Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Decree of Seventy Weeks

Introduction
“Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD of hosts is his name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.’” (Jeremiah 31:35-36)

Daniel 9:24

Context
-In Daniel 9:24-27, Scripture contains the famous “prophecy of the seventy weeks”. Daniel 9 begins in verses 1-23 with Daniel pleading with Yahweh his God to look upon the plight of His chosen people in exile. Daniel well understands (and confesses) the covenantal unfaithfulness and sins of Israel, but he calls upon the Lord’s covenant promises to redeem and restore His people to their land, to reinstitute worship of the Lord in the Jerusalem temple, and to bring in the promised Davidic kingdom.
-Gabriel, whom Daniel encountered 12 years earlier in chapter 8, appears in Daniel’s extreme weariness to give him the answer from the word of the Lord. Gabriel reminds Daniel that the Lord greatly treasures His prophet living in exile, and Gabriel has now come to tell Daniel the answer to his cries.
-The prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24-27 has sparked immense scholarly discussion, interpretation, and debate. Various interpretations over the centuries have caused many to avoid this text altogether. One prominent Reformed scholar once wrote that taking a congregation through a study of the seventy weeks would be all but fruitless and pointless. Others, not wishing to spark a debate on eschatology, do not probe this text to any level of clarity or understanding. However, these responses to the Word of God do not honor the Scriptures. Firstly, all of Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching and study (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If God did not want His people to study it, God would not have included it in the text of Scripture. Secondly, Gabriel commands Daniel to pay close attention and to understand the vision of the seventy weeks (v. 23). Thirdly, the prophecy of the seventy weeks provides a framework for our larger understanding of eschatology.

Verse 24
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.


The Revelation
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city…
-Gabriel begins by giving Daniel a period of time: “Seventy weeks” (
שָׁבֻעִים שִׁבְעִים). The Hebrew (šābuʿîm šibʿīm) is less specific than the common English translation: it literally means “seventy sevens” (NIV). Many English translations have translated sabuim as “weeks” (ESV, NASB, KJV), but it simply means “group of seven”. These seventy “groups of seven” could be 70 days, 70 weeks, 70 months, 70 years, or 70 indefinite periods of time. The context of Daniel and the context of Scripture will reveal which it is, and will be a question answered momentarily.
-Why “seventy sevens”, however? In Israel’s history, they had sinned for 490 years (70 years x 7) and hence were cast into exile for 70 years (490 years / 7; 2 Chronicles 36:21). Hence the correspondence of “seventy sevens” in this vision.
-These seventy sevens, says Gabriel, “are decreed” (
נֶחְתַּךְ). This is the action of a King, as it means the imposition of a royal edict. In context, this refers to the decree of the King of Heaven (Daniel 4:37).
-The message of the book of Daniel is that the Lord is the great King over all the earth (Psalm 47:2; Psalm 95:3).
-The promise of the book of Daniel is that the Son of Man will one day come to reign as King of kings over all the earth (Daniel 7:13-14).
-One other important reason to study and understand these “seventy sevens” is that Yahweh the great King decrees them.
-To whom does this decree of seventy sevens concern? Gabriel tells Daniel that it concerns “Your people” (
עַל־עַמְּךָ).
-This phrase is important, for it gives us an important interpretive guide for this vision. Daniel’s “people” (
עַם) in the context of this book are the Jews, the ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Daniel 9:19).
-It would not be until the New Testament with the dawn of the church age that Gentiles would be specifically included in God’s covenant (Ephesians 2:11-13). At this moment in redemptive history, this decree does not concern the people of God from every tribe, tongue, and nation in the New Covenant era, but specifically concerns those who are part of ethnic Israel.
-To what does this decree of seventy sevens concern? Gabriel answers: “your holy city”
(
וְעַל־עִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ).
-The “holy city” in Scripture refers to the city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:1). Even the New Jerusalem is known by this title (Revelation 21:2).
-Daniel has repeatedly been pleading with God on behalf of the city of Jerusalem throughout this chapter (Daniel 9:18-19).
-
The identification of the people and the city are clear from the context. Daniel’s people were the Jews, and his holy city was Jerusalem. Some scholars (e.g., Young, Keil, Leupold) symbolize “your people” to refer to “spiritual Israel,” the church, and the “holy city” to mean the heavenly Jerusalem. Yet such a view is not supported by the text. Gabriel’s words in vv. 24–27 contain specific references to Israel, the temple, and the city of Jerusalem. Moreover, this revelation was an answer to Daniel’s prayer, which concerned the Jewish people. For these reasons the majority of scholars rightly understand this prophecy to refer to the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.[1]

