At the time of writing, Russia is pursuing an unrelenting war of aggression against the Ukraine. Depending on which political analysist you listen to, the reasons and spins of this war vary significantly. Where that region of the world have experienced countless wars, the picture is almost like one of the military machines from king Nebuchadnezzar all the way down to the Roman Empire. Did you notice two things in Daniel verse 1 that we have not dealt with yet?
Da 10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.
(1) It is … it concerned a great war. What made the message so difficult was that it included war … war … that was not to come but had come.
(2) And it is … the interpretation of the message came through the vision. It almost seems to mean that unlike the previous three visions … he understood this vision perfectly once it was explained to him. But before the vision … 1) Daniel once again displays his spirituality.
Da 10:2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
(a) Daniel is a man that determined he would go the full distance with the Lord. He went into exile as a believer and follower of God and 70 years later he is still intentionally committed to His Master and Lord and His purpose and cause. As one reads the New Testament, one important message comes through for all believers and it is “perseverance”. We often speak of finishing well at work. You start well and end well. This needs to be our motto in Christianity. Start well in Jesus; continue throughout our Christian lives and end well … to enter glory. Perhaps we take people like Daniel for granted without realizing that he, although in the service of the king / kings, was a “slave in exile” or if you like, a “prisoner of war”. He was extremely daring because his first port of call was serving the Lord God Almighty. He served God and he served dictator kings … ruthless ones … but never did he allow his spiritual condition to lapse. Returning to our theme … “Dare to be a Daniel” … go the full distance and finish well.
(b) Daniel mourned for three weeks. This … mourning for three weeks … needs to be understood as “fasting”. The best way to understand “mourn” equals “fast”, is listening to the Lord Jesus
Mt 9:14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
In answer to John the Baptist’s disciples question about fasting Jesus says that His disciples cannot “mourn” whilst He, the bridegroom is with them. Once He departs He says, they will “fast”.
(i) Why would Daniel use the word “mourn” as he embarks on a three week “fast’? He himself decided on the length of the fast. Should you fast you need to know that unless it is a Church organized fast for a specific reason, you determine the length of your fast according to the purpose of your fast.
(ii) The first reason for his fast might have been that he was mourning over the slow progress of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Remember that the temple represented the “abode” of God. Since its destruction, God was seen as “not present” amongst His people because His “house” back in Jerusalem was in ruins. As Jews, returning to Jerusalem would be meaningless unless God was present … and He could not be present unless the temple was rebuilt with the Holy of Holies as His dwelling place. But the temple represented something else very important … it was the place of sacrifice where the Levitical Priesthood would perform the offerings on behalf of the people. One needs to get this … for the past 70 years God had not been present and there was no pardon for sin because there were no sacrifices. So, it’s very easy to see that Daniel might well have been in mourning expressed in a fast because of the slow progress being made in rebuilding the temple of God. As the beloved in Christ we are God’s dwelling place. We are His temple.
1Co 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
2Co 6:16 For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
In the New Covenant we don’t have a specific place where God dwells … for He dwells with His people wherever they (we) are to be found.
(iii) The second reason for his fast might have been … and I feel the more important reason for coupling mourning and fasting is because of the sin of the Jewish people. There was the sin of spiritual adultery, idolatry and paganism that caused the exile and the continual sinning in the same way whilst in exile. Something that might shock one is that the greater portion of Jews remained in exile and never returned to Jerusalem. They became absorbed into paganism. How could God be the God and Father of His people when they persisted in their sin? How hard had Daniel worked and labored for them in Babylon, yet the years of living within the attractions of what the pagan world offered them, sucked them into full blooded idolatry and separation from God. One could understand the pain within the heart of Daniel. I feel his mourning included both issues but chiefly the peoples’ sin before God. Here we find another great challenge as the people of God. Too much intimate mixing with the world could land us in serious trouble.
2Co 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
Lord, help us to be singularly focused and intentional for the Lord Jesus. The world’s offerings are so enticing and attractive. Help us to see the greater value of Your offerings to us in Jesus. Amen.