Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris] The prophet Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks. He wanted to understand the divine message God had delivered to him. Drained of strength and energy he opened his eyes and made out the image of a man standing before him. The figure blazed with the light of the sun and the gleam of gold, jewels and fire. His voice was loud, strong and commanding.
Suddenly, a hand touched Daniel. His body began to tremble. The angelic figure addressed Daniel by name. “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you. Do not fear Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the Prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I have been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
What does this mean? Daniel was given spiritual understanding into what was happening in his world behind the scenes. What was this and how does it help us understand our world today?
Join us on Beyond Todayas we look at “Kingdoms at War: Powers of the Unseen World.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] The prophet Daniel looked around Babylon and had one question. What had become of his nation, Israel, the people God had chosen as His own special people?
His nation had been overcome by Babylon. Daniel and others of his countrymen had been taken as captives to Babylon. By his own ability and God’s hand, Daniel had risen to influential status in the government of the despotic King Nebuchadnezzar II.
God had given Daniel and his friends’ insight into visions and dreams. They had wisely used these gifts to glorify God while not giving in to the temptations of Babylonian culture. The years went by. They sorted through their memories and they wondered if they would ever again see their native land and beloved city, Jerusalem.
And so, after several years and the turnover of the kingdom to the Persians, Daniel wanted to know the future and what would become of his people. He knew of a prophecy made by Jeremiah the prophet before the destruction of Jerusalem which held a promise of a return to the land by the Jews.
He wondered “How would that event occur?” Daniel decided to take it to God in a focused time of prayer and fasting. He got his answer but he got a lot more. God also led Daniel to a profound insight to his world. It’s an insight that helps us understand our world of the 21st century.
Look at today’s headlines: Russia Invades Ukraine; ISISAdvances in the Middle East; Iran Closer to Developing a Nuclear Weapon.
All of these world events and even more that we could mention, they tell of a world going through a period of monumental change. Big events are happening on the world scene that are reshaping much of the global order. What does this mean? And how are we to understand what happens in the world in light of what the Bible tells us about a God who guides human history? Above all—what does it mean for you, your family and your daily life?
You’ve seen the pictures and you’ve heard the news. It can be frightening and upsetting. Wars and events that may seem very far away and not relevant to our life, yet these events do impact our lives more than we might realize. Above all, there is a need for you and I to understand our world and to be able to discern the times in which we live, and to understand what it means in the light of Bible prophecy and God’s purpose for human life.
What we learn from the story that we just read in Daniel is there is more to this world than we can see with the eyes and all our senses. As Shakespeare put into the mouth of Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Daniel was trying to understand the events of his time and his world when God gave him a little glimpse behind the scenes to show him this truth. Notice how this is shown in Daniel’s story.
Daniel’s prophecy gives us a glimpse into these powers of the unseen world.
“The angelic messenger [came and] laid his hand on Daniel ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’ As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, ‘Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.’ He replied, ‘Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and after that the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece will come. Meanwhile, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one helps me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince…)’” (Daniel 10:19-21)
There are powers and principalities that work on the spiritual level influencing physical events in our world. There are unseen spiritual forces at work influencing and creating the headlines that you and I read every day. It’s a key to understanding great world events and certainly what’s happening in our world now. The implications are important to your life and to my life.
How do we know this? We know this from, not only what Daniel’s story tells us, but what we also see in the New Testament.
Let’s break this down and look at what we are told here in Daniel. We see a Prince of Persia and a Prince of Greece. These unseen spiritual powers control the physical kingdoms of Persia and Greece in this world. They are evil powers that influence the actions and the politics of the nations of the world even today. In Daniel’s day, that meant the political, military, economic and cultural atmosphere of these nations were actually formed and controlled by powerful unseen spirits.
