Be Brave: When God Seems Silent

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/10/2019

The book of Daniel reveals a lot about world history. Daniel was given such vivid visions of the rise and fall of so many kings/kingdoms. I really didn’t know how you all would respond hearing sermons on the last chapters of Daniel. As I’ve said these are some of the toughest chapters in the Bible to understand—it takes patience on your part to listen/digest to this stuff. But last week Lara was telling me how she watched a teenager, fully engaged, taking detailed notes as went through Daniel 8. I thought “Wow, if only I could Lara to pay attention to my sermons like that. (haha).”

This morning I want to talk a moment about Biblical history. These Biblical figures (like Daniel) didn’t live in a vacuum. They were contemporaries of one another. Consider Daniel 9:1-2: “In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was made king over the Chaldean kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be seventy.”

Verse 1 is another world history/time marker. The vision of chapter 7 was seen in the 1st year of King Belshazzar. In chapter 8 the vision was seen in the 3rd year of the reign of Belshazzar. In chapter 9 it was in the 1st year of Darius; in chapter 10 it was the 3rd year of Cyrus; and in chapters 11/12 the vision was seen in 1st year of Darius.

Verse 2 is a biblical history/time marker! Daniel was thoroughly acquainted with the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. For those of you who heard Week 1 of this series, we learned that the reigning king of Judah during Daniel’s childhood (the first 10-12 years of Daniel’s life) was King Jehoiakim of Judah. When Jeremiah read God’s judgement against the evil King Jehoiakim, Jehoiakim took a razor blade, and after Jeremiah would reach each section of the scroll, would slice it off and cast the word of God into a burn barrel.

Daniel was a member of the royal household and nobles. What if as a youngster, Daniel witnessed Jehoiakim’s blasphemous attitude/ actions firsthand? How could you forget a thing like that? We do know this… Daniel saw the Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument of God’s hand. In Daniel 1:2 Daniel writes, “The Lord handed King Jehoiakim over to him.” One day Jehoiakim disrespects Jeremiah the Prophet, the next day he loses his throne. I believe it was in moments like that, a respect for God’s word, for God’s servants, was cemented in Daniel’s mind.

We do know this. Daniel spent his life living in the harsh realities of what Jeremiah the Prophet forthtold and warned about. Look at verse two again. Jeremiah says, “I understood from the books according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be seventy.” Let me say it this way. “I understood the desolation written about by Jeremiah the prophet (and others) would last a lifetime.”

Let me ask you a question. The average lifespan of men today is 70ish. What if God ordained your entire lifetime to be spent in captivity or desolation or hardship? What might become of your faith?

Let me reframe the question. How many of you are familiar with the writing of Jeremiah the Prophet? One of the most quoted verses in all the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We Christians love to take such verses and rip them out of their context. We say, “Aha! I’m going to find the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend! I’m going to get married! I’m going to have children, and grandchildren! I’m going to have that perfectly cliché of a home with the white picket fence. I’m going to be so healthy, wealthy, successful. I’m going to get that job, that opportunity, all my dreams are going to come true.” For every Christian who quotes Jeremiah 29:11 because something good happens in their life, “God is good all the time all the time God is good”, ten people quote it wondering, “when am I getting mine? Why isn’t God coming through for me?”

The problem is that Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t about you! God was speaking to the nation of Israel as a whole. Israel was experiencing captivity. They were facing God’s fierce wrath against them for all their sin, rebellion, idolatry, blasphemy. And God was telling them, “Hang in there!” Has anyone ever point showed you Jeremiah 29:1 as well as 11? “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining exiled elders, the priests, the prophets, and all the people Nebuchadnezzar had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Well holy smokes! Jeremiah was writing an encouragement note to Daniel in Babylon!

Listen to the larger context of Jeremiah 29:11! Jeremiah tells Daniel (and others), “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Find wives for yourselves and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. 7 Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive.”

8 For this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, 9 for they are prophesying falsely to you in my name. I have not sent them.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

10 For this is what the Lord says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration— “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration— “and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place from which I deported you.”

