In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.
2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) 5 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.
I recall sharing this story with a group of 8th graders. Describing the appearance of this man of Daniel’s vision, I told them that his appearance would put him at 11 on a 10 point weirdometer. They seemed to like the description. It does seem to evoke a certain image. Indeed this servant of God is at least a bit weird. His message is way beyond weird.
His appearance is not all that is unique; even the sound of his voice is overwhelming. Daniel’s response is appropriate: he falls on his face in deep sleep. Literally. He does a faceplant and seems not to move. When was the last time that you’ve been so overwhelmed by the appearance and voice of a messenger of God that you fell on your face before him?
God doesn’t always show up like this – all guns blazing. More often he shows up in the still small voice (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13). Most powerfully God has spoken to us by the babe of Bethlehem, the innocent, gentle, humble Jesus of Nazareth. Too seldom we are overwhelmed by the voice of Jesus.
What will bring Daniel to life is a message of grace, hope and insight from the messenger. It is the same with Jesus: when his words hit home he brings grace, hope, and life. When that happens it reveals the truth of the statement: “I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment—but I’m still stunned by his grace!” (Max Lucado, Stunned by His Grace).
Would that we were more often so stunned.