Go Thy Way, Daniel: When Questions Aren’t Answered

IntroductionMany of us love the Book of Daniel and how he stood for God in a pagan land. My late grandmother and one of my aunts used to read from The Bible Story Collection the stories of Daniel and his friends numerous times. I’ve never forgotten those moments and rejoice that people cared enough to read to a little boy.

We can remember, too, how Daniel explained a dream and its meaning to the king more than once, how he refused to give up when it meant certain death, and how he prayed for the people of Israel. Chapter 9, for example, contains a beautiful prayer that clearly came from Daniel’s heart. God heard the prayer, and answered—powerfully.

The Hebrews were allowed to return home, out of Babylonian captivity, which to them was a dream come true. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give glimpses of life in those days; Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi give us additional portraits of life after they returned home.

Yet, there is one thing for which Daniel isn’t given a lot of credit. He asked questions, and most of them God answered, buy there was one that He did not answer (Please read: Dan. 12:1-13).

Our focus is on verse 9: “And he said, ‘Go thy way, Daniel,’ for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

What did Daniel hear?

The narrative for this event actually begins in Chapter 10. Daniel told us when he received this prophecy, and he recorded in detail what God’s messenger told him. This flowed into chapter 11, giving details about events that would happen many years, hundreds of years, in the future—all fulfilled to the letter.

Other parts of those prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, but we can be sure that if the other prophecies were fulfilled, the others will be, as well. Allowing that there is some room for debate as to when these prophecies will be fulfilled, we have every assurance that what God has promised He will complete.

What did Daniel ask?

Without going into detail about each prophecy, including the verses just before his question, we can see Daniel was puzzled about this message or series of messages. Then, abruptly, Daniel is told to stop writing (v. 4), but he’s not told why. He asked one of the rare questions in his book, “What shall be the end of these things?” He said he asked this question because he heard but didn’t understand what the people were discussing.

We shouldn’t take Daniel to task simply because he was asking for an explanation or clarification of what he heard. After all, he had recorded several messages and interpretations in detail and had never been told to stop.

What explanation did Daniel receive?

Strikingly, Daniel wasn’t given a lot of explanation. He was told to “Go thy way,” which could be understood as “None of your business.” There are times when God simply closes off the knowledge that any of us might seek at one time or another. I’m sure Daniel would have loved to know more specifics about the end of time. Was he expecting the kingdom at that moment? The apostles were looking for the kingdom in the moments before Jesus Christ ascended into heaven in Acts 1!

He received a couple of seemingly cryptic messages. The first is that the words were closed, that the wicked would continue to do wickedly, and many would be purified, made white, and tried. He then was given three specific periods of time: 1,260 days, 1,290 days, and 1,335 days.

What did this mean? We don’t know for sure, and I won’t try to make sense of something that obviously has been sealed since Daniel’s time. One day, when God opens this bit of information, we’ll understand it clearly, though it is not clear now.

Then, he’s told to “Go thy way” a second time, but there’s a hint of a promise that some of us may not see at first glance. He’s told he will rest and stand in his lot at the end of the days. In my opinion, I think this refers to the time when Christ returns to this earth with his saints to set up His kingdom.

In this brief message, I’ve concentrated on the basics. Daniel had heard many things in specific detail and was asking, “What does this mean?” He was told, “Go thy way,” twice, not as a rebuff but as a “That’s all for now.” God, being Sovereign, has the right to draw a line as far as specific revelation goes. Daniel received a promise, and the first glimpse of two resurrections (see verse 2). So when God tells us to “Go thy way,” we can trust that there are some things He doesn’t choose to reveal now. Daniel accepted this and stopped writing, and we have the results of what God gave him to write. Similar to Daniel, we can trust God even if we don’t get an answer to the question/s we asked.

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