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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Strengthened for Spiritual Warfare
Text:Daniel 10:1-11:1 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world
 
Preached:2017
Added:2022-05-11
Updated:2022-05-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

My Soul, Be on Your Guard

Christian, Dost Thou See Them?

Soldiers of Christ Arise

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


01/15/2017
Strengthened for Spiritual Warfare”
Daniel 10:1-11:1
 
Chapter 10, 11, and 12 form one unit in the prophecy of Daniel. The main portion of Daniel’s final vision is in chapter 11. Chapter 10 serves as a preface and chapter 12 as a postscript to the vision that will unfold. The final vision, in chapter 11, will give us a more detailed description of the previous visions Daniel has had.
 
Chapter 11 contains the main part of the vision; chapter 10 simply serves as an introduction. It tells us in verse 1, that the vision concerns a great war. Verse 2 describes how Daniel was so moved by the vision that he mourned for three weeks.
 
The passage also describes what may be a Christophany – a pre-incarnate vision of Christ. Verse 5 and 6 use imagery that bears a striking similarity to the description of the ascended Christ given by John in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:12-16). In the vision Daniel saw a man whose body was like chrysolite, one of the precious stones described in Revelation 21 for the wall of the heavenly city. Daniel describes how “his face was like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of the multitude” (v. 6).
 
In verse 10 an angel intervenes in the vision and describes, in the verses that follow, how the Lord had heard Daniel’s prayers right from the beginning. Verse 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.’”
             
But the angel had been delayed. In verse 13 and 14 he describes how he was delayed: “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, 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.”
 
As the angel explained this, Daniel felt, quite understandably, very weak. Yet he was encouraged and strengthened by this angel who looked like a man. As Daniel received his strength back, he asked the angel why he had come, and the angel said that he will explain to him what is written in the “Book of Truth”.  In the next chapter we will read what is in that Book of Truth, and we will read about the great battles described to Daniel in this highly unusual vision.
 
And I suppose that we could leave it at that. We could say, “Daniel chapter 10 is really just the introduction to this vision of a great war that will unfold in chapter 11.” Or we could ask, “What significance does a chapter like Daniel 10 have for you and me?”  Since “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16) what applications do we find in this passage for your life and mine?
 
The Intensity of Spiritual Warfare
 
One application: Behind the events that we see every day in our world, a great spiritual battle rages. Verses 12 to 14 describe a remarkable spiritual battle. In those verses the angel describes to Daniel how his prayer had been heard as soon as he offered it. But on the way to bring the response, this messenger – this angel – was detained. He said to Daniel, in the first part of the verse 13, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days.”
 
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia” was not a human prince or ruler. We have here a description of a fallen angel, what we commonly call demons. The demon resisted God’s angel to the degree that it delayed the answer to Daniel’s prayer by three weeks. It was only by Michael’s help, as verse 13 explains it, that this angel was able to come and minister to Daniel and give him the vision that we will see unfold in chapter 11.
 
Often, we are tempted to think of such spiritual warfare as highly unusual. Yet Scripture clearly teaches that spiritual warfare is always going on. The Bible teaches that behind the events that we see every day in our world, a great spiritual battle rages.
 
Consider the events of Elisha’s day when Aram (Syria, ESV) was at war with Israel. Elisha would inform the king of Israel where the Aramean troops were hiding out. When the king of Aram found out, he sent a convoy of troops to Dothan to capture Elisha. 2 Kings 6:14-17 records what happened:
 
So he (the King of Aram) sent…horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
 
      When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
 
     He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
 
The servant came to realize what Daniel also realizes in this chapter; he came to realize that behind the scenes of human events rages a great spiritual battle.
 
We see that great spiritual battle unfold in Job's life, as well. You recall how Job was the greatest man in the land of Uz. But then one day, out of the blue, great calamity came into his life. He lost his sheep, cattle, and servants; even his precious children were taken from him, killed in a tragic storm.
 
