In this study, we’re going to look at some of Daniel’s prayers as he experienced the adventures and dangers of being at the seat of Babylonian and Persian power. In his prayers, we will discover the basis for his faith and see how we need to apply the lessons of Daniel’s life to our daily lives.
[Gary Petty] Well, good evening everyone. Yeah, and it’s nice to see all of you here. I guess it’s been such a warm day here. It’s a whole lot better than it was last week. But I guess there’s more cold weather coming through over the weekend, so enjoy it. Down in Tennessee where we live it’s cold for that part of the country and it got to minus nine last week but no snow. But every time we felt bad we always looked at the temperature up in Wisconsin where my kids live and we were happy. You know, minus 18, it was cold, and so we were happy to have the weather that we had.
Well, if you please rise and bow your heads. I want to thank everyone also that’s watching us online tonight. Father in heaven we come before You, thanking You and asking You to help us, Father. One thing we know, we deeply know how much we need You and how much we need You to guide us through the Scripture. It’s in the Scripture that You talk to us Father. We go through the Scripture and try to sometimes come up with our own interpretations, our own ideas, but we need to submit to You and that You talk to us through this Book. So we ask You tonight that You will be here, with the people here, the people that are online, the people who might watch this later that they will also have that humility to allow You to teach them, to come to a deeper understanding of Your will in their lives and how You’re involved in their lives. So we praise You and we thank You and, of course, we ask all things in the name of our Savior and our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the first Bible study that we did on this series of Daniel I talked about how there’s two main themes that you will see come up as we go through this in this book. And as we go through this book we’re going to approach it from all the different angles and different parts of it, and I mean because it’s such a complex book with a lot of different subjects and storylines. But I talked about how God is the ruler of history and prophecy and how in the same time as God worked with all these giant events, these macro events, He’s also involved in the lives of people, just individuals, the micro things that go on. And so He’s involved in history and prophesy, but He’s also involved in the lives of individuals in these events.
And we read of Daniel, we find a man who is remarkable because he was involved with many of the greatest events of his day. I mean, think about a man who is there as a young person when Jerusalem is destroyed, when the Babylonians come in, he watches his country destroyed, then he ends up in the very seat of power in the greatest empire of the world. He sees the people, he knows the king, he sees the things that goes on. He was there during that great peak of power of Babylon, he was there when that great empire collapsed. He was there when the Persians came on the scene. His whole life as a man who’s involved in the greatest events of his day and it lives in the very seat of the political and military of the day.
I think we’re having a little bit of an audio problem here.
And we see him not only doing these things but God’s direct involvement in his life. I mean, God reveals to him dreams. God sends angels to talk to him. Now I don’t know about you but God has never send an angel to talk to me at least that I do know of. And we see all these big events. And it is easy to begin to see Daniel as a caricature. But he’s also in the midst of all these macro things that God is doing in the world. He’s one of the little individuals He’s working with. And sometimes we forget what is it that Daniel thought, what is it that Daniel felt. We know him as a man of great faith and yet we also, if we really look at the book of Daniel, there’s times when his faith was really tested. He had times of doubt.
So what we’re going to look at today is a little bit of the small ways God is working in someone’s life in the midst of all these great events. What it tells us and helps us understand is that God can be working in our lives in the midst of our little events and you and I aren’t involved in the great events of the world today, are we? But God is involved in our lives even in the smallest of events. And what we will see is why Daniel had so much faith is because of this interaction he had with God. And what we’re going to look at is we’re going to look at four prayers Daniel had; four prayers.
So the first one is in Daniel 2. Daniel 2, now, we know the story here, this is where Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream. And Nebuchadnezzar has told all his astrologers, these soothsayers, that he wanted them to interpret the dream. And they said, “Okay, tell us the dream.” And he said, “No, no, no, no. If you really have all these supernatural powers what I want is for you to tell me the dream and then tell me the meaning. Otherwise, you’re just going to make it up.” And they said, “Well, we can’t interpret the dream if you can’t tell us.” And he said, “Well, if you can’t tell me what the dream is I don’t believe you have any connection with the supernatural, therefore, I’m going to kill all of you.” And he begins to kill all of his advisers and soothsayers and astrologers and diviners that he had, and they go to Daniel and they said, “Look, he’s going to kill all of his advisers.”