Hey, I stopped at Jeremiah 29:14 but this week you should read the rest of Jeremiah 29 and the chapters before/after! Jeremiah says there is going to be 70 years of hell, punishments, wrath, discipline, sword, famine, plagues, terror, rebellion—and then a miracle is going to happen. We’re talking about Biblical History… the miracle would come under Cyrus King of Persia… (temple) and then King Artaxerxes (King Darius grandson). Artaxerxes would allow the captives (Ezra, Nehemiah) to return and rebuild Jerusalem, wall! It would take 70 years, it would take a lifetime, but it would happen!

It’s kind of like when Israel was delivered from slavery/captivity in Egypt under Pharaoh. They became rebellious and stiff-necked. God had to let a generation pass before they could enter the glorious Promise Land. A generation would have to pass and then God would restore his city Jerusalem, and his holy Temple.

If your Christianity/faith is all about instant gratification, one spiritual high after another, my best life now, life on demand like my favorites shows on Netflix. If your Christianity is all about easy breezy living no hiccups, pain, hardships, struggles… you might need the reality check passages like Jeremiah 29, and Daniel 9 give in spades. What if God’s timeline is 70 years? What if your whole earthly life is hardship but then God’s best comes only at the very end, in old age? What if life is hardship and your only experience of hope comes through resurrection? When you talk to Christians in places like Myanmar, they don’t have much hope God will give them a Porsche, state of the art medical care, a castle on a hill. Their hope is resurrection—it’s in the home God is preparing for them in heaven.

Look at Daniel 9:3. Oh Lord. Seventy Years! No instant gratification. A long slow obedience in the same direction, waiting and trusting on the Lord. “3 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

We’ve heard the gospel of prosperity from the extravagantly wealthy prosperity pastors. What about the gospel that entails fasting, sackcloth, and ashes? What about the gospel preached by Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet?” What does it look like to love God in evil unblessable times, among evil unblessable people? What does it look like to love God when I’m swept up in the aftermath of God’s wrath on the national/culture in which I live? What does that kind of Christian living look like?

In Daniel 9:4-19 Daniel seeks God in prayer. And I’ve got to tell you, this week you are going to want to look at Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah’s extraordinary prayer of confession on behalf of the exiles in Nehemiah 9. Ezra’s prayers in the book of Ezra. All these prayers have the exact same elements of personal responsibility and personal confession for sin. Daniel didn't just pray in crisis, this was a regular part of his disciplined life: study, meditation, prayer… fasting, sackcloth, ashes

Daniel 9:3-19 is a prayer. Daniel says, “4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands— 5 we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land.

7 Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but this day public shame belongs to us: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel—those who are near and those who are far, in all the countries where you have banished them because of the disloyalty they have shown toward you. 8 Lord, public shame belongs to us, our kings, our leaders, and our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the Lord our God by following his instructions that he set before us through his servants the prophets.

11 All Israel has broken your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. The promised curse written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, has been poured out on us because we have sinned against him. 12 He has carried out his words that he spoke against us and against our rulers[b] by bringing on us a disaster that is so great that nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever been done under all of heaven. 13 Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquities and paying attention to your truth. 14 So the Lord kept the disaster in mind and brought it on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all he has done. But we have not obeyed him.

15 Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand and made your name renowned as it is this day, we have sinned, we have acted wickedly. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, may your anger and wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become an object of ridicule to all those around us.

17 Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of your servant. Make your face shine on your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. 18 Listen closely, my God, and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that bears your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts but based on your abundant compassion. 19 Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.”

There is no Jeremiah 29:11 without a spiritual attitude/posture of Daniel 9. I fully trust in the goodness of God—he does have a good plan for your life—but why should we presume upon God’s goodness while denying God the love/ obedience/ respect/ humility he yearns? God blesses the plan He has for Jon Morrissette when Jon Morrissette yields in submission, obedience, humility. God doesn’t rubber stamp and bless the plans “Jon Morrissette has for Jon Morrissette” in his sin, arrogance, rebellion.

Another jam-packed drink from the fire-house sermon! Look how God ministers to Daniel in Daniel 9:20-27. I can only hope you will get in a small group this week to unpack these verses or spend time in the word this week alone.

“While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my petition before the Lord my God concerning the holy mountain of my God— 21 while I was praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the first vision, reached me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering.

