Without any doubt God is in control of this world. True, bad things happen that God has chosen not to control, because He grants us free will, but the cosmos is absolutely heading for the exact destination He has set for it. It’s a difficult thing sometimes to keep straight in our heads and hearts that God has allowed us to have free will — we may choose good or evil — but that God can still predict the world’s events. Perhaps, perhaps, this is part of the reason that some theologian struggle with the predictive prophecy found in Daniel, especially in today’s reading — specifically chapter 11.
The word “princes” here (as in prince of Persian, prince of Greece, and prince of your people) are not being used in the sense of political kings, but of what are sometimes called principalities — Romans 8:38 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers.” In this passage there is a clear reference to spiritual warfare — that seems to have had some physical, material world consequences in the politics of the world. Fighting, presumably leading angelic armies, in this warfare seems angelic princes — each nation seems to have a “prince” of its own, and none took the Messiah’s side in Daniel’s vision. When we humans get outnumbered, we panic; but never forget that one with God is better than a majority — it makes His people more than conquerors. That’s not to say — as in this passage — that the battle won’t be difficult or challenging, but God always wins — big. Sometimes we charge out into the world, with God at our side, expecting the enemy to just fall away without resistance — and we can get disappointed. The enemy will be defeated, but he has no intention of going down quietly or easily — just remember that he does go down decisively and permanently in the end.
There’s a good bit of detail to be found in chapter 11, but it’s fulfillment can all be verified historically. The amazing detail found here sometimes lures liberal theologians to doubt the book’s true inspiration; they accuse it of really being history written as if it were prophecy. Their God is too small. Never let your God be too small. Never let Him be so small that He’s only able to give us moral guidelines that last a few centuries — have an expiration date after a few centuries. Never let your God get so small that He can’t understand your situation and circumstance. Never let you God get so small that He couldn’t create a world as we have it without the help of millions of years and evolution’s help. Never let your God get so small that He hasn’t got time for your small troubles. And never let your God get so small that He can’t forgive something that you’ve done.
Resurrection isn’t a New Testament doctrine; it’s found right in Daniel 12. And the context of its revelation to us should teach us something. The context is Daniel’s questions and anxiety about the future. What the Lord tells him is the specifics weren’t really all that important, but that given the he should find comfort in knowing that his future was secure — no matter how insecure and tumultuous the next few centuries might be. A Bill Gaither song puts it well…
How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, This child can face uncertain days because He lives. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, All fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives.