Our Prayers, His Promise | Daniel 9:1-27
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Daniel 9:1–9:27
Good Morning! This week we are continuing the second part of our series in the book of Daniel. GOD and the End of the World. While this second part is filled with grotesque visions of the kingdoms of man warring against each other and ultimately God, we see a God who is in charge of world affairs and personally engages with His people. As you process world history or current events, how do you react and respond? What do these times reveal about your character and your hope is? Where do you go for rest or clarity when you’re unsettled? Last week Daniel was given a difficult vision of future suffering and persecution of God’s people. He was disturbed by it, but eventually he got back to work, still not understanding.
PART I | Verse 1-3 | Preparation
Daniel 9:1-3 | In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
We are in the first year of Darius 539 B.C. and Daniel has now been in exile with the nation of Israel taken from their land and put into service of Babylon for 66 years (starting back in 605 B.C) . Babylon’s reign has ended and the Medo-Persians have ascended. Here is Daniel look for hope, understanding, and wisdom about how to engage with what he is seeing happen in the world. He doesn’t ask the greatest news commentators, or the Chaldeans. What do we find Daniel doing? He’s reading his bible! His answer to try to understand the world is diving into God’s word!! And what does he find? He finds confirmation of God’s sovereign hand over history, working for His people, even in the midst of trial. He’s likely reading: Jer 25:11-12 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. Daniel’s response to reading and hearing God’s promise of deliverance isn’t increased apathy, but intensified action. Specifically he prays. He doesn’t say well God’s got this so what’s the point of engaging in prayer. He turns his face to the LORD! He seeks him prayer. God is in control of everything. His promises and purposes are being revealed through His word and now I will respond with prayer. He has a longing for desolation to end and for restoration to begin. His longing leads him to prayer. What are your longings? What are you deepest desires for yourself and others? What do your desires lead you to do?
PART II |Verse 4-11 | Prayer
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.
While this is a specific pray from a person in a place I believe this prayer is highly instructive for all of God’s people across all times. We are not Daniel, but we do experience separation from God we are in a world that is exiled from the Garden, desperate to understand the suffering we see and experience. Daniel’s focus for the suffering and brokenness he sees is not directed at the pagan nations who have oppressed his people but he focuses on who God is and how His people have responded to Him. This is a prayer of confession! The first thing he is confessing is the goodness and character of God. His study of God’s word, his desire for understanding lead him to understand the truth about the character of God first. What do you think when you think about God? True confessing begins with confessing who God is.
God you are: Great and Awesome (Steve Timmis, from England says “in Amercia everything is ‘awesome’, only God is awesome.) You’re great because, you keep covenant This is the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. Your promises to your people are not broken regardless of the people breaking the promises. Your love is steadfast, it is unwavering. (no hesitation) You are a God who gives commandments. (because you a great, awesome, promising keeping, and loving, your commandments are for our good!!) God Sends prophets to speak to people in every strata of society (Kings, Princes, Fathers, People) God you have all righteousness, meaning both justified and excellent. You are just in your actions. God you possess Mercy (not giving the full consequences we deserve.) you forgive even those who rebel.
His confession moves on to the sin of him and his people. All the pronouns are “we” not “they” Daniel is not setting himself above the people. So in response to who God is; this is what we have done:
Sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from the “good” commandments of our God. We don’t need to be comfortable with sin but we do need to be comfortable using the word sin as an accurate and precise description of what our response to our Good God is. Anything less than a robust understanding of sin blurs the striking contrast between God and us where clarity is necessary. Our rejection of God and His law is described as “treacherous.” God spoke through prophets, how did we respond? “We did not listen” Because of our sin where God possess “righteousness” conversely we possess “open shame”, at every level of society for wickedness against God. Repeatedly God has spoken, we have heard “his voice” and we have failed to obey. To obey the voice of the Lord is to walk in His laws.
Part III | Verse 12-15 | Punishment
12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
Daniel’s prayer continues; God has spoken love and faithfulness AND God has spoken justice and judgement. God has brought “great calamity” to His people. What happened to the love? God does not desire us to be comfortable in sin and rebellion. Sometimes we are suffering because of the sin and brokenness in the world and from others. Sometimes our suffering is because of our sin and rejection of God. Daniel recognizes in his prayer how their suffering is a response to their sin. He also sees the purpose of suffering for sin is to lead to repentance. The punishment described is not final, it is meant to be discipline, to be corrective in nature to draw God’s people back to God’s will. Daniel’s confession includes a lack of repentance. Specifically in our sin and in our suffering we have not pleaded to the Lord for favor AND we have not pursued repentance. Repentance is something we can and should be called to. Verse 13 frames it well as it describes turning from sin (iniquity) and turned to the truth of God. Moreover, God is perfectly “righteous” to allow and even ordain the “calamity” and still people have not obeyed. But Daniel knows God is a saving God. He has delivered His people from Egypt and can deliver them from their sin.
PART IV | Verse 16-19 | Plea
16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.
Confession and repentance leads to a desperate plea. God you are absolutely justified to give us right consequences for our wrong actions and attitudes. God we are in desperate need, we have sinned greatly we have been brought low and humble. God we have sinned against you and so we make our appeal to you. We are pleading for mercy. In doing this there is acknowledgement God’s judgement is just.
