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The Book of Daniel Lesson 9 Chap 9 by Walter C Kaiser, Jr.

We are told that Daniel opened his windows towards Jerusalem three times daily (Dan 6:10). But we have no reason to doubt that just as often he opened the books to know what the will of God was, especially “the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet” (9:2), which scroll may have been carried from his homeland by the exiles. This high regard for the Scriptures is likewise very evident when we hear Daniel praying, for he prays from a series of subtly woven quotations from what we today call the Old Testament.

Whereas previously there had been back in Israel priests and prophets to assist the people in worship, now they were thrown almost exclusively on the word of God as their only assistance in worshiping God. In the view of some, this may have been one of the greatest results of the exile. And as usually happens in a situation such as that, when the people turned to the writings that came as a revelation from God, they also found that God drew nearer to them. This is because God himself had ordered that real and vital worship was most clearly linked with the study and obedience of the Scriptures.

Ronald Wallace (Daniel, InterVarsity Press, 1979) illustrated this point by citing the case of Dr Martin Niemoller, who during the second World War spoke of his sense of real loss when his Bible was removed from him as he was convicted on March 2, 1938, after languishing in a Berlin prison of 18 months prior to his trial. But with his conviction, everything was removed from him, including his German Bible. He begged to have it restored, which finally was granted. His confession was that it was this book that was the source of his strength and his comfort; in fact it was what he needed most.

In a similar situation, Daniel poured over the books as God breathed into him new life as he saw all over again what God had done for the worthies of the past, such as Abraham, Moses and Jeremiah. Daniel was moved by the same concerns, perplexities, and the desire for the glory of God as his people had evidenced in the past. It was the word of God that was their mainstay in life.

OUTLINE:

Title:   “Praying the Promises of God and Receiving Answers”

Text:  Daniel 9:1-27

Focal Point: v 23, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision.”

Homiletical Keyword: “Results”

Interrogative:  What are the results of prayers such as Daniel’s prays here?

Outline:

I.   Sincere Prayer is Needed in Critical Times (9:1-2)

A. Darius the Mede

B. The Seventy Years of Jerusalem’s Desolation

II.   Fervent Prayer Calls for Confession of Our Sin and the Sin of Our Nation (9:3-19)

A.  The Great and Awesome God (9:4)

B.  Communal Confession for the people’s Sins (9:5-6)

C.  The Lord is Righteous; We are Shamed (9:7-8)

D.  The Lord’s Mercy Will Prevail   (9:9-10)

E.   Theological Reflection on God’s Justice   (9:11-14)

F.   A Transition from Confession to Supplication (9:15-19)

III.   Answers to Prayer Shape the Events of History (9:20-27)

A.  Answers to a Highly Esteemed Man (9:2-23)

B. The Six Purposes of the Seventy Sevens (9:24)

C. The Three Sets of Seven (9:25-27)

Conclusions

(STUDY OF TEXT BEGINS…)

I. Sincere Prayer is Needed in Critical Times (9:1-2)

A. Darius the Mede

The mention of “The first year,” and that it was the first year of “Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent, 9:1), acts as that both facts set the scene, but they also introduce a key problem in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 6:28, we have argued that “Darius the Mede” was the same person as Cyrus II (“the Great”), the first king of the Medo-Persian Empire after the fall of the Babylonian Empire. Critical scholars widely regard this reference to “Darius the Mede” as “the son of Xerxes” as an historical blunder, since Xerxes was the son of Darius I and not his father.

But conservative scholars have answered back, as did Donald Wiseman, that Xerxes (also known as Ahasuerus) was an Achaemenid royal title, or a dynastic throne name, that was applied to Cyrus II the Great. Also, William Foxwell Albright had argued that the name “Darius” may well have been an old Iranian title, similar to the Egyptian “Pharaoh,” but so far that wonderful suggestion only remains a theory, which however has some precedent in that other rulers in the Near East had more than one name, as did “Pul” (2 Kgs 15:19, 29; 1 Chron 5:26) known also as “Tiglath-Pileser.” Whatever the solution to the identity of Darius, Daniel was referring to the first year of the Medo-Persian Empire, 539 B.C., which Ezra 1:1 also calls the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia. Accordingly, what Daniel is trying to say is that the identity of Darius and Cyrus are both one and the same person! This suggestion must stand until we gain further evidence from archaeological sources.

BThe Seventy Years of Jerusalem’s Desolation

The reference to the “Scriptures” in verse 2 is literally “the scrolls” or “the books” (Hebrew, basseparim). This word may well be a technical term, by this time in the history of Israel’s growing number of Biblical scrolls, as a revelation from God. But what is even more startling, is the reference to “the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah” (2). The Jeremiah’s writings, written less than 70 years earlier, were almost instantaneously classified as part of those scrolls that were so highly regarded that they called them the “word of the LORD.” There was no waiting for an alleged Council at Jamnia (that later convened in 90 A.D.) to determine what was canonical and what was not part of the authentic Bible. In fact, at Jamnia the Rabbis only discussed the interpretation of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, not a discussion about which books were truly canonical and authoritative or not!

More particularly, Daniel learned from Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10 that the “desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years” (Dan 9:2). That is why Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes” (9:3). The reason why these seventy years were required by God would be explained in 2 Chronicles 36:21 as the amount of time needed for Jerusalem’s desolation in order to fulfill the Sabbaths that had been neglected by Judah. Therefore, Daniel took God at his word. Thus we see that the promises of God were not meant to detract us from prayer, but they were to teach us what it is that we are to pray for.

Daniel’s use of fasting during this time showed that his body outwardly grieved, as did his soul, over the sad state of his people and the times they were living in (cf. Zech 7:1-7). His mourning and use of sackcloth pointed to the fact that his penitence for himself and his people was just as sincere and real. Just because God had given a divine decree, however, did not mean that God’s purpose would be accomplished regardless of the prayers or actions of his people. The same God who had decreed the judgment was the same God who had raised up intercessors like a Daniel!

II. Fervent Prayer Calls for Confession of our Sin and the Sin of Our Nation (9:4-19)

A.  The Great and Awesome God (9:4)

Daniel’s prayer is practically a mosaic of phrases taken from the Biblical scrolls he had poured over and committed, no doubt, to memory. Such use of Scriptural languages and sentiments to give voice to our own public prayers has a long history supporting such usages. The best examples of the use of Scripture in prayer will be seen in our Lord Jesus (Jh 17), or even of the prayers of a Jonah stuck in the bowels of the great fish (Jon 2).

Whereas Daniel began with a concern for dates seen in Jeremiah’s prophecy, he soon forgot all about dates as his mind shifted to a more basic and more important issue: the hope of Israel’s return to God and their return to their land. God is addressed as “Lord,” meaning “master” or “overlord” (Hebrew, ‘adonay), as “the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant with all who love him” (4). It was Moses who had given the title of “the great and awesome God” (Hebrew, ha’el haggadol, Deut 7:21) to the Lord when he wanted to inspire confidence in Israel, rather than what was their awful dread of the Canaanites. Later on, Nehemiah would begin his prayer the same way (Neh 1:5). Even though Daniel is not from a priestly family, and he is not even described as a prophet, neither he, nor we, need any special permission to take on intercession on behalf of others or of those in our own nation. It is from the joy of making God’s name great and as awesome as it is that both Daniel and we are thereby given perspective on the problems we face, just as Moses had earlier taught Israel (Deut 7:21).

Moreover, God “keeps his covenant” and gives “grace” (Hebrew, hesed) to “all those who love him and obey his commands” (4, cf. Deut 7:9; Exod 20:5-6). Notice that loving God and obeying him go together, just as Jesus later emphasized in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

B.  Communal Confession of Our Sin (9:5-6)

Daniel’s prayer of confession begins with five synonymous words for sin: “sinned,” “done wrong,” “been wicked,” “have rebelled,” and “have turned away” from God’s commands and laws. But Daniel also identifies with his people by using “us,” “we,” or “our” some 39 times in this prayer. Both he and they needed God’s forgiveness, so why would he only pray for them as if he was exempt? Instead, he identified with them as he confessed the sin of the whole community.

Moreover, Israel had not listened to the warnings of God’s “servants, the prophets” (6). The prophets had clearly warned Israel’s kings, princes, fathers, and all the people by speaking in the name of the Lord (6), but all to no profit.

