As a special consolation, Daniel is told that he does not have to be afraid. The words “do not be afraid” have been a great encouragement to many believers in difficult circumstances over the centuries. It seems that Daniel has become afraid that his prayer would not be heard. This can be deduced from the word “for” that follows. It took a long time before an answer was received.
But his fear is unfounded, “for” he is told now, his prayer has come before God from the first day. It also brought God directly to action, for He sent an angel to respond to Daniel’s words. The fact that it took so long to get an answer does not mean that God would not have heard his prayer or would not want to answer it.
What is said here to Daniel may also encourage us with regard to our prayers. We may know that our prayers are heard by God at the same time we say them. Even if we have to wait for an answer, we may know that our prayer has ‘arrived’ with God and is given full attention by Him.
If we have to wait, that is an incentive to persistently pray for a matter. At the same time we may know that from the very first time we prayed for a matter, God is busy answering us. The delay in the answer is a test of our faith and tests our perseverance in trusting Him. If the matter for which we pray really occupies our hearts, we will take the word to heart: “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5:1717pray without ceasing;).
Before the angel tells the answer that he is coming to bring to Daniel, the angel lifts the veil of an event in the invisible world. What he says about this is unique and extremely instructive for us. This gives us insight into the struggles that are being waged in the heavenly places. Here we look behind the veil. Through what the angel says, it becomes clear that behind the earthly powers lie spiritual powers. It is as if Paul speaks to us about the real power we have to deal with. That is not flesh and blood, but these are the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this darkness, the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly realms, so not on earth, but in the air (Eph 6:1212For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].).
Every war on earth is the result of an agreement in the invisible world between devilish powers. In the invisible world, there are no distinctions between rival parties. The force ratios in the world, for example, between east and west, are not determined by the parties or countries on earth, but in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there are no contradictions among the powers of darkness, there is no struggle, but complete demonic unity. The dark powers work together to destroy mankind, focusing above all on God’s people.
The prince of the kingdom of Persia is not the earthly prince, but an angelic prince. An earthly prince could never resist an angel on his way with a message from God to one of His own. Demonic princes, however, are so powerful that they are even able to stop an angel of God for so long. This demonic prince, who especially influences the kingdom of Persia, is so powerful that the archangel Michael must be involved. Michael is the prince of Israel. In verse 2121However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these [forces] except Michael your prince. Daniel is told that Michael is “your prince”. The people of God have their own angel. Michael is here called “one of the chief princes” and in the last chapter he is called “the great prince” (Dan 12:11“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands [guard] over the sons of your people, will arise. 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.).
We know that angels are used by God in a special way for the protection of His own (Heb 1:1414Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?). Here we further learn that they are the executers of the will of God in His provident actions with people. They communicate to people what God tells them. We also see here that chosen angels help each other in their fight against the apostate angels. Michael was sent to help the angel who was sent to Daniel. This one was stopped by the angelic prince of Persia, which made it impossible for him to carry out his mission. He stayed behind and stood before other angelic princes who had Persia under their sphere of influence. These evil powers were concerned with boycotting God’s work in Persia.