Doing Spiritual Battle
Daniel 10. This text of scripture for us, I’m going to be honest. I like to follow the way that the flow of a passage goes, so as the one that the narrative with the story follows, the experience that they’re going through, I like to relate to that experience as much as we possibly can. If I could tell you my aim for the first chapter that we’re going to look at, we’re going to look at chapter 10 and 11. I’ll tell you why in just a minute, but as we start at chapter 10, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to feel the freedom to freak out. Okay?
We’re going talk about that. Then, we’re going to talk about some resolution. We’re getting into the spiritual realm today, and everyone just wig out. We get to chapter 10, and then we’re going to bring some reconciliations that relates to the Lord in our lives as it talks about the spiritual realm, and we’re doing that because that’s what Daniel did in this passage. One of the things that we’ve learned in the story of Daniel is that Daniel’s story is not isolated to Danial. That Daniel’s story is actually our story, and the New Testament writers did a wonderful job of trying to bridge that for us because what you see in the life of Daniel, Daniel as a young man, probably a middle school age, maybe in their early high school carried often to captivity into Babylon, along with his people.
He probably saw his parents slaughtered before his eyes, went through a lot of hardship, taken into a foreign land, and lives there for over 70 years under the Babylonian Kingdom, then the Persian Kingdom, and when you read the story of Daniel, the first six chapters are the narrative of his experience with his friends and how he lives for God in that culture, what it looks like for us. The reason the New Testament writers tied to the story of Daniel is they refer to the world that we live in like Babylon. Babylon is long since gone by the time the New Testament is written, but what the New Testament writers want us to recognize is that God also calls you to a particular place, that when you live in light of Christ in your life, it doesn’t always fit in the world around you, and so that’s why we’re calling the series ‘Cultural Collision’, and we’re just coming to the tail end of that. How do we live in light of what God has called us to in this world? First six chapters of Daniel, that narrative story.
The last six chapters of Daniel are the apocalyptic, prophetic part of what God’s going to do in the future. As God works in Daniel’s life, he’s also revealing how God’s going to continue, but God is also revealing how He’s going to continue to work into the future, how he is, Daniel is just a small picture of God’s greater story in life. That small picture is that Daniel’s people find themselves captive. God sets them free. The greater picture is that all of us have been a slaved to sin, that the destruction of sin is around us, that we die as human beings.
The Bible talks about the wages of sin is death, and death doesn’t just mean your body goes into a grave. Death also means your soul is separated from God. There’s a spiritual disconnect in your relationship with God. You can’t reconcile that, but God has pursued you for relationship to the point He becomes Flesh and dies for you, so Daniel’s picture of his life is a greater picture of God’s grand story of redemption for all of us, and so the last half of Daniel is God unfolding that greater story of how it’s going to go about. Now, we even looked last week in Daniel 9 how God uses those last few verses of that chapter to even point to the specific arrival of when Jesus would come to this earth to die for our sins, how He would be cut off.
In Daniel 10, we find ourselves actually looking at the last vision. If you follow Daniel, Daniel fits nicely in chapter divisions. The books of the Bible aren’t all like that. When you study the chapters of the Bible, sometimes chapter divisions are not in a good place. Meaning, sometimes, it interrupts the author’s flow of thought, and that’s only because verse divisions, chapter divisions were added later to scripture.
Those aren’t ordained of God. They’re not inspired. That’s something that was tacked on later in the 12th century and into the 15th century for us to be able to say like, “Today, turn to Daniel 10.” You know where that’s at. That’s not inspired, but when it comes to the book of Daniel, it just so happens that it fit nicely with the chapter divisions.
Every chapter is a different aspect of the story of God’s greater story unfolding to us, and when you get to chapter 10, chapter 10 to chapter 12 is actually one vision, one theme being told. That’s why today, I really want to try to drive through chapter 10 and 11 to let you see the mountaintops of this, and then, we’re going to talk about chapter 12 next week just so you anticipate what’s coming forward in chapter 12, and God talks about an eternal picture, what heaven is like in thinking about that afterlife, and so I’ll spend some time addressing what heaven is and if there’s three heavens or if there’s layers to heaven and how in the world you can make sure you can get to the top one, but if there are even three layers. We’ll talk a little bit about that next week. Okay? That’s where chapter 12 is going to take us, but today, we’re going to look at 10 and 11 as this last vision unfolds.
Seven was a vision. Eight was a vision. Nine was a vision. 10, 11, 12 is this final vision that God’s unfolding in the story of Daniel, which is a part of a greater story in which God wants to accomplish. I’m going to do this a little bit quickly. I’m going to walk you through what the text says so you can go back if you feel the light of the Lord to read through this.
You can see how it’s communicated, but I’m not going to dive into the specifics of every verse. I’m going to highlight it for us so you can see how the greater arching theme of this vision comes together. I looked at some commentaries that related to this. I saw John Calvin when he wrote about Daniel 11. It took him a hundred pages to explain that, and we are not nearly going to do a hundred page worth of explanation on that today, but you are going to see the theme of it, and what you’re going to find out is you’ve been through the series together. We’ve actually talked about what the content of chapter 11 is when we dealt with Daniel 8.
