Some slightly re-worked thoughts from 2008 . . . still my desire . . .
As I encounter the last few chapters of Daniel chapters I’m reminded that they are written by someone who is “getting up there” in age. Beyond the visions he saw . . . and the prophetic truth he received . . . I’m kind of in awe of the passion that Daniel still exhibits during his “twilight season” of life. To quote an old southern gospel singer, “Just ’cause thar’s snow on the roof don’t mean thar ain’t still fuel in the fire!”
Based on a little bit of fact finding, it seems the timing of Daniel 9 is about a year before the Persian king Cyrus permits the Jews to return from exile . . . so it’s 69 years after Daniel was taken into captivity. Now Daniel was a young man (Daniel 1:4) when he was brought to Babylon . . . let’s say between 15 and 20 years old . . . so that puts him in his mid to late 80’s when we find him studying the prophecy of Jeremiah in chapter 9.
Ok . . . so he had a pretty consistent devotional life . . . that’s good.
Yeah . . . but it goes a lot deeper then just a life-long habit of reading his Bible every morning. As he understands the implications of Jeremiah’s prophesied “70 years” he is stirred to pray. And as you read his prayer in chapter 9 you just pick up on the depth of his pursuit of God . . . and his passion for God’s people . . . and his persistence to see the glory of God manifest.
No sense that Daniel has coasted into retirement. No indicator that the “old, old, story” has somehow become “old hat.” Nothing that would show that after so many years of being in this foreign land that he has lost his edge for the things of God. Complacency setting in? If anything, the sense is that as he has grown older his energy for God’s will to be done is peaking.
When he prays he sets his face toward God . . . he stops eating as he seeks to be filled from food from heaven alone . . . he dresses in sackcloth and ashes as he humbles himself . . . identifying himself with sins of his people. He extols the greatness of God . . . and he confesses the iniquity of God’s people. He cries out to God, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O, Lord pay attention and act!” (Daniel 9:19) with earnestness as he casts himself upon the grace of God: “For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercy.” (Daniel 9:18)
And, even as an “old dude”, this faithful man of God moves heaven to action. While he’s praying the archangel Gabriel comes to him, “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out and I have come.” (Daniel 9:23) In chapter 10 we find Daniel again in the midst of a 3 week fast as he mourns for the his people and seeks his God. And again it moves heaven to send a messenger who needs to do battle with demonic forces in order to reach him. How bad does heaven want to connect with Daniel? Pretty bad. Why? Because of the degree to which this aging, successful politician, has determined to connect with heaven.
And I can’t help but want to be like Daniel. To be marked by a lifetime of passionately pursuing the things of God. To running with just as much desire — though it may not be with just as much strength — at the end of the race as I was at the beginning. To know the reality of His mercies being new every morning . . . morning after morning . . . year after year. To still be seeking Him in His word after decades . . . and still finding Him . . . and still being jazzed by His awesome Person and work. To still have the faith of a child . . . and the experience of a lifetime that attests to His faithfulness. As I get older . . . and the return of Christ gets closer . . . may it fuel the fire of passion for my King.
O’ to be like Daniel . . . and like Paul . . . to be able, by the grace of God, to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Tim. 4:7)
Not just to have run long, but to have run hard . . . with zeal . . . with excitement . . . with passion . . . with fuel still in the fire . . . for the glory of God . . .