In an earlier post I mentioned how Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) clearly shows both the time line and the purpose of the rapture. We will continue now in this post to look at the situation of the prophecy, which is Daniel’s prayer. We will also look briefly at God’s immediate answer, which is the prophecy.
Daniels prayer (Daniel 9:3-19). From Daniel 9:2 we learn that Daniel knew of the writings of Jeremiah and of his prophecies regarding their seventy years of captivity. He was also aware of the reason for their captivity: mainly because for so long they had not obeyed the Lord in keeping the laws of the Sabbath rest; thus by their exclusion God intended to restore the land by giving it rest for the exact number of Sabbath years that it had been violated—seventy years.
Long before Daniel’s time God clearly prophesied these things.
Leviticus 26:33-35 ‘You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste. 34 ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 ‘All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.
(Read Leviticus 26:14-46; Jeremiah 25; and 2 Chronicles 36:15-21 for a wider reading on the Sabbath rest and God’s curse on Israel for not keeping it.)
With this knowledge and with the understanding that the time of their captivity was almost over, Daniel set his heart for prayer—with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (v. 3).
Most of the prayer (vv. 4-15) is made up of confession for Israel’s sins, iniquity, wickedness, and rebellion, drawing a sharp contrast between their wretchedness and God’s righteousness and mercy. And Daniel humbly includes himself in his confession; though, as I see it, he is among the most holy in the entire Bible.
It isn’t until the very end of the prayer (vv. 16-19) that Daniel makes his three fold request: to bring back “your city,” “your sanctuary,” and “your people.”
Daniel 9:16-19 “O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17 “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary. 18 “O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion. 19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.”
Well, God heard Daniel’s prayer and immediately brought an answer through the angel Gabriel.
God’s answer (Daniel 9:22-27). While Daniel was still praying, Gabriel came—in the form of a man—with the answer. He said to Daniel,
”O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. 23 “At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.
24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. 25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
Any normal person, when first examining this answer, would scratch his head. It is not the answer we would expect, and perhaps not what Daniel expected. He was praying in anticipation of Israel’s soon return to their home land. But God brought much more—and the angel told Daniel that he would be given skill to understand it.
The answer was not in terms of Israel’s release from captivity and a return to their land; rather God shows them their future at the end of the age. He showed them how they will be released spiritually from the bondage of sin and taken into the kingdom of God—spiritually and physically.
Therefore, this prophecy tells us that God is not only concerned for the seventy years of rest for the land, but also, and much more, for them as a people and for their city; He is concerned for their salvation and that they would bring proper worship to Him.
In the next post we will look at verse 24, and we will pay particular attention to the term “seventy weeks.”
Copyright © 2014 by Stephen Nielsen
The above article is an excerpt from this book.