C.  The Lord is Righteous; We are Shamed (9:7-8)

All the time these warnings and prophetic messages were going out to all Israel, the LORD remained righteous. He had been in the right all the way in every one of his dealings with the nation of Israel. But the nation had been in the wrong. No wonder they were “covered with shame” (7b, 8a). Now the nation of Israel sat in shame in countries where God had scattered them.

D.  The Lord’s Mercy Will Prevail (9:9-10)

Daniel concludes his confession with the assurance that God is merciful and “forgiving” (both words in Hebrew are plural forms, stressing how great is God’s mercy and how large is his forgiveness. Those were the same words used when God revealed himself to be of the same nature when he forgave Israel at the Golden Calf incident (Exod 34:5-6).

Had not God taken the initiative in extending his manifold mercy and his abundant forgiveness, Israel, and all the world, would still be deadlocked in its sin and rebellion.

E.  Theological Reflection on God’s Justice (9:11-14)

As a result of Israel’s sin, the sworn judgments of God set forth by Moses in Leviticus 26:14-45 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68 came into full play in the experience of Israel and Judah. Daniel added that this was recorded “in the law of Moses, the servant of God” (11c). It all happened “just as it is written” (13a); the warnings had indeed come to pass.

The reason the Lord did not hesitate to bring this disaster upon Jerusalem was due to the fact that he is “righteous” (14b).   In this section there is one allusion or quotation after another to parts of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. While other cities also were destroyed in other nations, yet Jerusalem was in a special category, for its citizens had had more warnings from God and God himself dwelt in the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, when the city of Jerusalem failed to repent, God did not “hesitate” (i.e., Hebrew, shaqad, 14a, meaning, God “kept watch over,” or “he kept disaster ready”) to bring calamity. The problem, then, was not God’s, but it was the result of Israel’s sin, rebellion and disobedience.

F.  Transition from Confession to Supplication (9:15-19)

With the introductory word “Now,” Daniel went from confession to supplication. Only now does Daniel begin to make his requests known to God. So earnestly did Daniel pray that he appealed to God’s name seven times (15, 16, 17, 19 [quad]).

The fact that God had kept his word about his judgments meant that he could also be trusted to keep his word about his promises as well. As James 4:2 noted, often “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Thus the invitation of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” We, like Daniel must call if we wish God to answer us (Jer 33:3), for then God would show us “great and unsearchable things [we did] not know.”

In previous times, Israel had been preserved by the ”mighty hand”(15) of God as they came out of Egypt. In so doing, God had made a name and reputation for himself, which still “endures to this day” (15d). But now in Daniel’s day, Israel had made God’s name an “object of scorn” (16d), for as God had to bring judgment on the people because of their sin, it appeared to the pagan nations that Yahweh could not preserve his own temple from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, along with the Assyrian gods of Marduk and Nebo. Therefore, Israel had brought reproach on the name of Yahweh.

Because Israel had tarnished the name of Yahweh by their multitude of their sins, including idol-worship, Daniel begged God to vindicate his own reputation and listen to the prayer of his servant (17). Jerusalem, Daniel urged in his prayer, was “the city that bears [God’s] name” (18b). But the place of his worship was now a “desolate sanctuary” (17c). With God’s reputation at stake, Daniel urged God to honor his word and end the present state of affairs as he had promised through Jeremiah the prophet.

However, since God had kept his word about his judgments meant, as we have said, that he could also be trusted to keep his word about his promises. As James 4:2 noted, often “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Thus the invitation of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” We, like Daniel must call if we wish God to answer us (Jer 33:3), for then God would show us “great and unsearchable things [we did] not know.”

With a mosaic of familiar phrases from throughout the Old Testament, Daniel felt confident that his prayer would be heard. The three glorious objects of God’s past and future love would all feel his intervention: God’s people Israel, God’s city Jerusalem, and God’s sanctuary, his temple.

III.  Answers to Prayer Shape the Events of History (9:20-27)

A.  Answers to a Highly Esteemed Man (9:2-23)

It would appear that Daniel never formally ended his prayer, because his answer came while he was still in the act of praying (20), a messenger named Gabriel arrived (21). Gabriel was the interpreting angel Daniel had seen in an earlier vision of the ram and goat (8:16) and he may also have been the unidentified interpreter for Daniel when the four creatures arose out of the sea (7:16).

