To read this passage in Daniel could have been very discouraging in his day. One king after another, one nation rising after another, one kingdom overthrowing the last…there seems to be an endless parade of wars and conquerors, intrigue and deception, death and destruction. All of this narrative seems to read like today’s headlines.
In just a few days, we, as a nation, will celebrate Memorial Day. This holiday is a time to remember the men and women who have given their lives in war so we can have the freedoms we enjoy. Wars are a part of the fabric of life. Wars have continued from Daniel’s time, even until today and there seems to be no end in sight. Scripture tells us that until the end of time, there will be wars and rumors of wars.
To find encouragement and comfort in the middle of all this conflict, remember who controls the outcome. God is our strength, our very help in trouble!
“He will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.”
It wasn’t for nothing that Daniel’s contemporary Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” One will always – always – seek to bend the world to one’s own ends. If you have a little power, you’ll do so in little ways: You’ll surround yourself with people who will not resist you. If you have vast power, you’ll do so in bigger ways: You’ll destroy people who resist you. All while issuing denials. History can expect a succession of ever more tyrannical overlords who will refine and hone despotism to unimaginable potency. It’s what we do; it’s how we treat each other. And there would be no end of it were it not for God, mighty to save. To the oppressor he will finally say, “No more.”
And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise. Vs. 2a
So, you’re saying there’s going to be war? I have tried to read this chapter as Daniel would have read it. We have some indication who these kings of the North and South were as we have layered history on top of prophecy, but Daniel did not. In that sense, I get frustrated. North, South, kings and kingdoms, battles and false gods; doesn’t it seem like a world spinning out of control. What is a prophet to do? Then I realize, I’m not Daniel, and that is an indictment on my spiritual formation. Tough words were not new to him or his faith journey. He delivered them to Kings all his life. He was put in a place to speak truth to power, and to withstand the changing regimes of godless men. Daniel may have been wearied by these words, but his faith was not shaken. If the Lord continued to allow kingdoms to rise and fall, that didn’t change Daniel’s assignment in a greater Kingdom design. We cannot change our place in history, but we can accept where God has placed us and get to work.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Daniel 11:1-45 in our Spring Sermon Series: “Faith Under Fire” A Study in Daniel.
Do you feel the tension here? Daniel starts out nervous and afraid, “And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.” (vs 11b) Then he is touched by “one that resembled a human” (vs 16), and Daniel is strengthened and encouraged (vs 19). This tension reminds me of one of my favorite childhood (and adult) stories…
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
You cannot see the true beauty of His goodness until you rightly fear Him. In fear, you realize the greatness of the chasm between you and God, but this fear doesn’t push you away, it draws you in. In drawing near to God, you see Him bridge the chasm to meet you where you are at. In fear, you are drawn to His goodness.
13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Daniel 10:13
The Enemy has one tactic: keep the world in darkness, to disrupt the advancement of God’s truth (the Gospel), to perpetuate untruths clothed in the guise of reason, to twist the truth of God enough to rob it of its power.
God’s angels have a clear goal too: clear a path for the advancement of the Truth!
While all that is unseen, it is no less real or close. Daniel prayed and God sent an angel, or two. He was a prayer warrior in a spiritual battlefront.
So, if the Church is the infantry, God’s messengers, or angels, are the air support, called in from the ground to clear a path to advance the Truth.
“Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees…And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips;”
Many people believe that all religions are essentially the same, in that they are all climbing the same mountain using different paths to reach the same God. The problem with this perspective is that it ignores the uniqueness of the Living God of Biblical Christianity. While this belief may be accurate of other religions, the Living God of Biblical Christianity doesn’t wait for man to get to Him (climb to the top of the mountain). He comes to man bringing mercy, grace, redemption, and restoration- most clearly through Jesus Christ.
Do you remember when and where God came to you and brought salvation and new life through Christ ? Do you have experiences when God comes near with forgiveness and restoration through confession and repentance? This is the God of the scriptures. He comes near. He saves. He restores. He guides.
Battles are won only when we are fighting the right enemy. While Daniel fasted and prayed for three full weeks, the real battle was going on in unseen heavenly places. The messenger from God was sent to Daniel, the ‘first day he set his heart on understanding.’ His arrival though was delayed by a heavenly conflict to prevent him from coming to Daniel.
When we are opposed or persecuted for our faith…instead of being offended…we should immediately intercede for our detractors. Sin has so overwhelmed mankind that, often, they are pawns in the hands of evil forces. We should pray for those held in the grasp of sin. Ephesians 6:12 says, “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.” Know your enemy…then allow God to fight the strategic heavenly battles. Set your heart on understanding!
“O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!”
Anybody know how many times the Bible addresses the human tendency toward fear? Gotta be a pretty high number. Anyway, it’s instructive that the scriptures don’t tell us merely to buck up. That’s the way we often dispense advice about courage, you know. We say things like: “Don’t worry.” “Think about something else.” “It’s not that bad.” I don’t know. Sometimes it really is that bad. The Bible will never pretend that you can shut fear off like a light switch. Therefore, with every admonition to put an end to fear you will find – explicitly or by strong implication – a declaration that the Lord himself has drawn near. The words “Take courage” are an announcement that God has come to you.
Then he said to me, “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. vs 12
Read that verse again…slowly. Now substitute your name for Daniel’s. All this time that you have been petitioning the Lord on behalf of your children, your family, your co-workers, your city, or whatever – the Lord has heard you. That doesn’t mean you are going to hear the answer tomorrow, or that you should stop praying, but isn’t it a comfort to know that you are heard. Can you imagine Daniel’s relief to hear those words. None of those moments were in vain. When you go before the Lord, have this assurance; you are heard. Let me also encourage you to make that an end in itself. Just the recognition that you serve a God who hears should be enough to continue to serve. Press on.