Again the one with the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.
Daniel 10:13, 20-ch. Daniel 11:1We read thus: "And the prince of the kingdom of Persia stood against me twenty and one days, and behold Michael one of the chief princes came to help me, and I gained the superiority there by the side of the kings of Persia And he said, Dost thou know why I came unto thee? And now I will return to war with the Prince of Persia, and while I [thus] go forth [to war], behold the Prince of Javan will come. But yet I will show to thee that which is written in the book of truth. And not one is there showing himself strong with me against these [the princes of Persia and Javan] except Michael your prince; I also in the first year of Darius the Mode stood in order to strengthen and for a fortress to him" (i.e. Michael). This reading of ours is necessary to make clear the meaning of our homiletical culture. Lest any should be surprised at the fulness of the revelation in Daniel as to angels and the angel-world, we may observe that there are two epochs in Hebrew history, when angels are specially prominent.
1. The time of the judges. Destitute of direct revelation or prophetic guidance.
2. The period of the Captivity. One of special trial, incident to contact wit h heathenism.
I. THE ANTAGONISTS.
1. On the side of God.
(1) The Angel-God. The Logos. The "certain man" of ver. 5. The Lord Jesus. The speaker throughout (vers. 13, 20 - Daniel 11:1).
(2) Michael. His name means, "Who is like unto God?" and implies that, however high is the scale of being, there is an infinite distance between him and God (see Daniel 12:1; Jude 1:7; Revelation 12:7). The following propositions seem clear about him: He is not the Logos; for he is here distinguished from him. "One of the chief princes," one of the principal in the hierarchy of heaven. "Your prince," the angelic representative and guardian of the Jewish nation. "The great prince who standeth for the children of thy people." An archangel.
2. On the side of the world. The "princes" here named are the supernatural power standing behind the daimoniae, who stood behind the national gods, and were represented by them. They are spirits of evil, inspiring the worldly anti-Divine action of the great empires of earth.
(1) The "Prince of Persia."
(2) The Prince of Javan; i.e. Greece.
II. THE WAR. The war was on behalf of Israel, and may be described as being prosecuted through three supernatural campaigns. We consider them separately.
1. The first campaign. (Daniel 11:1.)
(1) The antagonist. Not mentioned here by name, but, following the analogy of the rest of the description, is certainly the celestial "Prince" of Babylonia.
(2) The casus belli. The occasion of conflict. This, doubtless, was the necessity of placing on the Babylonian throne one who would be favourable to the return of Israel from the Captivity.
(a) Michael carried on the war.
(b) The Christ supported him.
This order is reversed in the next campaign.
(4) The victory. Lies with the Divine in every case.
2. The second campaign. (Ver. 15.)
(1) The antagonist. "The Prince of Persia.'
(2) The casus belli. The obstruction raised against the restoration of the temple, at the instigation of Israel's enemies.
(a) This campaign was carried on by the Angel-God himself.
(b) But aided by Michael. Here should be noted the doctrine that angels and men may be co-workers together with God.
(c) Was synchronous with Daniel's prayer. All the way through the twenty-one days the prayer was being answered through a mighty conflict carried on in a higher world.
(4) The victory. Specially mentioned: "And I gained the superiority there by the side of the kings of Persia."
3. The third campaign. (Vers. 20, 21.)
(1) The antagonists. The "princes" of Persia and Javan.
(2) The casus belli. All that, in their worldliness, was attempted by Persia afterwards, by Greece, by Alexander and his successors, especially Antiochus, to the sore detriment of the Jewish people.
(3) A speciality. Only Michael in this great contention was on the Christ-side. Note:
(a) There is, then, liberty in heaven as on earth to do or not to do - to go forth to war or to rest in peace.
(b) Michael made a noble use of liberty.
(c) By endowment he towered above others "One of the chief princes."
(d) Therefore to him were great responsibilities entrusted. He was made the guardian spirit of the Hebrew nation and Church. "To whom much is given" etc., seems to be a law of all moral worlds. "Michael your prince. To a subordinate spirit God will not entrust a work demanding special power and greatness."
(4) The victory. Again not expressly mentioned, but sure. The following deductions from the whole subject should, perhaps, have special mention and emphasis:
1. The Church has many and powerful enemies.
2. It abides under most powerful protection. What Michael was to Israel of old, that, and more than that, is the Lord Jesus to Israel now; and he has many helpers.
3. Its destiny is in conflict in the worlds above, as well as here below.
4. In the holy war here, the humblest may take a share. The Son of God stooped to avail himself of the help of Michael; so he ever stoops to accept the humblest contribution, the lowliest service.
"The Son of God goes forth to war,
And He strengthened me.
