Oliver Queen on Lian Yu
In the TV series Arrow, based on the comic, Oliver Queen spends time on the island of Lian Yu. He thought he was alone on the island. Then he found another person, and he thought the two of them were alone. Then he found many more people, and all sorts of stuff happening on the island, but still it wasn’t until years later that he discovered a huge plot happening above and all around the island that he had no idea about.
There was a lot more going on around him than he realised.
There is a lot more going on around us than we realise. The Bible talks about things happening in the spiritual world that we can’t always see or hear or be aware of in any physical dimension.
There is a lot more going on around us than we realise.
There was a lot more going on around Daniel than he realised in the part of his story that we just read in Daniel 10.
Position yourself to see
We find Daniel, 80 year old Daniel, on the banks of the Tigris river in Persia, 3 weeks after receiving an incredible and disturbing vision from God.
When God speaks through a dream, or a vision, or a prophecy or in some other way about the future we want to know what it means and we expect it to happen immediately. But often God speaks in advance and there is time before we receive the interpretation. Then there’s often more time before we see it happen. God is patient, he’s more interested in us and our walk with him today than about us knowing the future. That’s why it’s important, as Daniel did, to write things down. Write down your dreams, even if you’re not sure they’re from God. Write down verses and words people give you. Then submit them to God. In time he’ll give interpretation and he’ll fulfil his promises.
God seems to have changed how he revealed things to Daniel throughout his life. First Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, and Daniel interpreted. Then Daniel himself dreamed. Then Daniel saw visions. Now Daniel sees angels, while the men with him see nothing.
If you are God’s ally for a long time, you will see more. God will reveal himself to you in new and different ways. God is not a formula, he is a person. An incredible person, different and more in depth and interesting than any other person you’ll ever know. Keep getting to know him and your relationship with him will change over time.
But we can’t control how God will reveal things to us, or even if he will. God reveals things to whoever he wants. It’s not entirely up to us. Don’t compare someone else’s revelation from God to your own revelation. It’s not their fault, and it’s not your fault. This is why the apostles John and Paul were both so careful in how they wrote about things God had revealed to them, about things they had seen of God and the spiritual world. “I know a man who was caught up in the 3rd heaven.” “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are less because God shows them things in a different way. And don’t let anyone make you feel like you are more if God shows you things. Appreciate what you’ve been given and be faithful with what you’ve been given.
What God shows us is up to him. But we can position ourselves to see.
2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. 3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
Here 80 year old Daniel is on the bank of a river, after fasting and mourning and praying for three weeks. He was positioning himself to see. What God showed him and when, was entirely up to God, but Daniel wanted to be in position to see.
Like the story of Zacchaeus, the short man in the Bible who couldn’t see Jesus because he was stuck behind all the tall people, he climbed a tree to see Jesus. We can position ourselves to see more by giving God our attention – what Laura talked about last week from Daniel 9. Prayer, fasting, worship, serving, silence, solitude, giving God your attention is how we can position ourselves to see better. Otherwise we can miss what God is showing us because we’re too preoccupied with everything else.
There’s a lot more going on around you than your eyes can see, so position yourself to see better when God chooses to show you.
Know that God is with you
As 80 year old Daniel stood on the bank of that river, what did he see? Or, more importantly, who did he see?
The man never gives his name. Daniel has already met the archangel Gabriel. And the archangel Michael is mentioned in this chapter. The two big angels are named, so who is this incredible man?
Many people who study the Bible more than you or I do call this a Theophany. A visible image of God that people can see. What Daniel describes is very similar to what Ezekiel describes in his vision of the glory of God (Ez 1). And it is very similar to what John describes when he sees the risen Jesus in Revelation (Rev 1). It’s possible that Daniel sees Jesus. A pre-incarnate Christ. He sees Jesus in a form before he had submitted himself to being born as a baby. And he struggles, like Ezekiel and John, to describe what he’s seeing.
Some people say that this person is an angel, an important angel by the sounds of it, but the description is very similar. Either way, God reveals some of his glory to Daniel in this vision and he struggles to describe what he’s seeing.
4 On April 23, as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
Daniel has never seen Jesus before, and he didn’t know that he was looking at God himself, in a visible form. In fact, he may not have even known that it was possible. Daniel could see the river, the bank of the river, maybe some trees and buildings in the distance but he had no idea until God opened his eyes that God himself and his angels were there.
Daniel passes out at this point, and then in verse 10 he is woken up by a hand touching him.
11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. 12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.
In the midst of your mourning, in the midst of your battle, right now in the middle of whatever you’re going through God’s attitude towards you is the same as it is to Daniel. You are very precious to him. Don’t be afraid. When you pray and humble yourself (position yourself to see) your request is heard in heaven. God is with you, and he responds to your prayer.
