Prayer and Confession: The Resulting Revelation
Daniel 9. This chapter takes up the subject of Jerusalem; its place in the heart of God, the reasons for its fall, the timing of its rebuilding, and God’s purpose for it. Daniel, as a godly Jew, had an intense love for his homeland and the city (Psalm 137:5, 6), not because of fleshly nationalism, but because they were God’s people. Israel was set aside at this point as “Lo-ammi”, or “not my people” (Hosea 1:9). Yet we see Daniel in this chapter pleading with God that that the Jews were still His people, and Jerusalem His city, and His holy mountain. Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9 all present an ernest servant of God making confession for the people of God… and the result is always blessing.
- Introduction: The Occasion of the Prayer (9:1-2)
- Daniel’s Confession of the Sin of God’s People (9:3-6)
- Daniel’s Justification of God in His Governmental Dealings (9:7-15)
- Daniel’s Supplication to God for Mercy (9:16-19)
- The Answer to Prayer: Revelation of the Seventy Weeks (9:20-27)
Introduction: The Occasion of the Prayer (9:1-2)
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, 2 in the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by the books that the number of the years, whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishment of the desolations of Jerusalem, was seventy years. vv.1-2 Israel had sinned against the Lord, and one thing they had not done was allow the land to rest every seven years, according to God’s word (Lev. 25). As a result, God had allowed the great Babylonian captivity, and had shut the Jews out of their land for seventy years, “until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years” (2 Chron. 36:21). Jeremiah had prophesied that after seventy years from the time of the captivity, Babylon would be judged (Jer. 25:12) and God would allow the Jews “to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10). We know from secular history that Darius was made king 68 years from the time the captivity began, and v.1 says that Daniel was given this understanding in “the first year” of Darius’s reign. Daniel wanted to know the time that Jeremiah uttered those words (i.e. the time of the captivity) so that he could calculate the time of the remnant’s release! By books (probably chronology from Jeremiah; e.g. Jer. 52:29) he determined the time of the captivity, and found that the seventy years was almost expired! The actual return took place two years later in the first year of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1). Daniel would never have learned this, nor would he have received the revelation at the end of this chapter if he had not been devoted to the scriptures! We need to get an understanding of prophecy, not through reading current events, but by reading the Word of God. And Daniel’s reading was coupled with prayer (v.3).
Daniel’s Confession of the Sin of God’s People (9:3-6)
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes; 4 and I prayed unto Jehovah my God, and made my confession, and said, Alas Lord! the great and terrible GOD, keeping covenant and loving-kindness with them that love him, and that keep his commandments: 5 we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even turning aside from thy commandments and from thine ordinances. 6 And we have not hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, who spoke in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. vv.3-6 We might expect Daniel to be giddy with joy in response to learning the good news. Nor does he run out to the Jewish captives with the good news. His response was quite different; he draws near to God. Daniel knew since God would reverse the sentence of judgment, it was morally fitting that there be change of heart in His people. Daniel identifies himself with his people in their sin and rebellion. “With fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes”… he was truly humbled before God. He prays a beautiful prayer of confession and supplication. He doesn’t say “they have sinned”… he says “we have sinned”, even though he was not personally guilty. This is the proper moral effect of Bible prophecy when rightly understood (Rev. 10:9-10). He communes with God about the captivity of Judah. His confession starts right from the beginning:
- We turned aside from the commandments of the Word of God,
- We refused to listen to the prophets that God sent to recall his people to repentance.
Daniel is entering into the thoughts of God about His people, and the reasons for the captivity and desolation of Jerusalem. This is what God wants from us. To repent is to take God’s side against ourselves. Note: the departure included everyone; beginning with “our kings” and “our princes” and ending with “all the people of the land”.
Daniel’s Justification of God in His Governmental Dealings (9:7-15)
7 Thine, O Lord, is the righteousness, but unto us confusion of face, as at this day, to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, in all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithfulness in which they have been unfaithful against thee. 8 O Lord, unto us is confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9 With the Lord our God are mercies and pardons, for we have rebelled against him; 10 and we have not hearkened unto the voice of Jehovah our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us through his servants the prophets. 11a And all Israel have transgressed thy law, even turning aside so as not to listen unto thy voice. vv.7-11a The blame lies not with a Righteous and Merciful God, but with a Rebellious People. Daniel begins to justify God, acknowledging that the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem was righteous judgment, and on account of Israel’s rebellion. Neither was it because God was cold an unmerciful; for “with the Lord our God are mercies and pardons”. It was stiffnecked rebellion that brought the Jews to their current state. Daniel does not palliate nor exaggerate Israel’s sin. He says it how it is.
