Chapter 4

Spiritual Warfare

From the booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last!
By Gerald Flurry

While most of the book of Daniel is recorded prophecy for our time today, there are some passages that give us insight into Daniel himself and the task God set before him. Daniel 9 and 10 are good examples. Let’s consider Daniel and the spiritual war he waged against satanic forces.

“In the first year of his reign [Darius the king] I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2). Daniel understood by books. He studied hard and was brilliant because of it. God wants us to bear down like Daniel and understand what these prophecies are all about. That means putting in diligent, earnest study. God is making us study hard to really get it!

“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (verse 3). Daniel prayed and fasted—and he was doing it with a humble attitude. This is how Daniel prepared to receive the revelation—he got himself totally out of the way. And so God opened his mind and gave him what he needed to know.

“And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (verse 4). Here Daniel begins praying to God. And notice, he understood that loving God revolved around keeping His commandments.

Continuing with Daniel’s prayer: “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments” (verse 5). Do you see how Daniel approached God? He said we. His people had departed from God’s precepts and judgments. Although Daniel himself had not forsaken God, he knew his people had. The Revised Standard Version says they “turned aside.” These people turned aside from God’s commandments and judgments. That in itself implies that they turned aside from someone who had been teaching God’s law in this end time—someone who had made just judgments. (The word judgments in verse 5 means decisions, based on God’s law, which are binding.)

Daniel is talking about a covenant, the commandments and God’s government. If we are to do a powerful work, someone has to make judgments when God opens doors. That requires authority. The Philadelphia Church of God produces so much fruit because we have God’s government! Going through open doors requires judgment from someone with the authority to make decisions. You cannot build a house for God without His government. Without one man at the top with full authority, it will fail 100 percent of the time. This is so important because if we do not get this government right, we will not rule this Earth!

This verse in Daniel tells us what happened to God’s Church in this end time. Mr. Armstrong’s judgments are legally binding on us. God condemns His Church for “departing” from “judgments” made by His apostle. Now if Mr. Armstrong wanted Mystery of the Ages to reach the largest audience possible, is that judgment legally binding on God’s people today? Remember, the daily is also translated as the “continual.” Aren’t we bound to continue doing what the end-time type of Elijah wanted done? God gave the message to Mr. Armstrong, who then gave it to the people. That’s why there was so much fruit.

Of course, there are risks when one man is in authority. But there is no risk at all when Christ leads that man. God has given us a beautiful form of government. All we have to do is hold on to the Head. Christ will take care of us.

Other Laodicean groups are trying to justify a government that is not God’s. One Laodicean even said that the Church of God must structure itself, since Jesus did not teach His disciples how to structure the government in the Church.

He didn’t?

We must understand this! We are about to rule the world. Unless the government is right, nothing is right! Our whole life is hanging in the balance. If we follow God, we’re in good hands. He has given us everything. We don’t have to guess.

Getting God Renown

Daniel loved his family enough to cry out to God, “We have sinned.” Daniel had so much depth! That’s because he had God’s love.

We cannot let our love become shallow. We are Christ’s Bride. And some of the members of that Body have turned away from their Husband. Then there are those in the world, all of whom have the potential to be born into God’s Family as children. Are we motivated to reach God’s Family—even those who are only potential members of that Family? Jesus Christ died for all humanity. Is there that much depth to our love?

Daniel’s prayer continues in Daniel 9:6: “Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.” The problem with the Laodiceans is that they refuse to hearken to God’s message and accept His government. Their problem is not in finding it. They just won’t accept it.

“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee” (verse 7). It takes humility to listen to what Christ is teaching. Laodiceans do not have that. They trespass against God—they have betrayed Him (see also verse 9).

“Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets” (verse 10). God placed His law before them. He made a covenant with them. So these rebellious people are condemning themselves. They ought to know the very things they reason around.

In verses 11-14, you will notice more of the same technical, legal terminology. They have transgressed the law of God. And so God pours curses upon them. All of these prophecies are coming to pass.

