We focus on Daniel’s prayer as an example of his character and a crucial tool for understanding the prophecies we have looked at previously. In Chapter Nine, Daniel looks at the prophecies of Jeremiah and we see how his prayer also connects to the prophecies in The Book of Revelation. Daniel’s prayer is powerful and revealing. It is both convicting and encouraging for God’s people. A no-nonsense supplication, and an act of worship.
Daniel’s Prayer for Israel
Today we get to Daniel chapter 9, which is one of the most fun chapters in the Bible. We spent quite a bit of time in Daniel 9 when we were going through Revelation because it’s kind of the key passage that explains what’s going on in Revelation.
Revelation in large part is an expansion of what happens in Daniel 9. But we didn’t get to go through Daniel 9 in the context of Daniel. It makes it a lot more fun today to get to do that.
Speaking of context of Daniel, let’s just go through where we’ve been. Last week, we met Antiochus Epiphanes, the guy who had on the coin Theos Epiphanos, the image of God, the epiphany, the representation of God. “When you see me, you’re seeing the Greek gods.” That’s Antiochus Epiphanes.
We saw typically that we’ve gone from an explanation of here’s what’s to come in pictures to specific descriptions. For example, this picture is Persia. And then, this picture is Greece. Because, last episode, the vision that Daniel got was during the time of Belshazzar who’s still the Babylonian king, the one that lost the kingdom and saw the handwriting on the wall, and then the Persians came in that night.
So we were getting more specific here. And we saw it’s going to be Persia, and then it’s going to be Greece. And within Greece, we saw there’s going to be this one king; he was the image of a goat that goes so fast his feet didn’t even touch the ground. And that’s clearly Alexander the Great, although he’s not named by name.
Then there are four kingdoms that come from that, and four generals we now know looking back. Four generals took over his kingdom and killed his children and took over the kingdom and split it among themselves. And two of those, the two in the south, became very, very strong: The Ptolemys in Egypt and the Seleucids over in the Middle East—Syria and Iraq and so forth.
So, this Syrian king took away dominance over Israel from the Ptolemys; and his grandson, the one that took over, his grandson, Antiochus IV or Antiochus Epiphanes is the one who is spoken of; and he had this abomination of desolation that happened last episode. And it was prophesied that it was going to last for 2300 days, and then he would be dispatched without human hands.
And at the end we saw “but no one understood it.” And that was last episode’s lesson.
Then in the broader context of Daniel, we’ve got these people—we’re going to see in this episode that Daniel’s going to call this a disaster. They’re in the middle of a national disaster because their country’s been trashed. Their sanctuary was trashed. Their city that represents them was trashed. And the question, of course, they all have on their minds was, what is God doing here?
And the book of Daniel is there to give them comfort that God’s plan is unfurling, and nothing’s happening that God doesn’t cause to happen—including who’s king and these empires. They’re installed by God. So first they get comfort. Look, no matter how bad things look, I’m in control. Don’t worry about that.
The second thing they get is that human history is going to turn out because when we saw the statue, we saw the head of gold which is Babylon, the chest of silver, which is Persia, the torso of bronze, which was Greece, and the legs of iron and clay, which is Rome, which we’re still in today. And at the end, there was this rock made without hands that came down and crashed the statue and then filled the whole earth.
So there is going to be a kingdom of God that is restored to the earth.
What about Israel?
But, of course, that doesn’t answer the question, well, what about Israel? And what about Jerusalem?
So today we get that specific question addressed.
Daniel studies Jeremiah’s writing and discerns the dates
Daniel 9:1. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel is reading the prophecies of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is alive at this time at the same time that Daniel is alive. They’re contemporaries. And Daniel considers Jeremiah a prophet and considers what Jeremiah has written to be true as a prophecy of God.
Now this is remarkable in and of itself because as Dave covered in the very first lesson, when Jeremiah wrote his prophecies and said, look, if Israel disobeys their treaty with Babylon and trusts in Egypt, then I’m going to have the Babylonians come in and trash this land. And the people in Israel said no, no, no, no. The temple, the temple, the temple, the temple. As long as we have the temple, we’re safe.
And Jeremiah said, well, look at Shiloh. Look at your neighbors to the north, Israel, the northern kingdom. In 722, the Assyrians came in and trashed it and trashed Shiloh. I was their God too, remember? So it happened to them; why do you think it’s not going to happen to you? It is going to happen to you. Don’t listen to these people. Listen to Jeremiah.
And, of course, he had told Jeremiah all along, I’m giving you a job to do that’s going to be really frustrating because you’re going to prophecy, and they’re not going to listen. But Daniel listened, and Daniel looked, and he said, there are seventy years prophesied.
