Spiritual Princes of Israel and Judah
At the end of Daniel 10, Peniel told the prophet that he had to return shortly to fight the prince of Persia and that the prince of Greece was soon to come. All things happen in the spiritual dimension before they occur in world history. Thus, Persia itself was soon to fall, making way for the third empire (Greece). This was to happen first in the heavens and later on the earth.
Further, it is implied that Persia was to fall as a result of Peniel’s war, backed by Prince Michael. The war was then to continue into the next stage against the prince of Greece. Peniel then seems to complain that “there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince” (Dan. 10:21).
The Princes of Judah and Israel
Recall that Peniel, “the angel of His face,” had led Israel out of Egypt and had been Israel’s prince until the golden calf incident. Then Michael replaced Peniel as Israel’s chief prince. The two angels were needed later when Israel and Judah split into two nations after the death of Solomon (1 Kings 12:19). When the breach occurred, Michael was assigned to Judah, while Peniel took charge of Israel.
When the scepter and the birthright were divided between Judah and Joseph (1 Chron. 5:1, 2), the two angels were separated in order to minister to each calling. Michael was assigned to the scepter, while Peniel was assigned to the birthright. When Israel and Judah were divided, the two angels each followed their assignments, and so Michael became the prince of Judah, while Peniel became the prince of Israel.
Peniel had already been relegated to the background at the golden calf incident some centuries earlier, and he remained aloof when Israel’s king set up more golden calves at Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:28, 29). Michael, however, remained as Judah’s spiritual prince.
Peniel’s background role did not end until recently (2001), when we were led to hold a prayer campaign to overthrow those golden calves. I myself knew nothing of Peniel until he appeared to me in October of 1995 at a conference in North Carolina.
I wrote about this experience in The Wars of the Lord, chapter 14. Peniel was released by 40 Christian US marines at a military base in Japan on Oct. 8, 1995, and he then appeared to me in North Carolina later that same day. Six weeks later a missionary to Japan told me how the marines in Japan had heard a voice from heaven speak three times that day. Their faith released Peniel by overturning the decision made by the Israelites under Moses, which had served to replace Peniel.
It is not that Peniel was totally inactive during these centuries. Yet he could do nothing to restore Israel or to bring about the manifestation of the Sons of God while the golden calves were the official gods of Israel. Those gods (along with other offenses) were the cause of Israel’s demise, as we read in 1 Kings 13:34. The golden calf in the days of Moses prevented the people from entering their Kingdom inheritance alive and well through the ministry of Peniel. This situation continued when Jeroboam set up the golden calves in Israel.
Michael brings resurrection by the power of Passover and the wave-sheaf offering; Peniel brings transformation and glorification by the power of the feast of Tabernacles. To look at it another way, Michael’s calling was fulfilled through Judah, while Peniel’s calling is to be fulfilled through Israel. It was for this reason that Christ had to come twice, the first time of Judah and the second time of Joseph-Israel. As the lion of the tribe of Judah, Christ had to undergo death and resurrection according to the prophecy in Gen. 49:9-12, but as the strong bull of Joseph, Christ was to be the “fruitful bough” (ben, “son”) according to the prophecy in Gen. 49:22.
These two angels, then, were the only princes who were able to stand together and lead the hosts of the Lord in spiritual warfare. Together, they lead the united House of Israel, and both must be fully activated and empowered in order to establish the Kingdom of God in its fulness. Hence, this was not possible until recently.
All of the other nations were fully pagan, or “beast” nations, ruled by satanic princes. The angels of God assigned to them were not yet empowered, for it was not yet time for the Kingdom of God to come to them.
The Division of Labor
During the time of Daniel, we find Peniel fighting in spiritual warfare against the prince of Persia, but even his victory only brought in the prince of Greece. It was not time for full victory. The Kingdom was yet under the curse of captivity on account of sin. Each succeeding prince of the beast empires had been given a specific time to rule, and the total time was “seven times,” or 2,520 years. This divine judgment served to delay Peniel’s calling and ministry to fulfill the feast of Tabernacles.
For the same reason, the Birthright of Joseph too was delayed until the time came for the saints of the Most High to receive the Kingdom from the beast nations.
The interaction between Peniel and Michael during this warfare are of interest to us. Peniel tells the prophet that Michael was “your prince.” Michael was Judah’s prince but since Daniel’s calling made him the chief spokesman for Judah, Michael was also specifically assigned to Daniel himself—as if he were Judah’s king-in-exile. His prayers directed Michael’s actions, just as the king of Persia’s prayers directed the actions of the prince of Persia.
The prince of every nation works primarily through the king or leader of that nation. In the case of Israel and Judah, the kings were supposed to be godly men through whom Michael and Peniel could minister (Heb. 1:14). In times of apostasy, however, these angels had to work through others whom God raised up, sort of as minority leaders of an opposition (Kingdom) party. It is clear, for example, that Elijah was the leader of the opposition to King Ahab and Jezebel, and Paul practically tells us in Rom. 11:2-20 that he was the leader of the overcoming remnant in his day.
Supporting God’s Princes
Peniel’s complaint that he found support only from Michael can be understood when we see that the two angels represented Israel and Judah. In other words, there were believers in Israel and Judah during that time through whom the two angels could work. Men like Daniel and his three friends, and later godly men such as Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest, and the post-exilic prophets all supported the work and calling of Michael in his leadership role over Judah.
Likewise, in far-off Israel there were those who repudiated the golden calves, worshiping the God of Israel in the best way that they could. No doubt these included Tobit, whose story is told in the book that bears his name. Tobit 1:10-13 says,
10 And when we were carried away captives to Nineveh, all my brethren and those that were of my kindred did eat of the bread of the Gentiles. 11 But I kept myself from eating; 12 because I remembered God with all my heart. 13 And the most High gave me grace and favour before [King] Enemessar, so that I was his purveyor.
King Enemessar was probably Shalmanezer, who was one of the Assyrian kings who took the Israelites captive (2 Kings 17:3).
There was also a large group of Israelites who determined to leave the land of their captivity and to separate themselves from the non-believers. Like the later Pilgrims in America, these Israelites separated themselves in order to have religious freedom to worship the God of Israel. The story is told in 2 Esdras 13:40-45,
40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land. 41 But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, 42 That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. 43 And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river. 44 For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. 45 For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth. 46 Then dwelt they there until the latter time;
I have no doubt that there were many (if not all) within this group who were true believers and who therefore supported Peniel’s ministry in regard to the birthright and the feast of Tabernacles. They probably had little understanding of the spiritual events going on in the heavens, and it is unlikely they even knew that Peniel was leading them, but nonetheless, if their hearts were right with God, they supported Peniel’s ministry.
The Prince of Greece
The prince of Greece was the satanic prince of Greece, for it was the third beast nation in the sequence. Yet Greece, too, has an angelic prince assigned to it, as do all nations. All of these angelic princes will be released and will prevail in the end when the glory of God fills the whole earth.
But in Daniel’s time, the prince of Persia still dominated that nation, though it had not yet arisen to its position of spiritual prominence over the nations. Alexander the Great would not arise for another two centuries. Daniel had already been shown (in Dan. 8:21) that Greece was to be the third of the beast kingdoms. So it is not a surprise that Peniel would mention Greece in Dan. 10:20.
But the real revelation was yet to be given to Daniel. This final revelation is given in the last chapters of Daniel.