The Bible is always a fascinating book – the bestseller of all time! It contains facts and helps for every problem of life. It tells us about God, man, and redemption. It contains accurate history. It contains prophecy about the future. It contains scientific information that stretches our minds. But for Daniel in captivity in Babylon in about 538 B.C., the most exciting fact that he discovered in the Scriptures was a promise of freedom from Babylonian captivity! The freedom had a condition, so Daniel labored long and hard to fulfill the requirement. After 70 years, it is almost time to return home! But what will home look like under Gentile domination with the dreaded evil rulers in their future?
Chapter nine is one of the most fascinating chapters in all of prophecy. The angel Gabriel came back into Daniel’s life to describe the final 70 weeks of years in which God will deal with Jerusalem and the Jewish people. It included the prophecy of the precise time of Messiah’s appearance in the world. Perhaps Daniel was still troubled thirteen years after the visions in chapter eight. His new look into the future is again a mixture of hope and despair. The road to paradise will indeed be rocky, but the end is eternal victory.
DAY ONE: DANIEL DISCOVERED A KEY PROPHECY.
Read: Daniel 9:1-3
A. THE TIME OF THE VISION IS CLARIFIED.
Again we need to establish the time of this vision. The Babylonian Empire had fallen to the Medes and Persians. Daniel was then living under a new king (Darius – the king who had him thrown into the lion’s den!). Daniel would have been in his eighties by now. Most of his life had been lived in Babylon. He was still faithfully reading the sacred Scriptures and was still trusting God for the truth on every page. We never become too old to read and study the Word of God. God can always speak to us in the Scriptures with a new message that can change our lives.
B. A PROPHECY BECAME HIGHLY REVELANT.
As Daniel studied the sacred writings the Jews had brought from Jerusalem, he read about Judah’s tragic history of turning away from God and ignoring the warnings God sent by His faithful prophets. Daniel came upon a passage that must have screamed out at him because of its timeliness. Jeremiah had written:
Jeremiah 25:11-12 – This whole country will become a desolate wasteland and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. But when the 70 years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 – This is what the Lord says:” When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and PRAY to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Someone needs to pray! Many of the Jewish people had settled into life in Babylon and were quite content. They were in danger of having forgotten why they were there and what their calling from God was all about.
It is so easy for us to become complacent. The everyday cares of this life can quickly and quietly consume us to the point that we slowly forget that God has called us to a service that furthers His kingdom. We can forget about God’s story when we become too preoccupied with our own story.
- What did Jesus say about our priorities? (Matthew 6:33)
- Read 2 Peter 1:19-21. What does this tell you about the source and importance of prophecy?
- What assurance do we have of the fulfillment of every word of Scripture? (Isaiah 40:8)
- Read Isaiah 40:31. How does this speak to you about the joy we should receive from the promises of God in Scripture?
- Read Isaiah 55:10-11. Write this scripture on an index card and read it for several days to increase your faith in the importance of every word in Scripture.
DAY TWO: DANIEL PRAYED FOR THE WHOLE NATION.
Read: Daniel 9:4-19
A. DANIEL CONFESSED THE SHAME AND GUILT OF HIS PEOPLE.
Perhaps you are one of those people who read through the Bible each year. If so, you have read through the history portion of the Old Testament and learned that the behavior of God’s chosen people was most frustrating. God gave clear and detailed commands for the people to follow. He sent numerous prophets to guide, instruct, and warn them. He sent discipline when they willfully ignored His word. They could never plead ignorance in not knowing what it took to please God. But only when they were in desperate situations did they repent, turn back to Him, and do what He commanded. Even then, it would not be long before they were repeating their rebellion.
Daniel made no excuses for his nation. Everyone was guilty of sin – from the princes and leadership to the ordinary people. Daniel identified with them by including himself in his confession. Although he was not guilty of idolatry and abandonment of God, he no doubt had sinned in other ways. There was enough guilt and shame to go around.
B. DANIEL CONFESSED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.
Daniel could pray confidently because he knew the character of God. He knew that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. Daniel was assured that God would hear his pleas and that God would keep His promise to bring them home.
Daniel approached God in the right way. He showed an attitude of contrition by fasting and putting on sackcloth and ashes. In their culture, these things indicated sorrow over sin. Daniel was deadly serious in his prayer life. There was no rationalizing or making excuses. He presented himself as an unclean sinner and threw himself and his nation on the mercy of a loving God. Daniel made it clear that God was not to blame for Israel’s shame. God had acted righteously in all that He did. He had behaved exactly as promised in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 28).
C. DANIEL PLEADED FOR MERCY FOR HIS NATION.
God had promised in the Law of Moses that He would forgive when his people repented (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). So He is not compromising His righteousness if He now restores Israel. Daniel is praying in the will of God when he specifically asks God to restore His people, His city, and His temple. Daniel appealed to God’s mercy and not His justice. He acknowledged that Israel deserved the judgment they had received.
- How did Daniel summarize Israel’s sins in Daniel 9:11a?
- How did Daniel summarize the consequences of Israel’s sins in Daniel 9:11b-12?
- How did Daniel defend God’s righteousness in Daniel 9:13-14
- What attributes of God stand out to you in Daniel’s prayer?
- What can you personally learn from the thoughts on prayer in Psalm 66:16-20, Matthew 7:7-11 or James 5:16-18?
DAY THREE: DANIEL RECEIVED A REPEAT VISITOR.
Read: Daniel 9:22-23
A. GABRIEL CAME TO GIVE INSIGHT AND UNDERSTANDING.
While Daniel was still praying, Gabriel flew to Daniel and announced that his prayer was already being answered. Without divine revelation, it was impossible for Daniel to understand the timing of events and to see exactly what God would do in the coming years. How often do we yearn for the answer to our prayers to be made immediately clear? Nevertheless, we can trust God to know when and how to help us understand future outcomes in our lives. Often it takes many years to see answers to prayer.
B. DANIEL CAN BE TRUSTED WITH GOD’S DIVINE PLAN.
The reason that Daniel can be entrusted with this incredible information is that he had proved himself loyal to God over and over again. Gabriel mentioned that Daniel was highly esteemed (v. 23). He will treat God’s revelation in a proper way. We are happy about that because we know today that we have an accurate account of the future history of God’s people and not an account that is “softened” or altered by Daniel’s wishful thinking or limited understanding.
- What does Scripture say about the test of our trustworthiness? (Matthew 25:21)
- God is faithful to help us to understand when we are lacking. What promise was given to the Apostles by Jesus? (John 14:25-26)
- What promise is given to all believers who are struggling with trials? (James 1:5)
- How often do you remember to pray for insight and understanding before you open the Word of God?
- What proof can you give to show that you are a “serious” student of God’s Word?
DAYS FOUR AND FIVE: DANIEL LEARNED OF ISRAEL’S FUTURE.
Read: Daniel 9:24-27
A. GABRIEL REVEALED A TIME LIMIT FOR GOD’S PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL.
God is not finished with Israel. He will continue to chasten Israel for seventy weeks of years (490 years) beyond Babylonian captivity! Perhaps this revelation will help Daniel to understand the visions of chapter eight. Israel will be under Gentile domination for centuries to come. Although they will return to their homeland after 70 years, they will not enjoy complete and permanent independence until God has accomplished all that He has planned for His chosen people. This prophecy concerns Daniel’s people (Israel) and their holy city (Jerusalem).
B. GOD WILL ACCOMPLISH SIX THINGS.
- Finish the transgression – Israel as a nation will not stop its rebellion against God until these 490 years have run their course. Other Scriptures confirm that Israel as a nation will not repent, turn to God, and be saved until the second coming of Christ at the end of these 490 years. (Zechariah 12:10 – 13:1) (Romans 11:25-27)
- Make an end to sin – Israel’s rebellion against God and his commandments will not end until the root of their sin (rejection of God’s rule) is finished at Christ’s second coming.
- Make atonement for iniquity – Jesus atoned for sin but that atonement will not apply to Israel until the nation personally appropriates it by accepting Jesus as their savior and Messiah.
- Bring in everlasting righteousness – This righteousness that is eternal only comes from accepting the person of Jesus Christ. Any other righteousness is temporary. This could also refer to the earthly Kingdom of God presented in the dreams of chapters two and seven – the Kingdom that will last forever.
- Seal up vision and prophecy – This seems to mean that all visions and prophecies regarding the nation will be fulfilled at the end of this revealed time period.
- Anoint the most holy place – This seems to refer to a new temple that will be built for use by the reigning Messiah at the beginning of his reign on earth. (Ezekiel 40-48)
C. GABRIEL REVEALED THE STARTING POINT OF ISRAEL’S PROGRAM.
When will this time program begin? Gabriel revealed that it will begin with the issuing of a decree. This presents a challenge, for several decrees were issued by Medo-Persian kings, permitting the rebuilding of various parts of Jerusalem. The following decrees are noted:
The decree by Cyrus in 538 B.C. – allowing the Jews to return and start rebuilding the temple. (Ezra 1:1-4)
The decree by Darius in 520 B.C. – a confirmation of the decree by Cyrus. (Ezra 6:1-12)
The decree by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 458 B.C. – providing funds for temple worship and for Ezra to begin teaching the people. (Ezra 7:12-26)
The decree by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. – permitting Nehemiah to rebuild the city walls. (Nehemiah 2:1-9).
The time from the aforementioned decree to start the countdown until the cutting off of the Messiah will be 483 years. The only decree that specifically authorized the rebuilding of Jerusalem is the last decree – 445 B.C. From the issuing of Artaxerxes’ decree until the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem would fit this time limit.
D. GABRIEL REVEALED DISTURBING EVENTS IN ISRAEL’S FUTURE.
Daniel must be stunned as Gabriel runs down a list of events that will happen to his people in coming years:
Jews will return and rebuild Jerusalem (for 7 sevens or 49 years)
Messiah will come into Jerusalem as King (after 62 sevens or 434 years) for a total of 483 years.
Jesus will be killed or “cut off”
Jerusalem and the temple will again be destroyed by Romans
War will continue and desolations are decreed
Final seven years
A Roman ruler (Antichrist) will make a covenant with the Jews for seven years
After three and one half years he will commit an abomination
He will receive judgment
The anointed one will come
E. THE FINAL WEEK ENDS IN GREAT VICTORY.
Gabriel gave insight and understanding to Daniel. The stone cut out without hands (Daniel 2:24) represents the Kingdom of God coming to earth to destroy the Kingdom of the Antichrist and putting an end to all Gentile kingdoms. Zechariah and Revelation reveal that this will take place at the second coming of Christ.
Gabriel shows Daniel that his prayer for mercy for Israel will be answered. All of the prophecies concerning the Jewish people will be fulfilled at the end of a 490 year period. But there will be a gap between the 483 years and the final 7 years.
- What is the dictionary meaning of the word abomination?
- Read Matthew 24:15-25. What does Jesus say will be the sign of the last great outpouring of wrath before the end of the age?
- How much time will be left? (Daniel 12:11)
- According to the Old Testament prophets the Kingdom will be glorious. (Scan Isaiah 60) Who or what will provide light? (Isaiah 60:19)
- What do you most look forward to in the glorious Kingdom of God?
Daniel may have received more than he wanted to know from Gabriel! It appears that he thought the chastening of Israel would be over when the Babylonian captivity was finished. He must have expected the Kingdom of God to be set up soon with all of the beautiful promises for Israel being fulfilled.
There are consequences for rebelling against God. As the Hebrew writer says – “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” There will be tough times ahead for the rebellious Jewish people. Like Daniel, it always pays to choose the path of obedience.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK: God loves to bless the faithful but dares to discipline the rebellious.
CHALLENGE: Begin each day this week by asking God to show you the righteous path for the day.
NOTE: In ancient times a year was reckoned to be 360 days or twelve months of 30 days each. Often special holy days were not counted as regular calendar days.
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