Thursday, November 1, 2012

Daniel 9 - Daniel's Prayer and 70 "Sevens"

LINK: Daniel 9

BACKGROUND 

The Chronological Order of the Book of Daniel 
Daniel 1–4: Captivity and interpretation of dreams and visions (Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar) 
Daniel 7: Vision of the four beasts (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 8: Vision of the ram and he-goat (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 5: Belshazzar’s feast—conquest of Babylon (Babylon, Belshazzar) 
Daniel 9: Vision of the seventy weeks (Persia, Darius) 
Daniel 6: Daniel in the lions’ den (Persia, Darius) 
Daniel 10–12: Daniel’s prayer and visions (Persia, Cyrus)  
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (9). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.)
By studying Scripture, Daniel knew that the end of the 70-year captivity was drawing to a close. As he studied, He turned to God in confession (9:3-14) and petition (9:15-19) with fasting. He knew that God's judgment on Israel was Gentile domination and exile. The path back to Jerusalem had to be paved with confession and prayer focused on the greatness of God. 

Again, Gabriel came and gave insight and instruction to Daniel because he was "highly esteemed" (10:11,19) by God.  


Daniel 9:24-27 have been interpreted so many different ways based, again, on the different views of end times. Some interpret the 490 years literally (70x7) and others figuratively. This is applied to Israel and Jerusalem. God would "finish the transgression" and "seal up sins" making "atonement for iniquity," bringing in "everlasting righteousness." Jesus was the sacrifice that atoned for their sin (John 11:44-52). Ultimately, Israel's sins will be forgiven (Zechariah 12:10-13:1).


The "issuing of the decree" in 9:25 is believed to be the fourth of four decrees by the Persian rulers: 



1) Cyrus in 538 B.C. - 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; 5:13 
2) Darius I (522-486) in 520 B.C. - Ezra 6:1, 6-12  
3) Artaxerxes Longimanus (464-424) in 457 B.C. - Ezra 7:11-26  
4) Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 5, 444 B.C. - Nehemiah 2:1-8

The fourth decree is the one that walled the city making the rebuilding final (and having much opposition, as you will see when we study Nehemiah!). It was from this time that we count the 70 "sevens." 

There are many ways this can be interpreted, and here is one way:


1) 7 "sevens" (49 years) 444-395 B.C. 


2) 62 "sevens" (9:26a; 434 years)


This concluded on the day of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus.  He was officially presented as the Messiah to the nation of Israel on that day, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 (Luke 19:42). 


These first two were 69 weeks totally 483 years. March 5, 444 B.C. - March 30, A.D. 33 according to the Jewish Calendar of 360 days per year. 


(For more details see Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and Alva J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks)


The "Anointed One" would be cut off and have nothing. "Cut off" is a word used in the executing of a criminal." This was Christ's crucifixion. Christ's death came at the end of the 69 weeks (483 years later). Then there is an interval between the 69th and 70th week called "the church age." 


Note: Amillenialists believe that Christ's First Advent was in the 70th "seven" and there is no interval between the 69th and 70th "sevens." According to this view, all of the actions described in Daniel 9:24 are being fulfilled in the church today. 


The ruler of 9:26 is the final head of the Roman Empire (7:8). This is believed to be when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70. 


3) 1 "seven" (9:27; 7 years) 


The "he" in 9:27 is believed to refer back to "the prince who is to come" in 9:26. This is believed to be the Antichrist. This is the final seven years. Some interpret this as the 7 year tribulation period or "day of the Lord" in the future (Matthew 24:3-24). This will all culminate in the return of Jesus (Revelation 6-19; Matthew 24:15-35). YAY!!!! 


We will understand this better we can combine with our study of Matthew 24 and Revelation next year. Stay tuned.


The important thing about all this is Daniel's reverence for the One who held all these events in the palm of His hand. All this should lead us to worship and devotion of Him rather than fixation on prophecy!


REFLECTION

For most of Daniel, I have had a personal reflection AND the Warren Wiersbe review. Finally, I have nothing to say, and I will let Warren do all the talking today!



CHARACTERISTICS OF DANIEL 
He studied the Word of God and believed it

When Daniel and his friends left Jerusalem for Babylon, they carried with them some of the scrolls of the Old Testament Scriptures. We know that Daniel studied the prophecies of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2) and we can assume that these godly young men had other portions of the Word as well.

Prayer and the Word of God go together (Acts 6:4). Someone asked an old saint, “Which is more important in my Christian life, praying or studying God’s Word?” The saint replied, “Which wing on a bird is more important for his flight, the right one or the left one?” As we read the Word of God and study it, we must pray for wisdom to understand and power to obey. We should also turn the Word into prayer. As we pray, we must remember what we’ve learned from the Scriptures, for the Word increases our faith (Rom. 10:17) and helps us pray in God’s will (John 15:7).

Daniel didn’t study the Word to impress people; he studied it to ascertain the will of God and obey it. When God enlightened him concerning the seventy years of captivity, Daniel immediately began to pray that God would forgive His people and fulfill His promises, and He did. When you know the Word of God and walk in communion with the God of the Word, you will have a resolute heart and be able to withstand the attacks of the devil.


Wiersbe, W. W. (2000). Be resolute (152). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor.

APPLICATION 

Warren Wiersbe and I are such soulmates. He is still alive and living in Nebraska. I want to go and knock on his door and say, "Thank you for all you have done for countless numbers of people who have learned to love God's Word through your commentaries!!!"  (I did try to call him once, but there was no answer.)  But I digress . . . 


I totally agree with what Warren just said in that reflection, and I have said similar things before here on the Bible Book Club too. Here is what I wrote on March 26, 2012:


I once had a friend ask me, “If you were going to die, what would be the most important spiritual discipline that you would want to pass on before you left this world?” 
I said, “Prayerful meditation through the Scriptures. Meditating and praying responsively back to God.” 
The main reason I said this was because I had seen the change this had made in my own life. Throughout the years of discipling women, I have had women come back to say that this was the one thing that they most appreciated about our time together. A couple of letters from these women to illustrate this point:
“Beyond Malibu seems like so long ago, when you introduced me to a deeper way of seeking and knowing God. Thank you.” 5/23/99

[Carol's note: I taught her how to pray through psalms]

“I am so thankful for you, Carol. Just about a month ago my husband preached on ‘praying through scripture’ and I can't tell you how many times he and I talked about the way you taught me to pray through a Psalm. He said in his sermon, ‘There should be less and less of a separation between your Bible reading and your prayer life. They should become increasingly melded together,’ or something similar. God used you to start me on this, and it has been so valuable to me over the years. It's a discipline to be taught -- thank you for teaching me.” 6/19/99


Why not start praying through Scripture today!

PRAYER


 In a few days, we will be going through a slew of Psalms that fit with this time period in Israel's history (Psalm 126, 92-100 - amazing psalms of worship focusing on the character of God), but they are also great to apply to our lives today. Why not start praying through those psalms today! You can intellectually analyze them or just absent-mindedly read through them, or you can "turn the Word into prayer" as Wiersbe recommends! Have fun!
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