“When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.” Daniel 10:2-3
Daniel had a burden for his people. Do we have a burden for the lost as Daniel had for Israel? How many times have we prayed for three weeks? When one day we gather in heaven, we will discover that what happened to God’s people on earth depended a great deal on the prayers and burden of people like Daniel. God laid a burden on Daniel’s heart, and because Daniel fasted and prayed, we are studying his prophecies today. May the Lord help us to leave something behind in the journey of life so that those who come after us will be encouraged and helped.
The occasion for Daniel’s fasting probably was his concern for the pilgrims who had returned to Jerusalem two years before, anticipated in his prayer in Daniel 9. As the book of Ezra makes plain, the children of Israel had encountered great difficulty in getting settled in the land. Although the altar had been set up and the foundation of the temple laid (Ezra 3), the work had been suspended because of opposition by the people of the land (Ezra 4:1-5, 24). All of this was a great concern to Daniel, for his primary purpose in encouraging the expedition had been the restoration of the temple as well as the city of Jerusalem.
Humanly speaking, there was ground for anxiety. But Daniel did not understand that the seventy years of the captivity which expired with the return of the exiles in Ezra 1 did not fulfill the seventy years of the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple. This required an additional twenty years (the difference between 605 B.C., the first deportation of the Jews, and 586 B.C., the date of the destruction of Jerusalem). From God’s point of view, things were moving exactly on schedule. In a sense, the vision which followed was a reply to Daniel’s questions concerning God’s purposes for the future of Israel in relation to the Gentiles. These purposes involved a far more extensive program than that fulfilled in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah. While the saints of God may justly be concerned over what seems to be a defeat of God’s purpose, the suffering saint should never forget the majesty of the sovereignty of God which ultimately proves “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)