In an earlier post, I talked about Jesus delivering a man possessed by a legion of demons in an area called the Gadarenes. What I didn’t talk about is the bizarre request this horde of demons made to Jesus.
Mark writes about the encounter in his gospel. He notes that the deliverance is a bit unusual, because the demons didn’t immediately leave when Jesus commanded them, which had been standard practice up to this point:
8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:8-10 NASV)
Because the spirit was able to initially resist, Jesus asked for its name and even that was not provided right away. But Christ had authority, and the evil spirit finally buckled and coughed up its name.
It called itself Legion, “for we are many.” At that time, a Roman legion was made up of 10 cohorts of about 5,000 men. Whether this is the number of demons in the man is unclear, but when the evil spirit asked for permission to go into a nearby herd of pigs, Mark says the herd of 2,000 hurtled itself over a cliff.
But in the process the evil spirit made one interesting request, it asked not to be sent out of the country (verse 10). The word country, (Greek choras), refers to a particular country, region, district, or province. It can also refer to an area ruled by a citadel or fortress.
For some reason, the evil spirit did not want to leave this geographical area.
Why would this be such a big deal?
It hints of a similar situation we find in the book of Daniel.
In chapter 10, we read how God had given his prophet revelation of a great conflict (literally warfare) that was brewing (verse 1 -2). Unsure of what this meant, Daniel prayed and fasted 21 days for revelation on what this battle involved.
Three weeks later an angel arrives with an answer to Daniel’s question, but the angel provides insight on what was taking place in the spiritual realm:
“Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me 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: 12-13 NASV)
From the moment Daniel started praying, God dispatched an angel with the answer. But the prince of Persia, a demonic angel, withstood this Godly angel for 21 days until Michael, a chief prince (an archangel Jude 1:9) arrived breaking this resistance.
The Godly angel then tells Daniel having delivered the message he was returning to “fight the prince of Persia” and adds another angel “prince of Greece” was soon coming (Daniel 10:20).
It is a bit of an odd situation, the Godly angel needed to battle the ‘prince of Persia’ when Daniel was actually in Babylonian captivity. I will explain that in a minute.
This passage shows that in the satanic realm, higher ranking angels have been put over nations. This hierarchy is seen in the Gospels where we have evil spirits, with demons below them.
Jesus had encountered one of those high-ranking spirits in the man from the Gadarenes and this is why it did not want to leave the “country.” This was its jurisdiction.
In Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Satan offered the Lord of all the nations of the world for a moment of worship:
5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. (Luke 4:5-6 NASV)
Jesus never challenged satan’s claim to ownership of the kingdoms. But notice how satan said he could give the kingdoms to who ever he wishes. It again speaks of chain of command in the satanic realm.
Though nations exist in the physical realm, in the spiritual realm there is a demonic-shadow government trying to pull the strings behind the scenes. They want to exert control over governments and their leaders.
This is why Paul writes:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. that we war (Ephesians 6:12 NASV)
And why he exhorts Christians to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2).
In Daniel there is a very clear connection between Daniel’s three weeks of prayer and fasting (Daniel 10:2-3) and the “prince of Persia’s” ability to hinder the godly angel for 21 days (Daniel 10:13).
Daniel’s time of prayer and fasting was the catalyst to break the demonic resistance resulting in answered prayer.
It is also curious to note, the angel said he was returning to battle the prince of Persia, because as I mentioned Daniel along with the rest of the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. It was King Cyrus of Persia who defeated the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to Israel.
God called this pagan leader — King Cyrus — His anointed (Isaiah 45:1-7). This happened because the Angel of God had won the battle against the ‘prince of Persia’ and broken the demonic stronghold over that nation.
Not surprisingly, many secular writers consider Cyrus one of the greatest and most benevolent kings the world has known. You can read more about Cyrus in my post: Did Donald Trump become a born-again Christian?