1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel, Godís Timeline for Israel, Daniel 9:20-27 - Lesson 36

 

From our previous lessons we have learned that Daniel knows where he is in Godís program.

 

He has been in foreign lands, serving foreign kings, most of his life but his heart remains in the pleasant land of his fathers, the land of Israel.

Chapter nine of his book reveals his heart, for this chapter shows us his prayer that God to forgive his people and deliver them and restore them to the land.

But in making this appeal to God we see that most of Danielís prayer is centered on God.

Most of it is focused on Godís righteousness with less on Danielís sin or even Danielís needs.

Daniel focused his petition on Godís purposes and His glory.

Daniel prayed in accordance with Godís character.

He did not ask for anything outside of Godís promises nor did he ask for a shortening of the period of cursing, that is, a shortening of the 70 years of exile.

Daniel appealed to God to act in accordance with His mercy and His compassion, and His love for His people and His chosen place.

Danielís request is for God to act in His own best interest and in furtherance of His glory.

He did not see God as being there for Him but he saw himself as being there for God.

It was Danielís heart that Godís will be done, not Danielís will be done.

Godís creation in all its forms including man is for His glory and Danielís prayer recognized that.

Danielís petition is not for God to act in the way that best "meets manís needs" but rather for God to act in His own best interest.

When WE act in our own best interest, it is almost always at the expense of others.

But when God acts in His own best interest, it is always for the good of His own.

In Godís plan all things work together for good.

Daniel therefore petitions God to act for His sake.

He petitions God to deliver His people and the temple not for any glory for Danielís sake but for Godís sake and His alone.

He pleaded for grace, mercy, and compassion knowing that anything that was to come from God was not deserved nor did it result from any merit on Danielís part or on the part of Godís people.

Basically Danielís prayer can be boiled down to this simple principle.

He knew Godís word and prayed that it be carried out.

Remember our Lord Jesus Christís rebuke to Peter when Peter objected to Christís words about a suffering and dying savior.

We can read of this in Mark 8:33,  But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

When I savor the things that be of men I am simply being an agent of Satan for I wish to carry out Satanís will, not Godís will.

Daniel was one of those rare people who savored the things of God and fully desired that Godís will be carried out.

This is why he was so content in his captivity and able to serve foreign kings for he knew Godís word and did not fight nor contend against Godís will.

He knew God intended to end this 70 years of captivity and in time establish his kingdom on the earth.

Daniel simply was saying "amen" to all that God was doing and what He was to do.

Now in the midst of Danielís prayer he felt the touch of the archangel Gabriel.

Daniel 9:20-23,  And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;  Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.  At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

Daniel hears from Godís messenger, Archangel Gabriel that he is greatly beloved.

Daniel savors the things of God and that was revealed not only in this prayer but in Danielís life while in exile.

Daniel recognizes this angelic being as the same being whom he had seen in the vision at the beginning.

So by this we are given information that the vision at the beginning is being tied to an answer to his prayer of chapter nine.

There is a clear connection between the arrival and announcement of Gabriel in chapter 9 and the vision Daniel received in chapter 8 from Gabriel, even though it happened 12 or more years earlier.

The central point of both chapters 8 and 9 is on Israel, the last days, the opposition of the "little horn," and the "suffering of the saints."

When Daniel received his vision of the "ram" and the "goat" in chapter 8, he could not understand it.

Gabriel was instructed to explain the vision to Daniel, but even after he had done this, the vision was still a mystery to him.

Remember the final words of chapter 8 verse 27

And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the kingís business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

When Gabriel appears in chapter 9, it is a number of years later.

Gabrielís first appearance came rather early in the reign of Belshazzar.

Gabrielís second appearance to Daniel came after the death of Belshazzar and in the first year of the reign of Darius.

Gabrielís first appearance to Daniel came in the actual vision with Gabriel standing near to Daniel.

During his second appearance, Gabriel did not come as a part of any vision.

He informed Daniel that he had been instructed to come to give him skill so that he could understand the vision.

Since no new vision is given to Daniel in chapter nine we can conclude that Gabriel came to further explain and clarify the vision of chapter eight.

Apparently because of Danielís prayer of chapter nine there is now a need for Daniel to understand the vision which eluded him for 12 years and therefore Gabriel was sent a second time to give a more complete explanation of its meaning.

So Gabriel says to Daniel, I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

Daniel 9:24-27,  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Godís answer to Danielís prayer is basically a time line of the history of Israel from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince.

It is a time line of three periods for God divides the timeline into a period of seven weeks, a period of 62 weeks and a third period of one week.