The Redemption
…to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity…
-But what are these seventy periods of sevens decreed by God regarding Israel and Jerusalem going to accomplish? Gabriel first tells Daniel that they are “to finish the transgression”
(
לְכַלֵּא הַפֶּשַׁע).
-Immense joy is contained in the meaning of the word “finish” (
כלה). It means, “to bring to a complete end”. It is the same Hebrew verb used to describe the completion of creation (Genesis 2:1-2).
-What Israel so desperately needed was “the transgression” (
הַפֶּשַׁע) to be bring to a complete and final end (Joel 2:12-13). The rebellion, the sin, the crimes, the covenant unfaithfulness that had continued for centuries needed to be brought to a complete and final end.
-Even more than putting a final end to the sin of Israel is Gabriel’s statement that it will “put an end to sin” (
וְלַחְתֹּם חַטָּאוֹת).
-The nation of Israel witnessed the devastating effects that sin had (Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 12:11).
-Ever since the fall of man, the entire cosmos has been marred by the corruption and deadly nature of sin (Romans 8:22-23). The cosmos itself desperately needs a complete end to all sin.
-Also, the third component of the redemption accomplished by the seventy sevens is “to atone for iniquity” (
וּלְכַפֵּר עָוֹן).
-To “atone” (
כפר) means “to cover over”, and in context refers to blood covering over sin (Hebrews 9:22).
-The only hope for Israel and for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation is that God alone can provide atonement for sins (Psalm 79:9).

-On the cross, Jesus cried out as He died,
“Τετέλεσται” (It is finished and paid in full; John 19:20). Human sin has been fully paid for in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7).
-Only Jesus Christ can bring the fulfillment of this prophecy to the nation of Israel and to all men (1 John 2:2).

The Restoration
…to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.*

-Finally, Gabriel speaks in verse 24 of God’s plan of restoration for the nation of Israel. Not only will there be a day in which the national sin of Israel will be removed (and all sin everywhere be ended), but in its place God will “bring in everlasting righteousness”
(
וּלְהָבִיא צֶדֶק עֹלָמִים).
-“Righteousness” (
צֶ֫דֶק) means that which is just, right, holy, and good. It is a quality of all of God’s actions (Psalm 48:10; Psalm 65:5).
-The Lord reigns as King in righteousness over all the earth (Psalm 89:14).
-There will be a day in which the Lord Jesus, in fulfillment of this prophecy, comes to bring “everlasting” (
עוֹלָם) righteousness to the nation of Israel and the world (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
-Christ’s first coming offered the hope of everlasting righteousness, but it is at His second coming that all sin, all crime, all rebellion, all injustice, all pain, all hurt, and all loss will be ended for the nation of Israel and for the world. (Isaiah 65:18-25).
-Gabriel also states that it will “seal both vision and prophet” (
וְלַחְתֹּם חָזוֹן וְנָבִיא).
-“To seal up vision and prophecy” may be interpreted in two ways. Hebrew ḥātam means to “seal, affix seal, seal up.” “To seal” may refer to the closing up of a document, for in ancient times a scroll was rolled up and sealed shut for preservation (cf. Jer 32:10ff.; Dan 8:26; 12:4, 9). A seal was additionally employed as a mark of authentication by a king or other official (cf. 1 Kgs 21:8; Esth 3:12; Dan 6:17 [18]). In the first case “to seal up vision and prophecy” would signify that these forms of revelation would be closed, and in the second the idea would be that God will someday set his seal of authentication upon every truly God-given revelation (“vision and prophecy”) by bringing about its complete fulfillment.[2]
-There already came a day in which no more special revelation was needed for mankind—what more can He say to us than to whom He has said all we ever need? (Revelation 22:18-19).
-There will be a day in which this prophecy (and every prophecy remaining yet unfilled in Scripture) will be brought to completion (Proverbs 30:5).
-The Lord’s counsel for Israel and for the nations will stand, and He will accomplish all His purpose (Isaiah 46:10).
-Lastly, Gabriel says that this vision of seventy-sevens will “anoint a most holy place”
(
וְלִמְשֹׁחַ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים).
-To “anoint” (
משׁח) means to “smear with liquid” and referred to the consecration of items or people for the Lord’s purposes with special anointing oil (Exodus 29:7).
-The phrase “most holy place” (
קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים) refers to the Temple. Earlier in the history of the exile, the prophet Ezekiel (a contemporary of Daniel who mentioned Daniel twice in his book) concluded his book in chapters 40-48 with the Lord’s plans for a future, restored temple. For an Old Testament Jew, the promise that the Lord would ensure that His temple would be restored was a tremendously joyful prophecy.
-For God to anoint a most holy place again means that God promised Daniel here that He would once again come and dwell with His people Israel in the future (Ezekiel 48:34-35).
-Ultimately, the eternal hope for all believers for all the ages will be the eternal New Jerusalem, the ultimate and final temple of the living God, who itself will be the temple for His people throughout all eternity (Revelation 21:22-23).


