This week, we continue our message series, “Walking in the Favor of God.” Last week, we continued our journey with Daniel learning about the refining fire of God and the seasons of shaking. Though these are never pleasant to experience, they purify us from the things of the world and reveal that priceless and unshakable things of God’s Kingdom within our lives.
This morning, I have to admit that I couldn’t wait any longer. Instead of continuing through the book of Daniel in order, I really felt the need to expedite our journey to the middle of Daniel. We’re passing up the change of leadership of Babylon, the lion’s den, the writing on the wall, King Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling in the wilderness, and some other really good stuff and going straight to yet another powerful revelation of how Daniel walked in the favor of God. I feel that it’s very timely that we head straight to the issue of intercession.
To intercede is simply to plead for the needs of someone else. It is to intervene between parties with a view to reconcile their differences. Of course, in our context, we’re referring to reconciling people with God, to plead to God on their behalf.
Intercession began at the beginning of creation as soon as a discrepancy came into existence. This discrepancy was Adam and Eve choosing to sin against God by eating fruit from a tree that they were specifically told not to eat from. Since there was no one else to intercede on Adam and Eve’s behalf, God, Himself chased them down and sacrificed an animal to cover their sin and shame.
There was established a priesthood of men whose primary role was intercession. Although we commonly think that the priesthood began with Aaron in Exodus 28, it is very clear that the priesthood existed before this time. In fact, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law was the known as the priest of Midian and Joseph’s wife was the Egyptian priest of On. These priests acted as mediators between God and man.
When people think of priests today, they usually envision the Catholic fathers wearing all black attire with that white square at their collar sitting in confessional booths acting between God and man. Indeed, the priesthood continues to this day, but it is not this stereo-typical idea of being a priest. All who put their faith in Jesus are priests. You are priests, intercessors between God and man.
1 Peter 2:8b-10
8b They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We are not, of course, priests in the order and lineage of Aaron, but in the order of Melchizedek! Now to gain a full context and understanding, you really have to read the whole book of Hebrews. This priest first encountered way back in Genesis 14 is, in my opinion, none other than Jesus Christ!
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
23 Now there have been many of those priests (of the Levitical priesthood in the order of Aaron), since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
We are a royal priesthood in the order of Jesus. He is our great high priest who constantly intercedes for us. Who then are we to intercede for? We’ll now go back to Daniel and learn exactly that.
The greatest way that intercession has ever taken place was when Jesus wrapped Himself in flesh, was tempted even as we are, paid the price for our sins on the cross, then rose again to life. In my opinion, the second greatest display of intercession is the prayer of Daniel found in chapter 9. Why do I hold this opinion? As soon as Daniel began this intercessory prayer, this is what happened!
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.
12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
We’re aware from Ephesians 6 that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but that this warfare takes place in the heavenly realms. The revelation given to Daniel clearly gives us a peek into the spiritual realm more than anywhere else in the scriptures the cooperative role that we play in this heavenly war. Well, aside from Elijah, Elisha, and the chariots of fire. 🙂
It all begins with a choice. The moment that Daniel chose to set his mind to gain understanding, to humble himself, and the moment He began to pray and intercede for his nation, God sent the archangel Gabriel to him.
Daniel went through some fierce and fiery tests of his faith and remained true through it all. Daniel’s faithfulness caught God’s attention so much that he was highly esteemed by God. Can you imagine an archangel visiting you and informing you that you are highly esteemed by God? It seems that Gabriel is the angel chosen by God to share such a message as we recall that it was also he who visited Mary with that same good news along with the news that she was about to conceive Jesus, the savior of the world, within her virgin womb!
On a bit of a side note… Angels are not our loved ones who have passed away, angels are not little winged babies, angels are eternal created beings of God who are fierce warriors who are usually described in the scriptures appearing like a man who carry out the will of God and speak His word. They were the warriors in Heaven that cast a third of the angels along with Satan to the earth. In fact, Revelation 12 states that it was Michael who lead the angels in war against Satan and the angels who chose to follow him. Moreover, Hebrews chapter 1 reveals that angels are ministering spirits sent to serve us who will inherit salvation. Daniel physically describes this angel in this way:
5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
Though God sent an angel to Daniel, it was resisted for 21 days and then detained. Another archangel, Michael, had to come to help it break free. It makes me ponder and consider how many times this may happen in our own lives. We pray, God sends an angel to serve our need, and we do not see an immediate answer because of the warfare raging in the spiritual realms.