And Daniel goes to his three friends that we know in their Babylonian names, to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But let’s look at verse 14 of Daniel 2. Daniel 2:14 Daniel 2:14Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
American King James Version×, “So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions,” and here’s what he asked them to do, “that they may seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, and that Daniel and his companions may not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”
Now, we’re going to read the prayer in a minute but before we get there I want you to understand the first thing he did was he said, “We must seek God’s mercy.” We must seek His mercy. In the New Testament, the way it would be put is we must seek God’s grace. We must seek God to give us something we can’t do ourselves. He has to give us something because He wants to. There’s no sacrifices they could give to make God do this. He’s like, “Okay if we pray and fast for three days we know He’ll do it.” One of the things about paganism was that if you did the right rituals the gods were sort of compelled to respond. The God of Israel was not compelled to do anything. He either did it out of His love and His mercy or it didn’t happen and that’s why there’s such an emphasis on God’s love and mercy.
And so he begins this trial he’s going through is we don’t know what God’s going to do, let’s go seek Him. And this is one that this is the first thing we learn from Daniel. He didn’t always know what God wanted. He sure didn’t know the answer to this dream. And he realized if God did not give it to him he could go makeup something and he would be killed just like everybody else. If we’re really going to understand this faith that Daniel had, if we want that kind of faith, we are going to have to seek God in our prayers. Usually what we do is our prayers are made up of asking God for things from Him, and there’s nothing wrong with that except that that’s all we’re doing, we’re missing something.
You know, he didn’t say “let’s go ask God for the answer.” Notice this thought when he said, “Let’s go seek God’s mercies, let’s go seek God’s love, let’s go seek God’s way of dealing with this that we may be okay.” Many at times when we pray what we do is we go to God with the answer already figured out. We know exactly what He’s supposed to do, we know what we want Him to do and we go ask Him to do it. That’s not what he did. Isn’t that interesting? He said we have to go seek what God wants to be done here. I wonder how many problems in our lives and we think “Why didn’t God help me?” is because at the very beginning of the issue we didn’t seek God. We already had the answer, and said, “God, would you please do this.” Sometimes, you know, God will answer a prayer to our own harm. Sometimes God will answer a prayer to our own harm because He gives us what we ask for. And sometimes it’s not one we should have.
So they went and they sought God, now we know what’s happened here. Let’s go to verse 19, “Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” What we have here now is a prayer. He’d already prayed. His prayer was driven by seeking God. “God, what is it you want done? How do you want it done? How do you want the answer given? What is the answer? I am here for you.” What you’re going to find in Daniel is an understanding, and when I say this I mean it in the depth of the word, a desperate need for God. We will never grow, we will never have faith until we actually feel at the core of who we are, a desperate need for God. We can go through life with all the self-confidence thinking that’s faith. But faith is based on this, “I need God. I desire God. I seek God.” You know, seeking is in passive, is it? It’s searching for.
We have to go search for what God wants. And what we find in Daniel is a man who was always seeking God, seeking God’s mercies, seeking God’s involvement, seeking God’s will not his own. And when God did answer he had an immediate response because the second part of this prayer… in the first part, it doesn’t tell what the prayer is, it’s just what he prayed about, the second part it actually records the prayer that he had. Look what it says, here in verse 20, so this is what Daniel says to God. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.” He’s talking about the macro stuff that goes on, this big stuff that God is involved in. “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers.” Now, he’s talking about the micro, the little person in the midst of all these great events. You have given me wisdom and might, you have made known to me what we asked of you for you have made known to us the king’s demand.