11b And the curse hath been poured out upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God: for we have sinned against him. 12 And he hath performed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil; so that there hath not been done under the whole heaven as hath been done upon Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us; yet we besought not Jehovah our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. 14 And Jehovah hath watched over the evil, and brought it upon us; for Jehovah our God is righteous in all his works which he hath done; and we have not hearkened unto his voice. 15 — And now, O Lord our God, who broughtest thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand, and hast made thee a name, as it is this day, — we have sinned, we have done wickedly. vv.11b-15 God has simply kept His Word. The Jews could not claim to be surprised at the governmental consequences of their sin. From “the law of Moses”, even before Israel entered the land of Canaan, God warned His people that they would be removed from the land if they did not obey the Lord (Deut. 28:63). The expression “Jehovah hath watched over the evil” shows that He is a faithful father to the nation of Israel. He didn’t merely promise to discipline them, then fail to carry through. He was diligent to watch over it. He doesn’t blame the captivity on Nebuchadnezzar’s skill, nor on Judah’s lack of military preparedness. He sees God’s hand in all of it. In v.15, Daniel summarizes; Jehovah had His purpose for Israel, and they had sinned. The blame lay squarely at the feet of Israel… not Jehovah.
Daniel’s Supplication to God for Mercy (9:16-19)
16 Lord, according to all thy righteousnesses, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain; for because of our sins, and because of the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all round about us. 17 And now, our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. 18 Incline thine ear, O my God, and hear; open thine eyes and behold our desolations, and the city that is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee because of our righteousnesses, but because of thy manifold mercies. 19 Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, hearken and do! defer not, for thine own sake, O my God! for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. vv.16-19 Now Daniel begins to supplicate, or make earnest request.
- The subject. Notice that he asks God to do what he was already going to do! He prays that God would grant a recovery. This is a tremendous key to understanding prayer. Prayer is the way God would align our thoughts and feelings with His mind and heart (see Rom. 8:27). God was going to do this, but He waited until Daniel prayed for it!
- The attitude. Notice also how unselfish these requests are. Daniel does not say “my people”, “our city”, “our sanctuary”, but rather “thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain… thy sanctuary”. Even though God had pronounced “Lo-ammi” (Hos. 1:9) over Israel, Daniel knows the heart of God is still toward His people, and refers to them as God’s people. In the response, God still maintains His governmental position, and uses “thy people, and thy holy city”. Yet Daniel’s faith must have brought joy to the heart of God.
- The motivation. What was the motivation? To make things easier for the Jews? To scratch some nationalistic “itch”? No… but instead “for thine own sake”. How about our prayers? Do we immediately mention our own needs? Daniel spend 13 verses confessing, before he made any request. Then his request was not for himself, but for the Lord’s own glory.
- The basis. He does approach go with any sense of self-merit. He says, “we do not present our supplications before thee because of our righteousnesses“. He knew that Israel had forfeited all claims to the Mosaic promises on the basis of works. Rather, he falls back on the sovereign grace and mercy of God; “but because of thy manifold mercies“.
- The goal. Daniel understood that Israel’s ultimate blessing was tied to the glory of Jehovah; “thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”
Note that Daniel never refers to the promises made to Abraham; he only goes back to the Mosaic promises. The Spirit of God would not have us believe that the feeble and partial return of the Jews under Zerubbabel was somehow the fulfillment of Abrahamic promises (Gen. 15:18; 22:18). The complete fulfillment of Abrahamic promises awaits the return of “the seed” (Christ), who would ussher in the righteousness of the ages, after 70 weeks, not 70 years!
The Answer to Prayer: Revelation of the Seventy Weeks (9:20-27)
20 And whilst I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 whilst I was yet speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to make thee skilful of understanding. 23 At the beginning of thy supplications the word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for thou art one greatly beloved. Therefore consider the word, and have understanding in the vision: vv.20-23 The answer to Daniel’s prayer was in response, not to his intellect, but to his humble and broken state of soul, as expressed in his prayer. God’s ears are always open to hear the prayers of His people; “and this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14). The time when Gabriel appeared is noted: “the time of the evening oblation”. The evening oblation was the continual burnt offering which was to be offered morning and evening without interruption. It speaks of the efficacy of the work of Christ that forever satisfied the claims of God, and glorified God in every attribute of His Person. The efficacy of the work of Christ “continues” forever, and God draws and draws upon it to dispense blessing to His people. The temple had been destroyed, and therefore it could no longer be offered. Yet here, Daniel still lived his life in the good of it. He still marked his days by that offering. God often acted in the Old Testament once the burnt offering was given (e.g. 1 Sam. 7:9-10; 2 Kings 3:20). This tells us the our prayer ascend to the throne of God in all the efficacy of the Person and finished work of Christ! Gabriel tells Daniel that he is “greatly beloved”. What an encouragement! Daniel was in the closeness of the Lord’s mind and affections. Then he gives Daniel the understanding of God’s plans in a prophetic vision.
