I have noticed lately that many professing Christians, even some pastors, have given up trying to understand some of the more difficult passages of Scripture. There are many reasons for this, more than we can deal with in this article, but one question we should all ask ourselves if we claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God: How badly do I really want to understand God's Word?
Daniel received some visions and prophecies from God that were difficult even for him to understand. Chapters 9-11 are among those passages that many preachers these days gloss over with generalizations, if they treat them at all. But notice Daniel's attitude toward understanding the Word:
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession . . ." (Daniel 9:3-4a)
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. (Daniel10:2-3)
To Daniel, as it was to Job (Job 23:12), the Word of God was more precious than food or sleep! Daniel knew that the only true interpreter of Holy Scripture was (and is) God Himself! He knew that through earnest prayer and confession, God would grant him understanding. Since Daniel was a prophet receiving special revelation, God sent an angel to explain the vision and prophecy. Believers today have a constant divine companion and Comforter to guide us in our understanding of Scripture -- the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27)
While the Holy Spirit moved upon Daniel to give us inspired Scripture (2 Peter 1:21), every believer has that same Holy Spirit to illuminate and give us understanding of those Scriptures. Again, the question is, How badly do I really want to understand?
Daniel's determination paid off! God sent His angel who had to fight off demonic forces to get the message through to His choice servant.
And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." (Daniel 10:11-14)
Let's not shy away from deep passages of Scripture; let's seek the guidance of God's Holy Spirit for understanding. Let's also study the whole Bible more diligently because the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture. Remember, we have one thing that even Daniel did not have: a complete Bible!
So "Be diligent to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB)