This study of Daniel Chapter 9, verses 1-23 was given by pastor Barry Forder on 20th June 2021 at Calvary Portsmouth’s online- family service.
Daniel chapter 9 is, without doubt, one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Now, that is an audacious statement, but this chapter contains one of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible that provides irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. On its own that sets it apart, but it also lays out God’s plan for the nation of Israel from the time of the Babylonian captivity unto the Second Coming of Jesus. It give us important prophetic details of the events on our near horizon, when a world leader, who will emerge from within the nations that made up the old Roman Empire, will step onto the world scene and become famous for doing what presidents and kings have unsuccessfully tried to accomplish, bringing peace in the middle east! It is also a chapter the confirms, once again, what we have already seen in the book of Daniel a number of times, that it is God who rules in the kingdoms of man, and He will ultimately give control of the whole earth to His Son, Jesus Christ!
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
As we move into chapter 9, we find that 12 years have past since Daniel’s last vision; and the mighty Babylonian Empire has fallen into the hands of the Persians, just as Daniel had seen in his vision of the ram (chapter 8: 3-4 & 20). Daniel identifies Darius as ‘the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes’, lending strong support to the view we have expressed, that Darius is indeed the same person as Gubaru, the general of Cyrus who took Babylon on the night of Belshazzar’s feast. Furthermore we are told that Darius was ‘made king over the realm of the Chaldeans’ i.e. he was appointed to this position – something that we know from secular history was true of Gubaru.
The first time we met Darius was at the end of chapter 5, but we saw in chapter 6 that Daniel was favoured by king Darius. It is interesting to note that this chapter seems to occur about a year after the ‘lion’s den’ incident of chapter 6.
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
As we will see in a moment, the first part of this chapter records a prayer that Daniel prayed on behalf of his people, the Jews, and their city, Jerusalem. Most commentators seem to place this event somewhere toward the close of the 70-year period known as the ‘Servitude of the Nation’; and thus it is concluded, that because Daniel knew this period was about to draw to a close, he set his face to seek God regarding the future of his people.
However, the close of the ‘Servitude of the Nation’ (end of the 70 years), that had been prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 29:10), was marked by the decree signed by Cyrus allowing the captives to return home. This decree was signed, according to Ezra 1:1, in the first year of Cyrus, (which would have been 537 B.C.
Now, Cyrus and Darius started their reigns simultaneously, Cyrus being the ruler of the whole empire, Darius being appointed under Cyrus as king over the realm of the Chaldeans (Babylon area). Therefore, the first year of Cyrus would be the same as the first year of Darius. If, as we know from Ezra, Cyrus signed the decree for the Jews to return home in his first year, and Daniel tells us that the events of this chapter occurred in Darius’ first year, both events must have occurred at or around the same time. It is my belief therefore, that it was the signing of the decree by Cyrus (which did not include the re-building of Jerusalem) that caused Daniel to turn to Jeremiah’s writings in order to understand exactly what had been prophesied regarding his people and Jerusalem.
Daniel specifically tells us when these things took place; the first year of Darius. He could of just as easily said: ‘in the year that Cyrus signed the decree allowing the Jews to return home’ – for it was the same year. Daniel then continues: I Daniel understood…. What did he understand? He understood that whilst the Servitude was now over and the Jews could return home, there was a second period of 70 years that still had 19 years to run that dealt, not with the people, but specifically with the city of Jerusalem. Thus Daniel says: I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah’s prophecy that Daniel referrers to is found in Jeremiah 25:11: “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
It is against this backdrop that Daniel prays, firstly confessing the sins of his people – who had now served their 70 year sentence – (verses 3-15), and then for the city of Jerusalem – which still had 19 years of judgment decreed against it – pleading that God would have mercy and turn away His wrath, and if possible, cut short this time (verses 16-19).
Before we move on, one other point that is worth mentioning is that Daniel understands that Jeremiah’s prophecies were to be taken literally; he doesn’t look for a symbolic or allegorical interpretation. This is an important lesson for us when looking at prophetic scriptures. Numerous so-called scholars have looked at prophecies and, believing that they cannot possibly be fulfilled literally, have devised a ‘spiritual’ meaning.
Prior to 1948 countless theologians (not to mention the Catholic and Reformation churches) reasoned that Israel couldn’t possibly ever become a nation again, therefore the promises that were given to national Israel obviously have to be understood as applying to the church – this belief led to a wave of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. However, amid this sea of liberal theologians there were still some God-fearing men and women who, despite the apparent absurdity of the belief, clung to the promises that God had given to national Israel and looked for their literal fulfilment. Men such as Sir Robert Anderson (whom we will refer to later in this study) were prepared to take God at His word, and whilst he died before he saw the Nation of Israel being ‘born in a day’ (Isaiah 66:8), he believed and taught that, because God had said it, it would happen.
Prophecy confirms God’s Word to be true (2 Chron 34:21-24 / Acts 10:43 / 2 Peter 1:19), and we can rest assured that God says what He means and means what He says. Our own lack of understanding of any particular prophetic scripture, or our belief that it can’t happen, is not sufficient grounds to second-guess God and then try to teach others that ‘what God really meant was….’
