************ Sermon on Daniel 10:12-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 16, 2006
"Prayer and Spiritual Warfare"
Daniel is in heathen Babylon. It is the third year of the reign of Cyrus king of Persia. Why is Daniel there? What is he still doing in Babylon? I ask that because in the first year of his reign Cyrus gave the Jews permission to go back to Palestine (Ezra 1:1). Naturally many Jews jumped at the chance and returned to their homeland. But not Daniel. So we ask, why is he still at the heathen court and not in Jerusalem?
Daniel's decision to remain at the Persian court cannot be explained as indifference to the land of his fathers. It can't be indifference because in chapter 9 we hear Daniel praying most fervently for the restoration of Jerusalem.
There is only one reason why Daniel stays behind. We must assume that God has made it clear to him that he is not to leave his post. God must still have a job for Daniel to do in the land of exile.
In Daniel we see a man of God who suppresses his own desires and selfish impulses in order to follow the will of God. In Daniel we see a man of God who not only prays but lives out the prayer, "not my will but yours be done."
When we look at the books of Ezra and Nehemiah we can't help but realize it is a good thing that God has left Daniel in the land of exile. For although King Cyrus is favorably disposed toward the Jews, all sorts of hostile powers are hard at work, both openly and secretly. As is clear from our text, the hostile powers are both physical and spiritual, men and demons. In other words, behind the scenes we are to see spiritual warfare. Behind the scenes we are to see principalities and powers, angels and devils, good and evil doing battle with each other. The enemies of the Lord and His people try to stir up the Persian court and the king and try to prevent the rebuilding of the city and the temple of the Lord. In fact, verse 1 tells us Daniel is given a revelation, a true message, concerning a "great war." Anxiously Daniel wonders whether the people of God will win or lose; anxiously he wonders what the future will bring for his people.
In the face of the hostile powers and their attacks, one of Daniel's jobs in Babylon is to intercede before the king. By His providence we see that God has so arranged things that Daniel can plead the case of the Jews before the king. But that's not his only job, as our text makes clear. We see that it is also Daniel's job to intercede on behalf of the Jews before the King of kings in heaven. In other words, Daniel is also called by the Lord to be a man of prayer on behalf of the people of God. In any event, Daniel can do as much for the Lord's cause while remaining at his post in Persia as the men who stand on Jerusalem's walls with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. In fact, a man of prayer is worth as much as a thousand fighting heroes – if not more.
In an army every soldier has his place. An army can't get by with combat troops alone; it also needs people to look after food and supplies. Furthermore, officers are needed to plan and lead the attack. And, an army needs people who stay at home who support them and pray for God's protection and leading. Actually, this last category should be first. Let no one think – especially the old and sick – that he or she can be of no use in the great struggle to establish God's Kingdom. If we can't do anything else, every day each of us can at least plead the cause of God's people before the throne of grace.
As we shall see, Daniel's prayers succeed in bringing angels from heaven to earth. These angels form an invincible heavenly guard around the people of the Lord, with the result that the plans of the enemy fail.
I God Hears
A In our text we hear an angel talking to Daniel. He says, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day ... your words were heard ..."
To view this in proper perspective we must remember that up to this point Daniel has mourned and fasted for three weeks. For 21 days Daniel has prayed without ceasing. For 21 days Daniel has interceded before the heavenly court on behalf of the people of God because of the "great war" (vs 1).
What the angel declares is that Daniel's words have been heard in heaven on the very first day already. It didn't take 21 days to get through. There is no busy signal as we sometimes get on the phone. Daniel was not stuck in voice-mail hell, like we sometimes are. Daniel has been heard from the first day already.
We can rest assured, congregation, that our prayers are heard just as quickly as Daniel's. God does not favor certain persons over others. Nor is it that God will eventually hear us if only we keep on praying long enough and loud enough. From the very first instant they are offered – and even before, says the Bible – God hears our prayers.
B After those 21 days, an angel appears to Daniel. There is a direct connection between Daniel's prayer and the angel's appearance. The angel says, "... your words were heard, and I have come in response to them." Thus, it is Daniel's prayer that brings the angel down from heaven, just as an angel later appeared to release Peter from prison when the church in Jerusalem prayed for him (Acts 12). Imagine that: the power of prayer is so immense that it can even call angels from heaven to earth to help God's people.
Daniel prays for help and an angel appears. What an answer! Though they can't see him, the angel's presence creates such panic among Daniel's companions that they flee and hide themselves. If the angel has this effect on Daniel's friends, just imagine how it would terrify Daniel's enemies.
In addition to this unnamed angel, we are told that God has also sent Michael, "one of the chief princes" and the commander of the heavenly host, to join in the battle too. Thus heavenly powers rush to the assistance of the Jews as God's answer to Daniel's prayer.
C There is something mysterious about the story in front of us. The army of angels do come to the assistance of Daniel and his countrymen – but they seem to take their time. Daniel waits for 21 days before the angel appears before him. By that time the battle and war could be lost! Daniel waits for 3 weeks – despite the fact that his cry for help reaches God on the very first day.
Two facts are clear: the prayer is heard the very first day, but Daniel does not know this until the 21st day. Daniel waits 3 weeks before finding out his prayer is answered.
At this point it becomes clear that God sometimes makes us wait for a while before we see an answer to our prayers. We may have to wait for 21 days, which really isn't all that long. We may even have to wait for 21 years. Sometimes we may never see an answer to our prayers with our own eyes. It may well be that the prayer is answered but the answer does not become fully apparent until after our death.