The messenger from God had a message for Daniel that ultimately showed the future history of the region for several hundred years—and then down into our modern world and the times just ahead of us today. The message given to Daniel led to the threshold of the coming intervention of Jesus Christ into the affairs of this world and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Daniel was astounded by what he was shown. This section of the Bible is one that opens our eyes to the details of history that God guides and directs along the course of His purpose for humanity and the nations of the world. He knows the end from the beginning and no power on earth or in heaven will prevent God from bringing all of history to the conclusion that He has foreordained.
And this little understood key opens the door of understanding for us at our level of life.
I want you to step back a minute and consider what this means for your life.
We all have our struggles with life: jobs that we might not be happy with, relationship problems with our mates or with our children. We may be uncertain about the future and how the economy will impact our lives.
Do you look at the politics and the events and watch people argue and fight and sometimes see things that spiral out of control? You know, I watch the news sometimes and I wonder if we’ll ever get back to a stable world scene.
Sometimes life gets so distressing, the best thing to do is to take a step back and ask, “Is there something else going on that I don’t see or I don’t understand? Is there more here than meets the eye?”
Well the answer is yes—sometimes there is.
The Bible tells us the struggles of life can sometimes involve spiritual elements that we don’t even see. Notice these revealing words by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. He says:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephsians 6:10-13).
This is not popular. It’s not a “modern” sounding idea, that we might struggle against wicked, unseen powers and that these powers are behind some of the frustrations of life at the individual level as well as at the high level of world affairs.
But that’s what the Bible says. And you can begin to read the Bible with a deeper understanding and learn what God’s purpose is for your life.
To help you better understand the critical subject of biblical prophecy, I’d like to offer you our free study aid, You Can Understand Bible Prophecy .
Prophecy is God’s inspired revelation to mankind. If you’ve always wanted to better comprehend biblical prophecy, our study aid will help you do just that! It will assist you not only in better understanding what’s in store for the future days of mankind, but God’s awesome purpose for your life.
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There are three key points to understand how Daniel came to look at his world. We are going to go through this in a minute.
You know, we look at our world and we wonder “what is going on?” You, like me, see things happening that are horrible, unimaginable to our eyes and senses. We watch a terrorist group rise in the Middle East and brutalize whole populations into fear. They behead and torture captives—showing no humanity.
What we are seeing is pure evil. It’s not of man what we see being done to helpless people. We are seeing works of spiritual wickedness being done through men who use religion and politics as coverings for unspeakable acts against mankind.
You will not read about this in news accounts nor will you hear statesmen or their spokespersons talk about it in such terms. I watch a lot of news programs. I read a lot of history books. Every day I read the reporting and commentary of many intelligent and knowledgeable people that understand a lot about what happens in the world today. But I don’t find in any of this material an understanding of why the wars and the suffering that afflict this world take place. I do not find in their sources the spiritual understanding that something invisible, something from the powers of the unseen world is involved in the headlines and the events shaping today’s world.
I have to go to this book—the Bible, to understand the spiritual dimension that impacts big events in our world every day. These same forces can be at work in your life—prompting, provoking you to anger, to envy, to crippling emotional weaknesses that keep you down and hold you back from a productive, happy and balanced life.
What I want you to understand is that there is something that you can do with this knowledge. You can make a difference in your life for the good. But you have to step back from the busy unfocused direction that you have each day. Take a new look at God, this world and what makes this world work.
Do what Daniel did. Take a step back. Go to God in focused prayer and even fasting. Daniel wanted to know the why of his day. His nation, Israel, had been uprooted and removed to Babylon. He was living in a strange and alien culture. Everything about Babylon was different from the familiar life that he had known in his home of Jerusalem.
Here’s the point: Daniel’s personal world had changed and everything he could see and understand about the bigger world was changing as well. Daniel found himself at the center of that story and he wanted to know why.
Daniel decided to take it to God in a focused time of prayer and fasting. He got his answer but he got a lot more. God also led Daniel to a profound insight in a way that teaches us how to approach our world. You can get a handle on your life. You can be like Daniel and his friends—people who walked with God in the midst of a world that did not know Daniel’s God and did not wish to honor God in any way. Everything about Babylon’s culture was designed to rip faith from a person and to replace it with false gods who could neither see, nor hear, nor speak.