Conclusion
“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:25-36)

Handout
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Recording
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[1] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, pp. 258–259). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[2] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, p. 261). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Arrival of Gabriel

Introduction
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Ephesians 1:16-17)

Daniel 9:20-23

Context
-In Daniel 9, we see Daniel plead with the Lord in a profound prayer of confession. Making intercession on behalf of the nation of Israel in exile, Daniel sincerely entreats God to honor His covenant promises towards His chosen people. Daniel knew, from his study of the Scriptures (particularly the prophet Jeremiah) that the God who was faithful to bring covenant curses for the covenantal disobedience of the nation of Israel was the same God who promised that He would make a New Covenant with His people. The God who cast Israel and Judah headlong into exile is also the God who would bring them back into exile.
-At this moment in Daniel’s life, Daniel does not have many more years to live. He is in his early 80s, having been in exile for almost 70 years. Daniel has seen the world change greatly throughout his lifetime. As a boy, he lived during the downfall of the Egyptian kingdom and the crushing defeat of the once-terrifying Assyrian Empire. As a man, Daniel was educated and served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar—the most powerful monarch in the world. Early on in his lifetime and his public career in Babylonian government, Daniel was surrounded by his three faithful friends Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah—better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Together they served the Lord, even in the face and threat of death.
-However, that was long ago in Daniel’s lifetime, for his friends had presumably all died and many under whom Daniel served had long since passed away. Daniel is now living in the Medo-Persian Empire, which successfully overthrew the glorious Babylonian Empire.

