In everything I do, I feel I am learning a new lesson. Because one of the groups of men I sit with, subjects ourselves to a false teacher each week (not everyone that sits through the Monday morning Bible Study feels this way,) several of us recognize the painful tedium we subject ourselves to. We all find ourselves asking why we attend and the answer is universally the same for all who see what is going on there. We need fellowship with other faithful men. From my point of view, there are four or five men who have a solid understanding of God's Word, His nature, and His character (These aspects have become utmost in my thinking lately.)
One of the brothers avidly follows another of our false teachers as he carries his twisted gospel to the hamburger stand I used to frequent. I have challenged his reasons and he always leans upon the same thing, that brother is a good friend of mine and we have been through much together.
I get it. There is no denying the value of someone, no matter the twistedness of their theology, who will always have your back in prayer. That aspect is one thing these men have in common, they know how to pray.
While it may seem that the lesson I need to learn is how to separate myself from false teachers, it is really more focused on trusting the Holy Spirit's leading and not asking the opinions of the others. In doing just that I bypassed some essential, reinforcing, and critical aspects of end times prophecy by choosing to jump from Daniel chapter 2 to Daniel chapter 9. In my defense, I only thought I would have a couple of weeks at best, and, I really thought for a moment I could fly through the depth of what is contained in Daniel 2 and 9. I could not, nor does it do the information there any justice.
One more thing. I have come to realize that there is nothing of insignificance in scripture and to fly rapidly past a simple word like strongholds, is to do yourself and your audience an injustice.
All passages are from the NASB unless otherwise specified.
Daniel Chapter 9 – Daniel's third vision:
The seventy weeks of years.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans--
Make this clear in your thinking: Daniel, having not only survived but excelled under five Kings/rulers/Emporers, is now facing his sixth ruling authority while still in Babylonian captivity.
If we followed this timeline closely what do we see? Daniel dead before Darius shows up. Is that what scripture tells us? No. But we can also see something else, two other names not spelled out in Daniel. Amel-Marduk who reigned from 556- 539BC; that Belshazzar had an alternative name of Nabonidus; that Cambyses reigned briefly after Cyrus from 530 – 522BC, ending with, for the purposes of our story, Darius 1 who reigned from 522 – 486BC.
"in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years"
What can we ascertain from this?
- That Daniel was, either, able to carry the scroll of Jeremiah into captivity with him,
- Or, Daniel was able to attain a copy.
- Daniel has perceived according to prophecy that the desolations of Jerusalem are over.What does the Hebrew give us as the definition of desolations?
The Word Study Dictionary, ḥorbāh or cḥorbāh: A feminine noun meaning ruin. The word almost always refers to an area ruined by the judgment of God.
Strong's tells us: properly drought, that is, (by implication) a desolation: - decayed place, desolate (place, -tion), destruction, (laid) waste (place).
While desolations may have been declared upon Jerusalem, this judgment was upon God's people as well. Daniel, reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, realized that the time of their captivity had, because of timing, come to an end. Someone needed to let the authorities know.
Jeremiah 25:11-13 'This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12- 'Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, 'for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation. 13- 'I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations.
Jeremiah 29:10 "For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.
What can I ascertain from verse two, or another way of asking this question would be to say, “what has Daniel come to understand?”
- That Daniel was not completely aware of the timing.
- That the 70 years of captivity have been completed.
- That the whole land of Israel is in desolation.
- While Israel's desolation may be temporary, Babylon, that nation, and the land of the Chaldeans will have an everlasting desolation.
The NASB entitles this section: Daniel's Prayer for His People; and yet that is not all Daniel prays for.
Daniel opens his time of prayer with a preparation.
3) “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
Are we required by the law to take an appropriate attitude before God? Why then “pay attention?” Because we are not in control, He is.
I once heard someone say, always open your prayer with praise.
4) “I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,”
Daniel acknowledges God for who He is. He is great, awesome, and most important of all: He is the one ho keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments
Verse 5 shows Daniel confessing for the nation.
“we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.”
In verse 6 he admits:
“we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.”
Since apostasy, the act of turning our backs on God is a significant marker of the end times, what does this idea of “we have not listened” have to say to us?
As a side note: I sit with religious men who make bold statements contrary to the Word of God and will not listen when corrected by that same Word.
Verses 7,8 demonstrate that it is more than just the land, the temple and the city that is punished; it is people as well.
7) ".. the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, ..”8) "Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You."
This judgment is directly applicable to Jewish people of that day, everywhere. But who wants to carry around open shame?
Here we sit some two thousand five hundred years later and yet once again there is a wrath/judgment coming upon God's people. Why? Because, still, they will not listen.
"To the Lord, our God belongs compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10) nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets."
Isaiah 43:25-26 "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. 26) "Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right."
In remembrance of what? Who God is and what He has done.
Why? Not because he forgets, but because we do.
Consider what this says: “To the Lord, our God belong compassion and forgiveness,” while He may show compassion and forgiveness, there is a debt to pay. In our case, Jesus paid the price for our debts. Did this exclude Israel? Not at all, but it is clear, even today, that ma many choose to reject Jesus as the Messiah.
What does Daniel say here, in his prayer to God?
- "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice;
- so the curse has been poured out on us,
- along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God,
Spend some time in the book of Deuteronomy and there you will find the Blessings and the Curses. Chapter 28 is where it says, "if you will do these things then all these blessings will come upon you." But, like any two-edged sword, there are curses for not following God's commands.
In finding the character of God, you will find that He is rather straightforward; this is affirmed in chapter 30.
Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
In general, is that what Israel did, choose life? No, therefore Daniel had this to say, “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us;”
Did knowledge of Deuteronomy's blessings and curses change the heart of Israel?
I doubt it, but we know that there were four men who stood on God's side.
- Sadly we have this evidence: “yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.”
Does, or has, God, relented from his wrath and anger?
The answer is yes, and Nineveh is one of those examples. Jeremiah 42:10, an example of God relenting from His wrath, was spoken concerning Israel and their pending captivity.
Jeremiah 42:10 'If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you."
What land is God referring to? Babylon.
At the same time, we have examples where God is done overlooking transgressions.
Ezekiel 24:14 "I, the LORD, have spoken; it is coming and I will act. I will not relent, and I will not pity and I will not be sorry; according to your ways and according to your deeds I will judge you," declares the Lord GOD.'"
"And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have been wicked.”
This is not so dissimilar from one of Moses' prayers.
If I were to foolishly ask, when does Daniel begin to pray, It would be about verse 15. However, the entire interaction is a prayer.
- “ Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts”
- “let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain.”
- What kind of knowledge is Daniel sitting on?
The knowledge that the 70 years is completed, and that God has little reason to keep Israel in captivity.
With that understanding, Daniel still remains submissive to the God of Israel.
- “for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us.”
Daniel gets it; the reasons why Israel is captive in Babylon. Did he get it as a young man, probably about to get married? Maybe not, but he literally kept his head by being submissive to his Babylonian captors, as the prophet Jeremiah had told them.
What direction did this portion of his prayer take?
- “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant “
- “incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name”
Again, Moses implored the Lord to have mercy upon His people, called by your name, and asked, what will the nations think, that God could not save them.
- “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive!”
Forgiving is a part of God's nature and character.
- “do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name."
Perhaps this is a human emotion that we are attaching to God, but everyone has pride.
Gabriel Brings an Answer, but to what?