question but is this true for the present day given that Israel is now literally surrounded by 22 Arab nations?

3:57 PM, June 22, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I think there is a bit of truth to what you say. The Nation of Israel is rather unique and it is clear to me God has His hand on them.

Having said that, I still believe they are in apostasy and need to repent and will when their Messiah comes.

5:42 PM, June 22, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

Hey, wait a minute...I thought that Daniel was really a guide for how we should go on a diet. Seriously, though, thanks for this wonderful post. This is a difficult passage to work through, as seen in the details you have laid out. With regards to angels being real and what is revealed to Daniel, I relate it to when Elisha prayed that his servant might see the army of angels that was protecting them in 2 Kings 6:8-23. I am thankful for all of the work that God does through His angels that we don't really know about.

5:25 AM, June 23, 2011  
Blogger Tom said...

Thank you for continuing this series, Fred.

Question: do you already have your entire "Gleanings from Daniel" written out (ie every chapter)? I ask because one day I'd like to print it all out, sit down, and digest it. Just wondering if it's all "out there" already in some form.

Thanks again, and congrats on 300k!


6:32 AM, June 23, 2011  
Blogger Burrito34 said...

I was glad to see a continuation of this series, having gone back through the archives to read all the ones I could find. I'm looking forward to the next ones. Like Tom, I think it would be great to have these studies available in one volume.

Fred, thanks again very much for some quality Bible teaching on Daniel.

2:59 PM, June 23, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Tom & B,
I plan to make a post linking all of my studies on Daniel and Job in a one stop place.

For some reason, my tag only shows the last 10 or so most recent posts. I don't know how to insert the code that allows you to go to previous articles with a button at the bottom. Any idea, please let me know at the email in my profile.

5:24 PM, June 23, 2011  

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