Dieting During Easter

In Chapter 9 we discussed how God immediately sprang into action the moment Daniel began to pray his epic prayer.  We also discussed how Daniel was aware the 70 years of captivity would be ending soon and that is what his prayer focused on, the release of Israel to return to their homeland.

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Ezra 1:1 tells us that God began to move toward ending this 70 year captivity.  While Gabriel was preparing Daniel, God was moving on the heart of Cyrus.  In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

Not only did he issue a decree giving permission to rebuild the temple, but he gave each locality the task of making sure they had everything they needed to rebuild.   4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”  

As if that were not enough Cyrus also gave back all the temple articles King Neb confiscated.  Ensuring the articles were removed from the temple of Nebs “fake” god and placed back into the temple of “the God”.  

Out of potentially millions of Jews, only about 42,600 agreed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  On one hand that seems like a large number, but out of millions of people this is a small remnant, a drop in the bucket of how many “should” have returned.  

I guess Neb’s indoctrination worked.  Many of the Jews turned from their roots and fully embraced the gentile lifestyle.  They could now just live their lives without all that silly sacrificing and rituals and cleansing and praying they were forced to do when they lived a life of faith.  People tend to find it easier to just live like everyone else rather than be different. 

An important point to make before moving on is that Cyrus’ decree only included the rebuilding of the temple.  Gabriel’s prophecy spoke specifically about the temple and the city being rebuilt and restored, it was at the rebuilding of both that the 483 year (69 weeks, 69×7) prophecy would begin.  So Cyrus’ decree did not initiate Gabriel’s prophecy.  That pivotal decree would be made much later from Artaxerxes.

Read Daniel 10:1-12

Daniel’s testimony begins in verse 2.  Verse 1 is a prelude.  He is preparing us for the testimony he is about to give, he is setting us up.  Daniel begins by telling us how he had been mourning for three weeks,  mourning as in, he was looking toward heaven and weeping, his spirit was grieved.  

Not only weeping because of a grieved spirit, but he was also fasting.  This fast was a type of fast where he did not eat any preferred foods.  You know the comfort foods we love, pizza, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, cheeseburgers, etc.  There are several different types of fasts and with this one Daniel chose to limit his food selection to just the basics.  

He also did not use any oils at all.  Oils were used for health, hygiene and sun protection back in those days.  Oils are still used for all those reasons today.  I prefer to use oils like a lot of other people.   

Daniel did this for 21 days, verse 4 states that on the 24th of Nisan is the day he received his breakthrough in prayer.  He started his praying and fasting on the third of Nisan, but he did not receive an answer for 21 days.  Do you pray until you feel a release, do you continue to pray and fast until you get your breakthrough?  Going by Daniel’s example, we should wait for confirmation before moving on.

There is significance to these particular dates.  Passover always fell on the 14th of Nisan.  What this means is Daniel was fasting all through the Passover time and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  This was a very special time of year for the Jews, it was a time of celebration, it was one of the most important seasons on the Jewish calendar and yet Daniel is not celebrating.  He is not eating or joining in on the feasts, he is not indulging in all the special holiday meals, instead he is weeping, mourning.  To make matters seem worse he has not heard from heaven for 21 days.  Daniel was used to an immediate answer, waiting was not the norm.

 It is now the 24th of the month of Nisan and Daniel, still praying, still mourning and fasting decided to get outside and get some fresh air.  Getting out into nature has a way of helping you to feel more connected to God.  Daniel decided to stand along the bank of the Great Tigris River.  It was along this river bank that he looked up and saw before him a man who was dressed in linen and wearing a gold belt made from gold from Uphaz, which interestingly is an unknown place.

His body also was like the beryl, and his face like the appearance of lightning, and his eyes like flaming torches, and his arms and his feet like the gleam from polished bronze, and his voice like the sound of multitudes.” 

Daniel is about 85 years now, he hasn’t been eating well, he’s exhausted from the weeping and praying and as he stands by the river he receives a visitor.  Now he is very familiar with Gabriel, so this is not him.  Some people say it’s Michael, but that doesn’t fit either.  This is definitely a heavenly visitation from the Lord himself.

If you compare this description with the description John gives in Revelation you can see they are the same.  The only difference is John describes his hair as wool.  Revelation tells us it is the Lord, God himself as he says, “I am the alpha and omega.”

This visit is even more epic, more awesome than Gabriel’s visit, this is the Lord coming to meet with Daniel personally.  After all the suffering, he got to meet the Lord and he was the only one to see him that day.  There were other people by the river with him, but they did not see the Lord and it didn’t matter because his presence was felt non the less.  The presence of the Lord caused a terror to overwhelm them and they ran for their lives and hid.  I suppose if you can’t stand before the Lord righteous you would run and hide too.

Everyone else fled and there was Daniel left alone, gazing at the Lord and he says, “I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless”.  It’s probably good that he had no strength because he may have ran away too.  The look of his flesh, I imagine to look very pale, colorless, like the skin of a corpse.  The blood ran out of him; he was so overwhelmed by the Lord’s presence, the holiness and glory of God. 

Vs. 8 When he heard the voice of the Son of God speaking it was loud, a thunderous roar.  Like ocean waves roaring, like crowds of people chanting.  He hears this roaring voice and it causes him to faint, to fall flat on his face.  Pure panic set in and caused him collapse.

I believe it was at this point that Jesus went back to heaven and his attending angel took over and ministered to Daniel, giving him the message from heaven.  I believe this way because looking at verse 13 the angel is the one being resisted by the prince of Persia, and had to be helped by Michael.  The Lord would not have been blocked.  This messenger was blocked for three weeks before he was released; after his release is when the Lord appeared along with him.

Angels all have different jobs, this angel is a messenger angel, Michael is a warrior angel, and others ministering angels.  This angel had a specific message that needed to be delivered and he was blocked, but Michael the warrior angels stepped in.  We will dig into those details more next week.

The voice of the Lord caused Daniel to collapse, the angel who looked like a human touched Daniel causing him to regain consciousness.  The touch set him on his knees, with his palms still on the ground,  sort of how we kneel down when praying.  

The angel reminds Daniel of his position in heaven, that he is highly esteemed, and he wants him to really listen to what he has to tell him.  He tells him to stand up.  “Stand up, I need you to listen.” Daniel was shaking too much to move, but he stood up anyway.  Have you ever felt the presence of the Lord and it caused your body to tremble, you try to move but you’re too wobbly?  

Once Daniel is standing the angel explains to Daniel that he was dispatched the moment he began to fast, which is what KJV means by “chasten thyself”.  The angel was dispatched the moment Daniel disciplined himself with prayer and fasting.  

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