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Week 3 February 2023, Devotion Part 1

“O Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly beloved…” Daniel 9:22-23

We are all specialists of sorts in the service of our divine King and each specialty has its own occupational hazards. Daniel, seer of visions and interpreter of dreams – “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters” serving the Babylonian king – made no bones about his. “As for me, Daniel,” he writes, “my spirit within me was anxious and the visions of my head alarmed me… my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed… And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I rose and went about the king’s business; but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” By this time Darius the Mede had overtaken Nebuchadnezzar’s throne.

Of his speedily dispatched messenger Daniel writes, “…while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at first, came to me in swift flight…” Notice, he says “the man Gabriel.” A mental basket case already, he could not have handled some scary otherworldly apparition. Daniel adds, “in swift flight.” This implies grateful recognition of God’s compassionately timed supernatural intervention. (Part 1 or 2)

Comment: The angels of today’s cultural perceptions are wildly popular, but inspire neither faith nor fear. How could they, portrayed as clinging protectively to speeding cars as joyriders of sorts? Angelic encounters in biblical accounts typically generated dread until the words “Fear not” were heard. For a true view of their role as “ministering spirits,” Hebrews 1 is the must read. As created beings, they excel in worthy attributes far beyond human comprehension, but are not to be worshiped. The supremacy in all things resides in Jesus Christ alone as the express “wisdom and power of God.” While writing from Patmos to reveal Him as such, John was twice rebuked by angels for falling at their feet in worship, reminding him that they were nothing more than fellow servants with faithful believers (19:10 and 22:9). To his credit, he was justifiably awestruck and could never understand why folks today rave about “awesome” pizza, video games, or similar “really cool stuff.” The Bible names only three angels. Isaiah 14:12 introduces Lucifer, the “light-bearer,” whose monstrous pride has him expelled from heaven. On earth he is known as Satan, meaning “adversary” or “accuser.” Michael, “who is like God” or “gift from God,” appears as archangel in Daniel 10:13;21 and in 12:1. He is entrusted with a special care for Israel. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 he is linked with the believers’ resurrection, and in Jude 1:9 Michael has a serious dispute with the devil. Tellingly, “he does not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but says, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’” Satan is shown as powerful, with Michael depending on God’s power alone - a useful hint to the Church Militant today. How refreshing to encounter Gabriel - “God is my strength” – as this thoroughly endearing special messenger to His “greatly beloved,” yet greatly distressed seer Daniel. Dear old John did get it right when as seasoned saint he penned in his first letter, “Perfect love casts out fear” (4:19).

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