I. IT CHEERS US WHEN WE LABOUR UNDER A SENSE OF LONELINESS. Some feel alone because they are the only ones of their house who serve the Lord. Well, there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. The child of God as he grows in grace becomes more lonely. But there are no heights of attainment which Jesus has not surpassed. It falls to the lot of some Christians to stand alone in their contention for the faith. In all our work He is our companion.
II. IT IS SWEET TO FEEL THE TOUCH OF THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE HUMBLED IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD. A blessed extinction of self makes room for infinite love. There is not one covenant blessing but what, if we understood it, would have a humbling effect upon us. At such times of self-annihilation it is strengthening to the mind to feel the touch of that hand, and to perceive that He who is our God is also very near to us.
III. IN SORROW, HOW BLESSED IT IS TO PEEL THE TOUCH OF THE MAN'S HAND! Pain of body is the portion of many of God's people. They are seldom long without it. Others endure the affliction of poverty. Some true Christians are naturally of a sombre temperament. There is no abyss of grief into which Jesus has not descended.
IV. THE FACT THAT JESUS IS A MAN, SUCH AS WE ARE, SHOULD GREATLY COMFORT US IN ALL OUR STRUGGLES. It seems hard, this battle of life, this fighting against sin, this contention against inbred corruption. We are apt to think sometimes, "Can we ever win? Is not the battle too difficult?" In such moments look at yonder man who sits upon the throne of God. He is the typical man. "Consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself."
V. WHAT A BLESSED THING IT IS TO LOOK AT THE MANHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST AT TIMES WHEN WE HAVE BEEN DECEIVED BY OUR BRETHREN. Our natural tendency to idolatry leads us to confide in man. Sometimes there have come the discovery that man is only man, and that some men are not saints, though they talk in a saintly manner. At such times it is most cheering to remember that there is one man who will never deceive us. There is one who has not uttered a promise which He will not fulfil, nor won from us a confidence which He will not justify.
VI. THE SAME IS TRUE IN SEASONS OF DOUBT. There is a class of disciples like Thomas, who think much, and are apt to doubt much. They do not love doubts, they hate them, yet their doubts often go very deep, and undermine the most precious doctrines. A sight of my Lord is the sheet-anchor which has held me fast in times of scepticism and doubt. I cannot doubt when I see him.
VII. THE TOUCH OF OUR REDEEMER'S HUMAN HAND COMFORTS US IN THE HOUR OF DEATH. One man has broken from the prison of the grave, and therefore all will who are like him.
VIII. THE MANHOOD OF CHRIST OUGHT TO BE A GREAT COMFORT TO YOU WHEN YOU ARE SEEKING TO DO GOOD AMONG YOUR FELLOW-MEN. This is an awful world, this world of human beings. But Jesus took human nature on Him, and thereby did it the highest honour. He thought it worth while to suffer and die for sinners. Let us think none so bad as to be beyond hope of benefit. Jesus Christ stoops low; so let us do.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. God's strengthening comes through what is divine becoming human. It comes into human relations and human measures. Daniel is represented here as overwhelmed by what he had seen and heard. We cannot take in too much at a time even of the highest and noblest things. They require strength of mind, clearness of intellect, to grasp and to carry them. It is so with knowledge. It is true even of our affections. Just so it is with the presence of God. We cannot dwell too long among the coruscations and flashings of the divine glory. Our week faculties reel and collapse beneath the strain. Too much was unveiled to Daniel. tie became strenghtless. How was he restored? How did he gather strength again? One having the form of a man comes to him and touches him. That human touch gives him strength once more. The gentle touch of love, how it darts right through to our heart's core, and makes our blood tingle. The soothing touch of pity is more eloquent than ten thousand words. It is full of comfort, and gives patience and mighty peace. Daniel was no longer alone. He had a companion — a human companion — with him, and found heartfelt and infinite relief. Who was this human form? We do not know. We are not told that it was an angel. We are not told that it was Christ. In one sense it certainly was Christ, for all living manifestations of God are utterances or syllables, so to speak, of that eternal Word of God, of which Christ is the full and perfect embodiment. Better ask, "What does He mean?" than to press the question, "Who is He?" His appearance means this blessed, consoling, universal fact, that God is not far from men, and that He gives us power both to endure what He lays upon us, and to do His commandments, by coming to us, as Himself in a sense human, as full of human love and sympathy. There is something in God which is very near to us and very dear. He is the light by which we understand. He is the pulse that beats in the centre of our life. He is the soul of our best and purest joy. When God shows us this side of His character — what I may call the human side of it — then we grow strong, and our poverty and weakness pass at once, and pass utterly away. That is true every way. It is true in regard to our sins; and m regards to our temptations. The knowledge that Christ has overcome is there before us. That alone helps me That perfect man is here, the head and crown of humanity, and He will breathe peace and faith, hope and courage, harmony and victory, into you and into me.
(J.F. Stevenson, LL.D.)
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