Daniel 9 is a record of one of Daniel’s prayers that is followed by a visit from Gabriel with an interpretation that Biblical scholars have debated. It has been called “a dismal swamp of critical exegesis.” Many think it is the prophecy of the “tribulation” that will occur towards the end of time, a prophecy of when Christ will return. Prophecy is cloaked in mystery because it has not been fulfilled yet so pondering rabbit trails might be spinning cobwebs. But what we clearly see here is the heart of man coming before his God. First read verse 1-20.
9 In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, by birth a Mede, who became 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 the prophet Jeremiah, must be fulfilled for the devastation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
- Daniel dates this chapter as occurring during the first year of the reign of Darius the Mead who took over after Belshazzar’s vision of the finger on the wall at his banquet, chapter 5. We know Daniel has gone from captured and trained youth, interpreting dreams, to a position of responsibility in the government. Where were you in those middle ages of your life? Describe the circumstances, perhaps the political leadership, and the questions/dreams that were heavy on your heart. ___________________________________
- Were there writers or historical people who deeply impacted your thinking? In what way? __________________________
- Jeremiah prophesized in Jerusalem before the Babylonian invasion and later wrote a letter to the captives that the Israelites would be in exile for 70 years. We do not surround our lives with prophecies like this but we do understand the presence of talk about the impact of presidential terms. Somewhat similarly I hear people caring for aging elder pondering how much longer will this phase of life last. Can you identify? What time related question is on your heart?
- The next verse shares the extent his ponderings burdened his heart. Fasting, sackcloth and ashes are not culturally in vogue today but we do other things like? Request a Bible series? ____________
3 Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,
“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
7 “Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and 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 Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following 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. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven. 13 Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. 14 So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.
15 “And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and made your name renowned even to this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, in view of all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath, we pray, turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because of our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors, Jerusalem and your people have become a disgrace among all our neighbors. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. 18 Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!”
- Daniel’s prayer and plea contrast Israel’s sinfulness vs God’s righteousness. I note a. opening with confession of ways Israel has not lived into the covenant b the sense of “open shame” (is this the disrespect they feel living as a minority), c. their hard heartedness in following God’s revelation, and that they deserve their shame. Does any of that ring true to the Christian church today in the USA? ____________________
- Daniel now pleas for God to turn away his wrath. Why? ________
- I bolded v. 18. Can you rewrite that in your own words? ________
20 While I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God— 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in “Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved. So consider the word and understand the vision:
- While Daniel prays, Gabriel arrives to enlighten Daniel and give him wisdom. Interestingly Gabriel does not talk about the 70 years but about 70 weeks. There are many ways to interpret the following verses and scholars spend a lot of time pondering. It inspires the Left Behind series of the 60-70s. Your choice: 1. Allow prophecy to be prophecy to be fulfilled in God’s designated time, beyond our control. Lutherans like this option. We just don’t understand and don’t worry. 2. Give a more specific interpretation that comes under “End Times” and more specifically “The Tribulation.” Many debate when Christ will return and bring justice. Some believe he comes at the beginning of the 70 weeks – PreTrib. Others that he comes in the middle of the 70 weeks – Mid-Trib. Then there are those who think it will be after the 70 weeks – Post-Trib. All involve an evil incarnation called the Anti-Christ who harasses Israel and people of faith. It also involves the rebuilding of the Temple and hence the struggle over who owns the Dome of the Rock sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I will not attempt to explain or take a stand. I think the question to reflect on is where my security lies – in my works or in Christ? And, am I convinced that in the face of any kind of evil, God is stronger and sees? Personally I like to say I am a “Pan-Trib” person – it will all pan out in God’s grace and in God’s time!
24 “Seventy weeks are decreed for 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: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops 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 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.”