All through the book, Job and his friends could only see the calamities that had come upon Job. The friends looked for human reasons behind those terrible events. They deduced that most likely Job had sinned terribly, and this was God’s punishment on him.
 
But Job chapter 1 clearly shows that the reason all these troubles came into Job’s life was because of the intense spiritual battle that constantly rages. Job 1:6-12:
 
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?”
 
     Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
 
    And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
 
     Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
 
     And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
 
Our personal lives, as well as the lives of whole nations, are all intertwined in the battle between good and evil. Behind the everyday events of our lives, a great spiritual battle rages. It was Abraham Kuyper who wrote:
 
“If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up therethat is where the real conflict is waged...”
 
Sinclair Ferguson, in his excellent commentary on Daniel, quotes Abraham Kuyper and then adds: “Daniel was learning that the ultimate struggle was fought out in a realm of which most people know nothing. It does not lie between Washington DC and Moscow; its central point is not to be found in the Middle East. Indeed, the world crises we identify with these locations are actually reflections of an older, more ruthless perpetual conflict, namely, that between the city of God with its angelic host and the kingdom of darkness, which seeks to turn the direction of all history against God and His people.” (The Communicator’s Commentary, Daniel; pg. 215)
 
I find it interesting that Sinclair Ferguson published that quote in 1988. Yet what has dominated our news so far this year, many years after the publication of Ferguson’s commentary? The news has been about the events in Washington DC and Moscow. But beyond the events in the news is the unseen spiritual battle – the battle of the ages, of all of history – that we experience in every facet of life.
 
The Inevitability of Spiritual Warfare
 
It is not just people like Job, Elisha, and Daniel who are impacted by the raging war of spiritual conflict. Rather, spiritual conflict is inevitable for every Christian. Do you remember how the Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesian church? In Ephesians 6:10 to 13 he writes: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
 
If we are to stand firm against the devil's schemes, we can never underestimate the power of the evil one and his forces. There is nothing that pleases the devil more than to have us underestimate his power. That is why the devil does everything he can to portray himself, not as an insidious and cruel enemy, but as a harmless, perhaps even fun-loving mischievous character. In literature, even in some children's books, we see the devil portrayed cute as can be, with pointy little ears, tail, and a mischievous smile.
 
In Scripture we also see where Satan always misrepresented himself in order to hide his malice and hatred for God and for people. Sometimes we may wonder why Eve would speak with the serpent in the garden of Eden. But then we recall that the Scripture tells us that the serpent was the most beautiful of all creatures. Part of his curse was that he would slither on the ground and eat the dust of the earth. But before he came under the curse of God, he was an attractive, charming creature who by his beauty and subtle questioning led Eve, and then all humanity, into sin.
 
In the New Testament, one of the most deceptive portrayals of Satan is found in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 where the Apostle warns us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
 
Satan, along with his followers, are experts in masquerade. Satan does not want us to see him as he really is. The last thing he wants is for us to see him as he really is, to see him as he is portrayed in Scripture – to see him as Martin Luther so accurately portrayed him in our opening hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Luther wrote, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”
 
But Luther also added this comforting and assuring truth in the third stanza: “The Prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for low! His doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.”
 
It is the Word of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ which equips us for battle against the evil one and prevails within us, assuring us the victory in the end. Even though we fall in many skirmishes with the evil one, when the dust settles, we will be shown to be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us (Rom. 8:37).
 
Prayer: The Greatest Weapon in Spiritual Warfare
 
A third truth that we see in this passage is that in the spiritual battles that each one of us are caught up in, our greatest power is in the power of prayer. Throughout our study of Daniel, we have seen that Daniel is a man of prayer. Every time he faced a great crisis, he was found in prayer. Every time he was blessed by God, whether with an interpretation of a vision or dream, or having his life spared from the den of lions, we see the power of prayer. We also read where it was his custom to go to his room at three specific times of day to pray to the Lord on bended knees.
 
