The Believer’s Weapon
“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed … Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” (Daniel 10:19).
Christian humorist, Dennis Swanburg, once told a story of an unforgettable baptism that took place in a little West Texas Baptist church. They were building a new sanctuary and it was almost finished. The new baptistry was functional even though changing rooms were not yet available. The pastor was so excited about the new building, he planned a baptism in the new baptistry. Since the changing room didn’t yet have walls, they hung sheets up so those being baptized could change. Since they didn’t have pews yet, they put folding chairs in the uncompleted building and the whole congregation gathered at the start of the service to watch the baptism in the new baptistry.
Everything went well until the last person to be baptized made her way down into the water. This lady was terrified of water, but she had been assured there was no reason for concern. But she panicked in those final seconds before being lowered into the water, clawing the air for anything to keep from going down. Within her grasp was the curtain hung behind the baptistery, which formed the front barrier of the men’s changing room. She reached out to grab hold of anything and pulled that sheet down.
Having just stepped from the baptistery, there stood a man wearing nothing but his underwear. Realizing something was wrong, he turned around, only to see the entire congregation gaping at him in. Assessing the situation quickly, he did the only sensible thing: he dove into the baptistery with the preacher and the panic-stricken woman! They just dismissed the rest of the service.
What’s the point of that story? In Daniel chapter 10, the curtain was pulled aside and we were able to see things we’ve never seen before related to Jesus, spiritual warfare, and prayer. At the time of the vision, Daniel was an old man, well into his 80s, and had been retired from government work for a couple of years. But even in his advanced age, he was still spiritually alive. He possessed the same zeal burning in his heart as in his younger years.
As part of the vision, Daniel described: “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Most biblical scholars agree this is one of the pre-incarnate visions of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not the first time Daniel was exposed to Jesus. In chapter 2, Jesus was the “stone not cut by human hands” that crushed the kingdoms of this world. In chapter 7, Jesus was called “the Son of Man who is given an everlasting Kingdom.” In chapter 8, He was called “the Prince of princes” who comes to defeat the Antichrist. In chapter 9, Jesus was identified as “the Anointed One” who will be cut off 483 years after the decree goes forth to rebuild Jerusalem. And even in chapter 4, Daniel wrote about the fourth man who walked in the fire with his three friends.
Daniel’s vision of the glorified, majestic Jesus was the same Person the three disciples saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was very similar to what Saul of Tarsus saw on the road to Damascus. And it was similar to the one the apostle John received in his old age on the isle of Patmos. Compare Daniel’s vision to John’s: “And among the lampstands was someone ‘like a Son of Man’ dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool, and white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.” (Revelation 1:13–15).
Paul, John, and Daniel all had the same reaction to this vision of the majestic Christ. Paul fell to the ground, blinded by the intensity of the light surrounding Jesus. The Apostle John wrote, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man.” In verses 8 and 9, Daniel described how he became weak and collapsed to the ground, landing face down. Like the others after him, the prophet Daniel was being prepared to learn something remarkable. Having seen the majesty of Jesus Christ, next Daniel is taught something of the mystery of prayer. Look again at the text beginning in verse 10: “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, carefully consider the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.”
The vision Daniel then received was filled with the dread of coming spiritual warfare and comforting assurance in the midst of such fearful things through the power and mystery of prayer, which is the key to victory in spiritual warfare. These few verses pull aside the veil and we catch a glimpse of what takes place behind the scenes of this physical world. We are enabled to look into the invisible spiritual world of how the angels of God and the fallen angels of Satan interact. In this vision, God answered Daniel’s prayers and we too can learn something critically important about the mystery of prayer.
Earnest prayer is usually borne out of the burdens we bear. Daniel was so burdened because his people had fallen in love with the culture of Persia where they had been held in exile for so long. Are you fearfully burdened for the moral decay that exists in America today? Are you so fearfully burdened that you are regularly fasting and praying? Or, like the Jews, have you fallen in love with the godless culture around us? Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks before this vision. He didn’t just pray once and say, “There, I’ve done my duty, I’ve talked to God about this problem.” He humbled himself before God and was in a heavy spirit of mourning for three weeks. For three weeks he petitioned God – wrestling, agonizing, weeping, waiting – all the time unaware of the spiritual battle raging around him. Daniel experienced a delay because Satan’s forces fought against the answer to his prayer. If Daniel’s persistence in prayer had not outlasted this period of delay, he would have been defeated. The deciding factor was his perseverance and his determination to keep on praying until the answer came. The reason the Bible tells us to persist in prayer is not to overcome God’s reluctance, but to prevail against Satan’s opposition.
In verse 20, the vision says he is going to fight against the prince of Persia (a demon of Satan). Have you ever thought about the fact that the devil has a highly organized, mobilized demon army and that he assigns demons to certain nations and governments to try to influence them for evil? Just as there was a prince of Persia, do you suppose there may be a “prince of America” who devotes much of his attention to our political leaders? Is it logical to assume there is a “prince of Russia” and a “prince of China” as well? I would propose that there are high-ranking demonic powers over various regimes and governments of the world, and they work to create as much evil, corruption, chaos, and spiritual darkness as they can. Daniel chapter 10 makes it clear that spiritual warfare is a reality. This spiritual struggle continues today. Satan and his organized legions of fallen angels are constantly working to obstruct the plan of God. Nevertheless, as believers, the words spoken to Daniel, “Do not be afraid,” are spoken to us as well. And just as with Daniel, our greatest weapon in the spiritual battle is prayer. For children of God, prayer is the primary place where we battle in spiritual warfare.
In Exodus chapter 17, Joshua led the Israelite army against the Amalekites down in the valley of Rephidim. Meanwhile, Moses positioned himself up on a mountain and began to pray. As long as Moses lifted his hands in prayer, the Israelite army was winning. When he lowered his hands and stopped praying, the enemy starting winning. When Moses got too tired to lift his hands in prayer, his brother Aaron stood on one side and a man named Hur stood on the other side and held his arms up. What a wonderful reminder of how we are to hold one another up in prayer! The Israelites won the battle. Now let me ask you this: Was the battle really won in the valley? No, it was won on the mountain of prayer to God!
What a lesson for us. We face a fearful enemy who stands in our pathway of spiritual progress. Yet we need not fear, for we have a spiritual weapon with “divine power to demolish strongholds. Are you using this weapon? Prayer is where the real battle takes place and where we find our strength and the God’s Peace which surpasses all human understanding.