În pregătirile mele pentru studiul în Apocalipsa, merg mereu și pe la gty.org unde există o colecție de predici care acoperă toată Biblia. Am dat de aceasta și m-a stors de puteri numai să-l urmăresc în expunerea lucrurilor aflate la intersecția dintre natural și supranatural. Are un talent extraordinar de a crea imagini verbale. Pe mine m-am speriat și m-a făcut să mă întreb dacă să mai îndrăznesc să port numele … Daniel.
And as we come to the tenth chapter, I’ve entitled it “The Glorious Vision. The Glorious Vision.” We could subtitle it “The Heavenly Visitors.” These twenty-one verses in this particular chapter are rich and full, loaded with truth.
I had the opportunity this week to read about a dozen or so commentaries – as I normally do, commentators out of the past and the present who comment on books of the Bible – and one commentator at the conclusion of his discussion of the tenth chapter of Daniel said – and he was of the opinion that there was nothing in this chapter that had any value for preaching. And I thought, “How in the world he could ever conclude that is beyond me, because it has so much tremendous value for preaching.”
Let me see if I can get you into the chapter in your thinking. It is the nature of man that he is bound by time and space. We are captives of the natural world. We have no capacity to get out of the natural world. We can’t leave. We’re locked, confined. If then we are to see and interact with the divine world of the supernatural, it is going to have to come to us, because we cannot go to it. God must invade space and time, for we can’t leave. And that’s exactly what happens in this chapter: heaven comes to earth in a shocking, startling series of glorious visions. In fact, in this chapter, Daniel is visited from heaven by some incredible beings who give him the fourth and the last of his great prophetic revelations.
Now in this book of Daniel, there are four great prophetic revelations. This is the last of them, and it stretches from chapter 10 through chapter 11 and chapter 12. This final great vision fills up and finishes the book. Chapter 10 introduces the vision, chapter 11 gives the prophecy, and chapter 12 adds an epilogue. So we’ve come now to the end of the things to come that are given to the prophet Daniel.
Now the prophecy that we’ll be dealing with in chapters 10 through 12 sweeps over the same period of time as the prophecy did in chapter 8. It stretches from Daniel’s day until the great tribulation and the return of Christ. It stretches throughout all of the remainder of human history until Christ comes again. However, the prophecy in chapters 10, 11, and 12 gives greater detail about the tribulation than any other prophecy.
In the previous chapter, chapter 9 of the book of Daniel, Daniel was reading in Jeremiah. And Daniel was very much aware that Jeremiah had prophesied that the captivity of Israel would only last seventy years. And you remember now, Daniel is a prophet in Babylon. He is with the captives who have been taken aware from their land, and their land has been destroyed. But Jeremiah said it would only last seventy years. And so as Daniel was reading Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 9, he came across those two prophecies where Jeremiah says it’ll only be seventy years; and he knew that it had been nearly 70 years since he had been taken captive, and so he began to realize that the time must be coming for it all to end.
And so in chapter 9 he began to pray, and he began to fast, and he began to confess his sin, and he began to ask God to fulfill the promise that the seventy years would fill up the chastisement and the people could return to their land. That was his prayer in chapter 9. And you’ll remember at the end of the chapter, God gives him a tremendous prophecy in answer to that prayer.
Now that prayer in chapter 9 and the subsequent answer by God occurred in the first year of Cyrus the king, the first year of the king of the Medo-Persian Empire. You’ll remember that in that first year, according to Ezra chapter 1 all the way through Ezra chapter 3, Cyrus made a decree, and he said, “All of the people of Israel can now return home. You can all go back.” Daniel’s prayer was answered directly in the very year in which he prayed that prayer.
But you know what happened? As we come to chapter 10, what’s the first statement? “In the third year of Cyrus.” Where are we now? Two years later. And you know what? Two years later, a very disheartening and a very discouraging reality has occurred.
You want to know what it is? The people didn’t go back. They were comfortable. They were sufficiently paganized. They were enmeshed in the society in which they lived. They were prosperous. They were absorbed. They were too involved to care about the Promised Land, too involved to care about the rebuilding of Jerusalem, too involved to care about restoring the temple.
You say, “Didn’t any go back?” A few. Ezra tells us just 42,000 went back. You say, “Well, that sounds like a lot.” Not really. They had flourished in Babylon. There were myriads more than that. That was only a drop in the bucket; just 42,000 went back.
There had been many born in captivity, they didn’t go back. The few that did go back were led by a man named Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel was in the line of David. He had kingly seed. And he couldn’t establish again the monarchy, he just couldn’t pull it off. He was accompanied by a man named Joshua – not the Joshua of old, but Joshua the high priest who was to be their spiritual leader. And when they got back, it took them seven months just to clear the rubble off the temple ground to say nothing of the city. And as they started to try to rebuild the temple, they were opposed, and they were harassed, and they were mocked, and they were scorned, and they were hated; and finally the work came to a halt altogether.
