I DANIEL, was exhausted

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I felt sick for days, and then I arose and made happen the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and there was no one who could cause [me] to understand it.


I, the one who lives by the motto GOD IS MY JUDGE, was so exhausted that I felt sick for several days. Finally I was able to get up and fulfill my responsibilities for the king, but all the while I was still feeling devastated and overwhelmed by the vision. Even though I had been given the interpretation to it, I felt that no one could help me fully understand what it meant for me and my people.


1: “exhausted”

The Hebrew word used here means “done, or finished,” similar to our phrase “done in.”

A summary of All of the Visions Given to Daniel

All the visions given to Daniel carried the same basic message: “Hard times will come, but God’s plan will be fulfilled on behalf of His followers. His plan will require what looks like defeat, but be patient and remain faithful, because God’s plan will be fulfilled in the end.”

Daniel’s visions included power-struggles between rulers of great empires, but the kings and their armies were not the focal point of those visions. God’s people are the focal point even though they are not highlighted or even mentioned specifically. But Daniel knew that his people would be caught in the middle of all this stuff, and that is why most of these visions troubled him, and weighed him down.

Daniel's Reactions to the Visions Given to Him

I want you to notice the statements that describe Daniel’s responses to the visions he was given. I chose 8:27 as the one to highlight with a translation and paraphrase because it comes just before chapter 9 with Daniel’s prayer and the vision of the 70 sevens later in that chapter. However, on several occasions Daniel had a similar reaction. My thoughts alarmed me, and my cheerful disposition was changed (7:28). He mourned for three weeks, refusing to touch meat, wine, or lotions (10:2); he said, “No strength remained in me; my vigor was turned to nothing within me, and I was not able to retain any of my strength” (10:8); He bowed his face to the ground and was speechless (10:15). At one point he said, “Because of the vision, deep pangs of writhing sorrow have overwhelmed me, and no strength stays with me” … “no strength remains in me and no life’s-breath is left in me” (10:16-17). The angel (or Jesus) who had the appearance of a man, had to give Daniel strength in order for them to continue their conversation (10:18-19).

God Placed Israel at the Center of the Ancient World

Why was Daniel overwhelmed and shaken by these visions which appear to pertain to kingdoms, rulers, and armies but not to Daniel directly?

To understand why Daniel was overwhelmed we need to place ourselves in Daniel’s shoes as a Jew. God and the Jews did not always tell the listener the main point directly or clearly; Jewish teachers made their students go searching for the truth rather than handing it to them prepackaged. Here, as is often the case in Scripture and in real life for all of us, what is not stated is just as important as what is stated. Yes, the visions pertain to kingdoms, rulers, and their armies, but in order to understand Daniel’s response, and the purpose of the visions, we need to try to think like an ancient Jew.

God placed His chosen people right between the two great kingdoms of ancient times in order for them to be an influence on the world. They were literally at the center-point of the known world (they didn’t know anything about places like China, or the Americas, etc.) For someone to travel by land from what they called the North [1] (Mesopotamia, which was dominated at some point by Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc.) to the South (Egypt), he had to go through Israel

[1] The Mesopotamian region actually lies to the East of Palestine, but people from that region did not take a direct route to Egypt or Israel because an almost uncrossable desert (the Arabian desert) was located between them; they had to travel in an arc that first took them Southwest, thus they always approached Palestine from the North.

These two areas (Mesopotamia and Egypt) were the locations of all the major empires of the Old Testament era, and the seat of power seems to have shifted back and forth from Egypt to Mesopotamia and back again many times. Every time the armies of the North wanted to attack the South, or visa-versa, they marched right through Israel, taking over the area, demanding food supplies, and killing anyone who resisted. Even if one of those kings did not march through Palestine, the people living there feared that it could happen any time, because it often did. The reason Daniel chapters 10 and 11 mention all these battles is that anything which affected that part of the world, affected Israel. While the first part of this vision seems to have more to do with the kings and armies of other lands than with Daniel and his Jewish comrades, we need to remember that anything that affected the area, was likely to affect Israel.

If he was like most Jews, Daniel’s first response to these visions was probably, “Oh no, not again. This always happens to us. Every time one kingdom falls and another one takes its place, we have armies marching through our land, wreaking havoc, and causing fear, scarcity and death.”

But Daniel was more spiritually mature than most Jews, so he may have skipped passed that initial, human response, to a more spiritual response which could have sounded something like this: “Dear Lord, I don’t enjoy suffering, but I know it is part of your purifying process, so I accept it because it is your will. In my mind and in my spirit, I understand that you use suffering and hardship for our benefit, but part of me does not look forward to more hardship. But I submit to your will, and I trust your guiding hand. However, I fear for my people. We have not learned the lessons you wanted us to learn while here in captivity, so I fear that we are so hard-hearted that more suffering and hardship will also be ineffective at teaching us to follow you. What will happen if your people, your instruments, your priests for a lost world, are not ready for the Messiah? Oh, Lord, I’m troubled; I’m concerned. I long for the coming of the Messiah, but the price for his coming is higher than I had hoped it would be. Help me Lord, to accept your will and your plan. Help us be ready so that when you act, we can participate with you, not against you. We need you Lord. Amen.”

The point of the visions recorded in Daniel chapters 7, 8, and 10-11, and also chapters 9 and 12, was to say that, “things will be tough before the Messiah comes, but He will come. God’s purpose will be fulfilled, but there is a price you will have to pay for being a part of what God is doing.”