Studies in Daniel: Chapter 10

DanielGod delights to comfort His children. The Bible tells us that God is a stronghold, a comfort, and shield, and a refuge (see Ps. 9:9; 27:1; 46:1; 84:11; 119:76). Psalm 46 says beautifully:

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

God delights to be our comfort in seasons of chaos and fear. When we don’t know what to do, what to expect, when the earth around us seems to fall apart, God delights to give us strength. We see this truth crystallized in the text of Daniel chapter 10. God gives strength to fearful hearts.

It is not clear from the text what exactly caused Daniel to mourn. It is speculated by some that Daniel heard word from the rebuilding of Jerusalem regarding the opposition that the people were experiencing there (see Ezra 4:5, 24; Neh.1:4). The events of this chapter happen approximately two years after the events of chapter 9 and the words spoken to him there by Gabriel. The man is surely feeling the continual weight of that revelation. Whatever the causes, Daniel’s response is to mourn, fast, and pray for three weeks. He is devastated by the news and his heart’s concern for the people of God is so great that he spends three weeks crying out to God over it. God, then, delights to respond to His servant’s plea.

Again, we are reminded that Daniel knows much about the character of his God. He spends three weeks pleading, fasting even during feast days, in order to cry out to this God. He knows that God is good, faithful, reliable, and trustworthy. He knows that God can do all, and that God cares about the heartache of His people. Daniel cries out because He knows God. I think far too many of us would have given up after a week, maybe even after a few days. Our hearts are often weak in faith, that is in part because we don’t meditate  on the character of our God. We may also give up too early because we aren’t desperate in our prayers. The church needs people like Daniel who are so burdened for body of Christ that we pray unceasingly (1 Thess. 5:17). We ought to pray like Daniel because we pray for the very things that matter to God. If we pray for what God loves then we ought to have confidence that God will work for what is best. This is at the heart of Psalm 37:4, where we are told to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When the Lord is our delight then the desires of our heart will be the desire of His heart and we can pray unceasingly and with confidence. Daniel can find strength even as He mourns because He knows God’s character and He loves what God loves.

In response to Daniel’s faithful pleading God sends a messenger to give Daniel hope and strength. Another vision is given and in it is an astonishing figure, with golden skin and a face of lightning. He speaks words of hope and encouragement to Daniel, even touching Daniel’s body. Verse 19 beautifully describes the comfort and strength that are personally delivered to Daniel. We read:

And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

The Lord provides astounding strength to Daniel through the physical touch of an angelic being. We should marvel at passages like this. We should marvel not simply at the super-spiritual nature of these miraculous revelations. Not many of us have these kinds of encounters with angels. Yet, there is more to marvel at. We ought to marvel at the individualized care God provides for His people. Daniel alone sees this vision (v. 7-8). We ought also to marvel at the compassionate care of God to physically touch and deliver comfort and strength to this fearful and weakened heart. Our God is good. He is a stronghold, a high tower. He is a comfort to those in fear. Though our hearts would fail, God is strong.

The ultimate way we know we can have confidence in God over our fearful hearts is because of Jesus Christ. Because Christ has come, light has entered darkness. Because Christ has come, the world is being made right again. Because Christ has come, the victory of God is sure. Because Christ has come, there is hope. And the Bible tells us that even when our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20).

Even in this passage, in Daniel 10, we see allusions to the Divine Son of God. There are some who suggest that the Angel described in this chapter is the pre-incarnate Christ. There’s good reason for that argument. The white linen,the golden skin, the face of lightning, and the flaming eyes all point forward to the book of Revelation and the description of the glorious Christ the King who comes (see Rev. 1:13-16). These are parallel descriptions of the frightening, powerful, glorious, holy, and awesome Son of God. Perhaps this being in Daniel 10 is not the second person of the trinity. Verses 10-14 are somewhat problematic for that interpretation – how is the Son of God “withstood”. Yet, whoever the being is, the description points to the glorious Son and the strength He provides.

Jesus is our strength. God gives us this great comfort and hope in the chaos of this world and our lived experience of that chaos: The Son of God is victorious. And “Who is it that overcomes the world?” It is “the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). Take comfort, friends, be of good courage whatever chaos comes in your life, for Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and all who trust in Him can overcome too.

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