Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When You Can’t See What God Is Doing (Daniel 10)

Dannah Gresh: Today Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants us to ask ourselves a piercing question.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If God sent answers to earth because of my prayers, what difference would it make? Would it make any difference? And what might God not be doing in my world and in our world because we’re not praying? Is God working in this world because of my prayers, because of your prayers?

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of Seeking Him, for October 12, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Even when we can’t see what God is doing, He is always working. I remember several years ago, our True Girl team (that's the team I lead that ministers to tween girls and their moms) was in Seattle on the West Coast and there was threat of a Pacific typhoon hitting the mainland. The event planners cancelled our sold out event hours before doors opened. And then . . . the storm suddenly died down. That night, we sat in our tour bus on a slightly wet, very gloomy night. We were so discouraged. It felt like we missed an opportunity to share the gospel and the love of Christ for no reason.

But a week later, we circled back to Seattle to do the event to a much smaller crowd, I might add. Well, months later a mom wrote to us and explained that her older daughter had made a significant spiritual decision after months of willfully battling the Lord. This mom had been begging God to get through to her daughter! And the True Girl event . . . the one in Seattle on the night it wasn't supposed to be . . . that was the night God broke through that rebellious child's heart. The Holy Spirit had changed her.

At the end of the letter she wrote, “Thank God for the change of dates! We had a conflict on the original date!” Hmm, could God have moved our event just for that praying mom? Friend, God is always at work . . . even when we don’t see it!

When you grow weary of praying for that person who seems like they’re never going to change, or when you wonder if God is hearing your prayers, don’t stop seeking Him in prayer. Nancy is going to give us a glimpse of the forces that are at play that we cannot see—the battles happening in the spiritual realm and the eternal plan God has for His people. She’s taking us through some important parts of the book of Daniel in the series, “Heaven Rules.” If you missed any of the past episodes, you’re going to want to go back and listen on our website or using the Revive Our Hearts app. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I got a text from a friend not long ago who is facing a lawsuit as a result of a horrendous accident that took place on her property. She said in this text, 

It’s been surreal. In the providence of God, we can see His hand (heavenly realm) in so many details, despite what is transpiring in the earthly realm. Fortunately, we have a grid and a theology for what we are walking through. 

What is that grid? What is that theology? “God is on His throne; Heaven rules!” Heaven rules, God is on His throne.

When we say Heaven rules, we mean God rules. God is in charge. His hand is always at work in the heavenly realm in the circumstances that we see in this earthly realm. If we don’t have that grid, if we don’t have that theology, we’re not going to be able to make it through the hard things in this life. This is the perspective: Heaven rules; God is on His throne. It’s the unshakable hope that I am praying will grip your heart through this series in Daniel.

Today we’re going to get a glimpse behind the curtain of what is happening in the heavenly realm. When things in the earthly realm seem out of control and unbearable, we need to lift our eyes up. God doesn’t show us a lot, but He shows us just enough to encourage us and to give us hope and perspective and courage to walk through our circumstances on this earth.

In the last half of the book of Daniel, Daniel has four visions that are given to him about future things. The last three chapters of the book—chapters ten, eleven, and twelve—actually form one unit. It’s been helpful to read those three chapters together. We’re just looking at chapter ten today; in the next session we’ll look at chapter eleven. But take chapters ten through twelve as a unit, and that unit includes the fourth and final vision that Daniel was given.

Today as we look at chapter ten, we’ll see that the stage is set for a detailed, prophetic vision that will be unfolding in chapters eleven and twelve. This prophetic vision spans a time period from Daniel’s era to the return of Christ. We’re not going to get bogged down in the details. I wish for each of these chapters we could have a week or two weeks or a month to talk about each of these chapters, but I want to give you a 30,000 foot view. What we’re looking for are evidences and reminders that . . . what? Heaven rules!

Verse 1 gives us the opening historical view.