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
How serious are we? Do we leave it up to someone else to pray and fast and humble themselves before God? How concerned are we about our nation, the church, our church, our family, our lives?
And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
Daniel starts his prayer by appealing to God’s own nature, and as David had done so many times, reminding God of His covenant and faithfulness. We have no other ground on which to appeal.
Jesus taught us that when we pray we should start by acknowledging God and His greatness; “Our Father, which art in Heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name”!
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Daniel one of only a few people in scripture of whom no sin is recorded. Yet here he aligns himself with his nation and confesses the nations sin as his own.
Notice the scale and intensity increase:
- we have sinned – this is general, for we have all sinned and fallen short (Rom 3:23)
- we have committed iniquity – this implies ‘with knowledge’ not involuntary
- we have done wickedly – it is bad enough that we have a sin nature, but to sin with knowledge, knowing what we are doing is wrong, will lead to wickedness in life and character.
- we have rebelled – the wilful act of one now in defiance of God
- even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments – we know God’s word to be true, we know God’s verdict on sin, yet we leave the greatest Counsel the world has known, and embrace lies that can never satisfy.
Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Israel and Judah had been sent so many prophets that spoke God’s word to all the people. Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea all warned of the coming judgment, yet the nation of Israel chose to ignore them and instead, after their own lusts, they heaped up to themselves teachers, because they had itching ears, and they turned away from the truth and turned aside fables. Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim 4:3-4) that it will also be this way in the last days. Just like Israel, the modern church has been sent men like Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler, Roger Oakland and Dave Hunt, who have taught the truth and warned of the lies and deception that masquerades as Christianity. But just like the nation of Israel, many have rejected the truth and turned aside to purpose-driven emerging fables. Just as in Jeremiah’s day we hear ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace. God’s prophets are being silenced and the Word ignored in favour of ‘new moves of the spirit’, ‘new revelations’, etc. etc.
Jeremiah had said: “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” (Jer 6:10)
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
Daniel contrasts God’s righteousness with a people to whom God had said: “Be holy for I am holy” (Lev 11:44 / 19:2 etc). Instead of being holy their faces were the exact opposite and were full of shame. As Moses had warned (Deut 28), they had been driven out of their own land because they had not obeyed the Lord their God.
O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
This was not just a few, but the whole nation. The broad way is always vastly populated; it is the narrow way however, that leads to life. (Matt 7:13-14).
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
Yet even after all of this God is merciful and forgiving – but only because of what Jesus did; for that is the only basis for God to forgive a guilty sinner.
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Read Deuteronomy 28 to see the choice that God laid before the children of Israel.
Note: Daniel attributes the Law to Moses – so it wasn’t ‘Hebrew poetry penned in Babylon’ as I was once told by a charismatic church leader! Daniel lived almost all of his life in Babylon and he says Moses wrote it. So that’s good enough for me!
12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
Daniel testifies that what the prophets had spoken had happened – exactly as they said it would. So please note once again, it wasn’t allegorical or picture language; God said He would judge them and He did.
Oh, and just in case you missed it last time, the Holy Spirit who inspired all scripture wants you to know that Moses wrote the Law. That includes Exodus 20:11 where God says He created everything in six literal days. Sadly, there are many in the ‘church’ who will not turn from their iniquities and understand God’s truth.
14 Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
In verse 14 Daniel acknowledges that the evil that had befallen his people was what they deserved for not obeying God’s voice. Then Daniel concludes the first part of his prayer in the same way he’d started it, by underlining the root of the problem: ‘we have sinned, we have done wickedly’. We have sinned because we are sinners, but we have also sinned through choice.
As has been mentioned, the Servitude of the nation has now ended, and Daniel’s prayer to this point has been confessing the sin that brought the Servitude about in the first place. Now we see a shift in emphasis from the people of Israel, to the city of Jerusalem, which Daniel has now understood from Jeremiah’s prophecy, is to lay desolate for a further 19 years. Here we will see Daniel pleading before God in what is possibly the most passionate passage in the entire Bible.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Clearly then, this portion of Daniel’s prayer is now in regard to the city of Jerusalem that still lay in ruins despite the fact that Cyrus had granted permission for the rebuilding of the Temple. Amazingly we discover that it was not until the 2nd year of Darius the Great (not to be confused with Darius the Mead), 19 years later, that the foundations of the Temple were laid – on 24th Chisleu/Kislev (Nov/Dec in our calendar). Haggai records:
“In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,…..” (Haggai 2:10)
“Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid, consider it.” (Haggai 2:18)
It is incredible to realise that the objections of a few ‘locals’ (that we read about in Ezra 4) were enough to thwart the decree of a Persian king for 19 years and prevent the rebuilding of the Temple – even more incredible when we remember that the ‘law of the Meads and Persians’ cannot be altered! Yet until God’s time was right and the decreed desolations were ended, the Jews were seemingly powerless. But mark the contrast when God “stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God” (Hag 1:14 – see also Ezra 3:8) From this point the Temple was rebuilt in just a little over 4 years, two months!
