I mentioned before that I was in the Army, but I don’t know if you caught the fact that I was in Military Intelligence. That’s right, I was a Spook, sipping martinis (shaken, not stirred) while dodging bullets and knives thrown by assassins with really cool-sounding names. Oh, sorry, for a second I was mistaking myself for James Bond. In case you’re wondering—no, I didn't really see any super-secret intelligence. Most of my Army time was spent putting up tents and taking down tents, putting up concertina wire and taking it down, guard duty and quite a bit of KP.
But anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that my (very little) actual experience with that side of things has reminded me of the secret battle fought constantly. Every moment of every day thousands of men and women get up from bed, get ready for work, and then use all the resources at their disposal to keep us safe. They work in the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, Homeland Security, and a host of other acronyms. And if they do their job right, you’ll rarely—if ever—think about them. That’s because the only time they get any attention is when they fail. We’ll never know in this life how many times our lives were saved by their efforts, how many terrorist attacks didn’t happen because they succeeded one more time.
Why do I bring this up? Because there’s a war going on all around us which is far deadlier than the one against terrorism. And even more than the one I described, it’s behind the scenes and we rarely if ever think about the combatants.
Let’s summarize what today’s reading actually says. Daniel was visited by an angel, who was bringing him a message straight from the Lord. However, the “Prince of the Persian kingdom” resisted the angel and held him off for 21 days. Finally the angel went and got help, namely the angel Michael. Apparently this was enough to overpower the demon long enough to get the angel through so as to speak with Daniel.
My friend, there are such beings as angels and demons, and I have every reason to believe they're constantly fighting all around us. The demonic forces, under the direction of their leader Satan, are always on the attack. When I say always, I mean 24-7, 365 days a year, 366 in leap years. They never take a break or a holiday or a vacation.
The good news is that neither do our friends. They’ve sworn to serve the Lord faithfully, and they have. When our Lord commands them to, they serve us and protect us and somehow strengthen us.
The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about what occurs on this plane of existence beyond our normal perception. Today’s one of the very few passages where we actually see anything about this sort of thing. That’s why I’m very wary of building any type of theology on this issue.
Why does the Bible speak so rarely about this subject? Because we don’t need to know any more. Remember what I said at the outset of this study? The Bible is meant to tell us how to relate to God and each other and how to prepare for the next world. It’s not there to satisfy our idle curiosity.
So why does the Bible tell us what it does? What are the practical lessons that God is trying to teach us from paucity of information? Let me name a couple.
First, I need to remember that my spiritual Enemy and his forces are far more powerful than I am in and of myself. In my own strength, I’m lunch. When I’m tempted to pride, I should keep in mind what would happen to me if the Father left me unprotected for one second. I belong to my Savior. I bear his seal of ownership. And I should be very glad of that.
Second—and this is very important—The only reason why the angel was explaining this much to Daniel was to tell him how much God loved him. Daniel had been praying for so long, and he might've been tempted to give up. He might have even thought that that Lord had abandoned him and didn’t care about his problems. But no. As soon as Daniel prayed, God answered. The reason he didn’t get the answer was due to causes beyond his puny human understanding. If you’ve prayed, as long as your relationship with him is OK, your Father has heard and has answered. If you haven’t gotten the response you expected, I assure you it’s not because he's forgotten about you or doesn’t care about you. In the right way and in the right time, he'll answer. Even if he has to send a squad of angels through the battle lines to do it.
Father God, I thank you for the unseen friends around me who are serving you and protecting me. And even more I thank you for telling me what I need to know in this world.