So we should not be surprised that this angel who came to Daniel in verse 12 came in response to prayer. Daniel knew that our great power to do battle is found in prayer. And that same reliance on prayer must be evident in every believer’s life.
 
Mary Queen of Scots is said to have feared the prayers of the Reformer, John Knox, more than she feared the armies of other hostile nations. William Cowper, the hymn writer, wrote: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” And James, reflecting on the prayers of Elijah, writes: “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” (James 5:16c).
 
If we, like Mary Queen of Scots, William Cowper, James or Daniel, really realized the power of prayer, how much more faithful and fervent in prayer would we be?
 
God’s Presence in Spiritual Warfare
 
This vision also reminds us that through prayer we are never left alone, although it may sometimes seem that way. Amid spiritual conflict we may feel alone, just as Daniel did in verse 8, but God promises to strengthen and keep us by His presence and power.
 
In verse 8 Daniel wrote, “So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me.” ­ I have an idea that you can relate to that feeling, as can I, at least at certain times in our lives when we seem overwhelmed by our own sin and the conflict around us and within us.
 
But then, in verse 10, the hand of an angel intervened and the angel said in verse 12, “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.”
 
The Lord hears and answers prayer. The answer may not come immediately, even though God hears that prayer as soon as it is uttered from our heart through our lips. Indeed, He knows our words before they are spoken (Psalm 139:4). The delay is not always related to spiritual warfare such as Daniel experienced. Rather God, in his omniscience, knows what is best for us and answers our prayers according to His perfect will and plan. But regardless, even though we may feel alone, the Lord our God is always with us, to strengthen and keep us by His presence and power.
 
We see that again in verse 18 and 19. Daniel writes, “Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. ‘Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,’ he said. Peace! Be strong now; be strong.’”
 
       When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
 
As we will see in the vision of chapter 11, Daniel was indeed strengthened by the power and presence of the Lord. And it is no different for us today. We too, are in a spiritual battle. What Abraham Kuyper wrote is absolutely true: “If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up therethat is where the real conflict is waged...”
 
Yet we are never alone. Before ascending into heaven, after Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission to go into all the world with the gospel, Jesus said, “And I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
 
The disciples and apostles would face persecution, imprisonment, even martyrdom as part of the spiritual warfare they were engulfed in, yet they knew they were never alone. They had the power of prayer. They had the truths of God’s Word. They had the promises of Jesus.
 
Those realizations are what encouraged the apostles in all their struggles and conflicts. In fact, those same truths encouraged Daniel and all the Old Testament believers as well. They knew their Lord would never desert them, but would always provide what they needed at the time. As the Lord has promised, on multiple occasions in His Word, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
 
May you and I, participants in the spiritual warfare which consumes all of history, and unfolds before us in the present age, take heart in these great promises of God’s Word, as we put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes. Amen.
 
 
Sermon Outline:
 
        Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.
“Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now;
be strong.”
 
      When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since
you have given me strength.” – Daniel 10:18-19
 
                          “Strengthened for Spiritual Warfare
                                             Daniel 10:1-11:1
 
I. Chapters 10-12 form a unit, giving us the most detailed prophecy in the
    book of Daniel. Chapter 10 serves as a preface to the main vision found
    in chapter 11. As it does so, this chapter teaches us:
    1) Behind the events that we see in our world, a great spiritual battle
         rages (12-14; 2 Kings 6:15-17; Job 1; Revelation 12)
 
 
 
 
 
 
     2) Spiritual conflict is inevitable for every Christian (Eph. 6:10-13)
 
 
 
 
 
 
     3) Our greatest power is prayer (12; James 5:16c)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 II. Application:  Amid spiritual conflict we may feel alone (8), but God
     promises to strengthen and keep us by His presence and power (18-19)
 
 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2017, Rev. Ted Gray

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