Thursday, February 15, 2018

For Twenty-One Days

Submitted by Kerry Patton
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”   Daniel 10:12-13

The above passage from Daniel is often quoted as a glimpse of the spiritual warfare that goes on in the realm of angels and demons…a place akin to where Ephesians 6:12 rightly directs our attention concerning the true struggle in our spirituality:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
True. True, true, true!  The follower of Christ is wise to keep this understanding of the Christian struggle (and the human struggle for that matter) in mind.  It may often seem that our struggle is against people, but it isn’t.  Ultimately, the battle of this world is one of spiritual forces.
It is important to draw a line of distinction though…between what is happening in Daniel and what is being said in Ephesians: 
·      In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul is indeed making a statement about spiritual warfare. 
·      In Daniel, God is revealing a vision to Daniel… He is communicating truths to Daniel that concern the rise and fall of nations in political posturing against Israel, and real attacks that will happen on the fields of the land.  God also has information in chapters 10, 11, and 12 pertinent to the end times before the return of the Messiah that will not manifest until a time in the future that has yet to be revealed to even our generation.

Perhaps a major indicator in Daniel that the account is not intended to teach us about spiritual warfare is in verses 12 and 13 of Daniel 10, where it can seem to be understood to say that Daniel prayed to God, and God sent out an angel (who many speculate to be the angel Gabriel), who battles the powers of darkness for three weeks…THREE WEEKS…and just barely…but only barely, prevails when the Archangel Michael comes to his aid.  Verse 21 continues this perspective suggesting that for the longest time, no other angels came to help in this battle.  Only Michael ultimately showed up to turn the tide of the battle.  So, for 21 days…the armies of darkness prevailed against an angel of God, keeping him from his task, until that moment when God FINALLY dispatches Michael to come help him out.   
With this interpretation, the insinuation is made that had Michael not shown up, well…things would have gone very badly for the angel of the Lord.  Is that really what we want to glean from the passage?  For me, that interpretation just doesn’t add up.  By my best reading of scripture, Light always prevails over darkness:
·      John 1:5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 
·      In Matthew 4:10, Jesus dispatches Satan with a simple “Away with you,” or as another version reads: “Be gone!” 
·      In Mark 1:25, Jesus orders a demon to “Be quiet! Come out of the man!” 
·      And in Luke 9:1 we find Jesus giving his disciples “power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.” 
The power of God is overwhelmingly victorious in all situation, and that battle is never a close one.  The armies of God never have to stage a “fourth quarter comeback.” The power of God, and the will of God always ultimately prevail for our God is Almighty and there is no end to his power and authority.  He spoke everything that is into existence, and could easily defeat any opposing force or army with less than the wave of a hand, or even the slightest extension of his will.  Never does he step back from the battlefield, wipe his brow, and exclaim: “Whew…that was close.  Wow, we really pulled it out today!”  No, the battle is won.  Period.  To suggest that the armies of God are in even a small way closely matched by the armies of hell, and that one of the Father’s warriors almost didn’t make it out is to me simply impossible – with what we know about God.  Right?
My redirect on this matter is this:  Yes, we are in a spiritual battle, but the battle is the Lord’s.  Our best glimpse into spiritual warfare might be found in the book of James, chapter 4, verse 7 which provides the following instruction: “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

So, what about those times when we are praying and it seems like the powers of darkness are prevailing? We do still live in a fallen world, and the armies of darkness do still wage battle on the people of the world.  Our lives are often affected by those peoples and those battles…sometimes severely.  But ultimately, the battle belongs to the Lord. 

When it seems that our answer is delayed or we are not getting the result that we have asked for, it is NOT because the battle in spiritual realms is not going well for the armies of God.  It is NOT because the armies of darkness are prevailing.  Friends, the battle is going exactly as the Father has willed and designed it to go.  Victory was settled at Calvary.  When my answer is delayed, or it is not what I have petitioned the Father for, I must ask “What then is the Father’s purpose for me in these circumstances?  How may I align with his will and plan, even in light of what I am going through?  For I know that my deliverance is assured, my salvation is secure, and His love is ever faithful and never failing.

Almighty God, I give myself to you. It is my desire to always submit to you, that your will becomes mine, and your strength becomes mine.  Give me your spirit, and your wisdom so that I may always resist the enemy when he attacks.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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