Reading: Daniel Chapter 10: 1-12
In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia (536BC) Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship. 2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. 3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
4 On April 23rd, as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. 8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale and I felt very weak. 9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. 10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. 11 And the man said to me: “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said: “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.”
- As you get older your attitude to life changes
- Things that were once so important seem trivial… instead, people and relationships become increasingly important
- You begin to understand some things better and see the ‘whole picture’ rather than having a narrow focus on your immediate situation
- And certain things you thought were straightforward become bewildering! [The older you get, the less you know!]
As a child you accept as true what is told to you by grown-ups
- Slowly you come to realise that your parents and other adults are not perfect and don’t know everything…
- And that some situations do not have easy answers
So as we go through life, our beliefs and understanding and wisdom change over time and with experience
Regardless of our age, what we believe affects the way that we live and behave…
- If we believe that life follows a predetermined course that cannot be altered (‘fatalism’)… it can make us careless and casual
- If we believe that the world is full of dreadful people, we act defensively and fearfully
But if we believe that God is real and personally interested in me, we live very different lives from people who believe that we are the random product of evolution and are only interested in the “here and now”!
To know that we are loved and cherished by Father God makes such a difference to the way we see ourselves and view other people
Today’s reading about Daniel’s vision makes certain assumptions:
- You believe that God hears our prayers and responds to them
- You believe that God discloses His will and purpose to individuals
- You believe that angels (God’s messengers) exist and are active in the world and have direct contact with people
We find out three other truths from this passage:
- God allows us to glimpse into His mind and His purpose for the world via supernatural means, as well as familiar, everyday ones.
- God can and does use the spoken word and the written word AND visions and angels to convey His will.
- If God speaks to someone through a vision or by angels, it indicates that He is about to reveal or do something extraordinary!
The passage also reminds us of four key principles
- God selects the person or people of HIS choosing, not ours
- God may choose unlikely people for the role
- God often chooses people for large tasks who have been faithful in small ways… as confirmed through the Parable of the Talents
- The will of God overrules human desire and inclination.
Let’s look at these points briefly…
- God chooses whom He will
- He may or may not choose confident, intelligent people
- He may or may not choose experienced/older people
- God does not use the same criteria as us…He sees only two types of people… “more obedient” and “less obedient”
Where are you and I on the scale of obedience?
- God sometimes chooses unlikely people
- Moses was slow of speech
- Gideon doubted God and was from the lowliest clan
- King Saul was shy and awkward
- Jeremiah was inexperienced
- Anna and Simeon were old
- Saul/Paul was wicked and persecuted Christians
God is full of surprises!
- God often chooses those who’ve been faithful in small ways
- Perhaps this is you… the small, apparently insignificant person
- You would love to have been a missionary in Africa or led an evangelistic crusade… but lacked the ability, courage, opportunity
However, in Zechariah 4 we are alerted to the “day of small things”
- Someone has written…
It is the little words you speak. The little thoughts you think, the little things you do or leave undone, the little moments you waste or use wisely, the little temptations to which you yield or overcome. It is the little things of every day that are making or spoiling your life.
God notices small things… details…
- The tiny sparrow… the hairs on our head
- Our tears that He collects in a bottle
So He asks us to be faithful in small things…
- They don’t go unnoticed and who knows when we shall be invited to undertake something that requires a bigger leap of faith
- The will of God overrules human desire and inclination
- Daniel was the person chosen to receive the vision
- It might have been given to one of the other senior figures… but that was not part of God’s plan
We may sometimes wonder why others have been chosen ‘ahead’ of us
- But it’s important that we adopt a positive attitude towards that person and support him/her prayerfully and practically
- Resentment is very damaging to relationships and Kingdom work, as well as our own health and wellbeing
We need to resist being secretly envious that someone else has been called to do a task for which we think we or others are more suited
- Remember, there is often a hidden cost attached to being called… or asked by God to do something courageous…
In Daniel 10 we see how this worked out in practice for Daniel:
First note that the revelation was so powerful that Daniel could hardly eat or drink for 3 weeks…
- Daniel was probably an older man by now… and as he stood gazing out across the river… perhaps thinking how his best days were behind him… the vision was given to him “out of the blue”
We should never be hoodwinked by Satan into believing that our best days are past… We still have TODAY… let’s use it well!
We all have a part to play…
- Some people say that they are too old to receive a vision
- “I’m past my sell-by date!” [Ever heard yourself saying that?]
- Or saying: “I’m a woman…God only uses men for such things!” or “That is women’s work“
But we read in Joel 2: 29… Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. ALL are called.
In verse 5, Daniel looked up and the sight that met his eyes was terrifying… No wonder he was overcome by fear, such that he went weak at the knees
- But we need to be looking up expectantly if we want to catch a glimpse of God’s plan and purpose
I’ve heard of churches where the majority of folk are keen to move forward in step with the Spirit … but where one influential person is resisting change… so church growth is paralysed
- The wheels are spinning but the vehicle is standing still with the handbrake firmly on!
- It’s not just a question of jazzing up the singing and having a drum set instead of the organ… or replacing old hymns with new songs
- It’s about LOOKING UP like Daniel, hearing from God afresh and responding to the promptings of the Spirit
It’s not easy to get the balance right between treasuring what HAS BEEN… and embracing the NEW THING that God wants to do
- We must ask ourselves: When someone walks into my church, is it like a stale room with all the windows shut or is the ‘oxygen’ of the Spirit flowing freely?
And then in v 8, Daniel finds himself ALONE and WITHOUT STRENGTH
- Loneliness is said to be the leprosy of the modern age…yet we have never had so many ways to communicate!
- Daniel found himself alone because the power and presence of God was too much for everybody else…they fled and hid!
So there he is… third ruler in the land… leader of the Hebrew prophets scrabbling about on his knees!
- What a paradox…that when we think we are standing firm, there is every chance that we will fall
- Yet God’s power is made perfect in our weakness
Totally different from the world’s view of life!
So Daniel lost his strength… but God uses ‘broken things’
- Broken in the sense of not perfect (which is all of us!)
- But also broken in the sense of fully yielded to Him…
Finally, we find in verses 9-12 that Daniel ends up with his face to the ground… at least for a time…
- From looking UP he now finds himself bowing DOWN
It’s where each one of us needs to be if we are to receive from God…
- Fully submitted… self put aside… humbled… ready to listen and respond to His will and purpose for our lives and others
Full surrender is the key…
But far from easy! It requires OUR decision and GOD’s enabling
So from being weak and faint, Daniel is lifted up and strengthened and reassured that his prayer for understanding and humility have been heard in heaven and answered.
Angels… visions… messages from heaven…
- Religious fairy stories … fiction … fantasy?
Or is God reminding us that He, not me, is Lord of all … and interested in making His will and purpose known to us… BY WHATEVER MEANS He chooses!