So, you see, all of Daniel’s great anticipation had not been fulfilled. The great dream of his heart was that seventy years after he was taken captive, the whole nation would go back, and they’d rebuild the temple, and they’d rebuild the city, and they’d rebuild the wall, and they’d reconstitute their nation and their worship, and everything would be the way it used to be. But it wasn’t so. A small number went back, and they couldn’t pull off anything. They couldn’t establish the nation. They couldn’t establish the monarchy. They couldn’t rebuild the city. They couldn’t even get the sanctuary going.
At that same time, in the first year of Darius, a third monumental thing happened: Daniel retired, and he was one of the presidents of the Empire. He had been a president through the Babylonian period. And now even into the Medo-Persian period, he kept his place of tremendous power. And in this particular situation, it was time for him to retire. He was approximately 85 years old. And so he left the presidency, according to chapter 1, verse 21. He was only in the government until the first year of Cyrus.
You say, “Why didn’t he go back? I mean if the 42,000 went back and it was that big of a deal to him, why didn’t he go back?” I’ll tell you why I think he didn’t go back, and it isn’t why the commentators say. They say he didn’t go back because he was too old. I don’t believe that. I think he didn’t go back, because he was too disappointed. In other words, I think that he saw himself as having the responsibility to motivate the remaining Jews to go back; so he couldn’t leave because he wasn’t satisfied. He had a passion to see his sinful people forsake Babylon and return to their country.
Surely he would have longed to go himself, back to the land he loved; but he was utterly unselfish, and he was far too burdened for his needy people to worry about his own desires. And so what he does is what he always does. What does Daniel always do in the midst of a crisis? Pray, always.
And as chapter 10 opens, that’s exactly what we find him doing again. He stays to deal with his people; and here he faces the dilemma of their indifference in his usual way, through prayer. And again, the vision that comes in chapter 11, the revelation that comes in chapter 11, is in divine response to this prayer.
Verse 1: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a thing” – or a word, better translated – “a word was revealed unto Daniel, whose name is called Belteshazzar.” Just so you know it’s the same Daniel, that’s the name the Babylonians gave him when he first came. That’s a Babylonian name connected with their gods, their deities. They were trying to brainwash Daniel, and one of the ways they tried to do that was by giving him a name of one of the Babylonian deities.
And just to let you know that it’s the same Daniel, we’re given again that Babylonian name. Even though you’re now into the third year of Cyrus in the Medo-Persian Empire, it’s the very same Daniel. “And the thing was true,” – or the word was true that was given to him – “but the time appointed was long; and he understood the word, and had understanding of the vision.” Now that basically is an overview of what’s going to happen in the following verses: Daniel received a revelation, the revelation was true, he understood very well the revelation. That’s what that’s telling us.
Now notice the statement there that “the thing” – or – “the word was true.” You say, “Is that to assume that other things in the Bible are not true?” Of course not. But listen, the character of this revelation is so startling and so astounding and so humanly unbelievable that the affirmation that this is true is made to assure the reader not to be thrown off by the astounding nature of the prophecy: “It is really true.” We do that when we have a conversation. We want to tell somebody something they won’t believe, we say, “Now I want you to know that this is the honest-to-goodness truth.” And that’s essentially what we have right here.
Notice the phrase in verse 1, “And the time appointed was long.” Now that is a phrase given in the King James. If you have a New American Standard, it probably says something like this: “And it involves a great warfare,” or, “It involves a great conflict,” or something like that. And the reason you have a discrepancy there is that it is a very difficult Hebrew phrase with some very obscure words. And the best rendering, the very best rendering, I believe, is to read it.
Just forget what it says in the KJV and read it this way: “Whose name was called Belteshazzar, and the word was true and involved a great warfare. It involved a great warfare.” I think that fits the context. I think it best fits the Hebrew phrase tsaba gadol, which is used here; and I think that’s the essence of what is being said, and I think they’ve rendered it properly in the New American Standard.
Now you find there the word for “conflict” or the word for “warfare.” That’s obviously there. And that word is used to speak of an army, it is used to speak of a the host of angels, and sometimes it is used to speak of an actual warfare. So you have armies of men, armies of angels and actual warfare – all three referred to by that same word. And I believe that the context best argues for the use of “warfare” or “conflict,” as you will see as we move through the tenth chapter. You’ll see how the context points to the use of the word “conflict.”
So Daniel is saying, “Look, this revelation is true, and it involves a great warfare or conflict.” And as you shall see, it is indeed a great warfare and conflict. In fact, before you’re done with this prophecy, you’re going to see warfare all the way from the demons in space to men on earth and everywhere in between. This is a prophecy about conflict, warfare, all the way from holy angels and demons in space to Russia and Israel on the earth; all the way from Daniel’s time to our time, stretches the conflict.