Gabriel came in “swift flight” (21b, but Hebrew `wp, “to fly,” may also be read as Hebrew y’p, “to be weary, to faint,” of Daniel’s extreme weariness) about “the time of the evening sacrifice,” which is mid-afternoon, usually at 3:00 p.m. This time signal does not prove that sacrifices had been reinstituted, but only that the regular time for such was still remembered. Gabriel, here seen as a man, had come to “instruct” Daniel and to give him “insight and understanding” (22).

Daniel was told that an answer to his prayer was on the way, ”as soon as [he] began to pray” (23a). He was also told that he was “highly esteemed” (23b, cf. 10:19), among other things, because of his humility and faith in the promises of God.

B. The Six Purposes of the “Seventy Sevens” (9:24)

Some think that the next four verses are some of the hardest and most difficult texts in the Bible. One thing for sure, Old Testament Higher Criticism has complicated this text more than it need be.

Daniel is told that a unit of seventy units of seven (or seventy heptads), i.e., seventy sevens of years are decreed (i.e., “ordained,” “determined”) for Israel and for their holy city of Jerusalem. Remember that Daniel had begun his prayer to God about the Seventy years of Captivity that Jeremiah had mentioned (Jer 25:11-14; 29:10-14).

Most conservative interpreters take this “seventy sevens” to mean a period of 490 years, thereby distinguishing it from the 70 years of captivity in Babylon. These 490 years are then divided into three sets: (1) a seven set of sevens amounting to 49 years, (2) a 62 set of sevens equaling 434 years, and after an interruption or a space of time, (3) a final one set of seven or 7years (25-26). Much more will be said on that later, but for now we need to look at the six reasons for these seventy heptads.

The first objective in verse 24 was to “finish transgression.” Transgression here is used as a term for sin in general, which will finally end with the second coming of Messiah and the rule and reign of Christ forever. Human rebellion will finally end when all the “seventy sevens” are finished.

The second objective, like the first, was to “put an end to sin.” God himself will restrain sin as the eternal state begins. This will come at the end of human history as God’s kingdom replaces the succession of human kingdoms.

The third purpose of the “seventy sevens” is “to atone for wickedness.” This was provided for at the crucifixion of Christ. So complete will be the payment and removal of wickedness that Jeremiah taught, “In those days, at that time, declares the LORD, search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judea, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare” (Jer 50:20).

Most commentators pause at this point to note that the first three purposes of these “seventy sevens” are negative in that they treat “transgression,” :sins,” and “wickedness.” The last three of the six purposes or objectives speak of the positive side of things.

nderful nature of the coming kingdom of God. Now that sin has been banished from God’s rule and reign, a nation involved in sin (9:7, 14, 16) is not possible.

The fifth purpose was “to seal up vision and prophecy” (24e). This sealing referred to closing a document for preservation by placing a seal on it after rolling up the scroll. However, sealing also meant to authenticate the contents of the scroll by placing one’s seal and signature on it. Its contents assured that what had been promised or threatened happened exactly as the unsealed copy had said. It pointed, then, to all the predictions about the future of Israel and the third temple that was to be built in Jerusalem.

Finally, the sixth purpose was “to anoint the most holy” (24f). Though the object is not specified (e.g., is it “the holy One?” or “the holy place?” or “the holy altar?”), the best suggestion is that it refers to the reconsecration of the temple of God as described in Ezekiel 40-44.  This expression is never used of a person, so it is no reference to the Messiah, or to his Church, nor to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; it is best restricted to the coming temple in Jerusalem.

These six purposes speak of the final accomplishment of God’s purpose for the whole historic process. Some of this began to be established with our Lord’s first coming, but there still remains much to be done in connection with his second coming. These six purposes just telescope both the work at his first and second comings.

C. The Three Sets of Seven  (9:25-27)

Where do we begin counting for all these “seventy sevens”? The starting point according to verse 25a begins with “the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” If a distinction is made between the restoration and rebuilding of the city versus rebuilding the temple, then the starting date is easy. It is the decree issued by Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah authorizing the restoration of the walls and the city of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. (Neh 2:1-8), for that is the only decree that mentions the rebuilding of Jerusalem. No other date seems to fit or to contain this mandate about the city of Jerusalem. Notice verse 25d focuses on the city and not the temple, for Jerusalem “will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”   Nehemiah did just that in the short period of fifty-two days.

