Daniel learns of the ongoing cosmic battle

Jeff Garrison
Bluemont and Mayberry Churches
February 13, 2022
Daniel 10

Sermon taped at Bluemont on Friday, February 11, 2022.

At the beginning of worship:

I think it was C. S. Lewis who once said we’ll spend half of eternity thanking God for prayers not answered. Think about this for a minute. One of the reasons for prayers not being answered is that we don’t know all that is going on in our lives and in the world. Much is hidden. We don’t know God’s plans. 

As a follower of Jesus, we are called to live by faith. We don’t have all the answers, but we trust God does. It can be exhausting, as we’re going to see with Daniel in our reading this morning. Yet, we’re also shown, God cares of those who humble themselves and trust in what he is doing in the world. 

 Before the Reading of Scripture:

I decided to skip over the ending of Daniel 9 and move on to Daniel 10.[1] Daniel 9, which speaks of 70 weeks and years, has been used in all kinds of ways to do that which we should not do, namely, to predict the future. So far, the predictions haven’t come true. And while this seems to be more of a modern problem, especially in the past two centuries, the root to this issue goes way back. We want to know that which we can’t know. Remember, this got Eve in trouble with the tree of knowledge.[2]

Writing about the end of Daniel 9, referring to the meaning behind the 70 weeks, Jerome, the great Biblical scholar and translator of the 4th century quipped: 

“I realize that this question has been argued over in various ways by people of greatest learning, and each of them has expressed his views according to the capacity of his own genius. And so… I shall leave it to the reader’s judgement as to whose explanation ought to be followed.[3]

Even Jerome didn’t want to go there. I would say that we’re entering territory that angels refuse to tread, except as we’ll see in chapter ten that the angels are treading here. And that’s good news for us. Someone needs to watch our back.

The tenth chapter begins Daniel’s last vision. It’s a long one, with chapter 10 setting the stage for what happens in chapters 11 and 12. 

Read Daniel 10

After the Reading of Scripture

If the knowledge given to Daniel would be presented to us, we too would be overwhelmed and exhausted. Remember, he’s an old man and this is almost more than his heart can bear. 

Opening timestamp

This section begins like many others in Daniel, as we saw even in the ninth chapter, with a time stamp.[4] King Cyrus of Persia is in his third year of his reign. However, there is confusion as to what this means, especially since in the first chapter, we’re told the prophet served through the first year of Cyrus.[5]

Most scholars think the three years refers to the time since Cyrus’ empire seized controlled Babylon. If this is the case, some of the Jews in Babylon have probably begun packing up and moving back to Jerusalem. Otherwise, if the three years refers to the time when Cyrus began his rule over Persia, without Babylon, it would take us back in time.[6]

Role of Cyrus

Also, the title, King Cyrus, isn’t known in other literature.[7] While this might matter in our full understanding of the text, especially as it reflects a Greek understanding (they used such terms), it doesn’t change fact that Daniel receives a major vision of the future, one that causes him to collapse in exhaustion. In his exhaustion, God’s messenger reassures Daniel and cares for him.[8]

Daniel’s weakness

Furthermore, we’re told Daniel has been mourning for the past three weeks and hasn’t eaten anything of substance (as defined as meat and wine). So, he’s been on a light fast. It leaves him weak when he finds himself standing on the banks of Tigris River this a vision.

The appearance of “A Man”

Interestingly, Daniel is the only one who sees this man with a belt of gold. It must have been like a professional wrestler’s belt since it catches his attention first. He goes on to describe the man with a body of beryl, face of lightning, eyes like torches, and arms and legs like burnished bronze. His sight causes Daniel to fall flat. While those with him and cannot see the man, they know something is happening. They flee. So much for his friends. 

But this “man,” a heavenly visitor, ministers to Daniel. He helps Daniel to rise on his hands and knees, and then on his feet. He encourages the prophet, telling him not to fear even though Daniel naturally shakes in his boots. The man offers “celestial first aid” to a troubled prophet.[9]

The Cosmic Battle

As this man begins to speak, we learn of something important. He had been sent to Daniel, but essentially apologizes for his delay. It appears he was ambushed by the Prince of Persia. Obviously, he’s not speaking of a member of Cyrus’ court, but with dark spiritual princes who attempt to control the land. There is a cosmic battle raging. He struggled with this dark prince for 21 days. (It’s intriguing that 21 is divisible by 7, another of Daniel’s favorite numbers.) He is only able to reach Daniel after Michael takes over the battle, which indicates the battle continues. 

The being promises Daniel a vision of the future that includes the fall of Persia, the rise of Greece, and a glimpse on the end of time. 