Let me dive into this. You’re going to see why I told you this morning it’s okay to freak out a little bit, but we’re going to get to a solution before this journey is done. Okay? Daniel 10, if you remember what the context of the story, Daniel’s to the end of his life here. He’s been in captivity for over 70 years, that the Persians have come in and conquered the Babylonians.
Now, Daniel finds himself in leadership position under Persia. Cyrus has given the decree for the Jews to be able to go back to their Promise Land and establish what was lost from the destruction from the Babylonians, and so they go to the Promise Land, and what we find out is they experienced hardship, and so Daniel becomes aware of that. In fact, the Book of Ezra overlaps Daniel here. Ezra 4:1-4 talk about the hardships that the people faced, that they go back in this land they want to rebuild, and they have struggles with the people that are living in this area, trying to prevent them. That’s where Daniel 10 intercedes here, and it says this.
“In the third year of Cyrus”, so Cyrus gave this decree to return in this first year. Now, here we are, a couple of years into it where the Jews were allowed to go back. “In the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar.” That was Daniel’s original name given to him when he came into Babylon. “And the message was true.”
Then, he says, “it’s one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.” What Daniel finds out in the context of the story is that his people, which he’s longed for, the return to the Promise Land, they’re experiencing hardship, and this starts to affect Daniel. In fact, in verse two and three, it shows that it’s really, it starts to wear on his countenance on the outside, how much this internal battle is weighing on him, and so it tells us in verse two and three, this is how Daniel reacts to it. “In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine into my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.”
Some of you guys might be able to relate to this. This word for ointment is actually lotion. Daniel lives in an environment much like our environment here, so three weeks for like lotion. This is lizard Daniel going a big sacrifice here. Right? Lizard Daniel is praying to God, and he’s mourning, and he’s fasting, and he’s wearing this on him.
In fact, if you read a little further in his vision, an angel shows up and starts to communicate this vision to Daniel what God is going to do, but it says in verse 16, Daniel really wants to drive home the point about how much he’s wearing this. Ladies, I don’t want to pretend to even relate to Daniel here in case you want to cast stones, but it says in verse 16, “Because of the vision, such pains have come upon me”, and when Daniel describes it as pains, the word he’s actually using here is birth pains. Now, I don’t know where a guy gets off talking about experience and what that’s like, so Daniel’s on your own here, but he’s thinking maybe in his mind, he’s thinking, “I saw my wife do this. She crushed my hand, heard the screams. That was about as drastic of pains that I’ve ever experienced in this life”, and so he’s saying that the way he wore this, it was to this extreme, and some of you maybe could relate to this. Like have you ever cared about something so much in life that you might even wear the pain more than the people encountering it?
Like have you ever watch your kids go through a particular hardship where as a parent, you’re like, “If I could just put that on me because it does worse for me to watch them go through that, then for me, just to go through it for them.”? I think Daniel is experiencing maybe that type of pain, but I want to say at the same time, I think it’s what makes Daniel such a great leader. Daniel recognizes the need to the point for him, it becomes a burden, and I think in our lives, God can use that as a motivator to be a difference-maker in this world, and so He sees a need, He fills the burden. and responds. I think the way it works in the Christian life is that God told us the two greatest commands. He summed up all along two commands, love God, love others, and so if you love God, you’re going to love the things God loves, and the thing that God loves is people because He created them in His image, and He came for them and died for them, like God’s been pursuing them, and so the thing God loves is people.
Now, one of the things I think happens to us as people is you go through different life experiences, and when you see people encountering certain experiences that you can relate to and for different reasons, you’re more burdened by that, and you carry that weight, and so in the Christian life, I think it works like this, that you love God, and God shows you that He’s created people in His image, and you love people, and as you walk that Christian life, God refines your passion for particular places and might be for particular people. For Daniel, he having going through the experience of being taken captive and seeing the devastation that happened to his people, his passion was to get back and to see that restored what was lost, and so Daniel carries that need and that burden, and responds. I think the same thing is true for us, and so maybe on relating to Daniel, the question for you becomes, “What is it that God’s made you passionate about? What is it that you think that you might wear in this world more than other people, and how does God have you in that position to respond?” You might be unique than anyone else in this room and in that particular area of life, and that might be the platform that God is calling you to to reach out if you’re not already, but I think God works that way in our lives.
In fact, I think about the apostle Paul in the 2 Corinthians 11, writing about his own ministry. He describes everything that he experienced, but the unique thing for me is just to see what he says in the end. In 2 Corinthians 11:25, listen to this, this is in the middle of Paul just going through the things that he has encountered in his life. I just want to read this to you. He says, “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.”
“Three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys and dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own countrymen, dangerous from the gentiles, dangerous in the city, dangerous in the wilderness, dangerous in the sea, dangerous among the false brethren. I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food and cold and exposure.” He’s describing the circumstance, and you just think like, “Paul, why would you take that job?” Like if someone advertised, got a new job opening, and this is what you’re going to experience, why would you register for that? Why would you apply for such a position?
