Michael, A Chief Prince

The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia” (Dan. 10:13).

- Daniel 10

During the past few decades, Western Christians have become more interested in spiritual warfare. Bestselling novels have depicted battles between the armies of heaven and the forces of hell, and scores of teachers have addressed the subject. Many of these works refer to “territorial spirits” who have charge over certain countries or empires, and Christians are often encouraged to “bind the demon of [insert name of city or country]” to help advance God’s kingdom.

Undoubtedly, much of this teaching is drawn from today’s passage and its account of a battle between “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” and “Michael, one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13). This Michael is referred to elsewhere in Scripture as an archangel (Jude 9), an angelic being who apparently holds a high rank in the Lord’s army. His opponent in Daniel 10 is clearly an enemy of God and His people, a demon with strong influence on the Persian empire. Although Scripture does not refer directly to the prince of Persia as a “territorial spirit,” it does seem that there are angelic beings, good and evil, assigned to individual lands and kingdoms. For instance, Deuteronomy 32:8 speaks of national borders fixed “according to the number of the sons of God.” There are also the cherubim assigned to guard the territory of Eden after the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:24).

What are we to make of all this? First, we should acknowledge that there is real conflict in the heavenlies and that we are wise to be knowledgeable about those areas on earth that suffer from spiritual oppression and bondage. Second, even though there are regions that are especially hostile to the gospel and likely ruled by particular evil beings, demonic powers are no match for the host of heaven. The prince of Persia was able to delay the angel’s visit to Daniel, but he was unable to keep him away forever (Dan. 10:13–14); thus, we can be confident that God’s purposes will win the day even if there is much toil and trouble beforehand. Finally, we must recognize the reality of spiritual warfare without overemphasizing the abilities of Satan and his minions. Though Scripture might recognize the existence of “territorial spirits,” we are never told that we must “bind them” or pray directly against them for the work of the gospel to be effectual.

Coram Deo

There is indeed a war going on in the heavens, so we should not be naive about the enemies we face. Still, we can be confident that the hands of God envelop us, and so we should ask Him to deliver us and to give His Word success when we are proclaiming it to people. Let us place the weight of emphasis on the Lord and His abilities and not on Satan’s capabilities, for they are nothing in comparison to the power of God.

Passages for Further Study

Daniel 12:1
Revelation 12:7–17

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