The truth is that ALL Christians—whether they live in a place where their vote counts or not— have a participative role in something much greater than any earthly government! Christians participate with Christ in a cosmic conflict against evil spiritual forces.
We participate primarily by engaging in Spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 2:6 states that, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” and chapter 1:18-23 explains just exactly where it is that Christ sits. “Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:21-22). All those in Christ are currently sharing in the rule of Christ over the universe!
“Well, that is all nice and good,” you may say, “but government is about real world, not the spiritual one.” But not so fast there. The Bible teaches that the spirit world has a direct influence up the physical one, despite remaining unseen.
2 Kings 19:35 & Isaiah 37:36 record an event in which one angel kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers from the army of Sennacarib, saving God’s people from certain destruction. How did a spiritual being, an angel, kill humans? We are not told. They just died. I’d be curious to see what an autopsy report showed about these guys, but that is not necessary. Could it have been with a plague or disease? Could it have been through heart failure? Doesn’t matter exactly what the physical ‘cause of death’ would have appeared to be, the actual cause of death was an angelic being. It is interesting to note that a ‘cause of death’ is a WHAT, not a why. The why is where God is involved.
In Daniel 10:7-9 we see another direct effect that an unseen angel has on people who were inexplicably affected by it. “7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.”
The people ran in fear just because of the angel’s presence, even though they couldn’t see it. And we have no indication from the text that any of these people knew what was causing this reaction in their physical bodies. The effect on Daniel himself is that he loses his strength, goes pail, and falls on his face. The point here is that spiritual beings can have a direct impact, in this case emotionally, on human beings.
The case of Daniel 10 is particularly engaging because the angel says he is coming in answer to Daniel’s prayers. Several places in the New Testament speak of angels being sent in response to our prayers. Hebrews 1:7 gives interesting insight telling us God sends angels for many varying reasons. “7 In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.’”
When we pray and ask God to act on behalf of His promises as 1 Tim. 2:1-2 and many other’s instruct, what should we expect in response? Such prayers invite spiritual war to take place.
Read Daniel 10:10-13. “10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”
This angelic messenger unabashedly tells Daniel ‘I’ve come to give in answer to your prayer for understanding.’ This guy was sent from God to interfere in the world of men in response to Daniel’s prayers! But the angelic intervention does not go uncontested. God’s messenger was delayed by the “Prince of the kingdom of Persia” which means some kind of a spiritual being that is at work for evil in Persia. These forces were somehow battling for influence over the affairs of the Persian kingdom! This force of spiritual evil was able to stop the messenger for 21 days while they apparently were in conflict.
Just this peek into the spiritual war going on behind the political scene should show us how IMPORTANT it is to pray and ask God for the things He has told us to ask for, and not for physical comfort, and other junk! We read in Ephesians 6:11-12 that there are very real, evil spiritual forces which relentlessly oppose God’s people. Our engagement in this spiritual conflict is important in a number of ways that I’ll comment on next time.