Even when life is a mess per our circumstances, be encouraged, God can be even more real, and our experience of his presence more intense, dynamic, vivid during times of hardship. Next week were going to see how God ministers to Daniel in his distress. But God reaches out and touches Daniel in his “extreme weariness.”

22 He gave me this explanation: “Daniel, I’ve come now to give you understanding. 23 At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God. So consider the message and understand the vision: 24 Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city—to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.

Seven things come at end of 70 weeks… "seventy sevens" (1) Transgression will be finished (2) Sins will be brought to an end (3) Reconciliation will be made for iniquity (4) everlasting righteousness is established (5) Vision and prophecy unsealed (6) the Most Holy will be anointed.

But here is the best part… God tells Daniel that the clock for the arrival of the Christ is ticking! In verse 24, Gabriel says, “Seventy ‘weeks’ are decreed for your people and your holy city.” The literal translation is “Seventy sevens.” Seventy sevens of what? Almost all commentators agree that the seventy “sevens” should be understood as seventy “weeks” of years, in other words, a period of 490 years. These verses provide a sort of “clock” that gives an idea of when the Messiah would come and some of the events that would accompany His appearance. *Gods best is coming in Christ-GRACE, HOPE, RESURRECTION, ETERNAL LIFE, VICTORY!

Still trouble lay ahead… verses 25ff. Jesus would die/be cut off, the city would again be destroyed (A.D. 70)… 25 Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an Anointed One, the ruler, will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in difficult times. After those sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the coming ruler will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come with a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations are decreed. He will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator.” TRUST GOD!

Scripture Verses

Daniel 9

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

Your Love Never Fails
by Chris McClarney and Anthony Skinner
as recorded by Jesus Culture

Great Are You Lord
by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard
as recorded by All Songs & Daughters

Be Still
by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan
as recorded by Hillsong

Death Was Arrested
by Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Heath Balltzglier, and Paul Taylor
as recorded by North Point Inside Out

Study Questions

Read Daniel 9

 1. We live in a fast, instant gratification, instant results culture. What are some ways life has sped up in your brief lifetime? How does the speed of life affect your spirituality?

 2. What dynamics characterized Daniel's prayer life? (see verse 3, 20, 23) How is your prayer life similar or different than Daniel's?

 3. Compare the content of Daniel's prayer with Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1:4-11. Your group can also consider Nehemiah 9. What is the main structure of these prayers? How is the content of your prayers similar or different than these prayers?

 4. Read Jeremiah 29:11. We often apply this verse to our personal lives, but to what group of people and circumstance did this verse apply (Read Jeremiah 29:4)? Notice that in the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 is written to a plurality of people (i.e. you all).

 5. Read Psalm 13. Have you ever given up in prayer when you didn't get fast results? How long do you think men like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah waited for the promises of Jeremiah 29:11 to be fulfilled? How long should we expect to persist in prayer?

 6. Consider Daniel 9:20-23. How quickly did God respond? What specifically did God provide? How did God affirm his relationship with Daniel?

 7. Consider Daniel 9:24-27. What does God show Daniel about the future?

 8. What assurances has God given the believer about the future (See Romans 8:28-30, 31-39)?

KIDS:

 1. Read Daniel 9:17. In this chapter Daniel prays to God over and over and waits for God to answer. When is a time you waited a long time for an answer from someone? How did it make you feel?

 2. Read Psalm 140:6. David continually prayed for God to hear his prayers. Why did Daniel and David ask God to hear their prayers over and over again?

 3. Sometimes we worry that God is not going to hear or answer our prayers. Sometimes it feels like it takes too long. That is when we need to remember God's promises and believe them when we doubt. Read Isaiah 43:2. What are other promises God has made?

CHALLENGE: Look through the book of Psalm and count how many times David asks God to hear him. If David (who beat Goliath) needed God to show him that He heard David, then we do not have to feel bad when we need reassurance from God as well.


Apply It!

Resources

Lakeside Bookshelf

Below are some books to complement our Be Brave sermon series through the book of Daniel. Stop by the bookshelf in the lobby to browse or purchase. 

The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm & Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges 

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz 

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle

Downloads & Resources