May 16 - Message Update

“Where Hope Is” – Daniel 10 - Pastor Joshua Scott

There is always hope for those who place their heart and trust in the Lord.

How does hope remain?

 

There is always hope for those who place their heart and trust in the Lord. Even in the bleakest or most hopeless of circumstances, our God loves and cares for those who believe and give their hearts to Him. So how exactly does this hope hold up? How does hope remain when things feel hopeless?

 

Firstly, our hope remains because of Him whom our hearts bow to. (vv.1-9) It is the person of God that makes life-long and beyond hope possible. His character, His actions, His love, God is the greatest sustainer and giver of hope.

 

Here in Daniel 10, we’re toward the end of Daniel the prophet’s life. God is responding to the prayers of his faithful servant and reveals His person and plan through a messenger, who overwhelms Daniel. But even in the midst of the ongoing spiritual warfare, God is actively working for Daniel and all His people.

 

By the third year of King Cyrus ruling Babylon, the first wave of Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Daniel’s name given to him from former King Nebuchadnezzar, Belteshazzar, being mentioned here reminds us that he’s still in exile. So, towards the end of this time, Daniel sees a vision of cosmic proportions, a “great conflict.”

 

We see in verse 2, Daniel starts to mourn and pray. For 3 weeks, he fasts from rich foods and puts down the lotions and things that would’ve helped his skin deal with the dry climate. The fact that this happens on the 24th day of the first month – the beginning of the Jewish calendar, may actually point to this being his way of observing Passover. It can even be his way of mourning God’s temple not yet rebuilt after some of his Jewish brothers and sisters had returned. Regardless of reason, we can say that Daniel is in a state of preparing and waiting on the Lord.

 

After 3 weeks, Daniel’s prayers are finally answered. While standing on the Tigris river-bank, he looks up and sees a glorious being. Described as wearing linen clothing and a golden belt, his body glowed like a beryl gemstone, and his face shone like lightning, his eyes like fire, his arms and legs like bronze, his voice resounding like a crowd. Sounds like a superhero! It even evokes some thoughts from Revelation which we finished not long ago when we saw similar imagery being used to describe Jesus. But being that this person can’t accomplish his task without the help of an angel, Michael, we find this out later on in verse 13, this probably means this isn’t Jesus or God but probably another angel. Though not God, if a being like this is a messenger of God, you can only imagine the glory and splendor of the One whom this angel represents.

 

So, this marvelous and frightening angel arrives on the scene in front of Daniel and no one else can see him. At the same time, the angel’s aura is so great that those who were with Daniel ran away. It’s not surprising that Daniel becomes afraid too. Daniel hears the angel’s voice then immediately becomes weak at the sound of them. Falling forward onto his face, he bows his face onto the ground before him.

 

So how exactly does Daniel getting scared out of his wits point us toward hope? God carefully cared for Daniel, sustained him, nurtured him, gave him visions, answered his prayers directly. God gave Daniel a taste of what would come yet also sent the messenger to encourage him and give him hope. Just as God gave Daniel hope, He gives us hope. We might not receive visions from God nor meet angels that we’re aware of, but we have hope because the same God who cared for Daniel is the same God who cares for us.

 

So, reflect and grow and know hope always remains because of Him whom our hearts bow to.

So, how else does hope remain when things feel hopeless? That brings us to our second point…

 

Hope remains because God hears and answers us. (vv.10-14) God is a kind and loving God, and He displays that through His works and actions on our behalf. Not only does He hear and answer our prayers, He tends to realities that surround us that we’re not even aware of.

 

While Daniel prostrates himself on the ground, the angel reaches out and brings him back to his hands and knees. This messenger graciously addresses Daniel, saying that he’s greatly loved then has him get even further upright from hands and knees so that he would stand before him. This starts the string of encouraging words the angel has for Daniel through the rest of the chapter.

 

The angel’s kind words further encourage Daniel as he reveals Daniel’s prayers are heard and even answered. It’s because of Daniel’s heart and humility before God that he’s shown such favor and because of his words precisely that the angel is sent to him.

