Jump Start # 3188
Daniel 9:23 “At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.”
Daniel nine is among the most difficult chapters in the Bible to understand. Seventy weeks, then sixty-two weeks, then another week. In the middle of the last week abominations come. The most humble scholars admit that this is tough to interpret. Are the weeks years? Are they literal or figurative? What is the starting point? Lots of tough things to work through.
The chapter has Daniel praying a heartfelt confession to the Lord. He acknowledges the sins of the nation as well as his own sins. The chapter begins in the first year of Darius. Babylon is no more. Already, the vision of the statue representing various nations in the second chapter is unfolding. Daniel’s prayer is about the holy city, Jerusalem and the temple. When will it be restored, he wants to know.
God sends the angel Gabriel with a message to Daniel. Not only is he told when the city will be restored, God reveals much, much more. The Messiah. The death of the Messiah. A new covenant. The future of Jerusalem. So much that God sees and knows. The angelic messenger uncovers all of this in four verses.
Our verse today, the words of God spoken through the angel come right before the news about the seventy weeks. There are several things to see here. Often, we are so quick to jump into the what the seventy weeks might mean that we miss a valuable lesson here.
First, the swiftness of God. Our verse says, “At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued”. As Daniel started his prayer, God was busy answering it. God didn’t wait until He heard all the prayer. God didn’t have to think things over. At the beginning, is when God moved into action.
This is similar to how God answered King Hezekiah’s prayer. When told to set his house in order because he was going to die, Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed. Before the prophet who delivered that grim message had left the palace, God had him go back to Hezekiah with the news that his words were heard and his tears were seen.
I love the swiftness of God. Nothing is faster. Nothing is more sure. You send me a text, and it might be a while until I see it and I may not get back to you until later in the day or even another day. Emails are that way. Sometimes phone messages are that way. But with Daniel, God was forming a command even as Daniel was praying.
Second, as we pray to God, we cannot see what God is doing. Daniel was praying and God was commanding. Daniel was praying and God was sending an angel. Daniel was praying and the wheels in Heaven were turning. Daniel could not see these things. You and I cannot see these things. We pray and we might wonder if God heard us. We pray and hope that sometime, somehow the prayer will be answered. Yet, I wonder, if God is busy moving things in our way even as we pray. We cannot see and more so, often cannot understand why and how God does things for us. He moves people into our lives to help us and encourage us. He puts us in positions to serve others and to help others see Him. We may consider some of these things as chance or coincidences, but Heaven knows that God was directly behind those things. Think about the wonderful Christians that have intersected your life. Someone becomes a part of the congregation. You meet a Christian while visiting another place. Not only are life long friendships formed, but a real source of help, counsel and encouragement are found.
I think when this life is over, we will be amazed at what all God has done that we never realized.
Third, Gabriel tells Daniel that he is highly esteemed. Other translations stated, “greatly loved.” Those are God’s words. Having emptied his heart in an honest confession, Daniel might have felt very low. He might have wondered what God thought of him. Now he knows. You are greatly loved. Daniel was trying. Daniel believed. Daniel wanted God’s presence restored in the temple. And, God let him know that he was greatly loved.
As disciples, do we wonder about this ourselves? Sure God so loved the world, we got that. God is love, John tells us. But personally, individually, does God greatly love us? We’d love for an angel to come and tell us this, but the Scriptures do. The death of Jesus shows that. And, the blessings and answers to our prayers confirm that. We are loved by God. And, in a toxic, empty world that we live in these days, what a powerful, powerful thought and confidence that is for us. We are greatly loved by God.
A prayer that was quickly answered by God and an affirmation of love sent by an angel. That’s enough to fill one’s heart and to get our thankfulness shooting upward.
God is so good…He is so good to me!