26 April 2013

“I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision, though a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground. “But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.’ So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. He said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your word.” (vv. 5-12)


Getting on with things has always been an issue for me. My training as a journalist gave me some great skills, but it also means I now find it difficult not to work to deadlines: sometimes as close as you can get.

Of course, once I take a deep breath and get on with it the work gets done. It's that business of setting your mind to something that really makes a difference.

For Daniel, it was the key to his relationship with God: determining to seek God, to pray and to live for him, even in exile.

And, in one of many encounters with angels, he is told that God's intervention on his behalf is precisely because he has made God his focus. The "man clothed in linen" - believed by some commentators to be the angel Gabriel - tells Daniel that "from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words" (v. 12).

What a message, to hear that God is paying attention to an individual's words. More than that, twice in this encounter Daniel is described as "greatly beloved" (vv. 11, 19). Because angels are messengers of God then the conclusion must be that God greatly loves this man.

The messenger is such an extraordinary sight, and his words so powerful, that Daniel collapses to the ground, shaking and trembling. But this is only the messenger!

Daniel is assured yet again that he is safe, loved and that his prayers are getting through. And it all stems from when he set his mind to be faithful.

We may not have encounters with angels, but surely the story is enough to encourage us to set our minds to following God, as Jesus said, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29). We are also greatly loved - even if we don't always remember.

To Ponder

  • How can you live in the confidence that you are greatly loved by God?
  • What do you need to set your mind to in your everyday life?

Bible notes author: The Revd Gareth Hill

  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you