(c) Copyright 2002 Rev. Bill Versteeg
The heavens flashed with fierce
invisible battle. A great and honoured warrior, dressed in holy white
that one moment shimmered blue, another moment, shimmered green, with a
finest golden belt around his waist threw bolts of light and fire at
his enemy. His piercing eyes looked every direction, watching for the
counter attack, red muscles rippled with tension, waiting, and then it
Again the darkness encompassed this bright white warrior, again, he fought it off. Back and forth went the battle, day after day, year after year, between the angel of God and the dark and sinister prince of Persia. Most of the time, the angel kept this dark evil at bay, controlling it, limiting it. Then, one day, there was a surprise attack, during the reign of King Darius. The darkness overcame the warrior of God, and threw him down into a pit with but a mere man. But even there the warrior worked, and kept the mouths of lions shut. Then he rose again out of the pit and the battle continued, fierce as ever. One year, two years, the battle changed. The warrior of God was winning, people were being set free. Three years, the battle raged, four years, even five.
In Babylon, times had changed. It was now the third year that Cyrus was King of Persia, and he was kind to the Israelites. He allowed some of them to return to the city of Jerusalem to try start rebuilding their beautiful city and their beautiful country. Daniel, though, was old. He decided to stay in Babylon, stay behind with most of the nation of Israel. He was too old to contribute much in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He was too old to make that long journey. The one thing he could still do for Jerusalem as he came closer to the age of 90 was pray and he could still do that facing Jerusalem from his window.
It seemed as Daniel prayed, prayed for Jerusalem, prayed for the people of Israel, prayed for Babylon and its king, that there were, it almost felt like seasons in his prayers. At times he would faithfully pray three times a day, and go about his work, as usual. Then there were other times, as he prayed that prayer gripped him. His heart would turn to mourning, and crying, groaning, even weeping. At times, prayer was so heavy in his heart that he would eat less, even stop eating, some times he would hardly take a bath for weeks at a time, he was so focussed on praying.
One time this happened for three weeks. He was trying to understand something that God had shown to him. He choose to pray for understanding, and as he prayed, again, one of these seasons of prayer came over him. Daniel wrote that he ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched his lips; and he used no lotions at all for three entire weeks. Still for all his prayers, it seemed that God did not answer. He did not receive understanding as he prayed. No answer. He prayed as hard as he could! Still there was no answer. Day in, day out he prayed, but there was nothing.
Meanwhile, there was a war going on. Heaven heard Daniel pray. And immediately God answered telling the mighty warrior who was fighting the prince of Persia to give the answer to Daniel. But the whole time that Daniel was praying, urgently crying out to God, this fierce battle was going on. And the battle was so intense that the angel had to keep on fighting. For 21 days the fight continued, this beautiful shimmering white and blue and green, filled with light, fighting the forces of darkness that controlled Babylon. Finally, so that Daniel’s prayer could be answered, the angel Michael was sent by God to give the angel that was fighting the Prince of Persia a hand. Immediately, the Angel went to deliver Daniel an answer.
Daniel was standing on the bank of
a very large river called the Tigris river. He looked up and he saw the
angel, brilliantly coloured in bright light in front of him. As the
angel spoke, his voice was so powerful, it sounded like thousands of
people were speaking at once. Daniel was the only one who could see the
angel. Those who were with him couldn’t but maybe they could
hear the angel’s voice because they ran away in terror.
Daniel, seeing the angel, fell to the ground, again fear overwhelmed
his mind, he fell into a deep sleep, with his face to the ground. A
hand came and touched him and gave him enough strength to get up on his
hands and his knees.
Looking at the mighty angel again
was too much for Daniel, he bowed his face toward the ground and was
unable to speak. Again, the one who looked like a man touched Daniel,
this time on the lips so that he could speak. So Daniel spoke.
A third time the one who looked
like a man touched Daniel, giving him strength and peace. Finally
Daniel received strength to hear the meaning of the message from God.
And so the Angel, who had fought the Prince of Persia for years, who
was soon going to go and fight with the Prince of Greece, proceeded to
tell Daniel the vision of the future and what it meant. And we will
look at what the angel told Daniel the next time, the last time we look
at the book of Daniel.
Notes to adults:
This applies not only to nations and cultures, this truth also applies to churches. In Revelation 2,3, we call those letters the letters to the seven churches, but if you read the passage closely, the letters are not sent to the seven churches, they are sent to the angels of the churches. The picture in that passage is that each church has an angel. Just as there was an angel responsible for the nation of Israel, so to there are spiritual powers responsible and fighting for the welfare of the church, including our church.
This extends to families and individuals. We must grow an awareness of the spiritual realities affecting our lives. What happens in heaven, happens on earth. The focus of our battle, as Paul says in Ephesians 6 is in the spiritual realms.
The second thing that I would like to highlight this evening is the experience of the battle that Daniel experiences. During these three weeks of prayer in which the messenger of God was detained, we have to listen carefully to how Daniel describes his prayer. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. I suspect that we read that in terms of a active choice on Daniel’s part. But mourning generally speaking is not something that we choose to do. Rather, mourning is something that overcomes us, as Romans 8 tells us, we groan with creation awaiting the redemption of the sons of God. Daniel 10 here pictures the impact of spiritual battle upon Daniel’s emotions. As Daniel prayed and interceded for the nation of Israel, the battle was evidenced in his emotions, so much so that he lost his appetite, he even lost habits of cleanliness. We are not told here that Daniel fasted and prayed, something which Daniel clearly choose to do in Daniel 9 when he was confessing the sins of the nation of Israel in the discipline of Identificational Repentance. The way this passage reads, this mourning, this loss of appetite happens to Daniel.
The point that I would like to bring out is that when we pray, and we give ourselves to intercessory prayer, we will discover that our hearts and spirits start discerning what is going on in the heavenly realms, and what goes on in the heavenly realms calls us to battle, to prayer, prayer that may involve seasons of struggle in which we join in the spiritual struggle to overcome strongholds and forces of evil. It may be that some of you have experienced such a season of prayer.
The passage on which this
reflection and story is based - Daniel 10
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.