Daniel 10. Wrestling With Principalities and Powers.

Key Notes: The vision of God. Examples of spiritual warfare on a national scale. Missions and spiritism. Modern examples of spritual defeat.

This chapter offers us rare glimpses into the spiritual world operating at the level of great national powers. The Gospels give us many opportunities to see Jesus interact with demons on an individual level, and we have hints of larger-scale contests from Eph.6, but Daniel 10 is very close to the action. This chapter is the introduction to a vision of the Greek wars that occupy the next chapter.

10:1 Daniel is now about 90 years old. Why he mentions his Babylonian name is not clear but may be ironic. ("May Bel protect him.")

10:2 He was in mourning for three weeks. He may have heard bad news from Jerusalem, or he may have been simply waiting on God. We understand from 10:13 that his vision with God had been delayed 21 days by spiritual battle that he was unaware of.

10:4–7 On this occasion he was on the banks of the Tigris and saw a flaming Being. The sight overwhelmed him and drove his companions away. It is described as a man appearing very much like John's vision in Revelation:

•a man in linen / clothed with a long robe Rev.1:13
•loins girded with gold / a golden girdle around his breast Rev.1:13
•body like a beryl or topaz
•face like lightning / face like the sun at full strength, Rev.1:16
•eyes like flaming torches / eyes like a flame of fire Rev.1:14
•legs and arms like burnished bronze / feet like bronze Rev.1:15
•sound of His voice like a multitude / voice like the sound of many waters Rev.1:15
•at the sound of his words, I fell on my face in a deep sleep / when I saw Him I fell at his feet as though dead, Rev.1:17

John's vision of Revelation is Christ: "I am the First and Last and the Living One; I died and behold I am alive for evermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades." (Rev.1:17). Because of the similarity of the two visions, our conclusion is that we are seeing a vision of Christ to Daniel in OT as He also appeared to John in NT.

10:9–11 Daniel fell into a swoon but a hand brought him to his hands and knees, shaking. He was told to stand upright, and did so, trembling.

10:15 As the words of the vision came, he was standing with his face down and speechless; no strength, pains, no breath. One “like a Son of Man” touched his lips so that he could speak.

10:18 Again he was touched by one with the appearance of a man and strengthened.
It appears that there are attendants with the Christ who ministered to Daniel three times in order to get him fully alert and functional again.

10:12 The message is that God had heard Daniel's words from the first and this vision is an answer to his prayer.

10:13 Christ has been in contest with the Prince of Persia three weeks, and Michael was left to continue the struggle.

10:20 He returns now to fight against the Prince of Persia, and after him the Prince of Greece. No one else is involved except Michael, Prince of Israel.

Humans, even the godly, cannot stand in the direct presence of God. Ezekiel, who had a similar vision, fell on his face (Ezek.1:28), as did John in the Revelation. Daniel's companions fled trembling from something they could not really see. (Dan.10:7). One may expect a certain amount of suffering for the privilege of standing in the presence of God. But this is, after all, the Beatific Vision, the goal of all of life. Moses begged to see the glory of God. The disciples got their opportunity on the Mount of Transfiguration. Paul was smitten on the road to Damascus. Would we run trembling from such glory?

What work did Christ do before His Incarnation? We know He is the active agent in creation (Jn.1:1–3; Col.1:1–16). But what then? He is not named in the Old Testament in a way that is easy to identify. The principle that guides us is in Jn.1:18. "No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Consequently we look for a human figure in the OT who is called The Angel of the Lord, and also God or LORD.
•God walked with Adam (Gen.3:8) and Enoch. Gen.5:24
•The Angel of the LORD ministered to Hagar. Gen.16:7
•Three "men", one of whom is the LORD, met with Abraham (Gen.18:1–33) in preparation for the destruction of Sodom.
•The Angel of God visited Jacob in a dream. Gen.31:11
•The Angel of the LORD spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. Ex.3:2
•"The Angel of God who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and host of Israel." (Ex.14:19)
•The Angel of the LORD commanded Gideon to deliver Israel. Judg.6:11–14
•The Angel of the LORD instructed the parents of Samson. Jdg.13:3
•At the end of the plague, the Angel of the LORD was on the threshing floor of Araunah. IISam.24:16
•The high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Zech.3:1
•"...the house of David shall be as God, as the Angel of the LORD, at their head. Zech.12:8

Most all of this work is individual, except in the fight with Egypt at Exodus. The work of Christ in Dan.10 is political. Why is there a fight with the Prince of Persia? We recall that a Persian pogrom against the Jews was planned--and thwarted--as Esther describes. Perhaps that was the battle. The Prince of Greece would do outrageous things against Israel in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, but at a time when Israel had begun to apostasize, as we read in the Maccabees. Ultimately, Israel was given the victory. During the Roman period, Jesus came in human form to wrestle with demonic forces and ironically, appeared to die in total defeat.