Notice verse 15: “And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.” There was a time when the Church really got God a lot of renown. Now, since so many have committed treacherous acts against God, our job is to get renown for God. If we do not, we are condemned by our own history. God brought us out of Egypt. What is there in this world that could ever lead us back into captivity? That’s all Satan wants—for us to turn back. We have to remember who brought us out of bondage. That’s our history. We owe our lives to God. Never forget that we were brought out of this world so that we might get God renown!

You will notice that through this entire prayer, Daniel continues using terms like “we” and “our.” He was concerned about his end-time family. They had become a reproach.

“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake” (verse 17). In this end time, the sanctuary is again desolate. God has had to raise up another work to continue what never should have stopped.

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (verse 19). Do you get the feeling that Daniel is pouring his heart into this? This was his life! “Oh Lord,” he said, “hearken and do.” These people were called by God’s name, but they had stopped doing the daily.

“Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (verse 21). This is still temple language. The archangel flew swiftly to Daniel. He was urgent about this work just as Daniel was—even more so! That is the way we must be.

How much more revelation will God give to this little Church? How urgent is this revelation? God has put so many of the puzzle pieces in place. Let’s become urgent as God is!

“At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision” (verse 23). Anyone delivering this revelation is greatly beloved! All through this book, you see how eager the archangels were to do what God wanted done. You see that same attitude in Daniel. He wanted to do great things for God. There is nothing wrong with that kind of ambition—as long as it is for God.

Spiritual Warfare

Daniel 10:1 says the vision given to Daniel “was true, but the time appointed was long.” Moffatt translates this better: “the true revelation of a great conflict.” This prophecy is about great conflict. Lange’s Commentary titles this vision of Daniel “great tribulation.” It’s a vision about violence, warfare and bloodshed. And the warfare is over God’s revelation! Do we put as much importance on God’s revelation as Satan does?

Revelation 12:7 mentions a war in heaven that occurred in this end time between Satan the devil and the archangel Michael, along with his angels. Michael prevailed and cast the great dragon down to this Earth. “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child” (verse 13). Satan has been cast down! It happened about the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death. And his first attack was against the Church. The evidence of that attack is all around. God’s people have been shamefully scattered.

God wants us to know that Daniel 10:1 is about a great spiritual war. “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled” (verses 2-3). For three weeks, Daniel fasted. Here is a man who knew he was involved in a titanic spiritual war.

“And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 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 colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude” (verses 4-6). Here is a great and powerful angelic being with features similar to God.

Daniel alone saw the vision, but still the men with him were overcome with fear, and they fled (verse 7). Daniel himself lost all strength, turned pale and fainted, falling to the ground. “And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling” (verses 10-11). The archangel Gabriel was sent to Daniel. In awe, Daniel stood trembling.

“Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (verse 12). God heard Daniel on the first day, yet something held back His answer! But what a beautiful attitude Daniel maintained. He kept right on praying and fasting for three full weeks.

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia” (verse 13). Gabriel is speaking here. He needed help from another archangel, Michael, to deliver this revelation. God allowed satanic interference so that Daniel might beseech Him for even more strength. God wanted Daniel to realize what kind of spiritual warfare is fought over His revelation!

The Slaughter

There is a vision in Ezekiel 8 and 9 that, like Daniel 8, is being fulfilled right now. It’s about Jesus Christ and His wife—the Church. Chapter 8 describes how that wife has turned her back on her Husband. Chapter 9 describes God’s punishment against this treachery.

As in Daniel 8:11-12 and Revelation 12:13, Satan attacks God’s Church before the Great Tribulation begins. The attack intensifies greatly during the Tribulation. Both before and during the Tribulation are emphasized in Ezekiel 9.

“He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar” (Ezekiel 9:1-2). The context here reveals these “men” to actually be angels who report directly to God (see verse 11). So there are six angels with slaughter weapons standing by the brasen altar about to slaughter, not animals, but God’s own sinning people—ministers especially.

These angels are “beside the brasen altar,” which was in the temple. Many scriptures relate that the temple today is God’s Church. God always has angels helping to protect His very elect.

The focus of these events is the end time.

“And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (verses 3-4). Jerusalem, a type of all Israel, is to be destroyed. But there is some destruction before the Great Tribulation.

God has a “mark” placed upon the foreheads of the saints who sigh and cry for the abominations being committed in Israel. God’s people won’t see abominations in a place of safety. This time period is before the Tribulation begins.