Then, he really starts to open up why at verse 28. “Apart from external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches”, and so I think what motivated Daniel is this love for God that drove him to the gentiles really to declare the gospel that would set them free, and so the reason Paul allowed these burdens in his life and the experience of that is because he was trusting in God and delivering this message, and so it says that he fills the daily pressure and concern for all the churches, and so God had put this burden in his life, and He also had the abilities or He also had the gift in this from the Lord to respond in a particular way. You see this with Daniel, and the truth is that Daniel is wearing this to the point where it says that he has no strength. When it starts to deal with the spiritual realm within this passage, Daniel is looking at the physical of what’s happening. He’s thinking about his people, thinking about the trouble that they’re going on, and he’s seeking God’s face. He’s fasting, he’s praying, and he’s turning into a lizard, and he’s asking God, “God, how does this fit? I see that you’ve called us to return to this land, but now we’re experiencing these challenges.”
Daniel is looking at the physical before him, but here in the story, now God’s going to pull this back and just let him see the greater picture of what’s taking place and how the gospel really becomes the answer in all of that. When God gives us … We recognize the need and we see a burden. I think it’s important to recognize for us that the gospel really is the solution to all of that, and that’s where Daniel is now going on this vision with God. It tells us in verse 12, “Then, He said to me …”
This is an angel that appeared to Daniel. This angel shows up and says, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.” I think for us, it’s always important to remember that the battles that we face in life, though they are physical before our eyes, there’s always something much deeper taking place there. There’s always a spiritual aspect to it, and in fact, I would say for us being a part of God’s people, that the part of living out a life for Christ is just to recognize that what God calls us to in this world, it’s not about behavior modification, or not about making bad people good. Our message is about bringing dead people to life, and so it’s not about behavior modification, but heart transformation.
Now, the beauty is this, when God gets your heart and transforms it, He will transform your life, but our battle isn’t primarily begin with just the physical realm, but to take it a step further, and if we stop with just the physical realm, we do a disservice for what God has created His church for and the message that we carry, and so Daniel is not completely grasping all of this, and so this angel appears to him and delivers this message. For those of, just look at this text if you want to dive into this. Let me just share a couple of things with you if you read through this this week. This angel shows up in verses four to six, and it describes the countenance of this angel, so pretty radiant countenance. In fact, it matches a lot of Jesus’ description in Revelation 1:13-16, so some people comment this angel and say, “Was this a pre-incarnate Christ or just an angelic being?”
I personally think it’s an angelic being, and the reason is even though it matches the identity with the way Jesus is described in Revelation 1:13-16, it’s also going to tell us that this angel is held up by a spiritual force of which nothing’s going to hold up Jesus. If Jesus wants to be there, He will be there. Then, it appeals to the one who will live and reign forever in chapter 12 verse seven, and so if it were Jesus, He wouldn’t be appealing to a higher authority. I think this is an angelic being showing up. He comes to Daniel in his weakness. Now, I think it’s also important to recognize that if we’re going to talk about the spiritual world this morning, in a physical world, as a physical being, I have no ability to do anything about that.
I have no strength to fight that physical battle, so in that sense, freak out for a minute. I’m going to tell you some spiritual stuff today, and I’m going to tell you about a real spiritual world about this demonic forces and how the things that Satan represents and who he is, and we don’t have the strength. There’s a time for just concern, but there’s also a solution, and the solution is outside of yourself, that God gives you a place to connect to Him in strength through that, and this is where Daniel is. He’s in weakness. His people are hurting.
He’s physically not even in the Promise Land to help him, and spiritually, he feels weak, and so this angel comes, and in fact, this angel ministers to him three times in providing strength. Daniel in chapter 10 verse 12 is seeking God for that connection to understand how he in this physical world can fight this spiritual battle for the power of the Lord. I like what it says in verse 12. I just want to highlight this as you think about your own spiritual walk with God, the story of Daniel. One of the things that I have loved in my own personal life with the Lord in going through this, is how much it’s talked about humility.
It tells us to humble yourself before God, and I think we did this a week or two ago where I showed you how James says the same thing. Peter said the same thing. We looked at two passages where Petere and James both said, “Humble yourself before God. He will exalt you in due time.” It’s saying to us if you want to speak the language of God, speak in humility.
In this passage, Daniel doesn’t come to God as if God owes him anything. Daniel doesn’t come to God commanding that, “God, do something”, as if God was his servant. Daniel understands that, God, He is Lord, and there’s something about creature coming before Creator that’s sacred and humbling to the soul, and here’s the cool thing, is that when he humbles himself, it says this. “Your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.” Then, the angel explained something that happens that for me, I’m just like say, “What’s happening here, and how do I wrap my mind around this?”, because in verse 13, it’s like, “But the prince of the Kingdom of Persia was withstanding me”, so and it’s the angel saying, “I was going to come, and I want to come immediately, but the prince of the Kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for 21 days.”