He sought God and in this desperate need for God when God answered there was an immediate response of thankfulness. You put these two things together and you find out something remarkable about the character of Daniel, a man with a desperate need for God and a man who is immediately thankful when God intervened in his life. Now, let’s stop and think about this, you know what Daniel could have said? “You know, God, I don’t like being a captive here. I want to go home. I don’t know what happened to my family. I want to go back to Judea, that’s my home. I don’t like living in this pagan place. I don’t like being virtually a slave, oh, it’s a nice slave, you know, I’m a house slave but I’m a slave.” You don’t see any of that. He went to God with this desperate need and he was thankful for the answer.
If God seems to be or not to be more directly involved in your life then maybe you need to ask yourself a couple questions that we can take from this very simple example. We’re going to have very simple examples tonight and that is how aware am I of my desperate need for God so that I will seek His mercies. How aware am I of my desperate need for God so that I will seek, I will search out, I will work at, I will find because He gives to me, and if He doesn’t give to me I’ll never find it. He will have to give to me His mercies. Am I thankful for His involvement? Will I seek his involvement and then will I be thankful when He is involved? That alone, we could spend an hour talking about that.
The concept of seeking God because I desperately need Him, you know, read the Psalms and see how many times David says, “Oh, my God, I seek you. I want for you. I thirst for you.” There’s this desperation. And then look at through the Psalms how many times when God does respond. His answer is, David has immediate response. “Oh, thank you.” There’s a real emotion involved in what Daniel was doing here. So that’s our first prayer.
Our second prayer is at Daniel 6. Daniel 6, well, Daniel’s lived through the collapse of the Babylonian empire, now the Persians have come in, he’s living under the rule of the Persians. He still hasn’t been sent home, his people, by the way, are still in captivity. And there’s a plot against him because he is now successful. You know, he’s not the young boy that went into Babylon. He’s now a grown man. And God has blessed him and he’s become successful. So look at verse 1, “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps.” It was interesting that Persians tried to actually divide up the empire and rule over it with governors. They actually tried to administer an empire. And the Babylonians they really tried to administer an empire. What they basically did was conquer you and then say, “Pay us taxes…” and guess what had happened when Judah didn’t pay their money.
Remember, Babylon… just were like the big mafia. Okay. They’re Assyrians where the same way. They would come in, say, “Pay us money, pay us, you know, tribute.” If you did they left you alone or they interacted with you, they traded with you, you know, and you got some benefit from them but the empire was very loosely held together. But if you kept rebelling they actually came in and just destroyed you, which is what, the Assyrians did with Israel, and what the Babylonians did with Judah.
Think of the Persians, they send people back, “Go back to your countries and we’ll send a governor and you’ll become like us. We’ll actually set up an empire where we’ll actually rule over you and have an administration.” So this is what’s happening. And he says, “And over these, all these satraps, three governors, of whom Daniel… Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to sending him over the whole realm.” In other words, “I’ll make you my chancellor. I’ll make you my second here and you sit beside me as we rule over the entire Persian Empire.” Well, you can imagine what happened.
You know, the other governors, the satraps all became jealous and so they convinced Darius to pass this law that at certain times of the day when this music played everybody had to pray towards the pagan gods and they had to honor him. And they made sure that this is what happened, you know so that Daniel would have to be involved. And during this time period, nobody was to pray to any other gods. Verse 10, here we see a prayer. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows opened towards Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since his early days.”
Understand this is not an act of defiance. Daniel isn’t saying, “Well, I’ll show you,” this is not an act of defiance. This is a man whose relationship with God, everybody knew the reason they did this, everybody knew that three times a day Daniel went to a place, you know, in a room probably upper story of a building with the windows opened and prayed to his God. That wasn’t strange in that day. And they said, “You can’t do that anymore.” And Daniel said, “No, my communion with my God is too important. If I compromise with this I will lose who I am. If I compromise in my communion with God I will lose His mercies. I can’t seek His mercies anymore.” So this wasn’t an act of defiance, this was an act of, once again, we’re back to that desperate need, I must have communion with God.
You and I, your prayer is not a formula. I mean, I know we go to the model of prayer and it gives us sort of an outline but it’s not a formula. It’s not like here, you know, go pray exactly this way. You know, I’ve watched people, you know, you could go to a funeral and they recite the Lord’s Prayer in this rote, just monotone way that’s eerie. That’s not a prayer. God wants us to come to Him and commune with Him. If we are seeking Him we come to Him so that we may find Him. Daniel would not give that up. Daniel could not give that up, it’s who he was. He wasn’t trying to be traitor towards Darius. He just, “I can’t give up this relationship with God.” You and I need daily communion with God. And I’m not saying we have to do three times a day exactly like he did. There may be at times you pray a whole lot more than that. But during the day, morning, during the day, and night before you go to bed, we need communion with God.
You and I cannot live a Christian life unless we are in communion with God unless we are in contact with the Spirit that He has given to us. And that Spirit requires us, the reason the Spirit is there is so that we have this communion with God. Now, keep your place, let’s just go to Matthew 14. Matthew 14, desperate need, communion with God, seeking God, this is all part of Daniel’s life. It wasn’t like, “Oh, home, you know what? Another problem the emperor, I’ll just go to God. And God will give me the answer and everything will be okay.”
The reason God could use him was because of the micro way, the little way, and there’s all these great events he was living his life. And in his little way, what was he doing every day? Seeking God, desperately aware of his need for God, praying in communion with God. This is how he lived life. But look what it says in Matthew 14:22 Matthew 14:22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
American King James Version×, Matthew 14:22 Matthew 14:22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
American King James Version×, “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitude away.” So He’s told His disciples, “Get in the boat, I’ll meet you at the other side over here of the lake.” And He told the multitudes to go away and He’s alone.
Now, why would Jesus need to be alone? “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up onto the mountain by Himself to pray.” You know, Jesus as a man said, “I can do nothing of myself. I can do nothing without the Father.” Unless you are greater than Jesus you can do nothing without God. We can do nothing without God. Daniel realized that to the point when it came down to a command to go against his communion with God, now, you could say, “Well he could have shut the window.” That’s true, but, you know, he knew, “I’ve done this everyday at this time of day for years and years and years. They’re going to be out there watching me, if I shut the window they’ll just come through the door. I not going to hide who I am because my communion with God is too great.”
There were times when Jesus said, “Everybody go away.” See, we think, “Oh, I don’t have time for prayer. I have too many responsibilities. I have too many other things in my life.” None of us have more responsibilities in life than Daniel or Jesus, okay? And when Jesus said it’s enough, He sent everybody away. Well, you can’t hang up the telephone. How could you turn off the telephone? What if you get a text? “If I don’t answer the text I’ll go into some kind of fit, I’ll feel shaken, I’ve got an…” “What do you mean? Turn off the computer? Go someplace where nobody can reach me and talk to God?” Daniel did. Jesus did. Do we? See, how could Daniel be used so much by God in all these macro events? Because what was happening day by day in the little things he did in his relationship with God.
The third prayer we’re going to look at is in Daniel 9. So let’s go to Daniel 9:1-3 Daniel 9:1-3 1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
American King James Version×. Verses 1 and 2, Daniel begins to look at the books… the books that we know is the part of the Old Testament that he had at the time. He begins to realize about this prophecy that the Jews are going to be allowed to go back in 70 years. Now, at this point he’s probably an old man, I haven’t… Mr. McNeely might know exactly how old he was at this point. But he’s not… you know, he’s past middle age. He’s getting up and he said, “Wow, this 70 years prophecy is going to be fulfilled.” Verse 3, “Then I set my face towards the Lord… towards the Lord God to make request my prayer and supplications, with fasting, in sackcloth, and ashes.” Now that’s serious prayer, folks. That’s serious prayer. And notice what he’s doing, he’s turning his face towards God, “I’m going to face God and I’m going to pray and I’m going to fast.” Now, are you talking about seeking? Okay, this is seeking. “I’m going to search what I don’t know in my desperate need for His mercies, for my desperate need for Him, because I cannot do this.”
