In today’s sermon, Greg tackles questions about spiritual warfare and how it related to the nature of God, relationships, and free will.
At the beginning of our passage, we see that Daniel has been fasting and praying for three weeks and the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and tells him that his prayers have been heard, he was sent to help, but he had to contend with spiritual entities (the prince of Persia and prince of Greece) who were opposing him, even going so far as requiring the help of the angel Michael. So, while strange, this passage suggests that there is something going on in the spiritual realm that affects what happens in our everyday lives.
This passage also raises several questions for us:
1: What did God send Gabriel instead of answering Daniels’ prayer himself?
2: If God is all power and omnipresent (everywhere) then why work through a mediary who is vulnerable to being intercepted?
3: Why didn’t God intervene in the battle between Gabriel and Michael against the Prince of Persia- by stepping him himself, making either side weaker/stronger, etc.
4: And, what was Michael doing before Gabriel needed his help?
Greg uses the rest of our message today to answer these questions to help us understand why spiritual warfare should matter to us, to help us tie up this Loose End.
But, first we have to address the assumption that these questions make: That God, because he is all powerful, can do anything, anytime he wants. When we hold this assumption, then we have a hard time with this passage because it looks like God is either responsible for everything horrible and frustrating about this passage, or that God is just pretending that he’s all powerful. Neither of these are in line with what we know of God’s nature as love or what we see in Jesus. So something else is going on. We must reconsider what we mean when we say God is all powerful. We can believe that God is all powerful, but also believe that because God is also all loving that he limits his power for the sake of a relationship with the world. So Greg offers us three self-evident truths to help us understand how these two truths can live in tension with one another.
1: Love is a relationship
God is all powerful, but he’s also love (1 John 4:8: God is love). Love is a relationship, and love is the noun that God eternally is, and this will condition how he uses his power. God’s use of his power is affected by the will of person/entity that he is in relationship with, because love is a relationship. Greg gives us the picture of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) of how God’s essence is an “I and thou” a constant ongoing love relationship. This is important because it helps us reframe our expectations of how God uses his power to influence the world. This is good news for us because God created us to have a life-giving, ongoing relationship that reflect the perfect love in the Trinity.
2: Relationships are mutually influential
A real relationship is one in which both parties have a real influence on the other. When we are in real relationships with others, we allow them to influence us and they allow us to influence them. Greg calls this, “say-so”, he gets to have a say in Shelly’s (his wife) life, and she gets to have a say in his. A relationship in which one person alone has say-so into the other’s life is not a relationship, that’s a monopoly – one power… one person has all the power. When the say-so is taking away from a person, then their personhood is taken away. This is not the kind of relationship God wants from us — he wants a mutually beneficial and influential relationship.
3: All of this applies to our relationship with God
The goal of creation was so that God could have a relationship with us, and because God is loving, and because loving relationships have to be mutually influential, we can believe that God is all powerful but he doesn’t always gets his way. He limits his power for the sake of a real, honest, mutual, loving relations with us. One that honors our free will and personhood.
So, when we look at this passage we see that these truths hold true for spirit agents as they do with human agents. Human beings and spirit agents make decisions that impact God and other people. To some degree, they can thwart God’s will, at least for the short-term. And Daniel 10 is a classic case of this. God answered the prayer, but it wasn’t God’s will for Gabriel to be delayed with the answer, spirit agents with free will used their say-so to resist God’s will.
Greg addresses the previous questions:
If God is all power and omnipresent (everywhere), then why work through a mediary who is vulnerable to being intercepted?
Because God is love and love is defined by the cross, then God is not one to cling to power, but wants to share power with others to accomplish his will. So God allows Gabriel to align his say-so with God’s, even though there’s the risk that the prince of Persia’s say-so will delay God’s answer to Daniel’s praying and fasting.
God desires for us to have a synergy with us, we bring our time, our energy, our say-so to God to accomplish his will on earth. Which means we matter. We get to make a difference as we bring our say-so in line with God’s say so.
Why didn’t God intervene in the battle between Gabriel and Michael against the Prince of Persia – by stepping him himself, making either side weaker/stronger, etc.?
God gives every entity say-so… the capacity to say yes or no to God’s will. When God gives an entity say-so he doesn’t take it away. So, when an entity, in this case the Prince of Persia, uses their say-so to reject God’s will, God cannot take it away. If he did he never really gave them a say-so, and love requires mutual influential say-so. So, God has to wisely work around it. The bible highlights God’s wisdom and providence more than his power because of this very reason. God’s problem solves when agents who he’s given free will to use their free will against him. And since God is a relational God he will always work with others to accomplish his goal. So, God sending Michael and even giving Daniel a peek into what was going behind the scenes was God’s problem solving love in action to accomplish his will.
When we engage in spiritual warfare either in prayer or using our say-so to accomplish God’s will, we are celebrating this love nature, we’re choosing to partner with God to restore the world, and we’re reflecting the love of the Trinity in our every day lives.
Hide Extended Summary