“Then, behold, Michael, one of the chief princes came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now, I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” He’s saying … I want you to understand how God is bringing Shalom. God is restoring all things in Him.
The whole purpose of the gospel from Genesis to the end is really what’s unfolding here, how Jesus is pursuing us for redemption in Him. That’s this picture. You saw it telling off in Daniel 9 last week. That’s what he’s going to do, but in verse 13 is where he says the interesting thing here, where I’m just like, “What do I do with this?” Now, I don’t want you to walk out of here and just continue to freak out this morning, but I do want you to think about this, that this angel is talking about how he is fighting the spiritual battle against this Persian ruler, so he’s entering into the spiritual realm.
In fact, when you study the spiritual realm in scripture, you’re going to see the way that it’s often described. We’re going to look at it in Ephesians in a minute in chapter six, that there’s principalities and powers, spiritual forces of darkness, that in the context that that’s written, it’s actually saying there’s rankings of demonic forces in the spiritual realm, sort of like the picture of an army, how an army might have different officers and different positions, that the demonic realm is organized in such a way, to the point it looks like they’re even charged of regions. Now, you see in this story that there’s one in the area of Persia, and if you read on in verse 20 of this chapter, you’re going to see the same thing over Greece. There are these spiritual battles that are influencing and affecting your world, and so Daniel is looking at this, thinking like, “What am I going to do?” I mean, “How do I have anything to do with this?”, and this is like jaw-dropping, difficult to just begin to fathom and picture.
Now, I want to give a couple caveat of warnings before I dive too far into this. Okay? I want to just say, talking about the spiritual realm, this isn’t to ignore physical problems at hand. I mean, we don’t want to just spiritualize everything to point where we’re okay with what happens in this physical world, but we recognize the actions that take place in this physical world transcend just the moment of that taking … There’s something deeper at rest, and so if we don’t take it further into the gospel, and I’ll explain this in a minute, that we do a disservice by merely addressing the physical problem, but that isn’t to ignore the physical problem at hand.
We certainly should address the immediate needs, but recognize we don’t stop there. The second is this, I don’t want to over-spiritualize everything, meaning while there’s a spiritual component, we’re still responsible for our actions. As human beings, at the end of the day, the things that we do, we’re still accountable for it. Like I had a cousin once that used to go around and do things they couldn’t when they were younger, and they would always try to get out of it by saying the devil made them do it. It’s like saying, I remember once that my cousin destroyed her VCR with my ‘Little Rascals’ tape in it, and I did not like that at all, and one time, my cousin stole some jewelry, and again, the devil made him do it.
It’s like this is like the answer is all okay. You weren’t accountable for anything that you’ve done. The devil made her do it. Let’s just let her go. That’s not how it works, and so there is accountability to her actions too.
I’m not just trying to pass the buck here, but what I want us to understand is there’s something deeper at work within our world that is more than just the physical. It deals with the spiritual, and who better to encounter that and respond to it than the ones that God has called into this world to be a light and piercing the darkness? This is a fairly … This is a serious subject. When you look at pictures of the Old Testament just to brush you up on your Satan theology, there are some pictures of Satan in the Bible that are very concerning.
When you start just in the beginning, you see Satan’s destruction happening from Genesis when he begins to lie to Adam and Eve. He perverse the truth. Satan’s got nothing wrong with people holding to a form of the truth. It’s just all of the truth. Right?
He’s got nothing wrong with people even pretending to be good or living to be good in this world. It’s when God is involved that Satan has a problem, and so in the beginning of Genesis, you see how Satan comes in. He’s described as a serpent. He shares this twisting of the truth of Adam and Eve, gets them to buy this lie, and then put themselves in the position of God rather than surrendering to God in relationship. Here’s the interesting thing, that when Satan shows up, he’s described as a serpent.
Now, some of you guys might know this if you’re here when I talk through Genesis, but I don’t believe Satan is a literal snake in the Garden of Eden. I think that the word ‘Serpent’, if you do a word study in Genesis on the word ‘Serpent’, that you find that word ‘Serpent’ actually has multiple meanings in that text, and when you read words for Satan in the New Testament, you ask, “How do they get all these different names for Satan in the New Testament?” It drives back to the word ‘Serpent’ in the Old Testament. Let me give you an example. If you look at the word ‘Serpent’ in the Old Testament in the Garden of Genesis, it can mean dragon, it can mean light, and it can mean accuser.