Lord, as we open Your Word, I pray that You would give us understanding, that You’d give us ears to hear and hearts to receive what You have for us from Your amazing Word. I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia [this is about 534 B.C.] a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. (Dan. 10:10)

Now, you remember that when Daniel was abducted from his homeland and taken captive he was about fourteen years old. He is now an old man, about eighty-six. He and the Jewish exiles have lived and served under four pagan kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar (kings of Babylon), Darius of the Medes, and now Cyrus, king of Persia. It’s the third year of King Cyrus’s reign, but in the first year of Cyrus’s reign he had decreed that the Jews could return to their homeland. Daniel had stayed in Babylon while many others had gone back to Jerusalem, to Judah. 

Those who had returned to their homeland had made initial efforts to rebuild the temple and restore the city of Jerusalem, but they experienced intense opposition, and it had caused the work to come to a halt. So God’s people back in the homeland, hundreds of miles away, were weary and discouraged.

Now, verse 1 goes on to say: 

The message revealed to Daniel was true and was about a great conflict. He understood the message and had understanding of the vision.

Don’t let that discourage you when you think, Wow, I can’t understand this. I can’t make head or tail out of what this is talking about, because there are other times in the book when it says Daniel said, “I don’t understand this.” So, sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t, but you keep pressing in and saying, “Lord, You show me, help me understand what I need to understand to serve You faithfully where You have put me.”

The message revealed to Daniel was true, but it was about a great conflict. God’s Word, every word of it, is true. He makes amazing, wonderful promises that comfort and encourage us. But the Scripture doesn’t gloss over the reality that as long as we live in a sinful, broken world, we will be in a battle. The word was true, and it was about a great conflict.

The vision given to Daniel reveals that the hardships being experienced by God’s people on earth mirrored or reflected a greater conflict taking place in the unseen, heavenly realm. That’s still the case today. All around us we see conflicts taking place here on earth; battles between good and evil, between truth and lies, between the people of God and those who oppose God. But it’s important to realize that all of those things going on down here reflect a greater spiritual conflict that is taking place in the unseen heavenly realm.

Now, we’re going to get into a lot of mystery here, so I’m not going to claim to know all there is to know or even much of what there is to know about this. I want to just give us a glimpse, though, of the fact that what’s going on down here reflects what’s going on up there. 

Down here, much of the time the forces of evil seem to be winning. Right? But we take courage and we persevere in hope because we know that the success of God’s enemies here on earth is short-lived. 

When we say “short-lived,” you think it should be over next week. No, short-lived may mean 500 years. That’s not a long time to the God of eternity. But the success of God’s enemies is short-lived. What we know is that God will have the final word. He will triumph over every enemy, and He will reign forever with no rival. What we know is that Heaven rules, no matter what we see going on down here on earth.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over. (v. 2) 

Daniel carried a heavy burden for his people in distress and for Jerusalem, the holy city of God, that was still in ruins. Daniel spent three weeks in mourning and in fervent prayer.

Have you ever been burdened about something in that way, something that you know is not as it should be, something that’s breaking your heart, something that you know is breaking God’s heart? You get under that burden with God, you can’t go about your ordinary rhythms of life. You don’t feel like partying; you feel compelled to pray. That’s what happened to Daniel. For Daniel, those three weeks were a prelude to a greater vision that God wanted to give him of God’s glory, God’s power, and God’s plan.

Look at verse four. “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month . . .” I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Daniel had given up praying before the end of those three weeks. Would he have seen the same vision of glory? I don’t know. 

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up [from praying], and there was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the brilliance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. (vv. 4–6)

Does that description sound familiar? It sounds so much like the description that was given of the resurrected, reigning Christ that the apostle John saw when he was in exile (as Daniel was) on the isle of Patmos. In Revelation 1 he’s given this vision of Christ, and I think it’s likely that the vision Daniel has here is a preincarnate visitation of Christ—a christophany, theologians call that. This glorious figure.