It was an angel who released Peter from prison so that he could preach the gospel, who ministered to Jesus after being tempted, who harvest souls gathering us together at the sound of the trump, who caused an earthquake when they rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, who brought word of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, who shared the birth of Jesus with the shepherds, who rejoice over one sinner who repents, who strengthened Jesus in the garden, who freed the apostles from prison, who appeared to Moses through a burning bush, who told Philip to go for a walk on the south road, who visited Cornelius preparing the way for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, who struck down Herod to death, who visited Paul before being shipwrecked, whom we entertain without knowing it, who brought John the book of Revelation, and who serves you and me today. Angels have always been a critical part of the miraculous works of God and the powerful revelations of God’s message. In fact, it was angels that revealed powerful visions to both Daniel and John of the end times.
Back to the point, however. We’ve learned about priests and angels, we know that we are priests in the order of Jesus and that angels are spirits who serve us. Now what does that have to do with us today?
We live in critically pivotal times! We’re only a month away from a significant election in this nation that will dramatically guide our path and undoubtedly have a huge impact in our lives. World events are stirring that all point to what Jesus referred to as the beginning of the birth pains of the end times. Daniel was given the revelation of the end times in the form of visions because of a choice that he made.
Like Daniel, we can also choose these things which gained high esteem from God. This high esteem unlocked for Daniel the ability to receive and be trusted with great revelation about the end of times brought to him by an archangel of God. If God was willing to entrust Daniel with all of this, and if it was so hugely resisted by Satan, then surely, God will send his angels to meet our tiny needs as we do these things that Daniel did.
First, Daniel chose to gain understanding. Daniel could have arrogantly resisted the Babylonian culture and spit in the face of his enemies, but Daniel chose instead to gain understanding. His hunger to learn and to gain insight beyond his immediate circumstances left God in awe of him. This is quite the accomplishment!
We must choose, instead of arrogantly spewing out curses and hatred against the things that we view as being wrong, to gain understanding of it. That doesn’t mean that we accept it, that doesn’t mean that we agree with it, that doesn’t mean that we live it, it simply means that we understand it. Think about this truth. God possess all knowledge and wisdom and insight. That means that God fully understands and knows evil. Does this make Him corrupt or evil in any way? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
Secondly, Daniel chose to humble himself. To gain understanding and to humble yourself truly goes hand-in-hand. You simply can’t have one without the other. The humility that Daniel chose to cloak himself with, however, wasn’t just admitting that there were things that he didn’t know or understand. Daniel’s humility went to the extreme of his next choice. It was this choice that really grabbed God’s attention and caused quite the stir in the heavenly realms.
Daniel chose to intercede. He didn’t point fingers. He didn’t pray for his leaders. He didn’t pray for his nation. He didn’t ask forgiveness for their sins. Daniel prayed in chapter 9, “Lord, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” Just as Jesus, who knew no sin, became a sin offering for us, Daniel personally took on the sins of his people and his nation.
He didn’t stand in the gap between God and his people, He stood with His people and cried out to God! Though we see clear evidence that Daniel would not have participated in the sins that caused God’s judgment to be poured out on Judah and Israel, he prayed to God as if though he personally did. This is true intercession and truly being a member of the royal priesthood in the order of Melchizedek. This is what gets God’s attention and releases an angelic host to bring healing and restoration!
It is not separating ourselves from those that we are praying for and pulling them up to God, it is taking the place of that person and seeking after God. Daniel recalled these words and put them into practice:
2 Chronicles 7:14
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Though there was a clear distinction between Daniel and the sin of his people, he disregarded that distinction. He was clearly a part of a community, part of a nation. He didn’t pray FOR his community or nation, he prayed AS a unified community and nation. He knew that when one part suffered, the whole suffered. It didn’t matter whether he was part of the problem or not, he was wholly committed to being part of the solution!
He humbled himself, like Jesus, taking on the sins of his people personally. He personally accepted responsibility and ownership of the sins of his people even though he very likely did not personally commit them.
What a stark contrast to the so called “leaders” of our nation! Commercial after commercial, speech after speech, debate after debate, tweet after tweet, news report after news report, Facebook post after Facebook post doing nothing but pointing fingers and blaming the state of our nation at others. This coming even from ones labeled as the leaders of the Christian community in this nation. Even Rick Joyner of Morningstar, whom I highly respect, has been very public in blasting out the sins of political forerunners.
What would happen if we chose to do things God’s way? What would happen if we would choose to respond to the state of our nation like Daniel did? What if we prayed like Daniel prayed?
Well, tonight, instead of the adult small group study, we’re going to do exactly that!
I urge you to attend this intercessory prayer service. However, if you are unable to attend, simply cry out Daniel’s intercessory prayer found in Daniel chapter 9 replacing the geographical names with that of our nation. Then, as the Lord leads, continue to intercede for individuals in your life in this same way, personally putting yourself in their place and crying out to God. Do the same for your community, workplace, school, whatever the Lord may lead you in. It’s sure to be a powerful and effective time of prayer!