We live in a world of instant gratification and quick fixes. Our devices give us access to instant answers right at our fingertips. We hate waiting for anything. If our computers are keeping us waiting, we simply upgrade to newer, faster ones. Waiting is considered a waste of time in the twenty-first century.
In the tenth chapter, Daniel urgently prays and waits for three weeks before his prayers are answered. Thereafter, the angel comes and explains the reason for the delayed response. Often, when we wait for God to respond, we do not have the luxury of an explanation for the delay. Yet waiting on God is a critical piece of the Christian development puzzle.
The work to rebuild Jerusalem was at a stalemate as the enemies of God’s people tried to convince Cyrus to rescind his order to rebuild the city. Daniel prayed again for his people; specifically, that the king of Persia would be persuaded to hold fast his decision in favor of the Jews. Daniel continued to pray in sackcloth and ashes for 21 days with no response. Then the angel Gabriel gave the reason for his delay. The king was resisting being persuaded, and Gabriel needed backup; Michael was called, and the king was persuaded to cast his lot with the people of God.
When we pray and do not receive an immediate response, Daniel 10 reminds us of the invisible reality of an angelic war, or the great controversy, that is waging around us, though not always apparent. Waiting involves a “temporary stop.” It is a time when we feel like things are on hold. It’s when we feel like things are at a standstill and nothing is happening. Yet in reality, it is a time that God has already factored as critical to our Christian journey.
Some of the greatest figures in the Bible—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David—had to wait and be in a holding pattern for not three weeks, but for years, and in some cases decades. Those days and sometimes years of waiting were priceless for developing the character of these great men of the Bible.
Waiting time is not lost time. Waiting on God is a time during which character is developed. It is a time when our faith is tested and strengthened. It is a time that we learn to trust and depend on God. “Something actually happens while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us” (Jade Mazarin, “God Is Working in Your Waiting,” desiringGod, Feb. 20, 2017, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-working-in-your-waiting).
Michael literally means one “who is as God.” There are several clues to Michael’s identity throughout Scripture. In the book of Daniel, Michael is associated with the raising of the dead from the grave. Here are biblical clues to the identity of Michael:
Michael is the archangel—Jude 9
The voice of the archangel raises the dead—1 Thess. 4:16
The voice of Jesus raises the dead—John 5:25–29
From these verses we see that Michael, the archangel who raises the dead, is Jesus.
In the Old Testament we find instances where “the angel of the Lord” appears to men. For instance, an angel appears to Manoah and his wife to tell them that they will have a son. When they ask the angel what his name is, he responds, “ ‘Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?’ ” (Judg. 13:18). The clue to the angel’s identity is that Jesus’ name is also “Wonderful” (Isa. 9:6). After the angel of the Lord left, they said, “ ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen God!’ ” (Judg. 13:22).
The word angel means messenger. Jesus appeared in the form of an angel to bring special messages to His people. In the case of Daniel, it was Michael who came to the aid of Gabriel to answer his prayer.
Jesus is interested in wholistic restoration. His goal is not just to get us into heaven but to fit us for heaven. Jesus is concerned with both our title to and fitness for heaven. Our fitness for heaven involves our character development, and our character development involves waiting on God.
While it may be considered rude to keep someone waiting on you, when Jesus keeps us waiting, it can be the most loving thing to do. God’s love is more than sentimentalism. It is a love that cares about our growth and development and ultimately wants for us the fullness of happiness and joy.
Imagine if we got from Jesus everything we wanted, when we wanted it. We would develop into impatient, demanding, and entitled human beings. The fact is that waiting is a critical part of the process of making us into loving, patient, and lovable Christians.
Waiting on God is not time that is worthless. It is the most productive time for our character development. It is a time when God is intensely working in us while He is working for us.
“In the wilds of Midian, Moses spent forty years as a keeper of sheep. Apparently cut off forever from his life’s mission, he was receiving the discipline essential for its fulfillment.
“Moses had been learning much that he must unlearn. The influences that had surrounded him in Egypt—the love of his foster mother, his own high position as the king’s grandson, the dissipation on every hand, the refinement, the subtlety, and the mysticism of a false religion, the splendor of idolatrous worship, the solemn grandeur of architecture and sculpture—all had left deep impressions upon his developing mind and had molded, to some extent, his habits and character. Time, change of surroundings, and communion with God could remove these impressions. It would require on the part of Moses himself a struggle as for life to renounce error and accept truth, but God would be his helper when the conflict should be too severe for human strength. . . .
“In order to receive God’s help, man must realize his weakness and deficiency; he must apply his own mind to the great change to be wrought in himself. . . . Many never attain to the position that they might occupy, because they wait for God to do for them that which He has given them power to do for themselves. . . .
“Shut in by the bulwarks of the mountains, Moses was alone with God. The magnificent temples of Egypt no longer impressed his mind with their superstition and falsehood. In the solemn grandeur of the everlasting hills he beheld the majesty of the Most High, and in contrast realized how powerless and insignificant were the gods of Egypt. Everywhere the Creator’s name was written. Moses seemed to stand in His presence and to be overshadowed by His power. Here his pride and self-sufficiency were swept away. In the stern simplicity of his wilderness life, the results of the ease and luxury of Egypt disappeared. Moses became patient, reverent, and humble, ‘very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth’ (Num. 12:3), yet strong in faith in the mighty God of Jacob.”