Be Brave: When I've Lost All Strength

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/17/2019

This morning we’re in Daniel 10. For me, it’s one of the most fascinating chapters in Daniel. Before we dig into the meat of this chapter, let’s set the context. Daniel 10:1 says, “In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The message was true and was about a great conflict. He understood the message and had understanding of the vision.”

Last week I pointed out that each of the visions Daniel receives in the last chapters of Daniel, happen at different places/times, many years apart. Last week (in Daniel 9), Daniel was contemplating Jeremiah’s promise that “one day” God would restore his chosen people, the city of Jerusalem, and his Holy Temple. We looked at Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Jeremiah 29:11 where God says, “I know the plans I have for you—plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” The only problem was that, according to Jeremiah 29:10, God’s timeline would be 70 years! The Lord says, “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place.” So last week in Daniel 9:2 Daniel is like “Oh man, I understood from the prophets, from Jeremiah, that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be 70!”

When we get to Daniel 10, that 70-year timeclock has been ticking down to zero. The promises of Daniel 9 have already begun to happen! Look at Daniel 10:1 closely! “In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia…” This is virtually parallel to Ezra 1:1 which says, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken to through Jeremiah was fulfilled.” *Daniel 10 is happening two years later than Ezra 1! Why does that matter? Because everything Daniel was stressed out about in Daniel 9, everything Jeremiah the prophet (God) promised would take place 70 years later, has begun happening. In fact, it began years earlier. God is restoring Jerusalem!

Check out Ezra! Ezra 1. Cyrus issues a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus sends back all family leaders, priests, Levites, the silver, the articles of gold, goods, livestock, valuables… (all the temple artifacts that Nebuchadnezzar stole and the Party King-- King Belshazzar—defiled). Ezra 2. Thousands of exiles return—Ezra lists all the families by name! Ezra 3. The sacrifices for sin restart. The physical foundation of the temple is laid—when the foundation is laid some celebrate, but those who knew the glory of former temple weep. Ezra 4. Opposition mounts. Ezra 5. Rebuilding resumes. Revival begins. Stuff in the book of Ezra is happening concurrently to Daniel 10!

Think of how much joy the exiles had returning to the city of God after 70 years in Babylon. Think of the joy they had that God fulfilled his words through the prophet Jeremiah. This was a mountaintop experience, this is one of the most thrilling moments in all Israel’s history, perhaps only second to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt/Pharaoh!

But while there is rejoicing in Jerusalem, there is mourning in Babylon. Though a great victory is underway, still a great conflict looms large. Daniel 10:1 says, “a message was revealed to Daniel… about a great conflict…” Somewhere in this text is a spiritual lesson about being alert! Isn’t it true though, when were at our highest point spiritually, we’re often the most vulnerable to attack? The temple is being rebuilt; revival has begun.

Spiritually, we go through these seasons of exile. We find ourselves East of Eden, wandering in the wilderness, displaced in Babylon. Or we find ourselves tempted in the desert, thirsting for living water, hungering for bread. How long Lord? But then WHAM! God moves in a big way. We see his hand. We taste his goodness. His power shakes our world and upends all we’ve known. We live for these mountaintop experiences do we not. Maybe it’s when were on a spiritual high, dancing, celebrating, feeling invincible, that were most vulnerable to attack!

I think of Jesus’ baptism. Jesus comes up out of the water. The Father is pleased. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove. But then guess what? He’s driven by the Spirit out in the to wilderness. We realize that on the heels of Jesus baptism, a great battle is about to be waged, between the Son of Man (God’s Son Jesus Christ) and the Prince of the World (Devil/Satan). Maybe the most important time to pray/fast and be on alert is on the heels of spiritual victory… maybe it’s before water from baptism dries.

Daniel 10:2-3, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over.” Just like there is a lesson about alertness in verse 1, maybe there is a lesson about being sober in verses 2-3.

Back in Daniel 1:8-11, Daniel refuses the King’s rich food, the King’s wine, and the King’s meat. He opts only to eat vegetables and drink water. Some believe Daniel was forever renouncing bread eating, meat eating, and wine-drinking. That Daniel was proclaiming God’s will that all true God-lovers become vegetarian water-drinkers. But how do we know that wasn’t the case? Because in Daniel 10:2 Daniel takes a three-week fast from rich food, meat, and wine! He didn’t abstain from these things his whole life, but only for a season, as a young man, and out of principle.

