Angels and demons have been so popular in fictional literature that many people simply believe that they are the product of fiction. However, in Daniel 10, we have actual spiritual warfare going down in the land of Persia.
Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
Dan 10:13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
The message was coming from God to Daniel, but the messenger got waylaid by evil forces, and it took the assistance of Michael, an archangel, to help finish off the delivery.
I find this interesting because we live in a world that doesn’t even like to admit that there are such things as good and evil, but here in Daniel we have literal forces of good and evil coming into conflict. This isn’t just theoretical at this point. There was an actual conflict between a good angel and an evil demon, and there are real consequences of that action.
I know that many people are going to probably open this page and simply laugh it off as fantasy. However, I wrote about the prophecy of Daniel the other day. This book is incredibly accurate at predicting things that really should not have been predictable. If it is faithful in those things, then why would it not be faithful in this instance?
Why would it be faithful about things that might even be controversial for the Jewish faith? Personally, if I were making up the story and I was trying to make God look powerful, I don’t know if I would have His messengers being intercepted. If I was entirely making this up, I think that this might be one detail I would fabricate.
Just to be clear, I don’t think that the fact that a messenger being interrupted diminishes God’s power, but I’m just saying that I think I would have made the story a little bit less potentially controversial. If there was no interruption here, then there would be no possible question brought up here. The path of least resistance would be my choice.
The inclusion of data that seems to encourage debate is not a characteristic of fabricated stories. It is similar to the idea of the Gospel writers regarding that women, whose testimony would not be admissible in a court of law at the time, were the ones who were the first witnesses of the Resurrection. Therefore, it seems to me that the most possible reason that this information was included was because it was what Daniel was told. Therefore, that certainly makes angels and demons seem a lot more like reality and less of the fantasy that many people often think of them as.
I told you yesterday that we would learn something about appropriate reactions today in Ezra 5. The Israelites had been falsely accused of trying to start a revolution. They were now facing military danger because of these false charges.
However, even though I imagine they must have been a little bit upset, their reaction was the kind of reaction that we need to strive for.
Ezr 5:3 At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?
Ezr 5:4 Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?
Ezr 5:5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.
They went right back to the Persian court. They knew that there was a way that they could prove they were right without confrontation. They wrote a very polite letter that basically said that the Israelites knew that they had been given royal permission, and if anyone wanted to double check, they could search to find that while document that gave them this permission.
It was an all-around pleasant affair. However, it was also firm. The people of Israel knew that they were right, and their letter never wavered. Their tone was also polite. They probably figured that there was very little to be gained by yelling about the injustice. All that would have served to do was irritate everyone else and maybe even create a less favorable situation.
For application in our lives, it is important to remember that our reactions are important. We never have to give up our stance on truth. As you can see here, Israel did not soften that whatsoever. They realized that politeness and tact were in order for the situation to accompany that truth.
We need to remember this as we interact with other people on a daily basis.
We are now entering the book of Ezra! In chapter 1, we find the Israelites in captivity. They are part of the Persian Empire ruled by Cyrus, and he seems to be a pretty powerful man.
Ezr 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Ezr 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
However, even though he was such a powerful man, God was still able to influence him by steering his spirit. I have to imagine that being the king of Persia meant that he was a pretty strong-willed individual. He must have gotten to the top by showing quite a bit of ambition and mental strength. Regardless, he was powerless to resist the call of God even though I have to imagine that he would have resisted letting part of his kingdom wander back to their homeland.
He was also powerless to resist the call of God even though it probably flew in the face of everything he believed as well. Judaism was not native to Persia, and as far as I know, Cyrus was not an active practitioner. In these verses, he obviously recognizes God, but I have to imagine that he probably had a pantheon of other deities that he believed in.
For both of these reasons, there was probably not very much incentive for him to actually encourage someone to go back to Jerusalem and build the second Temple.
He did order that though, and I think that that is an example of how powerful God is.
We generally think that we are going to do what we want to do. The human will is perceived to be a pretty powerful force. However, in reality, God is so far above all of that. He doesn’t really care about what is “expected” on earth. He does what is in His will.