These people sigh and cry. They are doing God’s warning Work. They have a protective mark which they will not need in a place of safety during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:12-14). So the time setting, again, is before the Tribulation.

They need protection now from Satan’s worst wrath, because he knows he has only a short time left.

“And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6). The worst slaughter physically is in the Tribulation. But the spiritual slaughter BEGINS in God’s sanctuary—His Church.

God’s people are dying now (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If 95 percent of them are dying now, some must already be dead spiritually!

“And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city” (Ezekiel 9:7). God’s house, His Church, is defiled. That also happens now—before the Tribulation.

The “courts” of the temple are filled with the slain. The emphasis here is also on the spiritual—what is happening in God’s Church today. It is under a curse, and members “are perishing” spiritually (Malachi 2:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, original text).

After the temple destruction, the angels move on to the city, which is the Great Tribulation time period.

But it all is prophesied to “begin” in God’s Church. And the angels began with the “ancients,” the ministers in the Church. Satan is attacking God’s Church, and God is cursing it! God is doing some selective destroying. He watches over and brings the evil upon this sinning Church (Daniel 9:13-14).

Pity the poor Laodiceans!

Pity all Israel. It gets so bad during the Tribulation that Ezekiel thought God was going to destroy all of Israel! (Ezekiel 9:8-11).

Still, God is most concerned about the spiritual death of many Laodiceans. God wants to correct and punish His Church now so He can spare them from the Great Tribulation—before it is too late!

For the Latter Days

“Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Daniel 10:14). God recorded all these details about Daniel, his fast, his fainting before the angel—for what? He wants us to know what is to happen in the latter days.

Who is doing the work of Daniel today? Who else has God’s revelation? The biggest challenge facing us is knowing who we are and who we serve!

Satan was so concerned about God’s revelation that he personally came to try and stop it! And if God has given us the key to understanding this vision, and the commission to proclaim it, how much more eager do you think Satan will be to stop the revelation today? Satan is doing everything he can to stop the revelation today—and he starts with the Church. Satan is leading the battle against us, and he has already destroyed many.

In verses 15-17, we see why Daniel remained so strong and able to fight in this spiritual war. He was humble. Daniel knew that one day man’s destiny was to rule over the angels, and yet, before these two great beings he trembled, saying, Who am I to stand before you?

It does not take long for Satan to pick us off if we don’t continually go to God on our knees. We cannot survive without that spiritual strength. We must have the power of God if we are to get through this war! Look at history. Look at what happened to God’s Church in this end time. We simply will not make it unless the inner man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Daniel received awesome strength. Remember, he prayed and fasted for three weeks. “Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:18-19). Daniel was encouraged and uplifted. He was greatly beloved. And so are you. We are all greatly beloved. Be encouraged by that and receive God’s strength, for God has a mighty work for us to do. That requires much planning and determination on our part.

In verses 20 and 21, Gabriel tells Daniel of future struggles he would wage against Satan’s forces. He had to plan ahead for these Herculean struggles! And so must we. That’s what God is trying to teach us. Satan will not let up until God supernaturally binds him in chains.

If we plan ahead and arm ourselves with what is “noted in the scripture of truth” (verse 21), then we will be prepared. It does mean endless warfare. But we’ll have the awesome help of Michael our prince and his companion Gabriel.

Sidebar: Antiochus Epiphanes

Daniel 10:10 through 12:4 is the longest single vision in the Bible. God revealed it to Daniel during the third year of the reign of Cyrus the Great (Daniel 10:1)—around 535 b.c. That date alone makes what Daniel wrote in chapter 11 astonishing.

Let’s pick up the story in Daniel 10:14: “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” Latter days means the time just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Though much of this prophecy was fulfilled centuries ago, its main fulfillment is during the latter days—the time we are living in now.

Verses 1-20 of chapter 11 cover much of the same history as does chapter 8: beginning with Cyrus, moving through four noted successors (and eight others) of the Medo-Persian Empire, continuing through the takeover by Alexander the Great’s Grecian Empire, the division of his dominion between four of his generals and the transfer of that rule through several hands. It is one of the most astonishingly accurate and detailed passages of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible. (Our booklet History and Prophecy of the Middle East covers it thoroughly. Request a free copy if you don’t have one.)

