Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Slight But Necessary Detour: Daniel 10

The Bible is very clear about the unseen world.   These days, we scratch our heads and wonder, "What is going on?"  Insanity, illogical thinking, rage, violence and just plain unkindness is the order of the day.  Left or right, liberal or conservative, young or old:  we all sense a level of insanity that is disturbing.  People look for all kinds of reasons.  It's gotta be the:

Deep State
Supreme Court
News media

The list goes on and on.  We humans are extremely talented at pointing the finger at everyone but ourselves; this started all the way back in the Garden of Eden.  After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed God for giving him Eve and then blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent was eerily quiet.  

The moment sin entered the planet, we have not taken responsibility for our sin and the consequences of it.  

Now, you may think I am letting people off the hook by focusing on the unseen world.  No. Far from it.  This blog series ("Stronghold Starters") is dedicated to how we allow ourselves to be used by the unseen world with our attitudes.  We host the attitudes; evil then hosts us.  But we open the door.   

The unseen world is active and influential, according to Ephesians 6:12: "For 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."  

So, the magnitude of the struggle is much larger than just "those people."  

Paul squarely looks at us and then the unseen world:  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Eph. 2:1-5)

Boom.  There it is.  We have a role (following and gratifying our sin nature) and we are also used to achieve a larger agenda for the unseen world.  What is that agenda?  It is our destruction.  Satan doesn't care how you get there...drugs, alcohol, war, suicide, mass murder...whatever puts you six feet under, dirt dead.  

You live without hope--no faith in Jesus, just despair and anger over how things are and a feeling of powerlessness to change it.  

You die without hope--no faith in Jesus, just an eternity without God.  God doesn't send us to Hell--we choose to live without Him here and thus we choose to live without Him in eternity. 

But, every now and then, the Bible draws back the curtain on the unseen world. Daniel, chapter 10, is such a place. Quick summary: Daniel has a vision of war to come and its great hardships. He has been fasting and mourning for three weeks. He then sees a beautifully dressed man on the other side of the river where he is standing, and he is overwhelmed by what he is seeing. 

A gently hand touches him and says, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (Daniel 10:12-14)

What a minute.  Who is this "prince"?  Isn't he a human ruler over the people?  No, because Michael, an angel, (chief prince) comes to his aid.  The "prince" is Heaven's enemy in the unseen realms and Michael is a prince sent to contend with the one who rules over Persia. 

Do you see my point?  Behind the human agent, is an unseen agent who uses, manipulates and then destroys the human agent.  The evil work gets done.  Does that mean that every evil act is from the unseen realm, and we are merely puppets?  No.

We are more than capable of doing harm to ourselves and to one another.  But:  There have been times in history where evil has been unleashed in a way that astonishes even us. 

In the 20th century, more than 100 million people died in genocides.   People were shocked at the depravity and numbers of dead in:

The Armenian genocide
The rape of Nanking, China
The Holocaust
China under Mao
The USSR under Stalin
Cambodia under Pol Pot
The Congo

Recently, we are appalled at young people going into schools with guns and mowing down their fellow students and teachers.  People throwing bombs into nightclubs.  A man mowing down concert-goers.  

The unseen world is on the march.  The New Testament calls this a "war" in the heavenly realms--not a one-off,  an occasional horror or a tragedy.  War is merciless and this one we are undergoing is no different.  

We can vote people in and out of the White House; we can protest; we can make our disgust known and we can be adamant that what we are seeing is wrong.  So be it. 

But it is bigger than that.  Jesus, who was in a world filled with violence, abuse, war and depravity (the Roman world was not a nice place to be) said to His followers, who would all face persecution and violent death in the future because of that Roman government: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Peace. Hope. Purpose.  That is what He offered them.  This is what He offers us.  

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