Literally, the expressions would mean seven sevens or a period of 49 years, 62 sevens or a period of 434 years, and one seven or a period of 7 years.

Most Bible scholars understand the word "week" to be a period of 7 years so 70 periods would indicate that a total of 490 years will be required to do six things that Gabriel mentions"

Seventy weeks (or 490 years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to (1) finish the transgression, and (2) to make an end of sins, and (3) to make reconciliation for iniquity, and (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, and (5) to seal up the vision and prophecy, and (6) to anoint the most Holy.

There is nothing given that demands that these periods are successive periods nor is there any thing given that tells us that they are not.

We only know from history that the third period, that of the one week, the seven year period is not successive to the first 69 weeks, for we know that the church age (so far almost 2000 years) comes between the second and the third period of weeks of years.

Danielís concern was on the period of 70 years which came to an end with the overthrow of the Babylonian empire.

But Gabriel does not speak of these 70 years but of 70 weeks.

Gabriel is here to tell Daniel that the kingdom is not to come at the end of the 70 years of exile but at the end of the three periods of weeks.

For a total of 490 years are determined.

In other words Israel is prominent for 490 years out of the period of years since the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the second coming of the Messiah.

If 490 years must pass before some of the promises pertaining to the kingdom were fulfilled, then no one should confuse Israelís soon return to their land to be the commencement of the kingdom.

The kingdom of God would commence, but not with the return to the land of Israel, nor with the building of the temple.

It would not even begin with the repentance of the nation Israel.

Before the kingdom of God could come to the earth, that which prevented the kingdom on earth in the beginning must be dealt with and that was the fact of sin.

It was Godís plan that 70 weeks were determined to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness.

Sin had to be atoned for and put away.

Righteousness had to be provided for those who would enter into Godís kingdom.

This was to happen many years in the future through the substitutionary death of the Messiah, who would bear our sins on the cross of Calvary.

In order for the Messiah to die, He would have to be opposed and even appear to have lost the struggle.

Only after this preparatory work could Godís kingdom come to the earth for His people.

Gabriel let Daniel know that after the passing of 490 years, the spiritual foundation for the kingdom of God would be laid.

This foundation was the removal of sin and the provision of everlasting righteousness.

Gabriel tells in verses 25-27, of the two main players in Godís plan and the major events which must take place in order to bring about the end of sin, of human kingdoms, and bring in everlasting righteousness and the kingdom of God.

The period begins when the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem is issued.

This is not the beginning of the kingdom but begins the 490 years of three periods which must come about for the kingdom to be realized.

The first period of 49 years refers to the rebuilding of the streets and the wall of Jerusalem.

At the end of the first and second periods, that of 483 years, (62 weeks plus 7 weeks) the promised Messiah will be cut off, but not for himself, Gabriel says.

He was not cut off for his own sins, for he had none, but he was cut off to satisfy the sin debt of mankind, to make reconciliation for iniquity.

After this period another event is noted, that of the destruction of the city and the sanctuary by the people of the prince that is to come.

This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 AD.

Therefore we know that the second main player, the prince that is to come will come from the peoples of the Old Roman Empire.

Remember Nebuchadnezzarís statue where the legs of iron, were identified as the Roman empire which corrupts in time with a mixture of clay depicting the nations from which the second main player comes.

This second main player, this prince that arises, is the counterpart of the Messiah.

This is the Anti-Messiah, the one alongside. The counterfeit one.

While the Messiah-Prince is "cut off" and His ascent to the throne of the kingdom seems impeded, the other "prince" appears to prevail and to possess the earth and its peoples.

The holy city and the temple will be destroyed by followers of this "prince."

The holy place seems to come to an end much like that of the Messiah.

Like a flood, the destruction and desolation of the city and the temple come upon it.

There is a time of war, and desolation is inevitable.

The "prince" then makes a firm covenant with the masses for "a week" or 7 years which is the last week of Gabrielís message.

This covenant seems to put men at ease and give them a false sense of confidence and security.

In the middle of this time period, however, the "prince" breaks his covenant, putting a stop to the regular sacrifices and offerings.

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

This prince is fixed on the overspreading of abominations and makes everything he comes into contact with, desolate which means wasted.

He will bring about destruction.

This destruction comes about by divine permission because it is a part of the divine plan.

In the fewest words possible, Gabriel speaks of the sudden destruction of this evil prince.

It is a destruction that has been divinely decreed.

It is a complete destruction.

The "one who makes desolate" is suddenly destroyed.

Destruction comes from the stone made without hands, the stone that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamt of.

And all this must come about as a prelude to the kingdom of God.