MESSAGE FOR NOVEMBER 11, 2007 FROM DANIEL 10:1-21
Read: Daniel 10:1-21 Daniel 10:1-21 (ESV)
In the third year of Cyrus king of
This week, we return to our study of the Old Testament book of
Daniel where we left off last February. Because many weren’t here
when we started this series and because if you’re like me, you need to be reminded of things you heard nine months
ago, this morning we want to reintroduce this powerful Old Testament book.
If you want to see where we have been up to this point in Daniel, all the previous sermon manuscripts are
available online at the address listed on the “Sermon Notes” page of the bulletin.
Daniel is a post-exilic prophet. By that I mean that most
of the events in the book occur after God had by exile
removed his people, the Jews from the Promised Land. He had promised
them through Moses that if they broke his covenant with them, he would bring the curses of the covenant upon them
and the most severe curse was exile from the Promised Land. God had
warned his people through the prophet Jeremiah and others that he would carry out this covenant curse and use
The story of Daniel begins, according to the first verse in the
book in “…the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim.” Jehoiakim
was the king of
Daniel was a gifted and highly educated young Jew in
More important than his political influence was his profound spiritual influence for the God of Israel during his time in exile with his fellow Jews. Though he had been educated in Babylonian religion, he maintained a strict allegiance to Yahweh that on several occasions brought upon him great persecution. Had it not been for the repeated, miraculous intervention of the God of Israel, Daniel would not have survived. The main theme of the book of Daniel is the unchanging, sovereign power and control of God even in the midst of the exile of his people. Though he judged his people for their decadent and idolatrous sin by sending them into exile, he did not stop exerting his gracious, sovereign control over their lives. In fact, the book of Daniel reveals that God accompanied his people in the midst of their exile and captivity. He repeatedly shows the pagan authorities that it was he, not their false gods who ruled the world.
In the first six chapters of this book, we see four separate instances where the pagan foreign kings, upon seeing the mighty works of God through Daniel his prophet, give eloquent praise to the God of the Jews. As we read these God-centered, theologically profound tributes to the God of Israel, remember—these were proclaimed by idol-worshipping pagans. In chapter two, after all the Babylonian wise men had failed, Daniel successfully interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that prophetically predicted approximately the next 700 years of Ancient Near Eastern political history. In response to this miraculous revelation from God through Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar says in 2:47, “…Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery."
In chapter four, when God delivers Daniel and his Hebrew friends from the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar says of the God of Israel, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.” Later in chapter four, after God delivers Nebuchadnezzar from seven years of insanity, the king responds with an amazing testimony of God’s sovereign power. In verse 34 he says, “…my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
Finally, to show that Nebuchadnezzar was not the only pagan king God could amaze, in chapter six, after God miraculously delivers Daniel (this now approximately 90 year old man) from the lion’s den, the Persian King Darius proclaims, “I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions." These are astonishing tributes from the mouths of pagan kings. In the first six chapters of Daniel we are treated to these riveting, God-exalting stories of God’s sovereign reign throughout the pagan world as we see him repeatedly work through this devout and godly man, Daniel.
with chapter seven however, Daniel’s style of writing changes dramatically.
There we move from what has predominantly been a series of historical narratives, to a series of apocalyptic
visions. The real life, historical figures of chapters one through
six are now replaced by graphic, symbolic images. Aggressive and warlike lions and leopards with wings, beasts
with iron-like teeth and variously sized horns, rams and goats are all graphically pictured in spectacular and
highly symbolic visions given to Daniel. The rules of interpretation for these apocalyptic images in the last six
chapters are different than the rules for interpreting the first six chapters of historical narrative.
We will not re-define those rules and my approach to apocalyptic literature here, but on the
Last time, we left off with the so called “70 weeks” prophecy of Daniel in chapter nine.
This week, we come to chapter 10 we read earlier. This entire
chapter serves as an introduction to this last major section of the book.
The centerpiece of this section is the final apocalyptic vision in chapter 11.
Chapter 12 is basically an epilogue to that vision. This is
the longest vision in the book of Daniel and that tells us that it conveys a very important message.
Today, we will not treat all of chapter 10, but will stay mostly to the opening three verses.
Let’s read those verses again. Daniel writes, “In the third
year of Cyrus king of
This date may sound familiar to you if you are familiar with the book of Ezra.
