Daniel 10 gives us a glimpse of heavenly realities. We get a picture of the unseen spiritual world that was at work in Daniel’s day. Angels (“princes”), representing earthly kingdoms, were at war with each other. The unnamed man at the Tigris River was among them, as was the angel Michael, who apparently was the “prince” of Israel.
What do we make of this today?
Even as Christians, we can tend to be materialists. That is, we can tend to disbelieve there’s much going on behind the scenes that we cannot see with our eyes – or at least our microscopes. This is especially true in Western cultures like ours – in America and Europe.
I did find Daniel’s reaction to this vision interesting. He was overcome by weakness. It was a recurring theme in this chapter. “No strength was left in me.” “My radiant appearance was fearfully changed.” “I retained no strength.” “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.” “I stood up trembling.” “I turned my face toward the ground and was mute.” “Pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.” “No strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
At various times in this passage, Daniel was weak and trembling, mute and breathless. He was given reassurance and strength by his heavenly visitor, but the effects of the vision on Daniel were tangible.
The hand of God was moving in this passage. Kingdoms were being torn down and raised up. A good materialist in Daniel’s day – there probably weren’t any – would have attributed those changes in empires to worldly wisdom and strength, and to human error and aggression.
Should we fear the unseen spiritual realm? I don’t think so, but we should respect the fact it exists.
The apostle Paul gave us perspective. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
The key for Paul was our connection to Christ. That relationship ends any opportunity for anything – even angels, rulers, or powers – to separate us from Christ. Paul seemed to affirm those things exist. They just lose their authority because of the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. Read also Colossians 2:15.
But I wonder how we would feel if our eyes were unmasked and we could see the spiritual struggle that is ongoing in the world today. Jesus’ death and resurrection brought us victory over those things, but Jesus didn’t eliminate them altogether – at least, not yet. Paul says a battle still rages “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” and we remain a part of it (Ephesians 6:10-20).
If we could see it for what it was, I wonder whether we would get a little weak in the knees like Daniel. I wonder whether we might need someone to come to us and put us back on our feet.
The promise of Christ is this: When we breathe our last breath and we fall into our own “deep sleep,” we will hear a loving word and be lifted up. “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.”
A question for your day: What might be a benefit of being mindful of the unseen spiritual realities at work around us?