What’s interesting in this prayer is he sets his face towards God, is it’s in the context of understanding that Judah was going to be punished by God for a certain time because of their sins, and there was a prophecy that God would bring them back. So if God was going to bring them back he realized we’re going to have to turn to God, not just I’m going to have to turn to God. We are going to have to turn to God. It’s the “we” part in this prayer that’s amazing. When was the last time you prayed for every member of your family for God’s involvement in their lives? When was the last time you prayed for the people of your congregation for God’s involvement in their lives? When was the last time you prayed for your ministers for God’s involvement in their lives? When was the last time you prayed for the council, for the United Church of God for God’s involvement in their lives?
So much of our prayer is about us, but Daniel realized for these prophecies to take place we have to turn to God. And look what he says in verse 4, “And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and your judgments.’” This is a very long prayer. It goes on clear down to verse 19 where he prays this heartfelt, I mean, it gets desperate again, this heartfelt, “God, we have failed.” It’s easy for our prayers to be, “Look at this person who failed. Look at that person who’s failed. Look at this person has failed.” Daniel looked at himself and said, “We have failed.” “We.” He threw himself in there with the rest of the people and said, “We have failed.” There’s a remarkable humility here that is at the core of Daniel’s character.
Now, Daniel was an important man, and how important are you that you are so wise, so good at what you do, so trustworthy that the emperor of the greatest empire on the face of the earth says, “You know what? I think I’m going to make Daniel, the slave boy, who came here, you know, 50 years ago, 40 years ago, whatever, I’m going to take that slave boy and I’m going to make him the second… the ruler over Persia.” He’s not a Persian, he’s a Jew. They’re a pretty important person. Sometimes we forget how important Daniel had become. And yet in this, what do you see? He’s humble before God.
One of the greatest problems we’re going to face in our lives especially in the world we live in with all its riches and all its… you know, and he lived in a very rich environment. The Persian court was famous for its wealth because they brought in wealth from all over the empire just like Babylon was. So he lived at the very top of society in two great empires. He lived in the midst all this wealth and all this responsibility and all this glory, being around the most important people in the world and yet he was incredibly humble, so humble that when he prayed, “God, please fulfill your prophecy.” He didn’t say “Because your people have sinned” he said, “Because we have sinned.”
Notice the humility here in verse 18. He says…this is at the end of the prayer now, he says, “O my God, O my God!” I mean he’s crying out. These words are like, he’s like it’s not just, “O my God, O my God,” he’s crying out. This is an expression of angst, of anguish, “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and a city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our own righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” He says, “I’m not coming before You because I’m such a great man and I sure appreciate the fact that You’ve made me great and, you know, You and me God we’re like this, and I appreciate that.” There’s an incredible humility here.
“O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake,” he doesn’t say, “God show everybody how great I am. I’m the one who through whom you revealed all these messages. I’m the one who saved the people. I’m the one who’s…” He didn’t say any of that. As you read through this is “because You made a covenant with our fathers because You promised us, do this because You are great, do this because You are loving, do this because You are merciful, not because of us.” “Do not delay for Your sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” You know, I can’t help but read this prayer and think of another prayer and a parable that Jesus gives.
Let’s go to Luke 18. We’ll come back here to Daniel and look at our last prayer. Luke 18, that desperate need to seek, the desperate need to seek, that understands “You are God, I’m just walking through this life for this short period of time and I need You to guide me and show mercy and forgive me, I need You to help me because I can’t do this.” It’s interesting because, in this parable, I want you to remember something, Luke wasn’t there. Luke wasn’t with Jesus, so Luke receives this from other people, and that’s what I find so interesting is Luke felt compelled, you know, inspired to make a commentary about a parable of Jesus. So people had told him this story and as people told him this story, whoever told it to him, and when he wrote it down, they told him why he did it. People who were there told him why he did it.