Now the previous vision had left Daniel pretty well upset and confused. If you go to the end of chapter 8, “And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days. Afterwards I rose up and did the king’s business, and I was astonished at the vision; but none understood it.” So the last particular vision that he had in chapter 8, left him totally confused.
But in this case, he says, “I understood it, and I had understanding of the vision.” He got the message in this case; I hope you will too. And may I add that you and I have the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit to instruct us as to its truths.
Now we’re going to look at several points, we’re going to move pretty fast, so hang on to your Bible. We’re going to see six points as we flow through this chapter: mourning toward heaven, manifestation of heaven, mastery by heaven, messenger from heaven, mischief in heaven, and message from heaven. All of these elements tell us that heaven is come to earth.
First of all, mourning toward heaven, mourning – in the sense of weeping – toward heaven. Verse 2: “In those days, I Daniel,” – and that’s a phrase he uses five times, that – “I Daniel,” – so that you know that this is truly his testimony – “was mourning three” – and literally it says in the Hebrew – “three weeks of days,” to distinguish from the weeks of years in chapter 9. “For three weeks, I was mourning.”
Now, when was this? In the third year of Cyrus. But we know more than that. We know what day it was. Look at verse 4: “In the four and twentieth day of the first month.” The twenty-fourth of the first month would be the twenty-fourth of Nisan.
Now he began – if he was mourning on the twenty fourth of Nisan, and that’s the day he received the angelic visitation, and if held been mourning for three weeks, twenty-one days, he started then on the third of Nisan, right? Three from twenty four equals twenty one. It’s a lot simpler than the seventy weeks, isn’t it?
So he’d been mourning since the third of Nisan. What is particularly interesting about that is that Passover always fell on the fourteenth of Nisan. So he is mourning all through the Passover time and the seven days of Feast of Unleavened Bread. That was a very special season, a season of some celebration, a season of some activity. But all through that most important season of the Jewish calendar, Daniel is wrapped in mourning, praying, fasting to the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 21 and three days after that. And yet all of this three weeks heaven is silent. The sky is like brass; no response.
And Daniel’s not used to that kind of treatment, because back in chapter 9 he prayed, and the angel came. And you know what the angel said? He got there before he was done praying – remember that? – on the same day, and he says, “When you began to prepare to pray, God dispatched the answer.” So Daniel was used to relatively fast service; certainly not twenty-one days without any answer. But that was the case.
Verse 3: “I ate no pleasant bread.” And by the way, that little phrase means “bread of delight” or “food of delight.” In other words, he didn’t eat the delicacies, the really good stuff, the really special stuff, the fancy food.
That was one form of fasting, by the way. Fasting in the Bible was not always eating nothing; very often it was restraining from delicacies and fancy foods, and just eating the staple stuff to keep alive. It was refraining from the banquets and the festivals and the times of special indulgence in food. But beyond that, he not only ate no bread of delight, “neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth.” And that’s sort of like meat and potatoes. “I mean I didn’t even eat the routine stuff – wine and meat; neither the delicacies nor the normal things. Neither did I anoint myself at all.”
You say, “I didn’t know they had aftershave in those days.” Well, they didn’t. And that’s not what he’s talking about. They used to use a fragrant oil on their bodies, and they applied it to their skin for several reasons. One was to protect the skin from the strength of the sun, another was to keep the skin soft, and another was to add a fragrance to the body, because they did not have all of the deodorants and whatever else that we have today; and so they would anoint themselves.
And it became a symbol of joy. When you went out and wanted to grace a social scene, when you wanted to mingle among people, you put on that oil. It was a sign of social interaction. It was a symbol and a sign of joy. Proverbs 27:9 makes that clear. It’s also told us in 2 Samuel 12 that during times of mourning, the anointing was not done. You didn’t want social interaction. You didn’t want a manifest symbol of joy. You were living in a moment of sorrow. And so he eats nothing and he puts nothing on himself. Now keep in mind, people, that for an 85-year-old man, a twenty-one-day fast is relatively significant.
Now these acts in themselves – and I don’t want you to miss the point – do not solicit God’s favor. If you don’t eat for twenty-one days, that’s not necessarily going to make God do anything for you that He wouldn’t otherwise do. However, if you are so tuned into God and so burdened, and your heart is so pure and so right that you don’t eat for twenty-one days, God will bless you for your heart attitude, not for your abstinence from food. That’s just the manifestation of a preoccupied concerned heart.
Now why was he doing this? I mean the guy seems to be sort of overplaying the role. You got the decree of Cyrus two years ago; 42,600 people went back. Here you are two years later, and for twenty-one days yo
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