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How Langton interrupted an angel


Daniel in the Lions’ Den Credit: by Briton Riviere (1840-1920)/Manchester City Art Gallery/Wikipedia/Public Domain

I have a tendency to interrupt people when they are speaking and yes it is definitely something I have to work on. But in my defense, I have never interrupted an angel (that I know of) and should get some brownie points for that.

But Stephen Langton did?

In my previous article, I wrote about Stephen Langton, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, who in 1227 AD created the chapter system used in our modern Bibles.

It was a bit of a race, because 17 years later, Italian Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro also developed a chapter division, but it was Langton’s system that was used in the Wycliffe Bible in 1382 and became the standard.

Now don’t get me wrong, the chapters and verses have proven to be very beneficial, but we also need to realize that they are not God inspired and can be problematic and if they are poorly placed can actually disrupt the meaning of the text.

Chapters are intended as hard breaks and imply there is no direct connection between a chapter and the one that follows.

I have noticed recently the appearance of some Bible version where the chapters and verse numbers have been removed. They present the Bible in a paragraph format and add the odd heading for clarity. This allows for a smoother reading of the text and fuller understanding of its meaning.

Below I will provide a passage out of the book of Daniel from the NASV in simple paragraph form without chapter and verses. It involves the discussion that an angel of God had with Daniel.

As background to this passage, the angel had been dispatched to deliver an answer to Daniel’s prayer after the prophet entered a period of fasting and prayer.

But the angel mentioned that he had been hindered from delivering God’s message by the Prince of Persia. The godly angel was finally able to break through after Michael the arch angel over Israel (Daniel 12:1) arrived and helped.

The Prince of Persia was obviously a satanic spirit put over Persia, because how could an earthly prince stop a godly angel from delivering the message.

So with that as the backdrop, below is a bit of the conversation:

Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me.

He said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!” Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Then he said:

“Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.

In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.”

But in the middle of this angel’s conversation with Daniel, Langton stuck a chapter break.

Yes, Langton interrupted the angel. He put the chapter 11 break here:

11 “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and a protection for him.

Daniel 11:1 NASV

Because Langton slapped it in the middle of the angel’s conversation with Daniel, for years I thought it was Daniel who was protecting and encouraging Darius the Mede because the chapter break broke this connection.

But that impression was wrong. This first verse of chapter 11 was simply a continuation of what the angel was saying in the last verses of chapter 10. It was the angel of God who had taken the position beside Darius the Mede to encourage and protect him.

In fact, the angel added that he had been dispatched to minister to all the Kings of Persia (Daniel 10:13). In the first verse of chapter 11, the angel was simply explaining that he arrived at the beginning of the Medo-Persian empire that would over throw Babylon and pave the way for the eventual arrival of Cyrus the Great, considered by many historians as the greatest King of the Ancient world.

It was Cyrus who passed an edict that allowed people taken captive by the Babylonians to return to their homelands, paving the way for the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple

Cyrus was also the pagan King who God called both His shepherd (Isaiah 44:28) and anointed one (Isaiah 45:1) and the man God raised up to open doors.

And this all happened because one man, Daniel, prayed and activated angels to engage in a spiritual battle for the Persian Empire. This resulted in the defeat of the demonic Prince over Persia and allowed a godly angel to take a position beside the Kings of Persia to encourage and protect these human leaders.

The godly angel was not only protecting them from demonic influences, but also encouraging them to pass laws that paved the way for the Jews return to the Promised Land.

This understanding provides some insight into why the Apostle Paul encourages us to pray for governmental leaders and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and perhaps even how we should pray.

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