Daniel 9. How God Answered His Servant's Prayer.
Key Notes: An intercessory prayer. Seven sacred tasks for Israel. Date for Messiah's coming.
The ninth chapter of Daniel has been the subject of controversy because of a series of difficult time references. This has led to earnest effort to solve the problems, while tending to obscure the exciting and easily understood truths. Daniel is given an opportunity to understand Jeremiah's prophecy.
9:1 When Darius the Mede conquered Babylon (539BC), Daniel realized that Israel's seventy years of captivity should be coming to an end. He was reading Jeremiah:
"This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy year. Then after seventy years are complete, I will punish the king of Babylon...." (Jer.25:11–12)
"Then after seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place." (Jer.29:10)
Daniel may also have known II Chronicles:
"...to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years." (IIChron.36:21)
Daniel refers to Jeremiah as "the word of God." Daniel also had the Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) (9:13). We see here hints of an OT Canon.
9:3–19 So Daniel began to pray that God would honor His promise.
He began with the physical display of mourning which people did at funerals: fasting, wearing burlap, with ashes on his head, mortifying the flesh.
He confessed the greatness, awesomeness, righteousness, mercy, and forgiveness of God.
He confessed the sins of Israel: we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, turned aside, have not listened, committed treachery.
In the middle section (9–14) he shifted from addressing God directly to speaking of Him in the third person, as if he could not bear to face Him.
He recalled the prophecy of Moses (11–14) of Israel's apostasy and calamity.
He reminded God of His rescue of Israel from Egypt .
He begged God to shine His Face on Jerusalem, His Sanctuary, His Holy Hill for His sake, by His mercy.
9:20–23 He prayed earnestly, even vehemently. About 3PM, at the time of the evening sacrifice (was Daniel offering a sacrifice?), the Angel Gabriel flew to him while he was still praying. The words were full of warmth and encouragement. God loved Him. God would give him more wisdom and understanding.
9:24–25. The new message is that seventy weeks of years (490 years) were set up for Israel to accomplish six goals.
a. to finish / restrain the transgression;
b. to put an end to sin;
c. to atone-for or cover iniquity;
d. to bring in everlasting righteousness;
e. to seal vision and prophet;
f. to anoint a most holy one or place.
As an aside, the answer to Daniel's prayer was given: "From the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem...." Obviously Israel must get back to Jerusalem because she has important work yet to do.
The six goals plainly have to do with putting sin down and providing for a prophet. The individual phrases deserve expansion using NT quotations.
a. to restrain transgression: "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house." (Matt.12:28–29). Jesus came to bind Satan in his home territory.
b. to put an end to sin: "He appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself". (Heb.9:26)
c. to atone for iniquity: "...whom God set forth as a propitiation (atoning sacrifice) by His blood to be received by faith." (Rom.3:25)
d. to bring in everlasting righteousness: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. " (Rom.10:4. KJV)
e. to seal vision and prophet: "On Him has God the Father set His seal". (Jn.6:27)
f. to anoint a most holy one/place. "...how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power." (Acts.10:38) "One greater than the temple is here." (Matt.12:6). "Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up." (Jn.2:19)
A simple summary of the passage is that Daniel, knowing that the 70 years of captivity should be soon ended, began to pray earnestly that God would restore Jerusalem. His prayer was answered by Gabriel, who affirmed Daniel's special place before God. He told him that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was forth-coming, but as part of a larger plan. In less than 500 years Messiah would come to atone for sin. The references will need Christ's Second Coming to be completely fulfilled.
That Jesus' coming was expected is told in NT. They were aware of the approximate time.
"As the people were in expectation and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ...." (Lk.3:15)
They also knew the place of His birth:
"...he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him 'In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet....'"(Matt.2:4–5)
So Gabriel's good news to Daniel is "Rejoice, Messiah is Coming!"