Daniel – An Heroic Intercessor for Hostile Times

The Nature of Spiritual Conflict

During the reign of Belshazzar, Daniel had a dream. Part of the interpretation explained the tactics that the enemy uses against God and his people: 

“He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law.” 

Daniel 7:25

The battle described here is a battle of words, of ideas and ideologies. It involves attacks on what we believe. It is a battle for the mind, and that is why we must never give up our vision of the Kingdom of God. We must remember our commission from Jesus to preach the gospel to the whole world and make disciples of every nation. Until all peoples know about God and worship him voluntarily, there will always be this battle. Evil will always fight good; darkness will always oppose light; hatred will always try to replace love. The devil will always try to unseat Jesus Christ from his throne in our hearts, from his throne in society and over the whole world. Not everyone knows that all the kingdoms of the world will one day become the kingdoms of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

One of the devil’s most effective tactics is propaganda deluge. He speaks out. He will talk, talk, talk just like the giant Goliath. Goliath made the same boastful claim for forty days, every morning and every night. That means eighty times he brought the same evil, atheistic, nihilistic, anarchistic sermon: “You will never do it; you won’t make it; you’ll always be slaves; you’ll always be weak; you’ll always be defeated; you’ll never have the victory.” No matter how false or outrageous the message, the human mind tends to succumb to that kind of barrage. Daniel said that the evil one intends to “wear out the saints” speaking words against the Most High.

The Response of faith

I see this happening in the world today. We in the church are getting so tired of the unrelenting propaganda from every side, both the left and the right, that we are ready to throw up our hands in despair of ever sorting out the truth. But God has an answer!

Know your GodDaniel 11:32 says that the evil one “shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant; but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” There is victory for the people who know their God, but knowing takes time. You can never get to know any person unless you spend time with that person.

Our problem is that we are not feeding ourselves enough on the Word of God for us to get to know him. No wonder we lack peace, security, and joy. We are being worn out. I want to warn you not to become worn out by what you hear. Spend less time reading books that do not matter, less time watching television. It’s just like marriage; the more time you spend with your spouse, the better life becomes.

Stand firm. God’s people who know him will display strength. Our strength is from the Holy Spirit, but it is also the strength of our character, the strength of our “guts,” our moral courage to stand up in the face of evil.

Take action. Daniel 11:33 says, “And those among the people who are wise shall make many understand.” This is the action we are to take. We are to denounce evil, expose it, and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. We will not let God’s people be persecuted until they no longer know what to do.

To be effective in bringing understanding to people, however, we’ve got to have insight into the problems that exist today, exactly as they existed in the time of Daniel. That is why we must learn from these heroes of the faith.

Praying According to God’s Plan

Situations can be changed when God “changes his mind” because somebody steps into the gap and does something about it, fulfilling the conditions God has set forth. What did Daniel do? When Daniel saw that it was the appointed year, he did not close his Bible, fold his arms across his chest and say, “Well, praise the Lord, now the end is near.” No. I personally think that Israel might not have gotten out of exile at that particular time had not Daniel reacted the way he did.

He read what God said through Jeremiah, and then he did something very dramatic. He called upon the name of the Lord because he knew that even though the prophecy was written in the book, it would still have to happen through people who would get involved in a personal way to make deliverance happen. Therefore he said, “I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession” (Daniel 9:4). In this mighty prayer of confession, he worshiped God, the great and awesome God who keeps covenants and is steadfast in loving kindness for those who love him and keep his commands.

Then Daniel admitted the condition of his people, confessing their sin – not just a few little mistakes, but” … we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances; we have not listened to thy servants … ” (Daniel 9:5, 6). In all this Daniel identified with the people, yet when we study the life of Daniel it appears that he is just about the only person (other than Jesus) of whom nothing negative is mentioned anywhere in Scripture. He was a mighty warrior for God, but he got on his knees in sackcloth and ashes, humbling himself to identify with his people.

After confessing the sin and praising the Lord, Daniel said,

O my God, incline your ear and hear … for we do not present our supplications before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercy. 0 Lord, hear; 0 Lord, forgive; 0 Lord, give heed and act; delay not, for your own sake, 0 my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

Daniel 9:18–19

To me this is most reassuring. We have a basis for our intercession for the suffering church [today]. We have a basis for our prayer that God will help us to break open all those doors and borders and barriers – not because we deserve to have our prayers answered, but because of God’s great mercy and because those people are called by his name.

Praying as a Participant in God’s Plan

Would the Hebrews have gone back to Jerusalem had Daniel not prayed? That’s the wrong question. In God’s economy, those who remind God of his characteristic mercy and forgiveness, who humble themselves, who confess their sin and the sin of the nation, are used by God to bring about his word. The question should be: Where are the heroes of the faith who will participate in God’s plan through prayer?

God’s promises are not something that are detached from human affairs. Even though God said it, God still needs people to make it happen. That is really the whole process of becoming heroes of the faith. That is what makes people Christ–like – when they say, like Jesus, “I came to do your will, 0 God.”

God works through people. God worked mightily through Daniel. We see him battle through in prayer; we see him fight the paralysis that came upon his nation because they were worn out and worn down by the enemy and his relentless propaganda.

But then came that tremendous day not long after this prayer when Daniel stood at the gates of Babylon and saw the first group of Hebrews return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city, and eventually the walls themselves, so that the people could live and worship God in peace and safety.

How do we measure up when the society around us tries to seduce us with an indulgent lifestyle, with all the “knowledge” of a secular education, with privileged positions? Yet all of us who are children of the Most High God are strangers in a strange land, no matter where we live. Even in our own country, where we experience great freedom in religious matters, we also face hostile forces whose desire is to wipe out godly influences from political, social, educational, and even family life.

Will we, as Daniel and his friends, stand firmly as heroes of the faith, whether we are honored or persecuted for our action? Will we be steadfast, even though the enemy tries to wear us down with constant godless propaganda? Will we be faithful to confess our sins and the sins of our people, and pray for God’s will to be done in the land?

God calls each of us to be a Daniel in our own time.

This excerpt is from A Time for Heroes, Chapter 6, by Brother Andrew with Dave and Neta Jackson, published by Servant Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, © copyright 1988 by Open Doors International.

Top image credit: Bible illustration of the Prophet Daniel interceding with uplifted hands in prayer, (c) license from GoodSalt.com, original artwork from Pacific Press artist. Used with permission. 

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