Spiritual Warfare (Daniel 10)
God’s Word is always timely and relevant. As I worked on today’s sermon I wondered if I should change texts and try to directly address what is happening with the Corona Virus. But as I worked through the passage, I came to see just how relevant Daniel 10 is to us in this moment at this time. What we have in Daniel is what we need to hear this morning. This chapter reminds us of the AWESOME majesty and glory of God. It tells us about a spiritual warfare, where angels are engaged in battles in the heavens and help God’s people on earth. This passage leads us to worship and adore God. These things are what we need to hear at this moment in time. These truths comfort us and reorient us to trust God in the midst of what we are going through.
As we look at Daniel 10 today, the big takeaway is this: Beholding the glorious nature of God leads us to adore Him and engage in spiritual warfare. Let’s consider this in 3 points:
1. An encounter with God will take your breath away (1-10); 2. There is a real spiritual battle taking place (1:11-2:1). 3. In the gospel Jesus saves us to adore God and join in the fight.
1. An Encounter with God will Take your breath away (1-9)
One thing God is not is BORING. God is glorious beyond what our hearts could conceive, even a glimpse of His glory is enough to take our breath away. Daniel has a vision of God and is physically devastated by it.
-CONTEXT v1a: 3RD year of King Cyrus.
-Daniel has been in exile for almost 70 years, and is an old man. The return from exile has been announced.
-OVERVIEW v1b: “a word was revealed to Daniel…the word was true and it was a great conflict”
-This chapter records Daniel’s vision of God and encounter with an angel, the next chapter is the message of the vision, and chapter 12 is Daniel’s response. These 3 work together.
-Goldingay argues that this chapter helps us see the vision in ch 11 really is from God.
-IMMEDIATE CONTEXT OF VISION: 3 weeks of fasting and prayer (10:2-4)
-Daniel has humbled himself and is praying to God. Something we have seen throughout book.
APP: We too ought to be a people of prayer. The appropriate response to the fears that plague us and the needs we face is PRAYER to the God. (We’ll be praying together after this sermon).
–DANIEL BEHOLDS THE GLORIOUS SPLENDOR OF GOD (5-9)
-A glorious “man in linen” appears: READ 5b-6.
-Reminds us of Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 1:26-28 of God’s glory and John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-18.
-This leads me to believe here we have a vision of God, specifically of Christ.
-Daniel is devastated by it READ 8-9-One aspect of God is His blazing majestic glory. There is a WEIGHTINESS to this.
-Our culture misses this. It pictures God as a kind, grandfatherly character. But here we see part of another thread of revelation, which shows that God is glorious. And a true knowledge of Him in some sense is devastating.
-If you know the truth of who God is, you could never find Him boring, irrelevant, or one who can be ignored. God, because of who He is, commands are reverence and awe. He is tender, merciful, kind and a loving Father to His people. But He is also a CONSUMING FIRE (Heb 12:29) whom the angels must cover their faces from, because his glorious radiance is so bright (Isaiah 6:2). He is pictured as WARRIOR who slays his enemies and the mountains quake before (Habakkuk 3). He is a judge who examines the hearts of all and condemns the wicked. He is to be approached with fear and reverence: when Moses approaches the burning bush he was told to take off his sandals; when Aaron’s sons brought an unauthorized sacrifice, they were consumed with fire (Lev 10:2); when Korah and his pals sought to usurp the legitimate authority of Moses whom God called to lead his people, God had the earth open up and swallow them alive. When Uzzah touched the ark with his bare hand, He was struck dead (2 Sam 6:6); when King Herod allowed people to refer to Him as God, God had his angel strike him dead (Acts 12:22); when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit about how they sold their property for they struck dead and carried out (Acts 5).
-This is who God is: astonishing power, majestic, and glorious. As Daniel beheld Him, he fell to face on the ground.
APP: In the midst of anxiety-inducing fear and panic of the Corona virus pandemic, Daniel 10 leads us to the good, right, and peace-inducing “fear of the LORD”: to behold the absolute authority, power, beauty and worth of God and live in light of that. By beholding God, as He is particularly revealed in Daniel 10:5-6, we led to put the eyes of our hearts on the One who is more powerful than the Corona virus and death itself.
NARNIA: In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan asks about Aslan, “is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and not mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tell you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He the King, I tell you.” Lewis here is helping us to see a biblical truth: there is weighty, authority about God; when we come to know who God is, we could not possibly ignore Him or find Him boring or irrelevant. God is the glorious King of all reality.
2. There is a Real Spiritual Battle Taking Place (10:10-11:1)
In verse 10-11:1 we see Daniel’s interactions with an angel who ministers to him and declares to him that he has a message for him from God. In the conversation that takes place we learn of a real spiritual battle that takes place in the heavens.
BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF ANGELS: Angels are real, God’s messengers to help God’s people (Heb 1:14; 13:2). Even Jesus was helped by the angels after his time of temptation in the dessert (Matt 4:11) and Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43)
-Most of the time when humans meet angels they are terrified of them or try to worship them.
-Daniel is helped by the angel and informed about the vision coming (10-14)
-The angel touches and reassures Daniel READ 10-12.
-God has heard Daniel’s prayer and sent this angel (possibly Gabriel)
-This angel had to engage in battle before he made it to Daniel, and was helped by another angel Michael (13)
-The purpose of the angel’s arrival announced in verse 14. “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” (NT uses “latter days” often to speak of its time)
-Daniel devastated and helped again (15-18)
-Angel helps him (15-16a).
-Daniel expresses how difficult it is even to speak (16b-17)
–Daniel is strengthened again and learns more about the spiritual battle (18-11:1)
-Angel strengthens and reassures Daniel (18-19)
-Angel states purpose of why he came (READ 20-21)
-Angel speaks of future and past battles. FUTURE (20-21). PAST (21b-11:1). NOTE: ESV punctuation is confusing here, other translations capture better what is said here. NIV: “but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. 11:1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)
APP: There are unseen battles which take place in the heavens, and Daniel’s prayers—and the prayers of believers—in some way contribute to this.
-Angels are still in this world, and God is free to use them in his sovereignty to help his people.
3. DANIEL 10 POINTS US TO JESUS: In the gospel Jesus saves us to adore God and join in the fight.
We ought to ask how this chapter points to Jesus, and there are many ways it.
1. Jesus is the glorious God of Daniel. His glory was veiled in his incarnation, but shined through at his transfiguration and through his miracles and teaching and in his resurrection from the dead. His glory is one of grace and truth, the glory of a God who would in love die for his people, rise and defeat death, ascend to heaven and send the Holy Spirit, and will one day return in astonishing glory.
2. The battles fought by the angels, which are mentioned in Daniel 10, point to the glorious victory Jesus won for us at the cross, where he triumphed over the heavenly powers and guarantees our victory. Col 2:15
-D day and V day analogy.
3. It is sin that blinds us to the glory of God and leads us to idols; it is sin that causes us to be hostile toward God in our hearts. Once we were God’s enemies, but Jesus has made us God’s friends: Col 1:21-22. In the gospel that we are saved to behold, love and enjoy the glorious God of all reality, who will forever thrill our hearts. It is in the gospel that we are reconciled to God and led to fight for what is good.
4. The Christian partakes in the spiritual battle today.
-Christians have a real spiritual warfare to engage in (Eph 6:10-20)
-Longman on 3 battle fronts: (Systemic, Evangelism, Sin within)
-Longman on 3 weapons (prayer, faith, love).
APP: There will likely be LOTS of opportunities to love our neighbors and testify to the gospel in this Corona crisis. God has equipped our church to be a serving church, may He use us for His glory in this way.