Only I, Daniel, saw the vision. The men who were with me did not see it, but a great terror fell on them, and they ran and hid. I was left alone, looking at this great vision. No strength was left in me; my face grew deathly pale, and I was powerless. I heard the words he said, and when I heard them I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. (vv. 7–9)

As godly a man as Daniel was, in the presence of the majesty and glory of God, he fell down on his face, terrified, at a loss for words. Throughout the Scripture, whenever people encountered God they had a similar reaction. They were overwhelmed with a sense of their own unworthiness and their smallness before this great God. For sure, they didn’t stand there and jabber on and on. In the presence of God, humans are undone. They are right-sized, they are overshadowed by His greatness, His splendor, and His holiness.

If the sight of Christ and His glory had this kind of effect on Daniel, this mature, godly, faithful servant of the Lord, what do you think it would be like if we were to truly behold the glory of the risen, reigning Christ? One day we will, right? This gives us a taste of that.

Verse ten: “Suddenly, a hand touched me . . .” Now, as you put all these passages together, it seems this may have been Gabriel, who addressed Daniel with similar language that he’s going to say here in chapter 9. 

[He] set me shaking on my hands and knees. He said to me, "Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. [Remember that?] Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you." After he said this to me, I stood trembling.” (vv. 10–11)

Here is Daniel in the presence of Christ, with this angel coming to speak to him, shaking and trembling. The presence of God strikes terror in finite, sinful men; but for those of us who are in Christ, who belong to God, the presence of God also speaks peace to us. Grace frees us from fear. So Daniel was shaking and trembling, but he was also treasured by God. “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God.” Your translation may say “a man greatly loved by God.”

Listen, God’s servants may be devalued and rejected here on earth, but they are treasured, greatly loved by their God. First Peter 2 tells us that Jesus was “rejected by men, but in the sight of God He was chosen and precious” (v. 4). You may be rejected by men, but God has chosen you. You are precious to Him. As the angel said, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God,” we hear God say to us, “Barb, you are a woman treasured by God. Carrie, you are a woman treasured by God.” This is who you are, even as you tremble before Him. Trembling and treasured.

“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,’ he said to me, ‘for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” (v. 12)

I want to make two observations about that verse. First, the fact that Heaven rules does not mean that God is impersonal, He is detached, He is uncaring, or He is unresponsive to our concerns and our prayers. Though He is sovereign and mighty and glorious and great, God hears and responds to the prayers and the cries of His people. How amazing is that? As a mother responds to the cries of her helpless, tiny, little baby, our great God hears and responds to the cries of His children.

I’ve been asking myself this question as I’ve been meditating on this passage. If God sent answers to earth because of my prayers, what difference would it make? Would it make any difference? What might God not be doing in my world and in our world because we’re not praying? He said, “Your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” Is God working in this world because of my prayers, because of your prayers?

Secondly, Daniel had been praying earnestly for three weeks. As he’d been told in the vision of chapter 9. Once again, he learned that his prayers had been heard from the very first day that he began to pray. An angel was sent forth with God’s answer when Daniel began to pray, yet for those twenty-one days Daniel had seen no evidence that anything was happening! Why hadn’t the answer come right away if God had sent the answer right away? Did it take twenty-one days for that angel to get from heaven to earth? No! There’s no distance, no time between heaven and earth. So why was the answer delayed?

Why are the answers to our urgent prayers sometimes delayed? Why does it sometimes seem that God is not hearing our prayers, that He is not answering our prayers?

In verse 13 the angel says to Daniel,

“I’ve been sent to you, I’ve come because of your prayers . . . But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days.”

Here we get into mystery, but let me just help unpack this a little bit. This prince is not a human ruler; rather, this is a high-ranking spiritual being who wielded power and influence over the powerful Persian empire, the prince of the kingdom of Persia. This chapter seems to suggest that there are powerful demons, fallen angels, messengers of Satan who are connected to world empires, to rulers, to governments here on this earth. These unseen messengers of Satan work in unseen ways behind many political and social developments here on earth, and they are always attempting to sabotage God’s rule and to harm God’s people. “The prince of the kingdom of Persia [this demonic being] opposed me for twenty-one days.” 