Verse 9, “And He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” The reason for this parable is because… and, by the way, the people here are very religious and are doing a lot of good things as we will see with the person involved. But notice the motivation and that’s what you don’t see in Daniel. He did not trust in himself and he did not despise others. His need for God was so great, he trusted in God.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray,” you know the story, “one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.” A Pharisee is at the top of the religious order. Here’s a person who keeps the law of God meticulously. Here’s a person who worships God at the temple. Here’s a person who everybody in the community looks towards as one of those people who really is close to God, has it all together, and a tax collector. How could you be anything worse than a tax collector? It would be better to be a criminal than a tax collector. Because who did he collect taxes for? The beast power; Rome. The Messiah was coming, they believed that. All right, what does Daniel say? He comes back to destroy this power, right, he doesn’t need to call it the beast power because it… Revelation hadn’t been written yet. He works for the pagans that hate God the most and that’s who he works for.
“The Pharisee,” now, there’s something to think about here though, this is really important. They both go into the temple. This tax collector is a practicing Jew. He’s a practicing Jew. He’s Torah-observant. He goes to the temple to do his service before God. So this isn’t some person outside. This isn’t a person that was unqualified to go into the temple, some unclean person. He’s just a despised tax collector who is basically a traitor to the minds of a lot of people. “And the Pharisee stood and prayed thus within himself, ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’” And you know what? He probably wasn’t an extortioner or unjust or an adulterer, now, he might be unjust, so maybe he’s one. He is sure not a tax collector, I mean, that’s a true statement, he’s probably in all honesty never committed actual adultery. He’s probably never killed anybody. He’s never worshiped an idol. He’s kept the Sabbath since he was born. I mean, he had done those things. He’s a Pharisee. This is what he does. This is how he lives his life. He says, “I fast twice a week.” Wow, that’s amazing. I wouldn’t ask how many of you fast twice a week. “I give tithes in all I possess, look what I do God.” Now remember, he trusted in himself. He did not trust in God, he trusted in his own goodness. He trusted in his own righteousness. “I am a righteous person.”
You know of anybody who could have trusted in himself I think it was Daniel, right? When you got thrown into the lion’s den and you come out because God saves you, you can say, “I must be a pretty good guy.” And you don’t see any of that with Daniel, all you see is this desperate need for God, this humility before God.
“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” Remember what he said, the first thing that Daniel said to his friends, “Let’s go seek God’s mercy because if He doesn’t give it to us, we’re in really deep trouble because Nebuchadnezzar is going to kill all the advisers and our turn is going to come. So let’s go seek God’s mercy.” And this man is seeking God’s mercy.
Jesus says, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” He was justified. Justification means you are given the right to go before God. What’s interesting is both of these men stood at the temple, in this parable. One man went away feeling, “God accepted me today” and the other man was actually accepted. One man believed, “I… me and God did real good today where, you know, God sees how good I am. I trust and look all the good things I’ve done. I’m stacking them up. God look at the good things I did today.” But the other man actually went to God. The other man was not justified. He was not given the right to actually go to God. But he walked away feeling real good about himself, very high self-esteem, very high self-esteem.
Daniel was like the tax collector. Can you imagine how other Jews may have looked at Daniel, maybe as a traitor? I mean, he worked for the people who had destroyed their nation. And yet, Daniel asked God, “Help me to do your will.” He sought God. He was seeking Him all the time. “What is it you want me to do? Tell me?” And his desperate need for God. The Pharisee had no desperate need for God. You and I can never get to the place, we’re so comfortable with our commandment keeping, which is good, it’s commanded by God. But we can’t make Him so comfortable with our commandment keeping that we no longer feel a desperate need for God. Now, that desperate need for God is confident by God, I mean, I don’t mean that we’re just like out of control but I mean there is… we experience what David experienced, we experience when you see all through the Bible what this great men and women experienced. “O my God.” You read that whole chapter 9 prayer by Daniel. When you get to the end it’s overwhelming. He’s probably there crying out or actually crying when he says it. It’s so emotionally overwhelming.