 

The angel then mentions his battle of 21 days going on with the prince of the kingdom of Persia; 21 days corresponding directly with the 3 weeks that Daniel fasted and prayed. So most likely this term “prince” is used to describe angels in general, both good and bad. For this angel before Daniel to battle the angel of Persia suggests this latter angel was evil. The fact that this evil angel represents a nation uncovers the fact that there are spiritual powers present representing nations in our world. There’s a tie between earthly and spiritual realities.

 

Nevertheless, the angel Michael joins the fight helping Daniel’s angel so he could finally come and visit Daniel to help him understand the visions he has of the apocalypse, or end times that Daniel is having visions of.

 

Before diving into any application, I think there are two things we should try to keep in mind with these verses: 1. God answering Daniel’s prayers because of Daniel’s heart for him and 2. There are spiritual realities present in our world that we might not be aware of.

 

For one, Daniel clearly loved the Lord. It says from day one that as soon as Daniel began setting his heart to understand God and humble himself, his words have been heard. Then not only are his words heard, but there’s a response because of them – the angel gets sent to him. There must be something about giving one’s heart humbly to God that brings about favor.

 

And for two, there are spiritual realities at play that we aren’t even aware of. If you’re like me, I must confess I don’t think about spiritual realities usually in terms of what’s going on with earth. I think of heaven, some far off distant place. But what we see here is the opposite of that. This isn’t some far off place but something going on in someone’s backyard on earth. We’ll speak more on this in the third point.

 

So again, reflect and know great hope exists because of Him whom our hearts bow to. Secondly, pray and know of the hope that God hears and answers us. Which brings us to our last point…

 

Hope remains because God actively loves us. (15-21) As we just touched on, God is actively working for us in front of us and behind the scenes. It’s not stagnant, but constantly moving and reacting in real time to the spiritual realities of our world.

 

Again, Daniel becomes weak or bows before the angel… twice this time! I don’t blame him! I’d be spooked! Daniel hears the angel’s voice then falls to the ground again becoming mute. Then again, Daniel’s weakness is made known but he shares it verbally for the third time instead of falling to the ground. But just like the first and second time, the angel touches Daniel and encourages him.

 

Then again, “O man greatly loved…” Just like back in verse 11, this glorious messenger refers to Daniel in such an adoring way! Daniel expresses how the visions are causing him great pains then the angel takes the time to encourage him, telling him he’s loved, pointing him away from fear and towards peace, encouraging him to be strong and of good courage. And again, remember this is God’s representative. These words represent more than an angel’s well wishes but the clamor and care of our Creator…

 

Personally, Daniel is being adored and loved on. He was down but then lifted up. He was humbled but then given a voice. He was weak then was given strength. God was actively loving Daniel through this messenger, carefully carrying His gracious and caring love to him. Clearly, God genuinely loves Daniel. Then after Daniel finally gathers his bearings, the angel goes on to speak.

 

“Do you know why I have come to you?” Finally, the messenger brings up why he’s visiting. Not only is he encouraging the shocked Daniel, he’s dealing with an ongoing spiritual battle on earth. He’s fighting the evil angel of Persia and soon he’ll have to battle the evil angel of Greece. If you’re familiar with history, notice how these battles represent the shifts of major powers in the world from Persia then to Greece.

 

The angel concludes this passage by telling Daniel what’s in the book of truth. Most likely, this book is the plan God has for Israel and the world. So the messenger reveals that he is battling alongside Michael, another good angel.

 

The thought of spiritual battles going on that we’re unaware of really makes you think just how much is there really going on behind the scenes. While Daniel and we can see the tangible care that God provides on a daily basis, just how much is there that God is doing to actively care for us that we’re simply not aware of?

 

We don’t have the time to do a full dive into it today but spiritual warfare is real. It doesn’t mean that every little problem in our life is the result of spiritual warfare. But there are definitely things going on in our lives, in our communities, in our world that are completely off our radars. But even so, God is working and fighting for us both with things seen and unseen. This gives us reason to pray and hope… because under God’s loving care, He hears us, loves us and actively works for our good. Ultimately, it’s exemplified through Jesus in the gospel.

 

Whether we are encumbered or burdened by the weight of life now or afraid of the end times that are to come, because our God is a loving God, we have no reason to fear but all the reasons to hope for there is always hope for those who place their heart and trust in the Lord.

  Praise Songs: King of Kings, Build My Life, Cornerstone, Nothing but the Blood, Doxology