Verse 20

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God,

-The next passage in Daniel 9 opens “while I was speaking and praying”
(
וְעוֹד אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר וּמִתְפַּלֵּל).
-Daniel 9 is one of the notable prayers of Scripture of a man interceding on behalf of God’s people. Abraham interceded on behalf of his relatives in Sodom that they would not be destroyed (Genesis 18:22-33). Moses interceded for Israel so that the Lord would not wipe out His people after their idolatry (Exodus 32:11-14). David interceded before the Lord on behalf of the nation suffering on account of his own sin (2 Samuel 24:15-25).
-Ultimately, what Daniel does here is foreshadow the interceding work of our great High Priest Jesus Christ on our behalf (Hebrews 7:23-28).
-Unlike Jesus, who is our sinless Mediator on our behalf (Hebrews 4:15), Daniel is “confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel” (
וּמִתְוַדֶּה חַטָּאתִי וְחַטַּאת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל).
-Throughout the book of Daniel, the Holy Spirit does not reveal to us any of Daniel’s sins; on the contrary, Daniel is blameless to the point where even his enemies cannot use anything against him (Daniel 6:4). Yet Daniel knows that even though he is blameless, he is still by nature a sinner who is solely dependent upon the loving compassion of the Lord for forgiveness and grace (Daniel 9:18).
-Daniel rightly identifies that the fundamental problem of man is not that man does not have sufficient opportunities to merit his own righteousness or is mistaken or falls into bad “habits or hang-ups”. Man’s fundamental problem is sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). Such is the problem also here with his “people Israel” (
עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל).
-We have, like Daniel and the people of Israel 2,600 years ago, no other hope or recourse than to be “presenting my plea before the LORD my God”
(
וּמַפִּיל תְּחִנָּתִי לִפְנֵי יהוה אֱלֹהַי).
-A “plea” (
תְּחִנָּה) is a fervent supplication for mercy, favor, and compassion.
-Our greatest need is nothing that others can provide or that we can attain for ourselves. Our greatest need is the mercy, grace, and loving compassion of Yahweh Himself (Psalm 123:2).
-Daniel pleas before the “LORD my God” (
יהוה אֱלֹהַי). Yahweh is His divine name, and Elohim is His divine being. Particularly, the name Yahweh was invoked in the Old Testament Scriptures when speaking of the Lord’s covenant relationship with His chosen people Israel (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 105:8).
-Specifically, Daniel is pleading “for the holy hill of my God” (
עַל הַר־קֹדֶשׁ אֱלֹהָי).
-The “holy hill” (
הַר־קֹדֶשׁ) originally referred to Mount Zion, upon which the original city of Jerusalem was built. Over time, the city grew much larger than simply Mount Zion, but the association of the “holy hill” with the city of Jerusalem was strong enough to the point of synonymy.
-Daniel here is praying that the worship of the Lord will be restored and that the promised king from David’s line will come and reign upon Mount Zion (Psalm 2:6;
-Our greatest need and our greatest desire should be that our King will soon come and bring us into everlasting worship before our great God (Revelation 19:16; Revelation 21:3).


Verse 21

while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.
-Suddenly, a heavenly messenger appears to Daniel “while I was speaking in prayer”
(
וְעוֹד אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר בַּתְּפִלָּה).
-Who arrives?  “The man Gabriel” (
וְהָאִישׁ גַּבְרִיאֵל). The name “Gabriel” (גַּבְרִיאֵל) means “mighty man of God”.
-Gabriel is most familiar with Christians for his appearance to Mary, announcing the virgin birth of Jesus 600 years after the time of Daniel (Luke 1:26-33).
-
However, this is not the first time that Daniel has encountered the angel Gabriel, for he is the angel “whom I had seen in the vision at the first” (אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי בֶחָזוֹן בַּתְּחִלָּה).
-Daniel here refers to the visions that Gabriel explained to him in the previous chapter. The visions of chapter 8 occur in 551 B.C., 12 years before the vision in Daniel 9 in 539 B.C. It has been well over a decade since Daniel’s first encounter with Gabriel.
-Gabriel “came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice”
(
מֻעָף בִּיעָף נֹגֵעַ אֵלַי כְּעֵת מִנְחַת־עָרֶב).
-The phrase “in swift flight” (
מֻעָף בִּיעָף) can also be rendered “in my extreme weariness” (NASB) and either means that Gabriel flew to him or that Gabriel came to Daniel when Daniel was extremely distraught in spirit. The latter rendition is preferable, as that is closer to the meaning of the original Hebrew text.
-As an aside, nothing in Scripture indicates that angels have wings. The cherubim and seraphim have wings (Isaiah 6), but they are the two highest order of angels that surround the throne of God. “Regular” angels are always described as having a humanlike appearance, such as Daniel describing Gabriel as having the appearance of a “man”.
-Gabriel arrived “at the time of the evening sacrifice” (
כְּעֵת מִנְחַת־עָרֶב).
-This would refer to the Jewish way of marking time, as morning and evening sacrifices were offered at the temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 29:38-39). Even though the temple had been destroyed and the sacrifices ceased, Daniel is still using this time reckoning. This would equate to around 3-4pm in our 21st century western means of keeping time.