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our struggle is not “against flesh and blood”—it’s not human presidents and kings and powers and regulations—but it’s “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil spiritual forces in the heavens.” That’s our battle.

This evil spirit over Persia had tried to hinder Daniel’s angelic messenger from bringing Daniel the response to his prayers. Now, this angelic messenger was powerful, but this prince of Persia, this evil demon, had the power to oppose God’s messenger bringing the answer to Daniel’s prayers. The forces of evil are powerful, and sometimes they create hurdles and difficulties and delays for God’s people. But—hear me—these evil beings are all under God’s authority, and they cannot stop His work from being accomplished. Yes, “the prince of the kingdom for Persia opposed me for twenty-one days,” but at the end of the day, Heaven rules—and all day long Heaven rules.

The angelic messenger continues to Daniel and says, 

“Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” (v. 13) 

So here’s the messenger from God (we think it may have been Gabriel) and the prince of the kingdom of Persia; Satan’s messenger is opposing him. This is all going on in the heavenlies. Daniel can’t see it; we’re just given a little glimpse of it now. 

Then Michael, one of the chief angels of heaven, comes to help this other angel (maybe Gabriel), and now this angel says to Daniel, “He helped me.” 

“Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days.” (v. 14)

This angelic messenger had been sent in response to Daniel’s prayers, and when the messenger was opposed by the evil prince of Persia, God sent one of His chief angels, named Michael, to help that angel, until he was finally able to make his way to Daniel.

You’re going, “Daniel’s just praying! He had no idea all this was going on.” You have no idea all that’s going on when you’re praying, but God knows, and He controls the narrative.

Verse 14: “Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days.” This is a key verse in the final three chapters of the book of Daniel. God gave Daniel a glimpse of what would happen to Israel, Daniel’s people, in the end of time. Evil world powers would come against them, but ultimately those evil powers would be destroyed by God and His forces. Those evil, demonic powers in heaven and working here on earth would not prevail against God’s people.

While he was saying these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. Suddenly one with human likeness touched my lips. I opened my mouth and said to the one standing in front of me, "My lord, because of the vision, anguish overwhelms me and I am powerless. How can someone like me, your servant, speak with someone like you, my lord? Now I have no strength, and there is no breath in me." (vv. 15–17)

Here’s Daniel, who had held high positions of authority in the government of Babylon for decades, but in the presence of this heavenly messenger he was overcome with awe, with fear, and rightly so, because Daniel had a proper, appropriate sense of the fact that Heaven rules. Daniel was nothing big, nothing great. He said, “I’m weak, I’m powerless, I’m speechless because I’m in the presence of greatness.”

Then the one with a human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. He said, "Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!" As he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." (vv. 18–19)

Once again, this angelic messenger infused Daniel with divine strength and grace and peace. Even though nothing on this earth had changed, God was sending this messenger to give Daniel what he needed to be in the battle.

[The angel, the messenger] said, "Do you know why I have come to you? I must return at once to fight against the prince of Persia, [this demonic power that is working over Persia] and when I leave, the prince of Greece will come." (v. 20)

What’s he saying? The battle’s not over yet. It’s still going on. The angel told Daniel that he needed to return to the battle that he had left temporarily against the demonic power over Persia, and later he would have to deal with the prince of Greece, yet another demonic power that would be coming on the scene with the rise of the Greek empire 200 years later.

“However, [the angel said] I will tell you what is recorded in the book of truth.” (v. 21)

That’s what we’re going to see in chapters 11 and 12; what is recorded in the book of truth that the angel revealed to Daniel in response to Daniel’s prayers.