Even if you can’t see him, God is with you. Even more now that Jesus has come as a human being. When he died and rose again he sent his Spirit to live with everyone who believed in him and accepted who he was.
God is literally with you. Jesus promised it to everyone who would follow him.
Be aware of the real battle
Have a listen to what is said next, because this could be a little confusing.
13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”
I don’t know how Jesus could be blocked by the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. I know it DOESN’T mean that Jesus is less powerful than an evil spirit. Because he is God, and he said later on in his life on earth, “all power and authority has been given to me.” (Matt 28:18) But we also know that Satan and the other fallen angels have jurisdiction in our world. Jesus called Satan “the Prince of this world.” (John 12:31) It’s only for a time, but we still live in that time.
There is a battle raging around Daniel that he knew nothing of until this moment. God and his angels are battling Satan and his fallen angels all around us.
For a time the spiritual battle may seem even – light against darkness. But the reality is that darkness is on a time limit. This is all throughout the Bible and especially when it talks about what Jesus did on the cross. The battle is real, but the victory has already been secured. The battle will play out but if you’re on the light side, you’re guaranteed victory in the end. Or, as the apostle John out it, whoever has the Son, Jesus, has life. Whoever does not have the Son, noes not have life.
This is the battle that rages on all around us. This is what is happening much more than what Daniel could see and much more than what we can see. That there are spirits; angels of light and angels of darkness. There are authorities and power structures in the spirit world. It’s enough to make your head hurt that while Daniel is praying and mourning for three weeks in the natural world, in the unseen spiritual world there is an epic battle going on between the spirit prince over an entire kingdom, and God’s angels. The legendary archangel Michael comes to take over the battle while Daniel’s prayer is answered. And in the end of this conversation he says he has to go back to continue fighting.
Stop for a minute. Think about the battle you’re in. The people and faces that represent that battle. Your ‘enemies’, your opposition, the people blocking you. The teacher you can’t stand. The colleague who frustrates you. The friend who has betrayed you.
The political scene in Australia, and globally situations in India, in the US and in Greece.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Our battle isn’t against people. There is a lot more going on than we realise. That’s not to say that you don’t need to deal with natural, physical, people problems. But that behind all of that another battle is influencing the one you’re in. What the evil spirit world does is battle behind the scenes making natural things worse. And that is the real battle we face as Christians.
When you’re overwhelmed in your own battle, like Daniel was, ask God to show you what else is going on that you can pray into. Position yourself to see, and if God shows you – FIGHT – in prayer, in intercession, with spiritual weapons not against people.
Fight the right battle
There’s a fantastic account in 2 Kings 6 of God opening another person’s eyes to see what else was going on. There were two kingdoms at war, Aram and Israel. Everytime the king of Aram would mobilise his troops to attack Israel, Elisha the prophet would hear from God and warn the king of Israel about the attack. So every time they would be ready, which really annoyed the king of Aram. He accused his men of being traitors and giving away the army’s secrets. Insider trading – Old Testament style. But the men knew it wasn’t them, it was God speaking through Israel’s prophet. So the king of Aram sends his men to capture Elisha the prophet. He surrounded the city where Elisha was.
2 Kings 6:15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.
Ever felt like that? The troops, horses and chariots were very real, physical, natural. What you’re facing is very real. But there was more happening than this servant could see.
2 Kings 6:16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
The story finishes not with the enemy troops being killed. God didn’t deal immediately with the physical circumstances in this situation. But he dealt with the spiritual battle that was raging. God blinds the troops, gets Elisha to lead them into another city where they are surrounded by Israeli soldiers. And then doesn’t have them killed, but gives these prisoners of war a huge feast and sends them home to their master. And after that, the raiders from Aram stayed away from Israel. The physical battle is dealt with by acknowledging the spiritual battle and letting God lead the victory – his way.
You might be able to see what’s happening around you. But like Oliver Queen on Lian Yu there is a lot more going on than you can see. You might be surrounded, with no way out, but like Elisha’s servant there is a lot more going on than you can see. There is a battle raging on, a battle of cosmic proportions.
- Position yourself to see. God may give you insight into what is happening in the spirit. God may want to lead you through this battle in a way you could never imagine if you just think about the people you’re up against.
- Know that God is with you. No matter how great the battle is or how powerful the evil spirits, God himself is with you and you are very precious to him.
- Be aware of the real battle. Paul said about how he fought for people to know the truth about Jesus. He said, “we are humans but we don’t wage war as humans do.” (2 Corinthians 10). Fight battles God’s way.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
As we finish our series called Daniel: God’s Ally, there is a lot more in Daniel’s life that we could look at. We’ll save those for another day. But today as we finish know that if you have Jesus in your heart, in your life, you are God’s Ally. And part of being God’s Ally is about fighting the right battle.