The Secret To Daniel’s Greatness

By E. L. Thornton

Sermon 42

DANIEL 10:7-11 “And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.”

Somewhere in my reading I came across a phrase which remains vividly embedded in my forgetful thoughts, “For every tree growing upward there is a tree growing downward (root system).” In no human life is this principle more distinctly illustrated than in the life of Daniel. For many of us, Daniel is simply a man who was delivered from the Lions. He was, of course, a great man in that respect, but behind his outward greatness, there was a hidden life of communion and fellowship with his God that makes him an even greater man.

The words of our text, in which Daniel is called “a man greatly loved,” are words spoken, not on earth by mortal man, but rather in Heaven by either an angel or by God. Now I am sure that what was said in Heaven, by angels or God, was but an echo of what so many said on earth by those that knew him. We, earth, have a tremendous need for more men like Daniel.

For we are living in the time that Paul wrote to Timothy about. (2 Tim. 3:1-7) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Never in the history of America have we faced what we are facing today. We are far from what our founding fathers were 200 years plus ago. The Constitution of the United States of America gave us certain rights, but those rights have been abused and misused by modern man. Men, in our day, will go to any extreme to make money or to fulfill ones selfish aspirations.

The Apostle Paul was right again, men have become lovers of their own selves, with ambiguous and uncontrolled desires, seeking to satisfy their insatiable egos, they look at this world with an egocentric eye, and you better beware of them less they walk on you to get to where they aspire to go. There has never been a generation that is so self-centered, self-assured, self-advanced, self-appointed, self-asserted, self-indulged, self-loved, self-perpetuated, self-contained, self-fulfilling, self-important, self-possessed, and self-righteous, as people are in this day.

Yes! Apostle Paul was right again when he said in the last days people would be incontinent. If an advertisement doesn’t have something in it about sex they think it’s not appealing. If a song goes without saying something about sex they think it’s not singing. We have been saturated with sex. Is there any wonder that teenage pregnancies are at an all-time high. Is there any wonder that the crime of rape has gone unchecked. Is there any wonder why we have so many single-parent homes. Is there any wonder why divorce is taking two out of three marriages down.

Having a form of godliness? I’m fearful that Pentecostals are as guilty, of this last day peril, as any of the churchgoers. We know how to have church. Prayer, two songs, preach (not too long either) and go home. A Form. God help us to dispense of all formalities and let God touch our church services one more time.

As I study this text, I found myself asking, What was the secret behind such a life, “thou art greatly loved?” What were and are the conditioning factors that make such a life possible? Are there any clues, clues which could have a corresponding place in any of our lives today?

I think, after looking at these verses and bringing them under close scrutiny, there is. There are some things, if they are adhered to, will make us strong in the Lord, will make us great in God’s Kingdom. Look at the first scene of this scriptural drama.


Daniel was under no false illusions, or false pretense, about himself. He knew what he was in the sight of God. (1 Sam. 16:7) “—–for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (Luke 16:15) “—–Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” What a Christian is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is before others, and no more. (Ro. 12:3) “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” It was the realization of what Daniel knew himself to be that brought him down on his knees before God.

The vision that forced him there was the same vision that cause John to fall as though he were dead (Rev. 1), Isaiah to declare “Woe is me for I am undone” (Is. 6), Joshua to fall on his face and declare “what saith my Lord unto his servant” (Jos. 5), Paul to cry in Ro. 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then Paul writes in Ro. 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” It is strange but true, that a deep consciousness of sin does not come so much from an experience of sin as it does from a vision of the righteousness and the holiness of God.

The verdict that he faced was reached when “he was left alone.” Nobody else, just Daniel. You are going to reach you highest in God when you understand this principle, your experience with God is the one that counts with yourself. Your daddy’s experience with God may have been a good one but will not help you. Your pastor may have a close walk with God but his walk with God will do you no good. You must have an experience with God. It’s about yourself, not about others.

Daniel understood his own helplessness, for he said, “I retained no strength.”
We are suddenly reminded of Jesus’ words in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Also the prophet’s words in Zech. 4:6 “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Paul said (Phil. 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Daniel, while on his face, sensed a sinfulness in himself, “My comeliness (pleasing appearance, attractiveness, proper) was turned in me into corruption.” What a strange paradox, but true to experience, that the greatest saints in the eyes of men consider themselves to be the greatest sinners in God’s sight. (Isa.64:6) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags;——–”

Paul wrote in Ro 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:”

The clothes mama use to hang out on the clothesline to dry looked sparkling white until the time it snowed.


Daniel was always on his knees, even before the degree that went something like this, “whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions,” was signed. The scripture says that Daniel went to prayer “as he did aforetime.” Most of us wait until we get into trouble before we pray. But not Daniel, he is always on his knees. He enjoyed an intimacy with God.

There are those whose ambitions are that they should find themselves in the so called corridors of power on earth whether in the political world, the industrial world, the parochial world, and even in the ecclesiastical world. But the real corridors of power are in the spiritual world when the child of God is on their knees.

This man displayed an amazing fidelity. He allowed nothing to break the disciplined pattern of prayer that he had formed, three times a day. His prayers were heard, and answered. This man knew the truth about himself, and he knew the truth about his God, and was found on his knees before God. What intimacy this man enjoyed and what fidelity this man displayed.


This “standing before God” suggest two things.

1) It suggest that Daniel was available for service. Some servants are only available for the big occasions, for the big opportunities. Sweep the floor? Never! Sing specials? Anytime! Flush the commode? That turns my stomach! Preach the sermon? Just let me straighten my neck tie! But the true servant is available for anything, small or great.

2) It suggest that Daniel was accountable, “I stood trembling.” It was Paul that encouraged us in Phil. 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Is this the fear of serving a tyrant? Certainly not, but, however, it is the fear of bringing disappointment to one we love. A young boy was being pressured by his peers to do a debasing wrong but refused. The boys began to question him as to why he refuse, was it because of his fear of getting caught? “No!” Was his reply. Was it because he feared his daddy would hurt him? “No!” Was his reply again, but added, “I’m afraid I will hurt him.”

The secret of Daniel’s greatness was not found in the fact that he served kings and kingdoms, but in the fact that he served the King of Kings. Daniel knew the importance of prayer.
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