A good reason to fast/manage diet, is to become sober, to gain a clearer mind. Sometimes the best way to clear our mind spiritually is to clear our body physically. All the carbs, the toxins in meat, the alcohol… it can all make us cloudy, tired, numb. Fasting not only cleanses the body but enables heightened attentiveness to God. Daniel does a partial fast. (In the wilderness, Jesus did a total fast). So, realize the value of fasting, how it prepares us to hear from God. But then don’t be spiritually legalistic about diet. Colossians 2:16 says, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink.”

So, Daniel is in a heighted state of readiness. In Daniel 10:4-6 he says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up, and there was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the brilliance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.”

Let’s set aside the impressive imagery a moment. Daniel finds himself standing face to face with one of the most powerful angels of heaven. If you think seeing the face of the Devil is terrifying, seeing just the face of one of God’s angels (much less God himself) would be infinitely more terrifying. By way of history, just like Jeremiah was a contemporary of Daniel, so was the prophet Ezekiel. In fact, Ezekiel was deported to Babylon right alongside Daniel and all the others! So, whereas Jeremiah prophesies about what is going to happen to the exiles, Ezekiel IS an exile, and he is prophesying from the perspective of an exile. So you will want to read Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

This is amazing. In a vision, God shows Daniel (in Daniel 10) the same things he shows Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1, 10). In Daniel 10, Daniel sees the Lord’s Angel. In Ezekiel, Ezekiel sees the Angel’s chariot. And the Angel these men see isn’t some pudgy baby angels from some Enlightenment era DaVinci painting … they are a fearsome, dread-filling, powerful creatures. You may think you’re man enough to stand before God—but if you were to stand face to face with just an Angel much less God, you would shut your mouth like Job and fall before God like a dead man (like every other person in the Bible who encountered the Living God.)

For those of you who think you are man enough to see God, consider Daniel 10:7, “Only I, Daniel, saw the vision. The men who were with me did not see it, but a great terror fell on them, and they ran and hid.” You’ve heard of “second-hand hear-say.” This is an example of “second-hand hear-see.” These tough guys could handle seeing Daniel see whatever Daniel saw, much less seeing what Daniel saw. AS for Daniel himself, Daniel 10:8-9 he says, “I was left alone, looking at this great vision. No strength was left in me; my face grew deathly pale, and I was powerless. I heard the words he said, and when I heard them, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground.” So, there it is. We say come Lord Jesus but are we ready to see Son of man coming in the clouds?

Here, Daniel is on his face, not so much moving a muscle, not so much twitching an eyelid. He’s playing possum—he cannot handle the thought of raising his head to see whoever/whatever is standing before him! I doubt you or I have ever been so terrified. It’s like being in a horror film, except God is holy. “Please don’t touch me Lord. Please don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me.” But then in Daniel 10:10 we read, “Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees.” Stephen King ain’t got nothing on Jesus!

Look what the Angel says to Daniel. Daniel 10:11, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling.”

How many of you have dogs at home? Whenever I sneeze, our Schnauzer Rudy violently shakes. The poor guy, I have allergies, I might sneeze 10-20 times in a row. But what’s funny is though he is freaked out, he doesn’t run away. I looked this up on the Internet. Your sneeze sounds like a Tornado to a dog’s ears. He doesn’t know what your problem is. But the dog knows you love him, so he just sits there shaking, thinking, “If one of is going to die, let’s be here for the other.”

Daniel 10:12-13, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “from the first day that you purposed to understand and humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” You might have noticed Daniel was told the same thing in Daniel 9. In Daniel 9:23 an angel told Daniel, “At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God.”

Every time you pray, we need to remember three things. (1) First, we are so treasured, and so loved by God. (2) Second, God responds from “the beginning” of our prayers not from the end. Daniel prayed three weeks, but God responded week 1, day 1, hour 1, second 1, millisecond 1! And then (3) Third, for God to answer your prayer a war has to be waged, and a war has to be won.

Daniel 10:13-14, “As the beginning I started to come with the answer… But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days.”

Until Daniel 10, I never contemplated that one reason for what appears to be God’s silence, or God’s delay in prayer is that there is spiritual warfare occurring over whatever I’m praying about. Maybe you’ve read the story of Job in your Bible. A whirlwind destroyed Job’s home, killed his family. Robbers came and savaged his wealth/livelihood/servants. He lost his health. But what Job 1 tells us is that there wasn’t just the physical reality to what Job was suffering, there was a whole spiritual reality also unfolding. Job was under Satanic attack!