Daniel, the Catalyst. It has been observed that Daniels’ prayer is one of three links in God’s ways in connection with the restoration of Jerusalem.
- First, ISAIAH was given the name of the monarch who would commission the rebuilding of the temple; “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isa 44:28).
- Secondly, JEREMIAH (586 B.C.) was given the amount of time before the return would occur; “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10).
But then God waits… until this man – greatly beloved – gets on his knees and prays that it would happen.
- Thirdly, DANIEL (541 B.C.) prayed that God would deliver his people; “Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, hearken and do! defer not, for thine own sake, O my God! for thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Dan. 9:19). Daniel is the catalyst that God delighted to use in this progression of grace!
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks (vv.24-27)
The Purpose of the Seventy Weeks (v.24)
24a Seventy weeks are apportioned out upon thy people and upon thy holy city, v.24a Daniel had discovered from the Word of God that a remnant would return after seventy years of captivity to the land of Israel (Jer. 25:11-12, 2 Chron. 36:21, Lev. 25), and that the 70 years was almost up (v.2). Daniel knew that Babylon was about to be destroyed. Then Daniel began to pray; confessing his sin, the sin of his people Israel, and beseeching the Lord to forgive Israel, and to restore Jerusalem. Then God lets Daniel into His mind, and says, hold on a minute, the full and final deliverance of the Jews would not be until seventy weeks had run their course. In other words, God’s governmental working with Israel is on a much longer timeline than Daniel ever expected. The word “week” in this verse is “heptad”; it refers to any group of seven. In this case, it is a group of seven years. Seventy weeks is 70 x 7 = 490 years. We learn from this, that the Jews’ deliverance from Babylon long ago is but a foreshadow of the coming deliverance of the godly Jewish remnant from future political Babylon (the Beast) in the Tribulation period.
24b to close the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make expiation for iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal the vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. v.24b God now gives to Daniel the six-fold purpose for the seventy weeks:
- “to close the transgression”…………………………..To bring Israel’s iniquity to it’s full height.
- “to make an end of sins”………………………………To put a stop to Israel’s rebellion.
- “to make expiation for iniquity”…………………….To grant governmental forgiveness to Israel.
- “to bring in the righteousness of the ages”………To introduce a millennial reign of righteousness.
- “to seal up vision and prophecy”..………………….To bring all prophetic subjects to a close.
- “to anoint the holy of holies”..………………………..To usher in Millennial worship.
The Division of the Seventy Weeks (v.25)
25 Know therefore and understand: From the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah, the Prince, are seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks. The street and the moat shall be built again, even in troublous times. v.25 God now gives the principal divisions of the seventy weeks. The weeks begins with the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem. There were two decrees given, and careful study will show which decree is referenced here. In the Book of Ezra, we have a commandment from the king Artaxerxes (called Longimanus), “in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king” (Ezra 7). Then later, in “the twentieth year” of his reign, another commandment was given to Nehemiah (Neh. 2:1) specifically to rebuild the city. This is a particular decree of Artaxerxes, given in 455 B.C. (see Nehemiah 2:1) which marks the beginning of Daniel’s seventy weeks. From that time there would be “seven weeks” (49 years) until the completion of the wall by Nehemiah in 406 B.C.. Then there would be “sixty-two weeks” (434 years) until the time when Messiah would enter the city as “the Prince”; i.e. the triumphal entry (29 A.D.). Only one more week remains!
Calculating the Triumphal Entry. It is incredible how accurately we can calculate the exact year of Christ’s triumphal entry!
We start from 455 B.C.
7 weeks are 49 years
62 weeks are +434 years
69 weeks are 483 years
Deduct -455 years
Add 1 year to adjust the eras B.C. and A.D.
The exact year of Christ’s triumphal entry!