You see, in times of trouble, times of conflict, God arms His servants with the book of truth. He infuses them with strength and with grace and with peace, and then He gives them the book of truth to sustain them in the battle. The Word of God. No matter how difficult times may become in our day, this is what we need to be strengthened, supported, sustained with—the word of truth. This is our power.

Go back to verse 1 in this chapter. It says, “The message revealed to Daniel was true”—the word of truth—"and it was about a great conflict." He starts with saying, “The message is true,” and then he says, “I’m going to tell you what is recorded in the book of truth.” The truth is so powerful! This world is caught up in lies, deception. That’s what Satan does; he’s a mastermind of lies. He always lies, and his demons lie, and the people through whom they work on this earth lie. 

There’s deception in our world. But our defense and our offense against the deception is the word of truth. There’s an ongoing conflict in our world. This is about a great conflict in Daniel’s day, in our day, and until the consummation of the ages.

When you watch the news, when you read the news, when you see rulers and governments and officials doing evil things—Christians being persecuted, ungodly laws being enacted that harm God’s people—again, don’t be surprised. Remember that these earthly powers are not ultimate. They are mirroring their demonic counterparts in the spiritual realm. There’s a conflict going on between those messengers of Satan and the angels of God. It’s happening all the time, and we can’t see it. 

We should hesitate to say much more about it, because we really know so little about it. One day we will see and know more, but we know that this is happening. We know that even as the enemies of God in this world are doing battle against the people of God, there are those counterparts in the heavenly places, the demonic powers and angels of God, doing battle, opposing each other. 

But we are not left to battle alone here on this earth. In ways that are mystery to us and that we cannot fully fathom and that we are almost totally unaware of, God sends His holy angels to support and strengthen His saints in the battle. He doesn’t just do this for Daniel. 

Hebrews 1:14 tells us that God sends angels, ministering servants, to help those who are being saved, His people. God sends His angels. I don’t know what they’re doing, I don’t know how they do it, but I believe it, that in the battle they strengthen us. One huge way they do that is by reminding us of the word of truth. This is what sustains and strengthens us.

Through it all—through all those battles going on down on this earth, battles we know are going on in the heavenlies that are much bigger and more fierce—through all of it, what do we know? Heaven rules. We know who wins. We know the outcome, so we take heart. We lift our eyes up, we pray, sometimes we feel incredibly weak, but then God infuses us with strength. He gives us His word of truth, and we keep going, because we know that Heaven rules. Amen.

Dannah: Even when it seems like evil is winning and God is absent, you don’t have to fear. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been reassuring us, through the book of Daniel, that nothing can stop God’s work from being accomplished. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul tells us, “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” God is doing His eternal work even when we don’t see it. When we fix our eyes on Jesus and trust Him, we won’t be moved.

I want to tell you about a resource to help you keep your gaze on the Savior, especially as the holiday season is quickly approaching. Our new Advent card set contains 31 beautifully designed cards—one for each day in December—to help you dwell on the promises and presence of Christ. This set comes with a stand so you can display reminders of truth in your home. Each card includes a verse from Scripture and a quote from Nancy’s Advent devotional, The First Songs of Christmas.

We’ll send you a set of the daily Advent cards when you give a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We’re so grateful for your support of this ministry and we want to send you this resource to say “thank you.” When you make a donation, you’ll also receive a discount code for The First Songs of Christmas, the Advent devotional from Nancy. Visit our store at ReviveOurHearts.com to see the special bundle options to help with your gift-giving this Christmas.

Visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com to make your gift today, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 and ask for your Advent card set.

If we’re going to be afraid, we need to have the right kind of fear—and that’s the fear of the Lord. It frees us from the fear of man and the fear of what’s happening in the world. Nancy will tell us more tomorrow as we look at Daniel Chapter 11. To help you get some context and prepare for tomorrow’s teaching, you may want to read, or reread Daniel Chapters 10–12. Pray for the Lord to give you understanding and make a note of any “Heaven Rules” sightings you find.

We’ll see you tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live in the freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.