If you “grew up in the church,” some of the events in the book of Daniel are very familiar, like the Lions’ Den and the Fiery Furnace. You may even remember how Daniel and his friends refused the king’s food or the disembodied handwriting on the wall. In those later chapters, we find prophecies that we can see fulfilled as we study ancient history. As a homeschool mom, I enjoy studying the timeline of ancient history while reading the prophecies of Daniel. This demonstrates that the Bible is more than a collection of writings but a true story!
I deeply studied the book of Daniel for the first time as an adult, with a group of ladies from our military congregation in Germany. During this study, I learned much more than the “kids’ stories” and more about the God Daniel served – the God I serve. In chapter nine, Daniel is praying on behalf of the Israelites due to a vision he received. He confesses the unfaithfulness of the nation and acknowledges responsibility for their captivity, without excusing himself. He and his friends pray, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” (9:18). Then, WHILE he was still praying, Gabriel shows up IN PERSON with God’s answer! (verse 21). Gabriel comforts Daniel and answers his petition, “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved!” (verse 23).
In chapter ten, we are given insight into the behind-the-scenes work of the spiritual realm. Gabriel tells Daniel that “from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, you words have been heard, and I have come because your words.” (10:12). He goes on to say that a prince of Persia (a demon) stood between him and Daniel for twenty-one days. Another angel, Michael, came to help Gabriel fight. Then Gabriel reveals the meaning of the vision and all that is to come all the way up to the Messiah and the fall of Rome!
Daniel learned and shared the same message Paul would share almost 600 years later: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
How do we fight such a battle? Fortunately, the Bible isn’t merely a collection of books. The Bible is both a love letter from the Creator to His creation AND an instruction manual for life on earth.
- PRAY! Prayer ought to be our first response in all situations, not the last resort. We should not say when asked what we need, “just prayers.” Prayer is the best course of action. (Ephesians 6:18).
- ARMOR UP! We wouldn’t walk into a blizzard wearing a swimsuit, nor should we hike up a mountain in flip-flops. In Germany, an expression loosely translates as, “There is no bad weather, only wrong clothing.” The same is true for our spiritual life. We must put on the armor of God before we go into battle (Ephesians 6:13-17).
- FOCUS! Our attention determines our direction. If we focus only on the negative and what could go wrong, that is what we will see. When we focus on possibilities and opportunities, there is no end to what we can accomplish. (Hebrews 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:18)