Dr. Dickason was one of my professors at Moody Bible Institute. He taught a class on demons and angels. I remember in one of his classes he played an audio recording of a counseling session with a young lady who was possessed by a demon. During the audio recording you could hear the voice of the woman changing and it was freaky to say the least. Why bring this up? Spiritual warfare is real and it is all around us.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.
2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing hon the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) 5 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. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, phis 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.
10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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, 14 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.”
15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, jI turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, lone 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. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
18 Again lone having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 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.” 20 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. 21 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.
The reason for Daniel’s distress in this chapter
Early on in this chapter it talks about how distressed Daniel was. Why was that the case?
ONE: So many Jews were seduced by their Babylonian culture that they did not even want to return to Jerusalem! How comfortable have we gotten in our Babylonian culture today? Have we lost our sense of passion and urgency when it comes to living for God?
TWO: The Jews that did return were faced with incredibly strong opposition (Ezra 3:1-16).
The reality of Satan and demonic spirits
We know in God’s Word that there are good and bad angels. Demons are fallen angels (Revelation 12:9).
In this passage we learn something fascinating, there are territorial demons. In verse 13 we hear about the Prince of Persia and in verse 20 we read about the Prince of Greece. How do we know that these are references to demonic spirits? The Prince of Persia was able to keep a mighty angel of God from being able to get to Daniel. No human has the ability or the power to do such a thing.
We must be careful about both underemphasizing and overemphasizing demonic influence
OVEREMPHASIZING: Some people see a demon behind every problem. They also believe and teach that the primary way we grow spiritually is through a power encounter with demonic forces. We know from the New Testament, especially the writings of the apostle Paul, that we primarily grow through surrendering our life to Jesus, reading the bible, prayer, and being involved in the family of God.
UNDEREMPHASIZING: When I was a young adult I was witnessing to a woman by the name of Gia. We worked together at Westcourt in the Buttes in Tempe, Arizona. Gia was big time into the New Age. She told me that her daughter was interacting with spiritual visitors in her bedroom. I had the strong belief back then that these visitors were demonic. I was witnessing to Gia and getting my friends together to pray for her. I mentioned to Gia that I was praying for her and she said she thought something weird was going on with her spiritually. Then she told me that she was praying for me….which I did not want or need! Not long after that I was hit with a fatigue that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I would sleep for 1o hours and wake up tired. On top of that I was hit with a strong depression. I have always wondered if my chronic fatigue was somehow related to the spiritual warfare going on. It would not surprise me at all.
Six spiritual truths that we need to embrace
ONE: There is a spiritual battle going on all around us. Daniel 10 makes this point very clear. We have an enemy that wants to destroy us. We must be on guard against the enemies lies and temptations.
TWO: We love people and hate evil. It is a very sinister thing to watch Christians hate people who think and live differently from them. We need to care for and love those who are enslaved to their own sinful desires. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12
THREE: Demons can delay answers to prayers. The angel in this passage was delayed for 21 days because of a demonic spirit. Which leads very nicely to my next point!
FOUR: Christians must persevere in prayer. Martin Luther wrote this, “The devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing.”
Becoming a man of prayer and leading our church to deeper levels of prayer is something that the Spirit of God has placed on my heart over the past year. I know for us to be the church that God wants us to become we must persevere in prayer for our families, church and the community all around us.
FIVE: God desires to use us to overcome the kingdom of darkness. Daniel was a threat to the Prince of Persia because of his faith, his life of obedience, and because he was a man of prayer. Are we a threat to the evil one or have we been sidelined by a million distractions and temptations?
SIX: The gospel is the key to overcoming the kingdom of darkness. Evangelism and discipleship are main tools we should use (besides prayer). Let’s put down the culture war tools (anger, fighting, name calling, etc.). Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
How does this passage point us to Jesus?
Jesus overcame sin and evil through his death on the cross and his resurrection.
Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”