O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee

by Phillip Wareham

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Now what is our response when we read these things and see these things happening? Well, if we turn to the ninth chapter of Daniel we can see one man's response to what God had shown him, concerning the length of time God's people would be in captivity in Babylon. Daniel had been reading his bible, and, as he read the prophesy of Jeremiah, he discovered that the Lord would bring judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem for seventy years. Then at the end of those seventy years: 'I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.' (Jeremiah 29:10) Daniel knew that those seventy years were nearly up. What did he do? Ask for a bit more revelation? Let us be careful, saints of God, in what we ask for. We want more understanding, more revelation? Then we need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, 'unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required'. (Luke 12:48) The Lord requires a suitable response from us. When Daniel understood that the seventy years were almost up, we read, 'I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes'. (Daniel 9:3)There is a time for prayer and fasting. When Jesus was asked by some Pharisees why his disciples did not fast, he relied 'can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.'(Matthew 9:15) Our heavenly bridegroom is not with us in body and so his church needs to learn again how to fast and pray. How many assemblies of the Lord's people today around the world have a full house on Sunday worship, but only a few to attend the prayer meeting? Then we as God's children need to repent.

Daniel did not make excuses for his people, but fully confessed that they had sinned against the Lord, had rebelled against him, had not prayed to him, and had not obeyed his voice. Nor did he separate himself or excuse himself as he could have done. After all, the Lord himself grouped him together with Job and Noah as examples of righteous and upright lives.(Ezekiel 14:14) But he fully identified himself with the Lord's people in their sin and rebellion and consequent punishment and, like Moses of old, pleaded with God for his great mercies sake, but also for the sake of the Lord himself.

Such an intercession enters right into the heart of God, is totally void of any self interest, and carries with it the weight of the Lord's own purposes and heart's desire for his people that are called by his name. No wonder Daniel was referred to as a man greatly beloved. Do we not also want to hear our Lord speak to us in such a manner? Then we need to confess our sins to the Lord and to one another, and fast and pray earnestly for the Lord's people. It is not just an interesting statistic that of the twenty seven verses in Daniel chapter nine, only the last four verses contain direct revelation from God, and the previous twenty odd verses recount Daniel's confession and intercession. I think the proportion is just about right. The Lord waits to see what we will do with what he has shown us before he will give us more. The psalmist says: 'In thy light shall we see light', (Psalm 36:9) and Abraham's servant testified: 'I being in the way the Lord led me'. (Genesis 24:27) And Paul declares: 'I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.' (Acts 26:19) So it is our attitude towards the Lord that is paramount. You might think I am labouring this point too much, but it is absolutely vital to have the right attitude. The Pharisees demanded to know 'when the kingdom of God should come'. (Luke 17:20) They demanded. The Lord later told these same men, 'The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof'. (Matthew 21:43)

Now just see the attitude displayed by God's servants who have received great revelations. Look at Zechariah in chapter four when the angel shows to him the vision of the golden candlestick with the seven branches, and the two olive trees beside. Zechariah asks 'what are these my Lord?' The angel replied 'Knowest thou not what these be?' and Zechariah said 'No my lord'. (Zechariah 4:5) Or look at John on the isle of Patmos when the angel asked him, 'What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?'John's simple response: 'Sir thou knowest.' (Revelation 7:13 -14) Or look at Daniel himself in chapter 10, upon seeing the visions and the angel talking with him, he said 'For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? For as for me, straightway there remaineth no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me'. (Daniel 10:17) It is this childlike simplicity and straightway obedience that is so precious to the Lord. May we always cultivate this attitude as we read God's word, and minister to his saints.

Now some may be thinking that it is just all too complex. All these scriptures and so many different opinions on the Lord's coming. Does it really matter when he comes, as long as I love and serve him? Well, that is a good point, and has some merit, and reminds me of a humorous story a dear brother told to me a few years back. It goes something like this: There were three believers discussing the Lord's coming for his church (or the rapture), whether it would be pre tribulation, or mid or post tribulation and who is going to be raptured; all Christians or only some. Brothers A and B believed that only those Christians who are ready will be raptured, whilst brother C believed that all Christians will go. Suddenly there is a trumpet sound. In a twinkle of an eye brother C disappears into the sky. For a moment brothers A and B are shocked, but then they take courage, turn to each other, shake hands and say 'we were right!' Now the truth contained in this little story is obvious ' it is better to be right with the Lord than to be right about the Lord's coming. Quite so. But there is a third alternative, which I think the Lord would have us pursue - to be right with him, and then to receive from him his mind concerning his coming. Daniel did. Gabriel came to him and said, 'O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding,' (Daniel 9:22 - 23) and a little later, 'he said unto me, O Daniel a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.' (Daniel 10:11)

The point is, that the Lord wanted him to understand. If he did not, he would not have sent Gabriel to reveal these things unto him. And the Lord wants us to understand, and especially so seeing we find ourselves in 'the kingdom of God, at such a time as this.' (Esther 4:14) And the Lord, I believe, is more willing to speak to us and show to us the things pertaining to himself and his kingdom, than we are to hear or receive. He waits till we are ready. As he said to his disciples, 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now'. (John 16:12) So the Lord does want us to understand, and not only for ourselves individually, but for whatever part you and I are given to help prepare the Lord's people for these days. As we read in Daniel, 'And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.' (Daniel 11:33)

So Daniel stood trembling. Yes, trembling. But he did stand. And the Lord wants us to do just that: 'withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.'(Ephesians 6:13)