And our last prayer is in Daniel 10. Daniel 10:1 Daniel 10:1In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
American King James Version×, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel,” so he receives this message. Now, verse 2, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.” Wow, that’s a long time. It doesn’t say “I was just seeking God,” it says he was mourning. He was depressed. He had anxiety. He had concerns. Oh, no, Daniel never had concerns, when they threw him in the lion’s den he said, “Oh, yeah, come eat me.” We forget what the man experienced and he’s now three weeks mourning before God, for God to answer him, for God to help him. He says, “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, until three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Three weeks he struggled with seeking God. Three weeks his desperate need for God was not fulfilled. Now, this isn’t when he was young, this is after he had spent a lifetime obeying God, a lifetime of seeing miracles, a lifetime of God answering him and giving him answers to visions and dreams, a lifetime of this. And still there are times when he’s faced with seeking God and His mercies and not understanding and not knowing what to do and worried and anxious and distraught. Because God is God and Daniel knew he wasn’t God.
It’s a funny thing about humility. Humility gives you peace in life but when we are truly humble there are times in life when your smallness gets a little overwhelming when you’re comparing or understanding God. So what we do? Well, look at this person over here, I’m better than him. We compare ourselves with each other because, well, we can always find somebody I’m more righteous than, at least I think I am because I can despise others, right? I can trust in myself and despise others. That’s what the Pharisees did. You can imagine what happens to a Pharisee if he’s confronted by Jesus Christ. You want to know? Read the story of Paul.
Read the story of Paul and you find out about a man who trusted himself and despised others so much that he killed them, right? And suddenly comes face to face with Christ and he’s very, very little. He’s much more like the tax collector now. Daniel seemed to have maintained this his life, and so is this time he’s wrestling with God.
Let’s skip down to verse 10. So now, an angel comes to him, and angels aren’t going to come to you, I don’t think so. If some does, some angel comes to talk to you, please, go see Mr. Myers. So, “Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and all the palms of my hands. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, a great man… greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.’ And while he was speaking these words I stood and I trembled.” Okay, it’s one thing to seek God and want Him. It’s sometimes even worse when you’re actually then confronted by it. An angel shows up and it’s like, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t have been so…” you know, I mean this is awesome, this was terrifying. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so wanting an answer this quick. “Maybe I should have fasted another three weeks. Because this is terrifying.”
“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” This angel came because God sent him because of a prayer but he waited three weeks. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood with me twenty-one days; behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to me, for I’ve been left alone there with the kings of Persia. And now I’ve come to you to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days.”
Now, this is a huge warfare going on between angels and Satan and the demons. God could have simply swept Satan and the demons aside, right? But God works through people and God works through angels. Now, God didn’t make angels just so they could be pets. He didn’t make us just so we could be pets. It is so that we can interact. And he sent an angel and Satan stops him and it’s interesting that he finally says to another angel, “Go home now and then get to Daniel. Poor guy is going to starve himself to death.” I find this amazing because God could have just done it. But He doesn’t do everything in your life. Sometimes you pray for maybe help, “God, why aren’t you helping me?” And then if somebody walks up to you and starts talking to you and that person helps you. Sometimes God sends you a person, in fact, a lot of times God sends us a person. He could do it Himself but this is all about us interacting with each other and with Him and the same way with angels.
He sends an angel, Satan stops him, He watches it, He knows what’s going on, but He says, “You go help him, Michael, because I want Daniel to get this message.” And you wonder if He just… He was like the parent saying, “You don’t want me to come in that room? I wonder if you… you know, and tell Satan, “You really don’t want me to come. You know, you don’t want to me come to carry this so you better get… you know, we’re going to shove him aside because you don’t want me to come there. You don’t want me dealing with this.”
But the agony and the long time in which Daniel struggled with this and that tells us something, seeking God takes persistence. You know, the problem with seeking God is “I want God to do my way. I want God to seek me. I’m just confessing. I want God to seek me. God I have an idea, when it comes to me I want You to do this.” But He never asks me, I’m waiting. I’m 61 years old and I’m still waiting for Him to ask me, “What’s your opinion?” Although I think I have finally reached the point of wisdom where if God did ask me my opinion my answer would be, “You know, Lord.” I don’t think I’d give it. All these years I want to give my opinion I don’t think I really want to. I don’t think He really wants it either.