Then, when you look at Satan as he plays out into the New Testament in Revelation 12:10, he’s called the ‘Accuser of the brother’. What that means is Satan wants to take your past and put it on you to immobilize you from living in the future with Jesus. Satan wants you to define yourself by the things that you lived in in the past so that you wear that guilt on you and you don’t live in your newness of relationship with Jesus today and into the future. Jesus however wants to put His righteousness on you so that when God sees you, He sees the beauty of who Christ is. Satan, he’s the accuser of the brother.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14, he’s called an ‘Angel of light’, which means he wants to give the appearance of goodness, but deny who God is, so no problem with half truths. He just doesn’t want you to hold the full truth because that’s where the power is possessed, so he’ll let you be good all day, as along as he doesn’t connect to God, and so he gives his appearance as an angel of light, which is of deception. Then, he’s called in Revelation, he’s also the ‘Dragon’, and so we see all those mentalities resting in Satan. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8 tells you he is a lion seeking to devour you. It’s like Peter is saying, “Just for a moment, consider how serious the spiritual warfare is that’s taking place and the lions around us.”
Even in your own life. Even in your own life, there’s a battle taking place. When you think about what Daniel is going through, Daniel is thinking about a people group of which are experiencing this hardship, but even in your own life, it gets that specific. Right? What happens if we neglect the spiritual part of life when we only address the physical?
What happens is we only address surface level issues and we never get deeper to the problem. Within any of us, there could be this war raging as it relates to anger, or anxiety, or fear, or addictions, or lust, or greed. I want us to know there is a problem if God’s people fall short by only addressing the immediate physical need, because what God has created His church for is not just to look at the temporal, the physical that we live life in it, but to understand there is so much more of which God is orchestrating together, and this angel is now explaining to Daniel, just pointing back the spiritual realm. We all face spiritual battles, but unfortunately, human tendency is to just answer them humanly, but the gospel, Biblical gospel is the means to the power of the spirit. What I mean is like when you read the Book of Romans, Book of Romans is the gospel, and when Paul starts to lay out the thesis of that book.
I think he says in Romans 1:17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Why? Because it is the power of God and to salvation. The word ‘Power’ is literally the dynamite. It’s like saying to us when we talk about the spiritual realm, if you feel helpless, you feel powerless, you don’t know how this connects. The answers begins and ends in our lives through the gospel.
When we think about in Christian circles, when we think about living the gospel, this is forever the fault of maybe modern Christianity is that we say it like this. This is how we present it. We’ll say, “The gospel is how you get saved, so come to Jesus and get saved. Now, you trust in Jesus. Now, the rest is all up to you”, but the gospel doesn’t just transform your life the moment you trust in Jesus.
The gospel is all about transforming your life every moment of every day in Jesus. It’s like the same thing that saved my life is the same thing that gives me the strength to continue in life in Christ in this world. It’s not something I just embrace once and leave by. It’s something that renews me every day. Every day, when I wake up, I take off the self-righteousness of Nathaniel.
At least I should. There are some days, I put that sucker back on, but every day, I should take that off of me and say, “Lord, this is me being renewed in you, being rescued by you. Now, existing in this world for you, but how can you shine that through me?”, and so the gospel isn’t just a piece of my life. It’s every part of my life. Let me just show you how it connects to the encounters of the world around us.
For example, you might experience in life at some point, or maybe this has been you, a young lady that struggles with her identity and worth apart from her body. In the physical world, the answer is just to simply say, “Oh no. You’re pretty. Don’t worry about it. You’re pretty.” Right?
This identity that she’s looking for, but the question really is deeper than the external, and because it’s driving to theme of, “Where do you even find your worth?”, or “Why do you exist?” Simply just saying to someone that struggles with beauty, “Oh no. You’re pretty”, is just to pacify the answer in a physical realm, but when you understand the context of the gospel, the identity of who a human being is, being created in the image of God and being pursued for relationship with God to the point that God would become flesh and give His life for someone, that’s saying to us that the value of that human being is far exceeding the external circumstances for which we’re trying to tell them they’re beautiful, and you’re beautiful, but the depth of your beauty is far richer than just the external, that God has created you in the beauty of who you are, being redeemed by Christ to experience that relationship with Him for all of eternity, to simply just stop, but the physical is to separate ourselves from the reason for which we exist and the point of which that I think the angel is pulling back the spiritual realm so that we can get a grasp within our minds that there’s more at play in life than just the physical, or maybe a young man uses his strength to destroy rather than to construct and build because he doesn’t understand God made him strong for a reason, and how it fits into the purpose of his existence, and if his heart isn’t redeemed, he will only glorify himself and use his strength to take advantage of others. He needs an identity. God make you for you, that God make you for Him.
If He made you for Him, then how does your strength fit into the glory of the [inaudible 00:31:51], which He wants to achieve within your life as you know Him personally? It ties to the gospel. I mean, it’s practical as, even in the political realm, which seems to be all over the news these days. A leader, a political leader who rather than learning to rob people with gun, robs people with pen. It’s still wrong. Right?
It’s not just political leaders. I mean, it could be poor people, like when you got $2 and you spend four, you got problems, but there’s something about understanding that whatever you try to take in this life to recognize, it doesn’t ultimately belong to you, rather than you’re a steward of it and responsible for the way in which you use it because everything created ultimately belongs to God, and He’s culminating all things in Him, and seeing how that connects to your relationship with God, which is the gospel defines the way you live out the things in your life. Right? What do you do with what you have? Is it yours?
