Be Encouraged. Be Strong.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” – Daniel 10:19 NLT
The year is 536 B.C. and Daniel is an old man – well in to his 80s. He has spent nearly his whole life living in exile in the land of Babylon. Cyrus is the king and had issued a decree back in 538 B.C. allowing the Jews to return to their land in order to rebuild the Temple under Zerubbabel’s leadership. Ezra tells us that by 537 B.C they had reinstituted the sacrificial system and by 536 B.C., they had begun work on the Temple. Yet Daniel remained in Babylon, perhaps too old to make the long trip back to the Promised Land. He was in retirement by now, having served as an official under the various kings who ruled over Babylon during his lifetime. But even in his old age and in spite of the fact that the real action was taking place back in the Promised Land, Daniel was still hearing from his God. Advancing years and decreasing activity did not keep God from giving His servant additional insights into future events concerning Israel. God sent Daniel a special messenger – “a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people” (Daniel 10:5-6 NLT).
Daniel had been in mourning for three weeks when this vision came to him. He was apparently in mourning over the opposition the returning Jews were experiencing back in Jerusalem. Things were not going easily for them. They were under spiritual and physical attack from their enemies, and Daniel was more than likely interceding for them, lifting them up in prayer. It was during this period of prayer and fasting that Daniel received his “visit” from God’s messenger. When Daniel encountered this divine messenger, he reacted with fear. When he heard him speak, he fainted. But twice, this one sent from God assured Daniel that he was “very precious to God.” This designation refers not just to Daniel’s status as a Jew – one of God’s chosen people – but to the fact that God had been precious to Daniel. Daniel had faithfully served God all the years he had lived in Babylon and remained obedient to God’s will and glory. God encourages Daniel to take courage and be strong because what He is about to tell him is going to be difficult to hear. God lets Daniel know that there is a great spiritual war going on, unseen by men, and impacting the world in which Daniel lives. He also tells Daniel that things are going to get worse before they get better. There will continue to be conflicts on earth and in the heavens until God decides it is time to bring it all to an end. God is going to reveal to Daniel events that are going to happen in the future. These events will be disturbing and not encouraging. But God tells Daniel to be encouraged and to be strong. Why? Because God is in control. These things are all “written in the Book of Truth” (Daniel 10:21 NLT). These things must happen because God has ordained them to happen. They are all part of His divine plan. There is nothing that has happened or has yet to happen that God has not been fully aware of and is outside of His divine will. So we can be encouraged and remain strong even in the face of coming struggles. There is a spiritual war taking place that should not surprise or scare us. It is inevitable. But our God is all-powerful. He is in full control. Like Daniel, we have been given a glimpse into how things will turn out. We have been given a view into the future and we know how the story ends. We know that things will get worse before it gets better. We know the enemy will fight until the end. But we also know that God wins in the end. His will will be accomplished. His plan will be fulfilled. So there is no need to be afraid. We are precious to God. He has chosen us and He will protect us. We can take courage. We can be strong.
Father, I am precious to You. That is an amazing thing to consider. You love me and have my best interest at heart. Never let me forget that. Give me the courage to stand strong in the fact of adversity. Give me the strength to remain faithful even when things appear difficult and the future looks bleak. You are in complete control and I can trust You. Your will will be done. Your plan will be accomplished. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men