A message of hope to the Jews

Interestingly, as I pointed out, this vision would have taken place after many of the Jews in Babylon were packing up and preparing to head by to Jerusalem. Isaiah speaks of Cyrus as a deliverer and Israel’s history recalls how God worked through Cyrus to bring the exile to an end.[10] But is there something less than savory about Persia that God’s messengers must engage their spirits in a cosmic battle? But then, one thing is clear in Daniel, human institutions are far from perfect. Yes, God uses Persia to bring about His purposes, but we also have this peak behind the veil to see how cosmic forces of evil at work. 

Evil and the spiritual realm

The struggle is not just between various groups of humanity. What we learn here is that a spiritual battle is ongoing. The Apostle Paul touches on this theme in his writings, warning us in his letter to the Ephesians: 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.[11]

Does this not mean that Christ has not won the battle?  No, Christ defeated sin and death on the cross and with the resurrection, but the battle persists. One commentator likens this ongoing battle to the time between D-Day and the surrender of Germany. Once we established a beach head in France, there was little Germany could do to stop us. However, the battle continued until Germany surrendered.[12] Yes, Christ has won the battle, but that doesn’t mean Satan or evil is harmless. 

What this ongoing battle means to us

Evil, in this world, still has power. Evil can still destroy and create havoc. Evil can still corrupt, and one of the themes of the last half of Daniel is that human institutions are tainted and corrupt.[13]While we can never create, on our own, a perfect system, void of evil, yet we still must try and do our part. Our hope is that at the end, God will intervene and do away with evil. However, as we’re all sinners, there is a danger here. 

Remember the parable of the weeds in the wheat?[14] One of the truths of Christianity is that we’re all part of the problem. As Paul said, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”[15]For us, it’s not as easy to divide us into the good and the bad as it is in the spiritual realm. And even for those of us who are less evil than others, there will still be a need of cleansing. 

Hope in this passage

The part of this chapter that provides us hope which comes from how these heavenly beings minister to Daniel. In verse 12, we’re told that Daniel, a man who’d lived his adult life in a pagan kingdom, that his words have been heard all along. God doesn’t abandon us! God has been listening to Daniel. Going back to when Daniel first set out to discover God, God was there. We can also take delight in that kind of promise. 

The other part is how this heavenly being administers aid to Daniel. In verse 19, he says, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous.” God always provided for Daniel’s need, just as God will provide for our need. Daniel, as well as those who have packed up to head back to Jerusalem, will continue to have challenges. But as David reminds us in the 23rd Psalm, the Lord will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.[16]

Conclusion 

Daniel reminds us over and over that there are problems in our world. Nevertheless, we can take heart and trust God, even when things appear challenging. God watches over the faithful.  Amen. 


[1] Last week, I covered the first 20 verses (Daniel’s prayer of confession) from the 9th chapter. See https://fromarockyhillside.com/2022/02/5471/

[2] Genesis 4:4. For more about what we can know of the future, see the sermon I preached on Mark 13 before I began this section of Daniel. Click here: https://fromarockyhillside.com/2022/01/remain-at-your-post-stay-awake/

[3] Jerome, “Commentary on Daniel 9:24-27, in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Old Testament XIII, Ezekiel, Daniel (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2008), 266. 

[4] For other timestamps, see Daniel 1:1, 2:1, 7:1, 8:1, 9:1. 

[5] Daniel 1:21. This discrepancy could be due to Daniel is no longer serving in the Babylonian court as he is now at the banks of the Tigris River and Babylon is on the Euphrates River. 

[6] Tremper Longman III, Daniel: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 246. For other points of view, see W. Sibley Towner, Daniel: Interpretation, A Bible-Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984), 148; and Robert A. Anderson, Daniel: Signs and Wonders (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984), 120.

[7] Towner, 148-9, Anderson, 120.

[8] Longman III, 245.

[9] Towner, 152. Towner borrows this term (Celestial First Aid) from Louis F. Hartman and Alexander A. DiLella, The Book of Daniel. The Anchor Bible 23 (Grand City: Doubleday, 1978). 

[10] Isaiah 44:28, 45:1, 13; Ezra 1:1, 2 Chronicles 36:27. 

[11] Ephesians 6:12, KJV. See also Romans 8:38 and Colossians 1:6. 

[12] Longman, III, 258. 

[13] Longman, III, 178-179 lists six major themes in the second half of Daniel (chapters 7-12): 1. Horror of human evil, particularly as it is concentrated in the state; 2. The announcement of a specific time of deliverance; 3. Repentance leads to deliverance; 4. A cosmic war stands behind human conflict; 5. judgement for those who resist God and oppress God’s people; 6. God’s people who are downtrodden in the present will experience new life. 

[14] Matthew 13:24-30. 

[15] Romans 3:23.

[16] Psalm 23:4.

“I was standing on the banks of a great river…” -Daniel 10:4

10 thoughts on “Daniel learns of the ongoing cosmic battle”

    • Yes, sadly too many people think that a prayer should be answered in the way they want, which is an attempt to make ourselves out to smarter than the Almighty.

Comments are closed.