GETTING THE MESSAGE/Living by faith
At the beginning of Daniel chapter ten, we see that an aged Daniel is still in Babylon. This is somewhat surprising because it is the “third year of Cyrus king of Persia.” Cyrus had issued a decree a couple of years earlier that the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
We don’t know why Daniel stayed in Babylon. The Lord probably gave Daniel a deep conviction to stay. He didn’t stay to enjoy the luxuries of Babylon. Verse three tells us that he went three weeks of depriving himself of normal grooming, as well as his normal diet. Daniel’s mind is on the people of God and the difficulties they face in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.
In verse two we read that a word about great conflict had been revealed to Daniel. Daniel had no doubt heard the reports of the opposition the Jews were facing in their labors. You can read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah to see the details of it. Daniel was given a word about the great conflict or great suffering of the people of God to convey how completely dependent the people of God are on the grace and strength of the Lord to do the work of the Lord.
Hence, you see Daniel fasting and praying. Here is a man who will never see in his lifetime the work he is praying for. Daniel loved the church, or the people of God. He loved to see God’s name exalted. There is always great difficulty in building the church. Not only from men, but there is spiritual opposition from the devil.
A desire for God’s glory in the church is a sign of being born again. Not only that the present generation may glorify God, but that the future generations will after we are long dead and gone. We naturally long for freedom in our country for our children and their children, but a longing for the church to grow and honor Christ is supernatural. It comes from the Spirit of God. Daniel challenges us as to what animates our life and where our passions are. His were on God’s kingdom. And God worked through his prayers and the prayers of others like him. The same can be true for us.
In verse 5-9, Daniel sees a stunning vision. It’s the vision of a glorious man. There is debate on whether this is a divine person or angelic. The vision is so closely related to the appearance of the glorified Christ to the apostle John in Revelation chapter one, that we are pushed to see this as a vision of Christ that Daniel sees. And that is how I see this.
It is important to consider that the context of Revelation one is the same as here in Daniel ten. The book of Revelation is going to depict great conflict, especially spiritual conflict for the church in the world. How can the saints persevere through it? The answer is in the grace and power of Christ. So the visions are consolations to the saints that they are blessed by God even in the face of tribulation and death. Daniel’s vision also prepares him for what is to come.
In Daniel’s vision, the Lord is clothed in linen, clothing the high priest wore into the holy of holies. His face had “the appearance of lightning and his eyes like flaming torches” (verse 6). This image reflects the Lord’s holiness and righteous judgment. Whatever persecutions the saints are subjected to will be short lived and the enemies of Christ will face a vengeful God.
The “burnished bronze” of His limbs point to the moral purity and truth His kingdom is founded upon. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. All who belong to Him build their lives upon this foundation. And they will be vindicated for their faith, their suffering and labors for the Lord remembered.
The sound of His words “like the sound of a multitude” is not only awe inspiring; it means His word will have the desired effect for which it goes forth. He is the Lord. His people are to remember who it is they serve while they travel through this world. Trust in God is the strength of hope.
The vision directs us to live by faith. The devil will lay siege to our faith above all else. If he can’t distort the truth, he will try to shake our faith with tribulation. This passage invites our prayers and confidence in our Lord. It is blessed to have such a Shepherd as Christ is.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.