How can Satanic forces resist God? Obviously they do. Dualists would say that there is an eternal struggle between good and evil. Christians acknowledge that there is a struggle, but that God over-rules evil for good and will triumph over Satan in the end and drive evil from the universe.

How are we to think of evil powers today?

Racine, a French Christian playwright, rewrote an ancient Greek tragedy, "Phaedre" in 1677. Phaedre was the daughter of Minos and wife of Theseus. She had a consuming lust for her step-son Hippolytus but he refused her advances. In spite of his innocence and the pleas of her attendants and her own awareness of guilt, she denounced him to her husband Theseus, who had him killed in a fit of jealous rage. In remorse, she strangled herself. In their soliloquies, Phaedre blamed her fate on her goddess, Venus, and Theseus blamed his unjust killing on Mars, the god of war. Racine perceived however, that the gods of the Greeks were demons, as Paul teaches us in ICor.10:20, and he brings this out in the play. His non-Christian rivals wrote a corresponding play which they hoped would eclipse his.

With the growth of rationalism during the Enlightenment, belief in the supernatural faded. Spirits were part of the superstitious past that died with the Middle Ages. Western Christians were also inclined to discount evil spirits as part of the pagan cultures of Africa and Asia.

"{Anthropologist Paul Hiebert} came to the conclusion that Western culture has a significant blind spot when it comes to the question of spirits and evil powers. He describes Western evangelicalism as answering questions of life experience either in empirical (scientific) or theistic (divine) terms, but neglecting the middle zone of spirit forces that are believed by non-Western cultures to influence life. When tribal people spoke of fear of evil spirits, {Western missionaries} denied the existence of the spirits rather than claim the power of Christ over them. The result, as Newbigin has pointed out, is that Western Christian missions has been one of the greatest secularizing forces in history." (Powers of Darkness. CE Arnold; IVP,’92; p.180).

The dreadful conditions in Haiti have been attributed to its dedication to Voodoo, practised even by 75% of the Christians. "The most historically important Vodou ceremony in Haitian history was the Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman) ceremony of August 1791 near the city of Cap Haitien that began the Haitian Revolution, led by the Vodou priest named Boukman. During this ceremony the spirit Ezili Dantor came and received a black pig as an offering, and all those present pledged themselves to the fight for freedom. This ceremony ultimately resulted in the liberation of the Haitian people from their French masters in‘04, and the establishment of the first and only black people’s republic in the Western Hemisphere, the first such republic in the history of the world. "
(Internet: Hiaitian voodou.)

Another example is Cambodia where demonic power has shown its destructive force.
    "A tragic victim of the Vietnam War (1970–75) which opened the way for the extreme Marxist Khmer Rouge take-over in1975, followed by one of the most savage slaughters in the 20th Century. Almost all former military personnel, civil servants, educated or wealthy people and their families were killed and the nation turned into a vast labor camp." {Two million people were killed.}
"The major economic activities are receiving international aid (the largest per capita receiver nation in the world) and sin (pornography, prostitution, drugs and illegal logging.)"
"The spiritual darkness of Cambodia must be lifted by prayer. That darkness is shown by the ubiquitous spirit shrines, the strong opposition of Buddhism to an ideological rival and the moral collapse. The sex industry thrives, but a third of all prostitutes (an estimated 50,000) are children. Cambodia has the highest rate of child abandonment in SE Asia."
(Operation World; P.Johnstone, J.Mandryk; Paternoster, Waynesboro Ga.2001; pp.137–138)

We are not to ignore the forces of darkness, but we are not to focus on them either. We keep our eyes on Jesus, LORD of Hosts. "And He must win the battle."