Friday, November 2, 2012

Daniel 10 - Vision of a Man and Strengthening of a Prophet

LINK: Daniel 10

BACKGROUND
The Chronological Order of the Book of Daniel 
Daniel 1–4: Captivity and interpretation of dreams and visions (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar) 
Daniel 7: Vision of the four beasts (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 8: Vision of the ram and he-goat (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 5: Belshazzar’s feast—conquest of Babylon (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 9: Vision of the seventy weeks (Persia, Darius) 
Daniel 6: Daniel in the lions’ den (Persia, Darius) 
Daniel 10–12: Daniel’s prayer and visions (Persia, Cyrus)  
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (9). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.)

Chapters 10-12 contain Daniel's final vision that took place in 536 B.C. Cyrus' edict allowing the Jews to return to the Promised Land occurred in 538 B.C. so Israel was no longer in captivity and some exiles had returned to begin rebuilding the temple. We do not know why Daniel did not return, but it may have been due to his age (around 80 years) or because of his responsibilities in Babylon.

After seeing a vision of a terrible war, Daniel fasted and prayed. At the end of that time, he saw a man. Some scholars believe it was the angel Gabriel because he had visited Daniel before (8:16), and others believe it was the preincarnate Christ because the description of him is similar to the one in Revelation 1:13-16. Also, the "Son of Man" (7:13) and a "man" (8:16) had already been revealed to Daniel. But would Christ have been hindered by the prince (demon) of Persia and need the help of the angel Michael (10:13)? We do not know for sure who it was, but the most important point in this chapter is that it gave Daniel an idea of the unseen, spiritual battle that has waged throughout history!

The vision frightened and exhausted Daniel, but the heavenly visitor said, "Do not be afraid" twice (10:12, 19) because Daniel was "highly esteemed" (9:23; 10:11, 19). The messenger restored his speech and strength through his touch.

The end of this chapter tells us about the heavenly warfare that was to be directed toward Persia and Greece. Each of these nations was represented by evil "princes" of these nations (10:13, 20). 

Without going into a really long explanation of angels and demons, it is believed that angels are arranged in differing ranks ("rule, authority, power, and dominion" in Ephesians 1:21). Apparently Gabriel and Michael had authority over angels doing God's business for the nation Israel (10:21; 12:1; Jude 9). Similarly, Satan has assigned certain demons authority over particular kingdoms. There is a real battle between God's angels and Satan's demons in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

We will talk about the "writing of truth" tomorrow. Stay tuned!

REFLECTION

The year was 1985, and I was in over my head.

Two years prior to this, God had told me to move from Seattle to Corvallis because there was a group of women who was struggling, and He wanted to send me there to be His instrument to help. Within a few days, I had met each of these girls. Over the course of the next year, they each came to me and confessed that they had been struggling to get out of a particular sin, and God told them to go to me for help.

Like I said, I was in over my head!

Well, needless to say, Satan had a strong hold on these girls, and he was not going to let go very easily. I can only say that those two years convinced me, without a doubt, that when we obey God and go forward in faith, we will be involved in the invisible war, and it is not pretty (but we know who is gonna' win).

So, I am two years into this battle. I am sitting there in the Memorial Union of the Oregon State University campus in one of those nice comfy wing-backed chairs reading my Bible (I was on the third year of my five year first journey through the Bible. Click above at "How the Bible Book Club Came to Be" if you have not read my story.).  I was a little "beat up" from the battle. I had just met with one of those women, and she was not doing so well.

Let's face it: I was discouraged. I was afraid (The enemy is NOT nice and very scary!). I was exhausted. I did not like the battle. On top of that, my dad was dying of pancreatic cancer. Not fun!

Low and behold, I am in Daniel 10 in my Bible reading. Daniel was a man who was given a God-sized job and saw the battle. He was weakened, overwhelmed and speechless after learning of the reality of the angelic-demonic conflict that delayed the answer to his prayer. He was overcome with anguish over the coming sufferings of Israel. Yet, he was not left alone. He was given strength and encouragement:
Oh man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, "May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me (10:19 - underlined in my Bible from that very day back in 1985!).
I fall quite short of the "high esteem" of Daniel, but God met me in a powerful way and strengthened me physically and emotionally on that day in 1985 through Daniel's story!

Even today, I am frightened by the battle sometimes (recently I burst into tears after seeing something from the other side). I get very tired, but God always strengthens and encourages me to not be afraid.

How are you doing in the battle these days?

Here is more from Warren Wiersbe regarding this chapter:


CHARACTERISTICS OF DANIEL 
He had an understanding of spiritual warfare 
Daniel 10 is a key chapter for prayer warriors, people who wrestle in prayer (Col. 4:12) and seek under God to tear down the strongholds that block God’s truth from getting into the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 10:1–6). When I was pastoring the Moody Church in Chicago, I met regularly with three ministerial friends, and together we devoted ourselves to warfare praying. By faith, we sought to attack Satan’s strongholds and open the way for the Word of God to change the lives of people in trouble. God gave us many wonderful victories in ways that we could never have imagined.
When by faith we put on the whole armor of God and depend on God’s power, God gives us the ability to “stand” and to “withstand” (Eph. 6:10–14). We aren’t just brave targets—we’re energized combatants! We hold the ground God has given us and we move ahead to capture new ground.
I recognize the fact that the whole concept of spiritual warfare has been abused by some and ridiculed by others, but that shouldn’t stop us from imitating great saints like Daniel and Paul who invaded Satan’s territory and stood their ground when they were threatened. Isaac Watts said it perfectly:
Are there no foes for me to face? 
Must I not stem the flood? 
Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God? 
Sure I must fight, if I would reign; increase my courage, Lord; 
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.

Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (153). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.

APPLICATION (from 2009)

It is so funny because the boys asked us about spiritual warfare at dinner last night. I cannot even remember what made them ask, but we had a very long discussion about it. They wanted to know details of our experiences, and we told them our battle stories. It led me to praise God who will win the final battle!

Maybe you are in a battle, and you do not even know it. Can I recommend that you "armor up" everyday by praying through Ephesians 6:10-20?

PRAYER
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
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