What does Paul say in Ephesians 6:10-12? “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” The Angel is telling Daniel. Stand up, be strong, get on your feet, there’s a whole war/spiritual conflict going on! But know this—the Lord’s vast strength is ours!

Daniel 10:15-19, “While he was saying these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Suddenly one with human likeness touched my lips. I opened my mouth and said to the one standing in front of me, “My lord, because of the vision, anguish overwhelms me, and I am powerless. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, speak with someone like you, my lord? Now I have no strength, and there is no breath in me.” Then the one with a human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19 He said, “Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!” As he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

I think Daniel already knew the answer to his question back in Daniel 9. “My Lord, how can someone like me talk to something like you?” Back in Daniel 9, when Daniel is seeking God by prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes… confessing his own sin. . . Daniel lobs up this beautiful gem…

Daniel 9:17-19, “Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of your servant [that’s what we want right?]. Make your face shine on your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. Listen closely, my God, and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that bears your name. [here is the gem. . .] 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.”

When we pray (1) we are treasured. When we pray (2) God responds immediately without delay. When we pray (3) a war is waged from heaven for whatever we petition. But then (4) God responds because of his good character not because of our wanton character. The only way we can approach the throne of Grace with confidence is out of confidence in who God is, in his righteousness, not out of confidence of who we are. We have no greater basis for confidence before the throne of God than the blood of Jesus Christ. “For God so treasured the world he sent his one and only son that whoever believes in his shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(5) When we pray God answers. Daniel 10:20-21, “He said, “Do you know why I’ve come to you? I must return at once to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I leave, the prince of Greece will come. 21 However, I will tell you what is recorded in the book of truth. (No one has the courage to support me against those princes except Michael, your prince).” Next week we’ll wrap this series up and will talk about the final vision (answer)God gave Daniel. But I hope I’ve accomplished this one thing—maybe I’ve stirred you to pick up God’s word and read this great history. Maybe I’ve stirred you to prayer. Even though we can’t comprehend the spiritual realities behind prayer, doesn’t mean we should distrust God’s goodness, nor cease praying. Maybe you’ll pray with greater confidence? [READ HEBREWS 4:14-16] [READ ROMANS 8:26-27]

Scripture Verses

Daniel 10, Ephesians 6:10-12

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

Who You Say I Am
by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan
as recorded by Hillsong

Strong God
by Meredith Andrews and Jon Egan
as recorded by New Life Worship

Give Me Faither
by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, London Gatch, and Wade Joye
as recorded by Elevation

Your Grace Is Enough
by Matt Maher
as recorded by Chris Tomlin

Study Questions

Read Daniel 10

1. Describe a time in your life when you were spiritually, physically, and emotionally exhausted. How did God become more or less real to you during that time?

2. Consider Daniel 10:2, 8, 10, 15, 16-17. What condition was Daniel in while he sought the Lord?

3. Consider Daniel 10:12 and James 4:6-10. Why is our posture before God in prayer critical? What posture (physically and spiritually) do you typically take in prayer? How is it similar or different than Daniel's?

4. Consider Daniel 10:5, 9, 10-11, 16, 18. How did God tenderly minister to Daniel while he was praying?

5. The Angel repeatedly refers to Daniel as God's "greatly beloved" (see 9:23, 10:19). Why is it so important to remember God's love for us while praying? What is the significance of the Angel's command to "Fear Not" (See 1 John 4:18)

6. How does God minister to us through our prayers today (see Romans 8:12-17, 26-27)?

7. Read 2 Corinthians 12:10. How does Paul's experience in prayer parallel Daniels? Did God answer Paul's "exact" prayer? How does God minister to us in weakness? What does Paul understand about the danger of pride and its relationship to prayer?

8. Where do you most need to experience God's strengthening in your life? Spend time praying.


KIDS:

1. When was a time when you wanted to quit something? Why did you want to quit?

2. Read Daniel 10:8. When is a time when you had no strength left?

3. Sometimes we feel like we cannot keep doing good things. It gets hard. We get tired. It's not easy. Read Isaiah2:9. How does it say we will fly? How will we run? How will we walk? Who helps us do that?

CHALLENGE: Count how many jumping jacks you can do without a break? Do jumping Jacks tomorrow and challenge yourself to do more than you did the day before. Did you succeed? Sometimes we do not think we can do something. But when God is helping us, we have His strength to get us through.




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