Daniel struggled for a long time here, he had to be persistent, he didn’t stop, he kept seeking, he kept seeking, he kept seeking in his desperate need for God. You know, what does this remind you of? Another parable by Jesus? How many of you have a parable in mind? Okay, few of you. It’s back in Luke 18. Luke 18, we were just there. Verse 1, “Then Jesus spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Once again, Luke makes these comments, “Okay, I’m telling you why,” you know, Luke’s writing to a gentile audience and he was telling them, “Here’s why Jesus said this.” He says, “He told this parable so that man should pray all the time. Keep praying, keep asking, keep struggling, keep going to God and not lose heart, don’t give up.” You wonder if Daniel was about to say, “God, I’m just going to give up” and that’s when God said, “Michael, go shove Satan out of the way.”
See, what you and I forget and don’t realize, there’s no huge battles like this going on, you know, because this is the macro stuff. But in the micro of our lives, Satan tries to discourage you against God. In the micro of your life and my life, Satan tries to turn us against God. Satan tries to destroy your faith in a hundred little ways. There is a battle going on and you go and you pray, and you pray. And sometimes God through His Spirit gives you help. Sometimes He sends a person. There may be times He sends an angel, you just didn’t know it. Don’t forget, this isn’t just about them. This is what Daniel teaches us, it’s not just about the macro. It’s about the people in here, in all these events. You and I live in a perilous time as we head closer and closer to the end time and all these great events will happen and it will be a footnote in the history of God’s Church, you know. And some people prevailed. I don’t think any of our names will be in the list, okay? And some people prevailed. And people read about it, people prevailed. Well, that’s us. Because we can’t… we have to pray always and not lose heart.
“There was a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard men. There was a widow in that city; she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’” You know the story. “Please, please, help me, help me,” and the judge who is a rotten guy, “I’m not going to help you, I’m not going to help you, just leave me alone, just leave me alone.” And finally, he says, “Okay, I’ll do the right thing here. I don’t want to make this ruling but I will just so you will shut up and go home.”
Verse 6, “Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God…’” okay, now, if God is a just judge, He’s not an unjust judge, we don’t motivate God by just pestering Him and pestering Him until He can’t stand anymore, that’s not what this is about. It’s about this need, this desperate need and seeking God and not giving up, just keep praying. Keep going to God. Keep studying the word for the answers. And then being thankful for anything He gives you along the way.
He says, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him,” they cry out day and night. You’re not going to be crying out to God day and night if you’re not distressed, right? If you’re having a perfect day you might be thanking God but you’re not crying out to God, are you? “Oh, it’s a great day, O Lord, I’m in distress because it’s a great day.” They’re crying out to God, the people are crying out to God because of stress, the spiritual stress, and sometimes the physical stress that’s upon us. They cry out to Him “though he bears long with them?” Our God waits what we think is a long time it’s not a long time with Him, that’s the problem.
Time is a big issue to me, it doesn’t seem to be that big an issue with God. It is with me, you know, stub your toe and it hurts for 24 hours. That’s a long time when your foot hurts. God is like, “Son, it’s only 24 hours.” “Yeah, but look my toe now is turning black.” “Okay. Okay. Big deal.” He says, “I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” He says, “Will we stick to this and be persistent?” Daniel was persistent even when these macro things were going on he knew nothing about a spiritual battle just to keep God from talking to him. He didn’t know he was that important.
In the midst of the great events of history, the salvation history, what God is doing, God is intimately involved on the micro level, with the individual is involved. God did so many great things to Daniel and Daniel faced a lot of difficult trials with his faith. And he struggled at times. And it’s obvious that he found this desperate need and it’s obvious that he sought God, not his own ways but God. It is obvious that he was persistent and he was humble. His position never went to his head. In this story, we see this remarkable man, who through prayer maintained this daily relationship with God. And so when we go through the book of Daniel we have at least one more, maybe a couple more Bible studies on the book of Daniel. Remember, as you read about all these great events and this man, Daniel, who lives for decades through all these great events, this is a man. This is an individual who suffered mentally, emotionally the same way we do but he was able to get through it and God did great things in his life, and we read about him thousands of years later because of this prayer relationship that he had with God.