Daniel 11:21 speaks of Antiochus Epiphanes, who gained control of the Middle East while the Greco-Macedonian Empire was in decline. Antiochus obtained rule through deceitful lies and flatteries. It says he would “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” George Rawlinson gave the historical account of this event in his authoritative Manual of Ancient History: “Antiochus, assisted by Eumenes, drives out Heliodorus and obtains the throne, 176 b.c. He astonishes his subjects by an affectation of Roman manners.” Antiochus Epiphanes gained control by pretending to be someone he really wasn’t.

Continue in verse 22: “The opposing forces shall be swept before him and shattered, and so shall God’s high priest” (Moffatt). In this verse, we begin to see how much Antiochus hated the Jews. Rulers before him had typically treated the Jews well. But Epiphanes’s ruthlessness toward the Jews far surpassed that of his fathers (verse 24). Verse 22 says Antiochus would even go so far as to murder the Jewish high priest. History confirms that Onias iii was high priest in Judea at the time and that Antiochus put him to death in 172 b.c. According to Rawlinson, Jews “were driven to desperation by the mad project of this self-willed monarch.”

In 168 b.c., Antiochus pillaged and desecrated the Jews’ temple in Jerusalem. “Throughout the turbulent changes of its past history,” Werner Keller wrote in The Bible as History, “Israel had been spared none of the horror and ignominy which could befall a nation. But never before, neither under the Assyrians nor under the Babylonians, had it received such a blow as the edict issued by Antiochus Epiphanes by which he hoped to crush and destroy the faith of Israel.” Much of this struggle between the Jews and the Syrian kingdom is recorded in the book of Maccabees (Jewish history).

Verse 23 shows that even though this vile human being only had a few supporters at the outset, he eventually gained a large following through deceit and flatteries.

Verse 24: “He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.” In this end time, we will witness another force that enters into the Holy Land “peaceably.” But like Antiochus, the leader of this end-time peacekeeping force will not really want peace.

Verse 25 tells of another great clash between Epiphanes and the king of the south. It was his second successful Egyptian campaign. This clash revolved around Jerusalem. Verse 27 says both kings were mischievous and lied to each other.

On his return from Egypt, Antiochus encountered another Maccabean insurrection. Verse 28 says his heart was against the “holy covenant.” He massacred the Jews.

In verse 29, God prophesied of a third campaign into Egypt. But this one did not fare well for Antiochus. Verse 30 says the “ships of Chittim” came against him. He was cut off by a Roman fleet from Cyprus. Defeated and dejected, Antiochus returned to the land of Judea and took out his frustration on the Jews. Verse 30 says he again had “indignation against the holy covenant”—God’s people. Then it says he had intelligence with a disloyal contingent of God’s people. In other words, he was plotting deceitfully with people inside the temple.

Verse 31: “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Here we find the Bible’s first reference to the abomination of desolation. Consider the scene as Daniel describes it. Moffatt says “armed forces shall be set on foot by” Antiochus. It is talking about an army in Jerusalem. This army is what makes Jerusalem desolate. It desecrates the holy place and takes away the daily sacrifice (see also Daniel 8:11, 24). This happened in 167 b.c. Tradition says that Antiochus built a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the holy of holies—the holiest place inside the temple. He tried to stamp out the Jewish religion altogether.

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits [or take action]” (Daniel 11:32). Most of the Jews were deceived by flatteries. But there were a few who did make a stand and take action. A few Maccabees acted on what they knew to be right. These few instructed the many, as it says in verse 33. Some of those faithful few even lost their lives for doing what was right.

Throughout history, it has always been the few who have stood up to do what is right. There were just a few during Christ’s day. Many of them were martyred. Jesus Himself was crucified.

Verses 34-35: “Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” This prophecy describes the condition within God’s Church today. But it also describes the history of God’s Church in general. God says many of understanding have fallen to deceitful lies and flatteries. When that happens, their only “help” comes from the faithful few who take a stand. Stephen Flurry

Continue Reading: Chapter 5: The Sanctuary