Daniel asks for God to turn His wrath away, everyone votes yes for no wrath. God more than turning your wrath away please see our broken condition and make your face shine on our desolate sanctuary so that it is restored to vibrant life. God I am pleading with you to see the state of your world, your place, your people and respond with life giving action. There is clear Gospel Truth in verse 18, as Daniel pleas to God not based on his or their righteousness, but on God’s mercy. We haven’t earned and we don’t deserve God’s mercy and grace. It is God’s greatness that saves, not our own. Hear us God, Forgive us God, Take note of us God, Act for us God. Do not delay, hurry up God! This almost seem blasphemous as if here is Daniel waking God up like he’s a teenager on summer vacation. But we see the primary motivation of all this whole section is not simply human suffering would be stayed and God would be on our beckoning call. Rather that God’s Glory, the fame of His name would be made know to others in the world. God your people have become a byword to the nations, the place and city people identify with you has become desolate. Act soon to save and restore your people “for your own sake” that you name would be great.
PART V | Verse 20-23 | Prophetic Word
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
This guy again, he was in chapter 8 with instructions to make Daniel understand the vision of the Ram, Goat, Horn. He spoke of the little anti-Christ horn being broken not by human hand, evil will be punished and suffering will end. That is good news to be sure, but Daniel still didn’t fully understand what God will do. This time Gabriel is coming now with even greater news. It says he came while Daniel was “speaking and praying” confessing sin and pleading for mercy. He came swiftly. Daniel wonders if God is listening if He is paying attention and the answer is an overwhelming YES! “At the beginning of your pleas” God heard and God answered sending a prophetic messenger “swiftly” to Daniel. He said “Do not delay” and God responded immediately. Daniel has sought understanding in God’s word, prayed for understanding, plead for mercy and God’s answer is to send His word. Gabriel speaks to Daniel in a way he can easily understand with a very simple message. God Hears and God acts, “because you are greatly loved”.
PART VI | Verse 24-27 | Promise
24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
You can read a dozen different commentators and get dozen different answers to what historical details these verses line up with. That should actually give us greater confidence God’s word is and will be fulfilled than if no one is capable of seeing how this was or could be fulfilled. While there is a diversity of opinion of what God is specifically saying, there is great unity about what it means. God’s answer to Daniel for his prayer of confession and supplication is the promise of a savior and rebuilding of His holy city before it’s destruction. This prophecy will be fulfilled. I believe the most compelling interpretation to be “70 weeks” referring to the number of years these things will take place. 70x7 years=490 years starting with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Meaning this vision points to the coming of Jesus “The anointed one”, the full completion of his sacrificial work of atoning for the sin of His people, and the final destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the city that rejected Jesus as the Christ. During this time major things are going to be accomplished:
1. Finish transgression – Intentionally Rebelling against God’s authority. Jesus says It is Finished! 2. Put an end to sin – Missing God’s mark not doing what is right 3. Atone for iniquity- continuing without repentance going on in bent out of shape-ness. God’s mercy comes at a price, justice has to be served, sin has to be paid for. Sinless Jesus suffers and dies on the cross as we deserve for our sin. The point isn’t for us to break our sin into different categories but to recognize the comprehensive nature of sin in how it impacts us. God’s answer for the comprehensive nature of our sin is to provide a comprehensive savior and satisfaction of it in Jesus. More than simply satisfying the just consequences of our sin, God will accomplish even more!
4. He will bring a lasting righteousness. Our justification, our right standing, our excellence is lasting because it is found in the perfect life of Jesus Christ in our place. We give him our sin and we get his righteousness.
5. Sealing of vision and prophecy. Sealing in this context doesn’t merely mean to close it up like sealing your Tupperware, but is more like a final seal/stamp of approval. Vision and prophecy are being confirmed and affirmed by the answer that is Jesus! Hebrews 1 says God used to speak to us through prophets, but now he has spoken through His Son Jesus. You want to know what God says? Ask Jesus, the Last Prophet.
6. The Most Holy will be anointed. Jesus is the holy anointed one; we saw that in his baptism. Father says “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased,” and Holy Spirit comes down to him like a dove. He is Holy!
Another translation of verse 26 says He will be cut off but not for himself. To be cut off is a violent death penalty. One the cross Jesus says. “my God my God why have your forsaken me.” The people of the prince are the Roman Empire who called Caesar the prince of peace. They come decades later, like a flood in a war and destroys the city, and the sanctuary. There is real judgement coming to Jerusalem for rejecting Jesus. There is no more temple sacrifice for sin, no more earthly holy city, so we don’t worship God at a city or in a temple and our hope isn’t in a future promise, it is in the person and work of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 1:20 | For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his Glory. We praise God and give Him glory when we Trust Jesus!
We are going to pray following Daniel’s pattern:
1. Praise God for His good character! His greatness Covenant Love, Mercy, and Justice
2. Confess sin! Acknowledge your sin and the sin of God’s people. Know when we confess he is faithful to forgive.
3. Repent! Repentance is a gift, ask the Holy Spirit to turn from sin and trust God, His word and His work.
4. Plea for God to actively work in the lives of His people to bring revival and restoration in our hearts, lives, families, churches, and land.
Finally, rest in the saving work of Jesus as we remember the Cross with communion and sing His praises.