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July as “Territory”

In Daniel 10, Daniel was broken-hearted over the 70+-year oppression of God’s people. He ate simply, did not dress for company — he just prayed.

Three weeks later while walking along the Tigris, Daniel was greeted by a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold. The man was radiant — literally. Chiseled face, resonant voice, torch-like eyes. No one else saw the man in linen. Just Daniel. And he was stymied. His friends continued walking, but Daniel, afraid, collapsed in the dirt.

The man spoke: “Hey, Daniel! My good man! Stand up. I have some news for you.”

Daniel stood, but his knees were quivering.

The man continued, as The Message interprets it:

Relax, Daniel . . . don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what’s ahead.

Walter Wink uses this passage (more literally than I ever heard in my previous life) to remind present-day believers of the power of prayer:

Why was the angel twenty-one days in arriving if the prayer was heard on the very first day that Daniel prayed? Because, the angel continues in verse 13, ‘the angel prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me ¬†for twenty-one days.’ He could not even have managed to get through to Daniel at all, except that ‘Michael one of the chief angels, came to help me, because I had been left there alone’ to contend with the angel of Persia. Now, while Michael occupies the angel of Persia, the messenger angel has slipped through and is able to deliver to Daniel a vision of the future for exiled Israel. . . .

Now, no self-respecting dispensationalist/cessationist would interpret the passage that way. They would read the passage as pure metaphorical or prophetic and safely tuck it away in level 400 classes for Bible majors. This MacArthur sermon is pretty typical of what I have always heard. Pedantic and numbing exposition, some lurid occult examples, some stuff about the uniqueness of the preacher, and the guilt. Don’t forget the guilt!

Now Wink is much more focused on “us” and “now” than on himself and the future, and he admits that the exact reasons for God’s “delay” in responding are a mystery. Yet he concludes that:

prayer involves not just God and people, but God and people and Powers.

And I can’t stop thinking about that every July. And the “territory” of July. Maybe it’s the heat. But it really, really traumatic stuff is going to happen, it seems to hit in July. This author doesn’t buy the notion of ‘territorial spirits’ per se but remembers:

The prophet [Daniel] did not pray against cosmic powers but for the people of God and the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes. Apparently Daniel’s focus in prayer was not on the celetial warfare in the heavenlies, but on the promises of God and their fulfillment on the terrestial scene.

And so July needs to be my month of Promise, I guess.


2 thoughts on “July as “Territory”

  1. “All the promises of God find their yes in Him, Jesus.” July is the month I lost my dad, July 17, 1964. Two days before my 21 st. It was the day I used to call ‘Black Friday.’ And for a wounded, heart broken young woman, it was ‘the worst day of my life.’ Years later I realized, it was also the day I began to ‘look for the Father’, the day that He began to draw me to Him, and the day when I began my secret, silent, inner’search, known only to Him and myself, for a little girl’s faith that had gone into a sleep of late adolescent agnosticism. And fifteen years later, He found me! Never the same again. Thank you Jesus. Fun birthday last week. Saw the final Harry Potter movie. Love the Potter! Daniel’s one of my favorite heroes. Dare to be a Daniel! The world needs us!

  2. July in Southern Ontario this Summer, was SOOOO hot, that we really couldn’t sit out in our nice big back yard and enjoy the trees. We had to stay inside with the central air on. I love trees. But other than that, July was a great Summer time. And I have always loved Summer. I can always feel September calling me, some time in late August. Because I know that Summer always has to come to an end. Then I get a little blue. Our Summer seemed to have started for us in mid June. Apart from the temptation to kill a few people on the much too noisy bus, to and from, a wonderful renewal weekend, in Steubenville, Ohio, we both had a wonderful time. But next year, I’m travelling by private van with a few quieter friends who don’t drive me nuts! The third week in July, we went back to Ohio, to take an incredible Catholic Bible study Conference on was the Book of Mathew. All the speakers spoke on the same Gospel. We were first timers at the ABS conference, so we were required to enroll in the starter course called “Genesis To Jesus”, which started ‘before’ the ABS did. And it was incredible. We were taught that, God actually made a Covenant with, get this, CREATION! What a beautiful thing to learn. Remember how in Genesis ONE and TWO, how often God ‘looked at what He had made, and He saw that “it was good”, and “Heblessed it!” God loved what He made. God loved and still does love, His CREATION. I still find that insight SO BEAUTIFUL to think about. So even before August rolled around, We had already had a pretty full Summer. We even had the energy to ride our bikes around Ottawa when we went back there for our annual week long vacation, where we stayed at the University of Ottawa residence! So comfortable. With two piece bathroom, kitchen and two bedroom apartments with cable tv and internet, and an eleventh floor incredible view of our beautiful capital. WOW! I don’t know where we got the energy. But there’s nothing like ambition and enthusiasm to get some energy to do what we so enjoy. Maybe God is renewing the energy of our youth! Sure hope He is. Cause wer’e not getting any younger! Anyway, I am grateful for our special summer which started in mid June. And that God restrained me from ‘killing some people’ on that bus to and from Ohio! I have forgiven those who were so noisy. But I know I do not ‘have to’ try to ‘enjoy’ their bus company next year. I have rights too. Thank God for ‘velcro lips’ and the spirit / fruit of ‘self-control’, so that I don’t react. All from God’s grace. I cannot take any credit for those restraints. God helps me to keep out of trouble. It was amusing in a rather wierd way how we were really Looking forward to the bus rolling back into the Church parking lot, upon our return, knowing that we could ‘escape from the crazies.’ The house back home was so wonderfully quiet. I don’t know whe I’ve ever been more grateful to get back home again! Anyway, thanks God for such an incredible Summer. I also really love September. Most heat waves are past. And thanks for this great blog!

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