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TEXT: Daniel 10:1-11:1
SUBJECT: Daniel #11: What's Wrong with the World?
What's wrong with the world? Everyone agrees there is something wrong, but as for what it is and what to do about it, there is no agreement.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked to a Canadian friend who lost his father to cancer last year. He blamed the healthcare system in his country because being 'socialized' means there are always be long lines at the doctor's office, the lab, and the hospital. His father died, because he couldn't get an x-ray on time; that's the way my friend sees it.
Tens of millions of Americans, on the other had, want socialized medicine and deplore the fact that we don't have it here, or, rather, that it's not fully implemented in our country. Unlike my friend, they see the problem--not as long lines keeping people from getting the treatment they need--but as a kind of favoritism: people who can afford healthcare get it and those who can't don't.
Both sides agree there is problem with the healthcare system, but on what it is and what to do about it, they don't agree.
For example, many people see the problem with the world as politics, bad politics and really bad politicians. If only we could get rid of the Democrats--or Republicans! If only we could raise--or lower--taxes! If only we could end the war in the Middle East--or win it! If only abortion could be abolished--or a woman's right to choose be fully accepted! If only we had more Clarence Thomas' on the Supreme Court--or more
What's wrong with the world is bad politics, and the only way to fix it is with...good politics. A great many people believe this, or at, least, they say they do.
Others see the rot much closer to home than Washington or Sacramento. To them, what's wrong with the world is culture. When I was a boy, I only knew only two kids whose parents were divorced. When I was a boy, I didn't know any illegitimate children. When I was a boy, abortion and pornography were against the law. When I was a boy you didn't hear bad words on TV and nobody took their clothes off in the movies. When I was a boy, good parents let their children spend all day downtown or in the park--and didn't worry about them! The world I grew up in was not perfect--it had it's own set of problems--but there's something to be said for a world where you didn't lock your doors at night and assumed your kids would graduate from high school still respecting their parents and loving their country!
To my way of thinking, there is a culture rot in the world today, but as a Christian, I know what's wrong with the world is deeper than that.
There's a heart problem, something wrong with us all in the inside. Theologians have called it Original Sin, the tendency we all have to put ourselves and our wishes above God and His will. Of course, not everyone's wishes are exactly the same. Some prefer rape to murder or self-righteousness to envy. But whatever our particular bent my be, we're all Bent!
There's something terribly wrong with the world, and the human heart is a big part of it. As a prophet of God, Isaiah had a deep insight into the human heart. Here's how he saw the problem, Isaiah 1:5-6--
The whole head is sick
and the whole heart faints.
From the sole of the foot,
even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but wounds and bruises
and putrefying wounds.
Our souls are sick; Paul goes even farther, telling us we're more than that, we're--
Dead in trespasses and sin.
Dead to God; dead to holiness. Totally Depraved, theologians have called us, and Completely Unable to change from what we are to what we ought to be.
This is what the Bible teaches and what ordinary life confirms to us every day. GK Chesterton wondered how anyone could deny Original Sin, quipping--
It is the only Article of Faith you can really prove.
Daniel knew all this, of course, and spent most of Chapter 9 confessing the sins of his own and of his people. There were not accidentally in Exile, but God had sent them to Babylonia because of their horrid sins, sins most of them had not yet repented of.
But when we come to Daniel 10 (and the first verse of 11), we find that what's wrong with the world goes even deeper than the human heart.
There is a non-human power set against us, 'Superhuman' might be a better word, and until we know this, we will never know how the world-gone-wrong can and will be fixed.
The events of this chapter take place--
In the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia.
This is roughly the year 538 BC, and, more to the point, two years after the Exile ended. If you read the first part of Ezra, you'll see that about 50,000 Jews went home at the time, a number that seems pretty large until you remember that millions did not.
Where is he? He and some friends are by the Tigris River, and this means that, they had not gone home with the others. Why not? I assume it's because of their age; Daniel had to be in his mid-eighties at the time (if not older) and wasn't physically up to it. Besides, God still had something for him to do in the land of his captors.
What was he doing? He was--
Mourning, fasting, and not anointing himself at all.
In other words, he was sitting in sackcloth and ashes, bewailing the sins of his people and crying out for God's mercy. But what's interesting about this mourning is when he's doing it. He started on the third day of the first month was still at it three weeks later. This means, it was Passover!
Now, Passover, was the happiest day on Israel's calendar; it was spent celebrating and feasting, not crying and fasting. This tells us how grieved Daniel was at himself and his people! Of course he remembered the Lord saving His people from Egypt, but they had not become the people they should have been--and would have been--if only they had loved the Lord and each other.
He doesn't tell us who the other men are, but, since he is now retired, I assume they are his fellow Jews, men who were sharing his grief over the plight of their people, and praying for Deliverance.
As they were praying their hearts out, a great terror fell upon them all. The others ran for cover, but Daniel couldn't, because he fainted. When he lifted his head to see what the Terror was, he saw, well here's what he saw--
A certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sounds of his words like the voice of a multitude.
All his life Daniel had stood before powerful men, men whose names caused Empires to tremble. In his later years, he had had awesome vision and was visited by an angel. But never had he seen anything like this Man. His appearance was so overpowering that it made Daniel pass out. But even unconscious, he could hear the Man's voice.
Plainly the Man is no mere man! He is a superhuman being of some kind. But of what kind? Some think he's an angel, and there's a chance they're right. Angels unveiled must be both magnificent and terrifying. But I don't think that's what he's looking at.
If you compare this Man to the visions of Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 1, you get the feeling that He's more than an angel, that He shines with the Glory of God, and not a reflected glory, but from the inside out! In other words, this is what scholars call, 'a theophany', the appearance of God Himself in a visible form, a form plain enough to overawe us but sufficiently veiled so as to not kill us.
As the Word of God and the Exact Image of His Person, I believe this Man must be our Lord Jesus Christ.
A hand rouses Daniel from his state of unconsciousness, but all he can do is get to his hands and knees before his August Visitor.
The Hand of God wakes him up, but only the Word of God gets him to his feet. The words are just what he needs to hear--
O Daniel, man greatly beloved.
(I have to wonder if Daniel was, at that moment the happiest man who ever lived; to be assured of God's great love for you! That's Heaven on earth!--and the very thing the Holy Spirit gives to us if we have the hearts to receive the Good News).
God wants Daniel to understand his vision, and he's going to in the next chapter. But for now, the Lord explains why He took so long in reaching him with the interpretation. V.13 has got to be one of the Bible weirdest--
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days.
The prince of Persia intercepted Him in His mission. The minute God heard Daniel's prayer, He sent the Man to answer him, but He hadn't got there because He had to fight off Persia's prince.
This brings up a couple of questions. First, who is this Prince of Persia? He's not Cyrus, the Persian Emperor, but a superhuman power that is at war with God. In other words, he is the devil or one of his fallen angels.
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