“Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12, 13)
No verse in the Bible (verse 13) speaks more clearly of the invisible powers that rule and influence people and nations. The prince of the kingdom of Persia is primarily Satan, who through his emissaries tried to turn Cyrus, the Medo-Persian ruler, against Israel. Similarly Michael is spoken of as the Prince of Israel.
We should note that, often, passages such as Isaiah 14:12 (footnote), Ezekiel 28:12 (footnote) and Daniel 8:10-13 transcend the national powers to whom they originally apply.
While Ezra 4:1-6 gives the earthly side of what is happening in Palestine, in Daniel 10:13 the veil is drawn back and supernatural powers are seen engaging in the conflict concerning the rebuilding of the sanctuary.
While Satan was striving to influence the highest powers in the kingdom of Medo-Persia to show disfavor to God’s people, angels worked in behalf of the exiles. The controversy was one in which all heaven was interested. Through the prophet Daniel we are given a glimpse of this mighty struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
For three weeks, Gabriel wrestled with the powers of darkness, seeking to counteract the influences at work on the mind of Cyrus, and before the contest closed, Christ himself came to Gabriel’s aid. “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days,” Gabriel declares. “but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13)
All that heaven could do in behalf of the people of God was done. The victory was finally gained; the forces of the enemy were held in check all the days of Cyrus, and all the days of his son Cambyses, who reigned about seven and a half years.
Daniel 10:13 clearly teaches the freedom of the human will to oppose God. Both Satan and God were moving on the mind of the king but neither could compel the monarch.
What amazing love that God will not force the mind of anyone but always gives freedom of choice! Sadly, so few humans exercise a similar respect for the freedom that allows each person.
To His children today the Lord declares, “Be strong, … and work: for I am with you.” The Christian always has a strong helper in the Lord. The way of the Lord’s helping we may not know; but this we do know: He will never fail those who put their trust in Him.
Could Christians realize how many times the Lord has ordered their way, that the purposes of the enemy concerning them might not be accomplished, they would not stumble along complainingly. Their faith would be stayed on God, and no trial would have power to move them. They would acknowledge Him as their wisdom and efficiency, and He would bring to pass that which He desires to work out through them.
Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Adventist Church.