Only Jesus can say that. Okay? Rather, the prayer becomes, “God, I’m a steward of the things that you’ve given me. How can I leverage this for Your glory?”, because God is bringing His hand of redemption into this world. It’s a part of the gospel. Paul says it like this, Ephesians 6.
I like how he starts this on. I feel like I had time to write it all to you, but I’m just going to read it. It says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.” It’s saying you really don’t have the strength to do anything in the spiritual realm, but in the Lord, you do. Then, he says this great word. He says, Ephesians 6:12. Look at this, guys.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” I like that. God is not about us beating up on people just to get them to do what we want. It’s not about modifying behavior. It’s about transforming lives, so it says it’s our struggle. It’s not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and against the powers, and against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness and the heavenly places.
Paul is saying, “What is actually taking place in this world?” Did you see it physically pointing out? It’s a revelation of what rests in the heart of man, which is being influenced by a spiritual realm, and the only thing that sets us free from that is the truth of who God is and the power that’s possessed in that truth is carried by God’s people, and so when we jut address the physical realm and we just declare someone wrong because they did something that we didn’t like, it’s a disservice to the world, because the heart of everything that we represent in life is the gospel, and that is what transforms, not to modify your behavior. Paul is saying this, “Don’t use truth to beat people up.” Yes, we’re accountable for things we do, but it’s to understand that there’s something deeper taking place.
Mom, dad, I think that even affects down to our parenting. It’s not just about getting your kid to fall in line. It’s about speaking to their heart, understanding who they are and why they exist, and helping them mature in the image of Christ. Just modify the behavior. You can win the battle, but you’ll lose the war, because if all we are as a church is just about going in and just speaking against social injustices and telling people why they’re wrong, we do a disservice to this world. There’s something deeper at rest.
In fact, when we get to chapter 12, you’re going to see that this is a spiritual life of eternity. This is life and death forever before God. The message you carry is that of freedom, to experience it now and forever. Paul then says it like this. He says, “Lets put on the armor of God.”
He says, “Therefore, take on the full armor of God.” He thinks about a Roman soldier and he describes the spiritual life connection that he says, “To resist in the evil day and having done everything to stand firm.” He’s saying, “Look, guys. In this spiritual realm, even the war that wages within you, there’s always this place of trying to influence you to compromise, to make light of the gospel or to qualify”, like it means some sort of explanation. Look.
Let me just say, I don’t want to be offensive in this world. I want to love people deeply. We say this as a church. We want to love the hell out of people, because we understand that they’re created in the image of God and how valuable they are. We don’t want to be a stumbling block in any way, but this, the gospel.
The gospel in itself is stumbling. Sure, we want to find different ways to connect it within our culture, but we don’t want to qualify it to death, like make some kind of excuse. I heard this guy on TV. He was basically … He was a Biblical teacher.
At least he said he was, but he wasn’t teaching the Bible, but they asked him, “If you encountered this type of person”, which I’m not going to get into who it was, but they’re like, “If you encountered this type of person, would you say that what they’re doing is right or wrong?” He just says, “I’d simply want to get to know them first, which if I could just speak into the TV, I would just say to them on a sudden moment, “The man’s full of garbage. He is full of garbage. There is no way he gets up on a Sunday and tries to teach people and just says, “You know guys, I want to share the truth with you, but I can’t. I’ve got to get to know you first.”
No. There’s a piece of the gospel, it’s like it says to us, “This is what liberates. This is what sets you free.” There’s a reason Jesus came in Matthew 14, it says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. There is no way to the Father, but through me.” There’s exclusivity there.
To undermine what Jesus did on the cross is just to blasphemy against God. If there were another way, Jesus would not have taken the cross, and so you don’t want to underplay that, but just to share it, and in all honesty, share how it’s liberated you. Then, my identity outside of Jesus, like if you go back into my past and you ask people high school and collage, “What was Nathaniel like?”, they’d be like, “If you think about the pastoral position he holds now, and I told you, “Give me a list of all the jobs he would have in the future”, that would probably be the last one. He would probably be better at carrying the position of devil himself before [inaudible 00:38:29]. Jesus transformed my life, so there’s something about standing there.
Let me just encourage you, don’t compromise, and the way you display Jesus in this world communicates about really who you think Jesus is, and you have different platforms in this life to demonstrate that, social media, and people look at that. Is it Jesus or is it humanism? Verse 14, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” The truth is the foundation that sets us free, and the Bible tells us, “Have him put in the breast plate of righteousness.” If you think about the breast plate, it protects your internal organs.
That’s what you want to preserve in order to sustain life. The way I’m getting life on this world is not because God’s looking at me and saying, “He’s pretty good.” It’s because when God sees me, He sees Jesus, and so in verse 15, the having your, “Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”, the idea of peace which is reconciliation to God, like not only you experiencing that righteousness, but you go into this world to go beyond the physical, to let other people see how the can be transformed in their lives, taking up the shield of faith, and walk and trust in Christ because the evil one is throwing these flaming arrows towards you. It says to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, and the helmet of salvation, which is protecting your mind in Christ and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, the sword being the only offensive weapon here. When we talk about doing spiritual battle, there is a way to build yourself up.