Verse 22
He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.

-Daniel writes, “He made me understand” (
וַיָּבֶן).
-Angels frequently were sent by God to give the interpretation of previous or forthcoming visions to the prophets. Daniel has frequently encountered angels who have interpreted the meaning of the God-given visions he experienced (Daniel 7:15-16; Daniel 8:15-17).
-Gabriel, says Daniel, is “speaking with me and saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.’”
(
וַיְדַבֵּר עִמִּי וַיֹּאמַר דָּנִיֵּאל עַתָּה יָצָאתִי לְהַשְׂכִּילְךָ בִינָה).
-“Insight and understanding” (
לְהַשְׂכִּילְךָ בִינָה) refers to successfully perceiving the meaning of what is about to unfold.
-Throughout the book of Daniel, God repeatedly gives Daniel insight and understanding because Daniel is the slave of the Lord (Daniel 1:17-18).
-God promises that if we seek after insight and wisdom, He will indeed give it to us (Proverbs 2:2-5).
-However, Gabriel does not appear exclusively in the biblical narratives as being a revealer of divine truth. In the religion of Islam, the archangel Gabriel revealed the Quran to the prophet Mohammed. He is frequently referenced in the Quran as one of Allah’s archangels. In Mormonism, Gabriel is not actually an angel per se, but rather the prophet Noah.
-However, the Gabriel of history and heaven is the Gabriel of the Bible. Gabriel does not serve Allah, nor is he a demigod in the Mormon religion. Gabriel is an angelic servant of the Most High God (Luke 1:19). He appeared to Daniel numerous times and also appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist and to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus in the New Testament.

Verse 23
At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

-Gabriel tells Daniel that God heard Daniel “at the beginning of your pleas for mercy.”
(
בִּתְחִלַּת תַּחֲנוּנֶיךָ). 
-Throughout the prayer of Daniel, he repeatedly implores the Lord to hear his cry on behalf of His people (Daniel 9:19).
-Scripture tells us that our heavenly Father always hears us, even in moments when it seems that no one hears us (Psalm 3:4; Psalm 6:9; Psalm 31:22; Psalm 116:1; Psalm 18:5-6).
-Not only does the Lord hear us, He knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8) and even when we don’t know what to ask for (Romans 8:26-27).
-Gabriel tells Daniel that not only have his pleas for mercy been heard, “a word went out”
(
יָצָא דָבָר).
-God not only heard Daniel’s prayer, He sent Gabriel to answer Daniel, for Gabriel says “I have come to tell it to you” (
וַאֲנִי בָּאתִי לְהַגִּיד). God not only hears our earnest requests, but He will also answer them in His own good way and in His own good time (Psalm 34:4; Psalm 120:1).
-What distinguished the nation of Israel in the Old Testament is that they could cry out to the God who was near to them to hear and answer them (Deuteronomy 4:7).
-Gabriel then tells Daniel something incredibly touching and reassuring: “you are greatly loved” (
כִּי חֲמוּדוֹת אָתָּה).
-“Greatly loved” (
חֲמֻדוֹת) is the ESV rendering of the Hebrew hamudot, which was a rare word (occurring only 9 times in the Old Testament) that referred to treasure and precious things (Daniel 11:43). Gabriel informs Daniel here that God greatly loves and treasures His prophet Daniel living in Babylon.
-Our Lord is not a cruel, capricious, or cold despot. Rather, our Lord loves us with a love beyond human comprehension (Psalm 103:8).
-Yahweh’s love for His people was so great that He promised them that He would restore them from the lands of their exile and gather them back to the Promised Land to be His people (Isaiah 43:1-7).
-The love of God has never been greatly manifested towards us than in the truth of the Gospel and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8).
-The love of God gives us hope even in the midst of our affliction and sorrow, as it did the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles (Romans 5:3-5).
-Gabriel now tells Daniel, “Therefore consider the word and understand the vision”
(
וּבִין בַּדָּבָר וְהָבֵן בַּמַּרְאֶה).
-“Consider” (
בין) is an imperative to pay attention. The NASB renders it, “So give heed to the message”.
-Gabriel also exhorts Daniel to “understand” (
וְהָבֵן) what is about to be revealed next.
-The people greatly loved by their Lord should make it their first priority to listen to the voice of their King (John 10:3-4; 14-15).

