Today’s readings: Daniel 9:1-11:1, 1 John 2:18-3:6, Psalm 121:1-8, Proverbs 28:27-28
Daniel continues to tell stories of visions, which are difficult for us to understand even now. Rather than focusing on interpreting his visions, I want to emphasize how difficult it was for Daniel to receive these visions. He again responded physically to the vision. He also talked about the loneliness of following God faithfully.
7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. 8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. 9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
He felt weak and eventually fainted. Later in the chapter, he confessed his anguish and weakness. He was honest with the messenger from God (it may have been the angel Gabriel, who appeared to him in chapter 9) about how he felt and the messenger encouraged him and gave him strength.
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”
Again Daniel provides an example of what it is like to feel wholly spent in God’s service. In these chapters, he repents for the sins and wickedness of his people, but he himself was not guilty of rebellion against God. He was following God wholeheartedly and was having a hard time – today we might call this burnout.
I think that Daniel would have welcomed John’s wonderful encouragement in I John 3:1-3, where he urges us to remember our identity as children of God, who have even a greater future.
1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
John comes full circle in verse 3 in a way that Daniel would have loved. After encouraging us to remember who we are, he challenges us to live like Daniel – all of us who have this eager expectation will pursue personal holiness, as Daniel did, keeping ourselves unpolluted by the world.