The Interval Between the 69th and 70th Weeks (v.26)
26 And after the sixty-two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with an overflow, and unto the end, war, — the desolations determined. v.26 We are now told a number of things that would occur after the 69th week, but before the 70th week. “Messiah cut off” refers to the cross, when Christ was cut off in death, crucified. “And shall have nothing” refers to the way in which He was denied His rights as the Messiah of Israel. The next thing is that the “people of the prince” (the Romans) would “destroy the city and the sanctuary”, which was fulfilled when the Roman armies under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. Important note: The “prince that shall come” is the first leader of the revived Roman empire, but “his people” come before he actually does. Finally, “the end thereof shall be, etc.” showing that the whole period of Israel’s setting aside would be characterized by one war after another.
The Postponement of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. We know from these verses and other prophetic scriptures that the seventieth week has been postponed. One proof is that the 70th week is mentioned separately from the preceding 69 weeks.
The Seventieth Week of Daniel (v.27)
27 And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and because of the protection of abominations there shall be a desolator, even until that the consumption and what is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate. v.27 Now we come to perhaps the most important verse in all of prophecy. The 70th week is divided in halves, with critical events happening at the termini of each half. First, at the beginning of the week, the prince (the leader of the Roman empire) will extend a covenant of protection to “the many” (Israel). This covenant is a treaty between the prince’s people (Rome) and “the many”, which refers to the Jews. This covenant will undoubtedly be a covenant of protection, referred to in Isaiah 28:15 as “a covenant with death, and with hell”. The apostate nation of Israel will happily enter this covenant to protect them from “the overflowing scourge” (the King of the North) which they know “shall pass through”. Then, “in the midst of the week”, a radical change will occur. The leader of the Roman empire (a different man) will put a stop to Jewish worship. This new leader is the Personal Beast, the “little horn” of Daniel 7. The Personal Beast will come to power in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, and he will reign for the last 3 1/2 years. What happened to the “prince” who made the covenant? The tenure of that “coming prince” is very short… only 3 1/2 years. We read of this leader, called the “seventh king” (Rev. 17:10); “and when he comes he must remain only a little while”. Evidently, a great upheaval at the middle of the week will result in him being either killed or deposed so that the Personal Beast can take his office. The Personal Beast needs to abolish Judaism (and Christianity) in order to set up his own religion. To do so he will breach the terms of the covenant set up by the earlier prince; “he hath broken his covenant” (Psa. 55:20). This will be a warning to Israel to abandon human protection and turn to the Lord… but they will not heed the warning. As a result of them trusting in the covenant (“the protection of abominations”) God will send the instrument of His judgment on Israel toward the end of the week, called “a desolator” (the King of the North). He will wreak havoc on the land and the Jews during the period called here “the consumption”. The judgment has been pre-measured and “determined” by God to fall on the Jews, here called “the desolate”.
Extensions to Daniel’s Seventieth Week. The week is divided in two parts; the first 3 1/2 years are known as “the Beginning of Sorrows” (Matt. 24:8). During this period, the 1st six seals of Revelation are unfolded. At the mid-week, Satan falls, and the Beast and Antichrist come forward. Starting at this moment, persecution of the faithful Jews will become markedly more intense. The last 3 1/2 years are known as “the Great Tribulation” (Matt. 24:21). The “midst of the week” therefore becomes a critical event in prophecy. There are a number of other important events that are measured from this point; we call them “extensions” to the week, because some of them run beyond 3 1/2 years. For example, Revelation 13:5 speaks about the length of the Personal Beast’s career being “forty and two months”, the two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days (Rev. 11:3), and the remnant will be sheltered for 1260 days (Rev. 12:6). All these are measured from the middle of the week. Daniel gives us two other measurements from the middle of the week. In ch.12 we read of “a thousand two hundred and ninety days” and a “thousand three hundred and five and thirty days” specifically measured from “the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away”; i.e. the middle of the week. The 1290 days seems to be a direct answer to Daniel’s question in v.8, about the “end of these things”; i.e. the destruction of the King of the North at the end of ch.11. But then God indicates that a full and final deliverance will take place at 1335 days. By comparing with other scriptures, we can conclude that the final deliverance coincides with the destruction of Gog and Magog!
Three deliverances. The three extensions of the 70th week are three deliverances of Israel:
- 1260 days – Deliverance from Antichrist and Jewish persecution
- 1290 days – Deliverance from the King of the North
- 1335 days – Deliverance from the Russian confederacy
Summary of What We’ve Learned from Daniel 9