For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Paul, in Ephesians 6:12
At one point, Daniel prayed and sought God for three weeks before an answer from heaven came to him. When that answer came, it came in the form of a visit from an angel. None of us would have expected or even believed what the angel said to Daniel if it were not plainly written in the Bible. He told Daniel that he had been sent to him when Daniel first began praying, but that he had been prevented from arriving for three weeks by an evil spirit. He even identified the evil spirit, calling him “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”. Moreover, he was only able to overcome that spirit’s opposition and finally come to Daniel only with the aid of the great archangel, Michael:
2. In those days, I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
3. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, until three whole weeks were fulfilled.
4. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel,
5. I lifted up my eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz.
6. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
7. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision. The men who were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
8. Therefore I was left alone, and I saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me, for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
9. Yet, I heard the voice of his words, and when I heard the voice of his words, then I was in a deep sleep on my face, and my face was toward the ground.
10. And, behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
11. And he said unto me, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto you, and stand upright, for unto you am I now sent.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling.
12. Then said he unto me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come because of your words.
13. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days. But, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”
There are two unexpected but wonderful lessons we may learn from what the angel told Daniel.
Lesson #1: Nations Have Spirits
We know from experience that individual humans have different spirits. One man may have a spirit of covetousness, another man may have a spirit of lustfulness, etc. An astonishing fact of life in the world of spirits that we learn from the angel is that nations, too, may have spirits. Individual nations have specific evil spirits attached to them, apparently giving them their distinctive characteristics. The angel called the spirit attached to the Persian Empire, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”. I assume that the prince of that empire gave some sort of aid to the Persian leaders, perhaps increasing their strength and wisdom.
This idea of nations having specific evil spirits over them seems to be confirmed a few verses later in Daniel 10, when the heavenly messenger tells Daniel that he must leave to do battle with the prince of Persia and that, after he leaves, the prince of the Greek nation will come:
20. Then said he, “. . . And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia, and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Greece shall come.”
This was not a human prince any more than the prince of the Persians was a human prince. Human princes could not have prevented an angel of God from coming to Daniel. This was a spiritual being that was given charge over the Greek nation, to increase the strength and wisdom of the Greeks.
Moreover, the angel revealed to Daniel that there was a “prince” of the Jewish nation! And he told Daniel that the prince’s name was Michael:
21. But I will show you that which is noted in the scripture of truth. And there is none that holds with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
Was this heavenly messenger saying here that no spiritual prince of any nation of earth held to the truth except Michael, the prince of the nation of Israel? That would certainly make biblical sense, for no other nation on earth had a connection with God such as Israel had. In the end of this age, all the nations of earth will be inspired by their princes to follow the beast and gather as one army to do battle with Israel, to try to destroy that tiny, lonely nation (Zech. 14:2; Rev. 16:13-16).
In the last chapter of Daniel, the angel told Daniel that Michael would play a role in the events of the last days, and he described Michael as “the great prince who stands up for the children of your people . . . and then, your people will be delivered” (12:1).
It appears that Michael alone, of all the mighty angels given power over the nations, held to the truth. This would explain why Michael and the angels under him were granted the very great privilege of fighting against Satan and his angels, and of casting them out of heaven after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the Father:
7. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels warring against the dragon, and the dragon waging war, and his angels,
8. but he did not prevail, neither was there place found for him in heaven any longer.
9. And the great dragon also was cast down, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil, and Satan, who deceives the entire world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Lesson #2: Rulers
It is impossible to believe that only the nations of Persia, Greece, and Israel had an angel that was their “prince”, or ruler. The kingdom that preceded the Persians, the Babylonian Empire, would have had a demonic “prince” over it, and the Roman Empire which came after the Greeks would also have had its spiritual guardian and guide. I suspect that every nation on earth has a wicked spiritual ruler, including the United States, and that under each of those invisible national rulers are other evil powers which are over provinces and states, and over counties, parishes, and perhaps even over towns.
Jesus did not argue with the devil when he told Jesus that power over all the nations of the world had been handed over to him (Lk. 4:6). Paul himself called Satan “the god of this world” (2Cor. 4:4), and so it seems obvious that Satan rules over the angels who are “princes” of the nations. Jesus mentioned “the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:41) when he spoke of the everlasting fire that is prepared for them, and he also said that Satan’s kingdom was not divided (Mt. 12:25-26). In other words, Satan’s kingdom is well-organized, and its rulers, from the highest to the lowest rank, work together as a disciplined unit.
There are, as Paul said, “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). But what we may glean from the angel’s words who came from heaven and spoke with Daniel is that there is order in the realm of angels and demons. That is, there are angels who rule over other angels, and there are demons who rule over other demons. Michael is called an archangel by the apostle Jude (1:9). The Greek word “arch” means “chief” or “ruler”, which is more evidence that Michael ruled over some other angels. Satan is a cherub, and he is also said to have angels over which he rules.
It is the privilege of the nation of saints no longer to be ruled over by the “spirits of this age”. Those who have been “born again” are citizens of a heavenly country. They are free to live according to “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. For them, there is no longer any fallen angel governing them, for although they are still in fleshly bodies, they no longer live after the flesh but after the Spirit. Jesus said that the children of God are even free from the obligation to pay taxes to earthly governments; though, for the sake of sinners who may be looking for the truth, they should do so (Mt. 17:25-27).
25. And when [Simon Peter] came into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take customs or poll-tax? From their children or from strangers?”
26. Peter said to him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Well, then, the children are free.
27. But, so that we be no stumbling block to them, you go to the sea, cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you’ve opened its mouth, you’ll find a stater; take that and give it to them for me and for you.”
For the children of God, there is but one mediator between God and them, “the man, Jesus Christ” (1Tim. 2:5). The nations are still held in the grip of demon overlords, but those who believe are delivered from them all, and they will replace those angels when our Lord returns and will reign over the nations with Christ a thousand years:
4. Then, I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was granted to them. And I saw the souls of those who were beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the Beast or his image and had not received the mark upon their forehead or their hand, and they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Jesus taught that, in the resurrection, some saints will be given greater authority than others (Lk. 19:12-26), according to the ability of each one. Also in the resurrection, some saints will be ruling over other saints, just as it is now among God’s people in this present life (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). Even on the new earth, after this heaven and this earth are destroyed, there will be some (Paul, Daniel, Noah, and others) who will be made kings, to reign over certain parts of that blessed world (Rev. 21:24).
Paul told the saints in Corinth that when Christ returns, the saints of God would be given authority to judge both the world and angels (1Cor. 6:2-3). During the thousand-year reign, we will judge the world, and on the new earth, we will judge the world and angels. In this life, man was “made a little lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:6-7), but in the life to come, we will reign over all creation as “joint-heirs with Christ” who is the king of angels and of everyone else, except the Father.
May God grant us the wisdom to learn of His kingdom now, and to grow in grace and the knowledge of God so that we might be found worthy to reign with Christ forever.