Long game vs. short game.

Daniel 10:10–14

Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”

Notice that the speaker doesn’t say, “the prince of Persia,” but, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” These princes are angels, and so is the speaker. Thus, this passage yields an important insight—angels don’t have dominion over time. Dominion over time means never having to explain why you’re late.

Angels are powerful, ancient, smart, and scary, but they reside inside time, just like us. This applies to fallen angels as well as good ones. Our enemies are to be feared, but they don’t know the future. They may be better at interpreting prophesy than we are, but that’s all. They don’t have any inside knowledge of what’s coming.

Conversely, God, who is outside of time, knows all things and can give out inside information to whomever He chooses. This doesn’t happen in prophetic form very often, but everything God does is in the context of His perfect plan for all things—past, present, and future.

Never forget this when you pray. You know what you want, but He knows what you need.

There are two essential takeaways from this. First, God’s answers to prayer should be interpreted with an eye towards the long term. His answers are often slow or come in baby steps. That seems to be by design.

Character development is a big part of what’s going on. Even when God grants us the undeserved favor of giving us what we asked for, character development may be a big part of how He choreographs it.

Second, the enemies do not take such a long view. Not knowing what’s coming, their actions seem surprisingly short term and not strategic. They are never patient.

This seems stupid because it is stupid. While the spiritual forces of evil are vastly smarter and more experienced than we are, they are also totally consumed by sin.

One of the hallmarks of sin is the way it makes us do stupid things. It seems to have a similar effect on angels.

The devil is the ultimate Darwin Award winner.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.