So let’s just go to that. Jeremiah 25:1. The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah—
So we’ve got—Israel’s the northern kingdom. It’s already gone—722. And this first year of Nebuchadnezzar was 605. That’s the year that Daniel probably went to Babylon, so we’re looking at some time close to the year 605. It’s been something like 100 years since Israel’s gone. So all that’s left is Judah, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
—in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon)—So this is in 605, right around it.
which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying:
“From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the Lord has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened.
How would you like that job? For 23 years you’ve been speaking. And, “How’s your ministry, Pastor?” “Well, I have zero congregants; but I’ve been really faithful to preach the word.” “Well, you’re a failure then,” most of us would say, right? But that’s not the case because Jeremiah’s been faithful to do what God has told him. For 23 years! Twenty three years of frustration. You’ve not listened.
And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear.
They said, ‘Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.
Remember, this is Deuteronomy 30. Choose this day, life or death, blessing or cursing. If you’ll do what you know is right in your heart—speak it and do it—then you’ll have life. You can live here as long as you want to. And if you don’t, I’m going to boot you out of this place. You’re going to be exiled again! Just like humanity was exiled from the Garden of Eden, you’re going to be exiled from this land. And you’re going to experience death because exile is a form of death.
Verse 7. Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
Sin is self-destruction. It always is.
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the Lord, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant—
We’ve seen in Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar wrote a chapter of the Bible. You know, he wasn’t just doing the will of God, he became the servant of God and testified to the glory of God and has a fantastic gospel message in the Bible. “I will take my servant, the king of Babylon,” which to these ears would sing out, “What do you mean, a servant? This guy’s one of the worst in the world.” Which he was.
—and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. Happy message.
Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.
In other words, your daily activities are going to cease.
And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.
So that’s the prophecy. It happens in 605. And the Persians took over in 539. So that’s like 66 years later. Sixty-seven years by the lunar calendar.
Daniel’s within three years of the prophecy
So we’re within three years of the 70 years, and Daniel’s reading of this stuff. He’s obviously a student of the Bible. Remember he went to Babylonian university and was ten times better than all the Chaldeans. He knew their stuff and still didn’t buy it. Which meant he was so steeped in the scriptures and the truth that he could learn another perspective without adopting it. Not surprising that he would be able to discern things like this, right?
He looks there and he says, gosh, we’re within three years of this prophecy!
Now, just as an aside, from what I’ve read, scholars are a little confused. It says when the 70 years are completed, and here we are, the 70 years haven’t been completed since 605. It’s before the 70 years, and the Babylonian have already been thrown out.
But I looked at this. It’s a little dangerous because I’m not a grammarian. Far from it. I grew up in West Texas. We don’t do grammar in West Texas. But this phrase is an infinitive, which is like ing. It’s an ing word. It’s happening.
The point is that the language allows for you to say, “during this time period,” as opposed to “at the end of the time period.” So I don’t think Jeremiah would have been confused by this saying, “Well, wait a minute. Why did this happen sooner than I expected?” What he’s looking for is, “The Persians have taken over. The Babylonians have been dispatched. So when are you going to restore Jerusalem?” That’s what his focus is on his mind.
So 9:3. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession—
Now, as we go through this prayer, I want you to notice—and I’ll try to emphasize it some—how much we there is. It’s not they; it’s we. Daniel is taking on the guilt on himself too because, “I’m part of this nation too. I’m part of this. And this is a national problem, not an individual problem.”
And this is one of the great things about Daniel. He’s such an amazing leader. He’s not trying to find who to blame. He’s trying to find a solution. And, in life, if we spend time and energy finding someone to blame, then what we’re going to do is create a culture where everybody is trying not to be blamed instead of trying to accomplish something.
And Daniel is an accomplisher. Just one more reason why he’s one of the great men of the Bible.
OK, then verse 3. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
He not only believes Jeremiah is true, he personalizes it.
Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
“O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. Life and death. Choose this day which one you want to have. You want to have death? Okay. Well, we did it, and we got it.
Verse 12. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
“As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.
And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
See, we’re just repeating Egypt again. Of course that’s going to play into his argument here in a minute.
“O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
See, your name’s being tarnished by what’s happened here. Everybody gets that we’re your nation. And the reproach falls, not just on us, but on you, by extension. So please restore us!
Now it’s interesting here; he didn’t say, I saw the 70 years, and said, Okay, God, make it happen now, and here’s the way I want you to make it happen.
That’s our bent, isn’t it? We see this coming, and “This is the way we’d like to have it,” because our tendency is to treat God as a cosmic vending machine that we can try to find an angle to get what we want. Not Daniel.
What Daniel does is he says, God pronounced 70 years of judgment; he could tack on another 70. God is God. So what is going to do is I’m going to go to God and say, look, this is our problem to begin with. And I’m coming to you on behalf of my people and interceding and saying, would you please turn away your wrath because it’s our fault. But you’re righteous. And your name is in this too. If you’ll turn us, it will not only restore us, your people, it will restore your name.
He goes on with that. Verse 17. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. For your sake.
O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”