Daniel set his mind and heart to resist Babylon’s culture. He determined to maintain the faith of the true God and not lose sight of who he was nor the teachings and faith that he had learned from his youth. And the God who helped Daniel to see and understand his world can help us to see and understand how to do this today.
Here’s how it’s done. Here are three keys to being a Daniel in a time when kingdoms are at war and powers of the unseen world rule.
1. First, understand the gods of this world have no love for you.
The Bible shows that there is a “god of this age”—of this present world—and he blinds our minds from seeing this reality. He blocks the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” and prevents it from revealing his evil and inhuman acts.
Daniel had to contend with this god and his agents in his day. Daniel’s world parallels ours in so many of the same ways. For all the time that has passed we still face the same fundamental elements.
As we have seen, God revealed this reality to Daniel and it helped Daniel understand his world and time. That false God, Satan the devil, still has a global reach and influence today. But understanding his existence and how he works is critical to resisting his world and its impact on you.
Satan is described in Scripture as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He has other “princes”—like we saw, the Prince of Greece and the Prince of Persia. Satan’s influence invisibly works like the invisible communication transmissions that fly unseen through the air today.
Think about this. All around us are multiple communication waves. Radio and television transmissions. Cell towers carry our phone calls and our texts around the world. But we don’t see or hear these transmissions. But they are real and they influence our moods and emotions as we are entertained, informed and interact with people we know.
Scripture tells us that without knowing what is happening, we live out our lives according to the programmed plans put in place by the “prince,” the “god of this world” who commands a power that can move nations and people to do his evil will.
God says to us: “understand this.” Resist this power. Let Him do His works of righteousness in us and fulfill His purpose for us.
This is the world we inhabit. Things are not what they seem. Reality is bigger than what we think we see. You can understand this, like Daniel did, and you can get control of your life—you can come alive and live a godly life in the midst of a world that’s suffering the inhumanity of these evil, unseen powers.
2. The second key is to set your mind to resist this power.
Daniel did. Let me show you how he did it.
Daniel’s story opens with a challenge that to our modern minds seems insignificant and trivial. It is a story about something we encounter every day—it’s food.
Daniel found himself in a strange land and, as I said earlier, with strange customs that he had not learned in his youth. And you know what, Daniel was not interested in taking part in a multi-cultural global world designed to make everyone alike and the same. Daniel actually believed that all cultures were not equal. Not all religions were equally righteous. Nor did he believe that all teachings and values were valid options for developing a lifestyle. You know, if Daniel lived today and tried to make his way through our schools and our business cultures, he would find himself placed in a sensitivity course or penalized for not respecting diversity. Daniel would not be politically correct today nor was he in Babylon.
Daniel found himself in the court of the King of Babylon and he was in line—kind of a “fast track”—to be trained as a civil servant in the government. He was intelligent. He scored well on all the placement tests the Babylonians administered to select their best and their brightest.
The king’s court was full of food, wine and delicacies; a place of physical pleasure. The Babylonians valued eating and drinking and didn’t have any restrictions on exactly what they ate. For Daniel this was not an option. He knew God had certain standards in what to eat. God’s law determined how he would live and there would be no compromise in his mind.
So, after hearing the requirements for his training in the ways of Babylon, Daniel, it says, “was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods” (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel set his heart and mind not to compromise with teaching and laws that he knew to be eternal, unchangeable for the sake of convenience or to just go along with the times. You see, for Daniel he could have reasoned, “my nation’s gone, my way of worship no longer works (look at us, here in captivity!). He could have even reasoned “my God no longer cares and maybe, my God no longer exists.”
But Daniel did not take this way out. He held firm to his faith. He held firm to the life he knew even down to the food he ate and the God that he honored by his faith. At the end of the time, they were fit and ready for work and God gave them the help and the gifts that were needed to excel in the service in Babylon.