Then, it goes on and says actually, “Pray in boldness” in the next verse. There is a way to build yourself up. You don’t attack spiritual with physical. You attack it with Jesus. You find shelter in Jesus, what He’s done for you.
Let me just show you this as a way of illustrating, and then we’ll tie it to a conclusion. Chapter 11 really quick. Here we go. Chapter 11 verse 21 is where an interesting phrase starts. I’m going to reach you to the point of how we get to verse 21.
When you get to chapter 11, what you actually see is chapter 11 is a prophetic vision about the Persians and the Greeks. Same thing in chapter eight, Persians and the Greeks. What the angel does is it tells Daniel how this is going to work out, and he says to Daniel, “There’s going to be four more Persian kings”. Then, in verse two, he talks about three of them. Verse three, he talks about one more.
Then, in verse three, a Greek king will arise, and on verse four, that kingdom is going to be split in four. Then, verse five to verse 20, when that kingdom is split in four among the Greeks, they’re going to war, especially the north and the south, and caught in the middle between the north and the south are those in the Promise Land, God’s people. That war goes back and forth, until in verse 21, Antiochus comes, and we’ve talked about Antiochus before, and we talked about Hanukkah if you were a part of that. If you want to go listen to the stories about Antiochus, get back in this in the Hanukkah series, but he talks about Antiochus, and Antiochus comes in and commits what’s called the ‘Abomination of desolation’. He goes in the temple of the Jews, and he desecrates it.
If you want to historically read about that account, you can read first and second Maccabees, two books written during this time period in which Jews are slaughtered. 80,000 at one time in one day. It says this in verse 21, “In his place”, talking about this ruler that goes, “A despicable person, who was Antiochus, will arise, on whom the honor of kingship has not been conferred”, so Antiochus wasn’t necessarily the next in line, but he gets the kingship, “But he will come in a time of tranquility and seize the kingdom by intrigue.” In verse 31 though, “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary of the temple fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifices, and they will set up the abomination of desolation.” Now, here’s what’s interesting as the story unfolds, is when you start to read verse 36, verse 40, scholars look at this and they say, “I don’t think this is talking about Antiochus anymore because it’s not talking about anything that Antiochus did in his life.”
They can see Antiochus definitely in the story, but then all of a sudden, it seems to be talking about another figure. A future figure. An anti-Christ, and so what Daniel is seeing happen here is the physical realm tying into the spiritual. The Bible has a precedent for this, like if you read Isaiah 14, talking about a king in Babylon. In that same chapter, Isaiah 14, talking about the king of Babylon.
It’s also a description of Satan. Ezekiel 28 talking about the ruler of Tyre. Its’ also a description of Satan, and here in Daniel 11:4, he’s talking about Antiochus. It’s also it becomes a picture of the anti-Christ. Jesus in fact coached from this in Matthew 24:15, saying this isn’t the future, but the point is is that God is illustrating to Daniel how this physical realm doesn’t just end with the physical if there’s some spiritual happening. He goes like this.
“At the end of time, the king in the south will collide with him. The king in the north will storm against him, with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships, and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. He will also enter the beautiful land, which is where the Jews are, and many countries will fall, but these wouldn’t be rescued out of his hand. Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon.” The interesting thing about Edom, Moab and Ammon is that Moab wasn’t even a civilization at this point or at least to recognize one.
They were people from that people group that they had no rulership, but what it’s actually saying is that is that the ones that are going to be spared under this ruler are the enemies of God, and they’re all turning against God’s people. In verse 45, “This ruler will pitch his tent of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain, yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.” What it’s saying here is Antiochus didn’t die this way. This is not where he met his end, but this is why they’re saying that this probably isn’t talking about him, but what it is actually painting a picture of is the battle of Armageddon. If you remember, I showed you not too long and we talked about Armageddon, that it’s a battle in front of the hill, and the only thing that separated this hill from the sea was this piece of land, and so it looks like this figure standing between this mountain and the sea, and which is known as an area to dominate if you’re going to be a world leader, and so, this is where he meets his demise, and this is where the story all collides, chapter 12, where we’re going to talk more about next week, but this is what God says.
He’s driving all to this point. “And there will be a time of distress, such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time, and at that time, your people, everyone who is found written in the book will be rescued, many those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Let me just say this is where the angel sing to Daniel. Daniel, take the spiritual realm serious.
There is an eternity at stake, and who better to encourage people to life than you. Who better to wage that war than God’s people. In verse three, he describes “Those who have insight will shine brightly, and those who lead the many to righteousness like the stars forever.” In verse two, he says, “The destruction in those that destroy God will deal with”, but what God’s looking for you is this eternal scope. What this does is it puts things in perspective, because when there’s a spiritual realm and it looks dangerous to you, you can cower in fear, but when you know how the battle ends up, you can walk in victory.