Thus we see that Daniel’s prayer was answered, whether in his lifetime we don’t know, for he would have been about 102 when the Temple foundations were laid and 106 when it was completed. However you just wonder whether, like Simeon and Anna, God allowed Daniel to live to see his prayer answered.(?)
It is also interesting to note that Daniel’s real concern is for God’s reputation – for the Lord’s sake (v17), ..city which is called by thy name (v18)….for thine own sake…. for thy city and thy people are called by thy name (v19). God had called this people His own, and had made an everlasting covenant with their fathers. He had brought them out of Egypt with and outstretched hand and defeated their foes before them. He had brought them into the Promised Land and promised to put His name in the Temple that Solomon had built (2 Chron 6:20).
That Temple had now been destroyed and the city lay in ruins; in addition, the people had been taken away captives into foreign lands. None of this presented a good impression of the ‘God of Israel’ to Israel’s neighbours. So, just as Moses had done in Exodus 32:10-12, when God had threatened to wipe out Israel and start a new nation with Moses, Daniel asks God to have mercy on his people and city simply for God’s own glory, not because they deserve it.
Daniel’s motivation to pray this prayer was almost certainly due to Solomon’s words in 1 Chronicles 6:36-39 which bear a distinct resemblance to what Daniel prayed: “If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.” (1 Chronicles 6:36-39)
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;
Now we move into the next section of this chapter as we find that Daniel is interrupted by an important visitor! However we should note Daniel’s own division of his prayer: firstly he was confessing the sin of his people Israel, then he changes to present his requests regarding Jerusalem. This is further confirmation that the Servitude had ended but the Desolations were still ongoing; for he doesn’t present his supplications for his people, which surely he would have done had they still been captive. In other words, he acknowledges and confesses the sins of his people, but his request is concerning Jerusalem.
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.
Daniel immediately recognises Gabriel, which is in itself interesting, as it shows that angels have identifiable characteristics. We are told in scripture that angels are spirits (Heb 1:7, 14), yet clearly they also dwell in bodies (Jude v6) and can appear in bodily form, being able to touch and move physical objects when they choose (or rather as God commands) (cf Matt 28:2). Humans also are spirit beings that are temporarily residing in our physical bodies, but looking forward to our new eternal bodies that we will receive at the time of the Rapture! We will explore more on this subject in chapter 10.
It is also interesting to note that whenever Gabriel appears in scripture, he is on an errand to do with announcing the Messiah.
This verse yields yet another fascinating insight into the mind of Daniel, for he notes that Gabriel touched him ‘about the time of the evening sacrifice’. The sacrifice that Daniel referrers to was not some Babylonian ritual, but rather the sacrifice that would have taken place in Jerusalem, in the Temple – only problem was, that Jerusalem and the Temple were in ruins and Daniel hadn’t been there for 70 years anyway.
Now, it is very likely that whilst he was praying, Daniel would have been thinking about those who were returning home to Jerusalem, no doubt by now on their way back, whose sins he had been confessing, , and wondering what they would find, how bad a state the Temple was really in? When would they be able to start sacrificing again as the Law of Moses required? We can only guess what he was thinking; but one thing is clear: despite being in Babylon for 70 years, Daniel’s mind was fixed on the things of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the covenants that God had made with His people.
And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
Once again this verse underlines that fact that God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33), but wants His people to know. God delights in telling the future before it happens and revealing it to His servants (Isaiah 46:10-11 / Amos 3:7). It the same with the book of Revelation; yet so often, like a broken record, we hear people say ‘oh Revelation is too hard to understand’. Well I guess if you don’t get the first verse, there’s not a lot of hope, because the first verse makes it abundantly clear that it is ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass’. God wants us to know; that’s the whole purpose of the book!!!. Sadly too many Christians play the ‘it’s too confusing for me’ card and choose to remain in ignorance.
However, Paul repeatedly urged believers to know and find out; he wanted them to have understanding.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery” (Rom 11:25)
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant,” (1 Cor 10:1)
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” (1 Cor 12:1)
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep” (1 Thess 4:13)
We live in an age of great spiritual deception; Jesus repeatedly warned us not to be deceived. However the only safeguard against deception is to know the truth. Jesus Himself said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Jesus also told us that one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit would be to ‘guide us into all truth’ (John 16:13) and ‘teach us things’ (John 14:26).
As we will see in a moment, the Holy Spirit actually gives us a mandate to understand this prophecy!
At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Here we have it confirmed that Gabriel was dispatched as soon as Daniel started praying, and the reason he had come was to show Daniel, i.e. make him understand. Both Daniel and John are called the beloved, and it is interesting to note that they were the ones who received the visions / prophecies about the end times. It is as if God saves His greatest secrets for those who are closest to Him. Only one other individual in scripture is called the beloved – the church; for the church is one body, knit together with Christ as our Head (Eph 4:15-16); and indeed mysteries have been revealed to the church that were kept hidden in ages past, things that we are told the prophets desired to look into but were unable. (See 1 Peter 1:10-12 / Luke 10:22-24 / Matt 13:11).
To be continued…
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study.