So what’s the lesson? Set your mind to resist the culture of this world, our world today, when it conflicts with the culture of the Kingdom of God. Don’t compromise in the face of adversity.
3. The third key from Daniel’s example is to seek God’s wisdom and understanding.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. None of his counselors or his staff could interpret what it meant. Now this was no ordinary dream. As the story is told in Daniel, it was a dream that foretold world history down to our day and beyond. The dream shook the king’s view of his world and he knew that he had to pull every shred of meaning from it. It’s hard for us to understand something like this today, but for an ancient king he knew this dream was significant—almost unworldly. It held an important message.
When no one from the king’s inner staff could interpret the dream it came to Daniel’s attention and he stepped forward to say that with a little time, he could provide the understanding.
Daniel returned to his house. He consulted with his closest friends “that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret.” The secret was then revealed to Daniel in a night vision and he delivered it to the king.
The point here is to seek God’s wisdom and understanding and to discern the times in which we live.
Christians today are told to understand the times in which they live.
If we want to understand our world today and why it’s changing dramatically, then we should follow the example of Daniel.
If you want to understand your world, your life and how you can live well and righteously in the midst of a world geared to tear down faith and belief in God and a meaning for life, then study and follow the life of Daniel. He did it in the midst of the Babylon of his day. You can do it in midst of your world today.
This topic of Daniel and a peek at how the world really works is one that only touches on the subject of Bible prophecy. Daniel is a fascinating subject to study. The prophecies contained in his book are foundational for understanding history, Bible prophecy and especially, our world today.
So to give you tools that will not only help you to study Bible prophecy but to develop a greater understanding of this topic, I really encourage you to order your free copy of our valuable study aid, You Can Understand Bible Prophecy.This study aid will help you comprehend the true magnitude of prophecy as it places the past, the present and the future into clear perspective.
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I’m joined now by fellow Beyond Todayhost, Steve Myers.
Steve, this is a very important topic and series that we have begun here on Beyond Today : Kingdoms at War. And we look at what we covered today on our world, how much does the unseen world really impact the reality we see about us today?
[Steve] Well when you look on the outside, you might think not much. But when you look at what the Bible says, it is undeniable how over and overarching the impact of the unseen world is. Ephesians 6 talks about spiritual wickedness in high places that surrounds us, that is opposed to us. Revelation, as you know, says that Satan has deceived the whole world! And so this battle that we’re fighting sometimes it doesn’t seem obvious but boy, it is everywhere! So don’t be fooled.
And that’s part of the deception in itself, is that people don’t recognize it and so they miss it and don’t understand it. But the time is coming, it will be very obvious that we are fighting a spiritual battle.
[Darris] And these are so obvious of statements in the Scripture that are sometimes overlooked or misunderstood, but we don’t want them to be overwhelming for our audience. What power do we have to deal with that in our own personal lives and not be overwhelmed by what we see around us in the world?
[Steve] You know I think if we follow what Christ talked about, He said we should discern the times. He said we shouldn’t be able to look. He said there were certain events that would be happening that would show that we are nearing the end time. And that Christ is going to return and those difficult situations that are coming should be recognizable and yet as His people, He give us a power. He gives us His Spirit and so we have authority over sin. We can have a spiritual connection with God so that we don’t have to live in fear. We don’t have to have an anxiety that somehow we’ll be lost in the shuffle when we maintain a relationship with God.
[Darris] I think it’s going to be a good lesson to take our audience through in this series, so we’re looking forward to getting back into it some more.
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Daniel wanted to understand the world of his day. You want to understand the world you live in today. We are living in a period of significant change in our world as we see whole regions in turmoil and seek to understand why.
God’s hand is guiding events in this world even when we might think there is disorder and confusion. He can take that same hand in your life and help guide you to peace and a settled life. He is not remote. He is not a distant God, but a close, personal Father—ready to help.
We will continue this series: Kingdoms at War. Look for them to come in the months ahead.
Thanks for watching today’s program and remember to join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today, I’m Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
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