Now, for some of you, this illustration I’m about to show you may not drive at home, but for kid in the ’80s, this is the best picture in life. Right? Let me tell you why. Back when I was eight years old, I had a Nintendo. You look forward to World three, level one in Mario, because you knew right before you could climb the stairs to grab the flag to celebrate your victory of that level, right before the end, there was this turtle that would go down the steps, and if you could time your jump just right and land on that turtle, you could repeatedly jump on that turtle until you received infinite lives.
Some of you are like, “I know what you’re talking about.” Right? Most of you are like, “I hate video games”, but that’s okay. Just follow me here. All right? Here’s the point.
In all of this Mario, turtle jumping for infinite lives, fighting that went on, if you could get to this point where you could get infinite lives, you knew the princess was as good as rescued from the Bowser before you even got to level eight. In level three, when your life was secured there, you knew the end of the story. You jut had to play it out, and so from that point forward, it didn’t matter if a little shrub from a pie came up and ate me. It didn’t matter if a fish underwater tapped me and die. It didn’t matter if I fell in a hole.
Eventually, I knew if I just kept playing, but I was going to get to the end, and the princess would be mine, and the Bowser would be dead, and in 1980, whatever, when I lived in Chesapeake, Ohio, I was a little kid, and I had that moment where I landed on that turtle, and I knew infinite lives were mine, everyone in that house heard the victory. Right? It took me until two in the morning until I got to the end, but when I got to the end, everyone that slept under our roof was awake, and they celebrated with me. I found this level of tenacity within me at that moment I didn’t realized I had, but the next day when I woke up, I had a double victory. I stayed up so late playing this game.
My mom didn’t send me to school because the next day, I woke up with what looked like chicken pox, but it turned out, it was just hives from the excitement of winning this video game. What I’m saying is for some of you, this might connect or not, but when you think about eternity, what the Bible is driving to in Daniel 12 is to say, “The victory is already on your side”, that resting in yourself, yes, you have no power, but when you know the princess is yours and the Bowser is going to go down, when you get to level eight, who cares, because the victory belongs to you. The church, early church lives there, but when you go read 1st Century Council, the early church of … The quote is from, I think it was Tertullian, where it says, “The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed.” They faced death so bravely, that the comments, their persecutors, the comment of the persecutors repetitiously made was to say, “These guys lived their lives as if they’re immortal, like they don’t think they’re going to die”, and the reality is they didn’t.
In fact, John Newton was the slave trader that wrote ‘Amazon Grace’, the last words that he’s known to utter in this life was, “I’m leaving the land of the dying to go to the land of the living.” Quite honestly, if your faith is in Jesus, you really haven’t even started to live yet. Jesus Himself in the last moments with His disciples said this. “In the world you face, you will experience persecution, but take courage. I have overcome the world.”
Meaning, infinite lives of Mario is yours. “Don’t be worried. Don’t be afraid when you’re underwater or facing that pot of plant, fireballs or not, whatever.” Jesus has the victory. Where is that victory rest? It’s the gospel, because we’re not about modifying behavior.
I want to experience transformation in Christ. That message of God’s redemption for you is it, and when you shy away from it, you move away from the power that changes this world. Jesus came not only to redeem your heart, not only to give you victory, but for you to celebrate that victory, and to share that victory, and to let other people embrace Christ in that victory. If you’re here this morning, you’re wondering what that is, let me just tell you, God created you for Him. God made you for relationship.
Let me give you the bad news. You don’t have it. No one’s belonged with it, and the reason is is because sins separate you. God’s holy, and you’re not. God’s perfect, and you’re not, and men have made feeble attempts to try to reconcile that, and we call that ‘Religion’, where you do good to try to earn God’s favor, but it’s impossible because there’s nothing you can do to ever remove your wrong.
There’s nothing you can do to ever take away the sin that you’ve brought against the Holy God. Nothing, but here’s the great news. Jesus still loves you. Jesus created you for a purpose, and Jesus wants you to know Him for eternity. Jesus wants you to wrap your identity in Him and to know the worth that He has placed on you, and God wants you to enjoy that, your relationship with eternity for eternity with Him.
That’s what makes heaven heaven. It’s not the location. It’s His presence, living in His grace forever. Heaven is next to Jesus forever, and so Jesus came to this world and Jesus took on your sin, and Jesus died for you that you can be reconciled to Him, and find your identity in the one who created you for His purpose anyway. God gave His life for you not so that we can make light of it, but that we could embrace it, that we could come to Him and say, “Jesus, I am a sinner.”
My religion is not going to save me. My good works won’t save me because I don’t have the power to take away my sin, but You do, and You forgave me, and You made me new, and every day, every day, I get to wake up and live in that, that in my failures, God still sees Christ’s righteousness, and when I feel like I’ve blown it, God gives me opportunity to lift my head on high and still live for His glory, to know Him and to enjoy Him. That is the gospel. When you go into the brokenness of this world church, don’t stop at the modification of behavior, but to clear the freedom that we have in Jesus because He makes all things new every day.