If Daniel is not a believer he might conclude from this that there is no God in heaven and that prayer is a waste of time. However the main thing is not seeing an answer but believing an answer. "Blessed," says Jesus, "are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn 20:29). It comes down to this: even if I have never seen an answer to prayer – and what Christian can ever say that – I am still to believe that God hears the prayers sent up to Him. One of the reasons Daniel 10 is in the Bible is to teach us this lesson. This chapter shows us that God right away hears and responds to our prayers – even if we cannot hear or see the answer.
II Satan Attacks
A The angel tells Daniel that he was commanded on the very first day to go to the earth. What took him so long? Why did it take him 21 days to give Daniel an answer? The reason, he explains to Daniel, is that "the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days."
What does this mean? It means that for 3 weeks a mighty but invisible battle was fought between the angel of light and the prince of darkness. It means that for 3 weeks Daniel's prayer was being answered. Daniel had asked that the attacks of the evil one be halted so that the city and temple of God could be rebuilt. So for 3 weeks angels were putting devils to flight. That was the reason for the delay.
B Who is the prince of Persia that resisted Daniel's angel? Since God's angels are spirits, we know the prince of Persia, likewise, cannot be a man of flesh and blood. Rather, he is an evil spirit, a devil.
The evil spirit is given the title of prince. This means that though fallen his is power and authority. Later we hear of another devil, who is called "the prince of Greece" (10:20).
If nothing else, Satan is a superb organizer. Nothing is left to chance in the great war he wages against Christ and the church. Everything is planned, right down to the smallest detail. He is the king of darkness and under his rule are princes and assistants. These underlings he puts in charge of individual countries in order to work their evil influence on leaders and people alike.
The devil assigned to Persia was given the task of turning the king and officials against the Jews. He was the one at work behind the scenes. It was he who incited Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite to oppose the rebuilding program under Ezra and Nehemiah. It was he who caused the Samaritans to lodge complaints with Cyrus and Darius, the kings of Persia. It was he who sowed seeds of suspicion against the loyalty of the Jews.
Daniel, as it were, pulls back the curtain that separates us from the spirit world. He gives us a glimpse of the battle behind the scene, a struggle that goes on today, a struggle that goes on all around us, even though we do not see it with our own eyes.
C Satan's princes use different weapons and different approaches in their work of evil. The Prince of Persia uses evil thought, jealousy, and hatred in order to stir up the leaders and people of Persia against the Jews.
The prince of Greece, whom I mentioned earlier, uses an entirely different approach. He tries to wipe out the people of God by getting them to conform to the ways of the world. His plan is to make the Jews breathe in Greek culture and Greek custom and Greek language so that they no longer are different or distinct from the peoples of the world.
Jim Banford, author of "The Puzzle Palace", wrote about America's problems with spies and national security. He said, "Once you've sold one secret you're usually hooked. They (the enemy) don't start by asking to get a top secret document. They usually ask for something innocuous, like a telephone directory. Once a person starts, they're hooked at that point."Isn't that the way Satan operates? He tempts us to make little compromises that seem so insignificant and end up ensnaring us in sin.
For each country and each people, then, there are different demons with different weapons and different approaches. But they all have the same goal: to bring about the defeat and destruction of Christ and His church.
The air above Israel, then, and above Persia, and above the United States and Canada too is full of satanic forces and spirits. But that's not all. The air is also filled with angels. So in that anxious hour when Israel was under attack and in danger of quitting the job of rebuilding, the Lord's angels descended from heaven to do battle with the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece.
In one of the German art galleries a painting called "Cloud Lane" hangs at the end of a long dark hall. At first glance it appears to be a huge, ugly mass of confused color that is unattractive and foreboding. But when you look closer, you see portrayed on the canvas an innumerable company of angels.How tempted we are to run in despair when clouds of trials and temptations come our way. I'm sure Daniel was tempted to do that as he thought about the great war; but he didn't! If we would look closely at our situation through the eyes of faith, we would see God's angels of mercy coming to our aid.
This reminds me of the story of Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6). The king of Aram sent his soldiers to capture Elisha. During the night they surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha was staying. When Elisha's servant got up and saw the army with horses and chariots that surrounded the city, he was very alarmed. "Don't be afraid," said Elisha. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16). And Elisha prayed a wonderful prayer, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see" (2 Kings 6:17). Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
We may not see the spiritual battle being waged around us. We may not see or feel the demons and angels. But they are there. And we should realize that "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
III The Place of Prayer
You see, I trust, the place of prayer in the struggle between good and evil. When Daniel prays the Lord sends down His angels to do battle. It is prayer that mobilizes the forces of heaven against the forces of hell. It is through prayer that the powers of wickedness, hatred, brutality, and injustice are broken.
This same thought is affirmed by what Paul says to the church at Ephesus. In our struggle "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" we are not only to put on the "full armor of God" but, says Paul, we are also to pray (Eph 6:12, 13,18). We are to put on each piece with prayer.
I hope, then, that we all realize there is an enemy that surrounds us, an enemy unseen and unheard, an enemy who wants to strike us down. I hope also that all of us, like Daniel, pray for the Lord's angels to guard and protect and give us the victory so that Christ's is the glory. I hope we never forget that "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16).
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