That book opens with this date, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD
by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he
made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:” This was two years before this
final vision of Daniel. What the Lord had stirred the spirit of King
Cyrus to do was to begin to allow the Jews to leave
These opening verses testify to both the truthfulness of what will follow and the contents of the vision he will relate. Daniel writes in verse one, “And the word was true, and it was a great conflict.” Daniel attests to the truthfulness of this vision. That is—this was from God—this was not some sort of hallucination. This is divinely revealed truth about the future. As with some of the other visions, this one pictures a great conflict. It symbolically portrays a series of great and future military conflicts between warring nations. In verse three, Daniel tells us that prior to receiving this vision; he was in an intensely troubled state about something, perhaps several things. We see this in a few ways. First, he says in verse two, “I Daniel, was mourning for three weeks.”
The word for “mourning” is a strong one in the original. Daniel uses the same word Nehemiah will later use to describe his mourning
over hearing that the walls of
Finally, we see that Daniel “did not anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.”
It was common for both men and women of any standing to rub olive oil on their faces.
This was a convention of the culture and was the rough equivalent to a man combing his hair.
It was something you did every day…unless you were in a time of mourning.
All that adds up the fact that something was deeply troubling Daniel.
Although the text doesn’t say what the specific sources of Daniel’s grief was, we can make two fairly safe
assumptions. First, remember the history of the Jews return to
Second and perhaps related to this is what we know from verse 12.
That is, that Daniel had been, “set[ting] his heart to understand and humbled himself before your God.”
This 85 year-old man was intensely seeking to understand something
and he was humbling himself before God in prayer. He may have been
seeking to understand what had been happening in
With that as introduction, I want to close with one point of application from these opening three verses of Daniel 10. That is, we learn from Daniel’s example here in prayer that: If we are to rightly understand God’s plan for our lives, we must passionately seek after him. By and large, most professed believers in the prosperous and fast-paced west do not know how to really seek after God in a Biblical sense. We live in a microwaving, drive-through, fast food culture where the priority on most everything is expediency. We can have overnight delivery on our packages, eyeglasses in about an hour, instant digital photographs and nearly instant access to incalculable amounts of information on the internet. The number of things you have to patiently wait for and intensely labor for in our culture is rapidly decreasing and if the way we relate to God has been strongly influenced by that dynamic, we will never grow into maturity. Today, we are encouraged to spend just ten minutes a day in Bible study. The idea of meditating over and carefully studying the Scriptures has been replaced by taking your daily Bible pill. It IS better than nothing, but it will not bring you intimacy with God—you will not come to know him very well.
We are deceived if we think that because our insanely busy culture seeks to conform us into having a drive-through devotional life, that therefore God will accommodate to that sick culture and grow mature saints within it. He won’t. He does not change his ways of making holy men and women on the basis of the demands of the fallen culture. Daniel sought to understand God’s plan for his and his fellow Jews’ lives and he prayed and fasted for 24 days. He was impassioned and persistent. He persevered. He endured. He pressed into God. He wrestled with him. Whether or not you believe God still gives visions to people today, we can all agree that the best way for us to understand God’s will is to study the Book. How many of us pursue God through his word with this Daniel-like intensity?
Martin Luther sought to understand the gospel and rescue it from the church which had tragically abandoned
it. He writes of his study of Romans, of wrestling with God to retrieve
the true gospel of grace and says, “I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners and secretly…I was angry with God… I raged with a
fierce and trouble conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted…At last, by the mercy
of God, meditating day and night, I began to understand the righteousness of God is…a gift of God, namely by faith.” Later he writes of
another struggle to uncover Biblical truth.
John Piper records that struggle and says, “In the summer and fall of 1526 Luther took up the challenge to lecture on Ecclesiastes to the small
band of students who stayed behind in
We must know that God’s truth in the Bible and God’s will for our lives is sometimes only discovered
as we beat and beat and beat upon the book and beat and beat and beat upon the doors of heaven’s throne room through
prayer. John Knox cried out, “Give me
Immediately following the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11, notice how Jesus applies that famous teaching on prayer beginning with verse five. He says, “And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, 6for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence [persistence] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Literally those verbs are “keep asking,” “keep seeking,” “keep knocking”—it’s a continuous action is implied.
God will simply not reveal himself to the mildly curious. He will not intimately relate to those who casually seek him in their spare time. It’s so easy for us to pray for a few days about something and then give up. We forget that prayer and fruit-producing Bible study is hard work and we forget that it’s worth it because we get to know the God of the universe through it. In the midst of a fast-food culture, there remains an “all your heart” quality to authentic Christianity. We must not allow our godless culture that worships expediency to conform us to a superficial, drive-through devotional life that has become the norm for so many professed believers. Heaven broke open for Daniel because he persisted—he was impassioned in his pursuit of God and his truth. May God give all of us grace to follow Daniel’s example and passionately seek after God knowing that he will honor that impassioned pursuit for his glory and our joy.
Page last modified on 11/18/2007
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