What then is the ending point for the first sixty nine sevens of these “seventy sevens”? Gabriel taught Daniel that it extend “until the Anointed One, the ruler who comes.” Some, such as Sir Robert Anderson The Coming Prince, pp 126-29), attempted to design an exacting calendar using what he called prophetic years of 360 days each, and beginning in 445 B.C., to say this all ended exactly on the date of the crucifixion of Christ, which he incorrectly put in A.D. 32. But this was a much too rigid approach with several assumptions that remained unproven.

Everything here hangs on the identity of the “Anointed One” (25b). This does, however, refer to the Messianic King, Jesus. The terminus ad quem then is fixed and it must fall sometime within the earthly career of Jesus, preferably when he was “cut off” (26b). This will happen as the first 69 sets of seven, or 483 years expire, with only one set of seven years left.

The first set of seven heptads added up to 49 years (25d). In this period of time, Jerusalem would “be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” (25d). Nehemiah did this in fifty-two days (Neh 6:15). What this “trench” (Hebrew, haruts) consists of is not told us, but it seems to be some kind of moat around the city to increase the height of the walls.

The next heptad is one of sixty-two sevens, lasting 434 years. We are not told anything special about this set of 64 weeks of years except that it combines with the previous 7 heptads to make 69 sets of seven or 483 years. Therefore, from the issuing of the decree by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C., we come to approximately A.D. 27, the year when year when Christ began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist.

Verse 26 noted that it was “After the sixty two sevens, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” Thus, upon the completion of 69 sets of heptads, or 483 years, Messiah would be crucified. This means that there is a gap of undetermined length between the first Good Friday crucifixion of our Lord and the commencement of the last set of seven years. But the break is certain, for it included the death of Christ around A.D. 30 and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple (26c). Thus the sequence of years came to a halt as indicated by the events of 30 and 70 A.D. Gabriel will not return to speak of the final seventieth week until verse 27.

Once Christ had been crucified and the second temple destroyed, “the end will come like a flood” (26e). Then, who are “the people of the ruler who will come?” (26b). This one will destroy the city and the sanctuary, as The Roman conqueror, Titus, did in A.D. 70. But there is both a “now” meaning and a “not yet” sense to this text, for that ruler who is to come is one of the Seleucids named Antiochus IV, Epiphanes in 168 B.C. Then it will be the Roman General Titus in A.D. 70, and finally in the “not yet” time it will be the future antichrist who demolishes the third temple.

The final seven-year set in verse 27 brings us to the completion of God’s program. The “ruler who shall come” (26 c) “will confirm a covenant with many” for that last seven year period (27a), but in the middle of those seven years, he will “put an end to sacrifice and offering” (27b). Thus, he will indicate his opposition to God’s people. Even though Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple by offering a sow and setting up an idol or something abominable, he did not destroy the temple or Jerusalem (1 Macc 1:31, 38). Instead, this refers to antichrist, who will set up in the temple something that is filthy and loathsome to the Jewish people.  Jesus had warned, when you see “the abomination of desolation” (Mt 24:15), “spoken by Daniel the prophet, let those in Judea flee to the mountains.” This will go on until a complete destruction is poured out on the one who makes desolate.

So, in summary, as my teacher Robert Duncan Culver (Daniel and the Latter Days, Moody Press 1954 & 1977) taught me, five facts are included in this prophecy: (1) the seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate to the then future of Israel, (2) these 70 weeks are divided into three periods of time of seven, sixty two, and one, which follow one another except for the gap between the 69th and 70th week, (3) the first 69 weeks ran out during the lifetime of Messiah and before his crucifixion, (4) the death of Christ (@ A.D. 30) and the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) indicate a break between the 69th and 70th week, and (5) the 70th week deals with a seven-year relationship between antichrist and Daniel’s people Israel wherein he breaks a covenant he has made with them and that final seven- year period, which ends in the 1000 year rule and reign of Christ.

Conclusions

1. Even though this text may seem difficult, Jesus said in Matthew 24:15, whoever reads what Daniel the prophet wrote, “let the reader understand.” It was meant to be understood!

2. The death of Christ and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 were not unknown as future events for our Lord, but was included within his eternal plan.

3. Look how effective prayer can be, when Daniel receives as a result of his prayer, such detailed explanation of what will come to pass all the way to the end of this age!

By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.  website:    www.walterckaiserjr.com

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