Prince Michael and his commander

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By R.A. Mathews

The story reads like an epic fantasy novel. There’s a battle-scarred prince and his Commander. Angels and demons. A king, forced against his will, to kill his allies. And a stolen boy, taken to a far-away country, who becomes the story’s main character.

In fact, the tale is part of a collection that is the best-selling book every year, year after year, according to the New Yorker. It even outsold Harry Potter.

Email newsletter signup

But you won’t find this book in Barnes and Noble on the shelves of fiction. The yearly bestseller is the Bible and the stolen boy is Daniel. 

This is his true story.

Probably a Jewish prince, Daniel was taken from Jerusalem by the Babylonians roughly six centuries before the birth of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar had decided to keep the Jewish leaders in line by taking their children hostage.

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord handed Jehoiakim, king of Judah over to him… Then the king (took)… some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family…. who were good-looking… to serve in the king’s court… Now among them (was) . . . Daniel….” (Daniel 1:1-6)

The handsome young boy stayed close to God and eventually became the most powerful man in Babylon. But Daniel’s life was filled with challenges and suffering. 

Included in his book is the story of his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, thrown into a fiery furnace. They survived with the help of a fourth figure — probably Jesus or an angel. 

The book also includes the story of the handwriting on the wall just before the king was killed, as well as Daniel, as he’s thrown into the lions’ den and then protected by angels. 

But it’s Daniel’s alarming visions that take up the second half of the book. The angel Gabriel comes twice to comfort him. “When I, Daniel, had seen the vision… , (I saw) one who looked like a man. And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, ‘Gabriel, explain the vision to this man’” (Daniel 8:15-16).

Hands down, this is one of my favorite moments in Scripture. Why? Because you see the inner workings of angels. Gabriel is directed by either another angel or Jesus, shouting across the river. It just doesn’t get much better! 

Here’s what Gabriel said.

“So (Gabriel) came near to where I was standing, and… I was frightened and fell on my face; and he said to me, ‘Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end’” (Daniel 8:17).

Gabriel goes on to explain the terrifying vision. Later, Gabriel returns again.

But the most dramatic moment in the book is after Daniel’s vision of war, when a frightening man in linen appears before him. Here’s the passage:

“… while I was by the bank of the… Tigris, I raised my eyes and… there was a man dressed in linen, whose waist had a belt of pure gold… his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me…ran away to hide themselves” (Daniel 10:4-7).

The man then told Daniel of the battle that delayed his arrival, saying, “… the prince of the kingdom of Persia was standing in my way for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 10:13). 

He goes on to say, “… shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia… there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince” (Daniel 10:20-21).


This should bring to mind Paul’s words written over 600 years later: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

When life feels overwhelming, remember this young boy, forced from his home and family, who stayed close to God despite one trouble after another.

Reach out to God and let Him hold you. The Lord will guide you and comfort you no matter what life brings.

You are not alone.

The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of Emerald Coast: The Vendetta. Write to her at Copyright © 2024 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.