Conclusion

“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)


Handout
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Recording

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Prayer of Daniel, Part 4

Introduction
“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near, yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name, then hear from heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleas, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you.” (2 Chronicles 6:36-39)

Daniel 9:16-19

Context
-The book of Daniel opens in the year 605 B.C. Daniel was a young man approximately 15-16 years of age who is exiled along with other young men of the royal family of Judah. Deported far away to the land of Babylon, Daniel would then spend the rest of his life in the land of his captivity. For the majority of those years, he served in the royal court of King Nebuchadnezzar during the long and powerful reign of that monarch. Over the years, Daniel repeatedly testified to the fact that the Most High is ruler of the kingdoms of the earth and gives them to whosoever He wills. Such a truth was repeatedly demonstrated in the stories of Daniel 1-6, such as the fiery furnace episode or the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation or Daniel’s rescue from the lion’s den.
-In Daniel 7-12, the remaining half of Daniel’s book deals largely with the prophecies of the future. Prophecies related to the immediate future of the people of Israel in exile serve as the backdrop for prophecies related to the end of the Old Testament era. In addition, the great hope of Daniel and the Old Testament saints is clearly spelled out in Daniel 7: the Ancient of Days (God the Father) will one day give all the kingdoms of the world to the Son of Man (God the Son) and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The Son of Man will return and establish His perfect and everlasting reign and rule on earth.
-In Daniel 9, Daniel is an aged man who is studying the words of Jeremiah the prophet. Discovering that the return from exile was soon about to occur, he implores the Lord God of Israel for mercy and forgiveness for the 490 years of national sin. Now in Daniel 9:16-20 is Daniel’s final plea on behalf of his people for God to forgive, heal, and redeem His chosen nation.

Verse 16
“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.

-In verses 13-15, Daniel listed three ways in which Israel had failed to turn away from sin and back towards Yahweh. They failed to plea for mercy and turn from their sins, and they had failed to turn to the Word of the Lord and gain insight from its truth (v. 13) Daniel himself, however, is doing all these things on behalf of his people Israel.
-In his final plea, Daniel begins in verse 16 by appealing to the righteousness and justice of the Lord: “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts” (
אֲדֹנָי כְּכָל־צִדְקֹתֶךָ).
-Daniel uses the supreme title Adonai (
אֲדֹנָי) when making his appeal to God.
-Scripture declares that Yahweh is the supreme Lord over the nations and over the earth (Psalm 47:2; Psalm 103:19).
-The basis of Daniel’s plea is all the “righteous acts” (
כְּכָל־צִדְקֹתֶךָ) of God.
-“Righteous” (
צְדָקָה) is synonymous with “just” and refers to that which is blameless, holy, and good.
-Every single act of God is righteous, just, and good (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 145:17).
-The righteous acts of God may be acts of righteous salvation (Psalm 71:15) or righteous judgment (Micah 6:5; Revelation 15:4). In the context of Daniel 9, they refer to God’s righteous acts of covenant judgment upon His covenantally unfaithful people Israel.
-Now, just as God was faithful to judge His apostate people, Daniel implores that He will be faithful to
let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill” (יָשָׁב־נָא אַפְּךָ וַחֲמָתְךָ מֵעִירְךָ יְרוּשָׁלַםִ הַר־קָדְשֶׁךָ).
-
“Anger” (אַף) and “wrath” (חֵמָה) refers to the resolute, heated, and holy justice of God leveled against sin (Isaiah 13:9-13) The question arises, did God too harshly judge His people for almost 500 years of sin? Daniel does not complain in this case of the severity of the punishment, but rather condemns himself and the rest of the people for causing a necessity for such severe measures.[1]
-However, Scripture states that God’s wrath does not continue forever with His chosen people (Psalm 103:8-9).
-Daniel is appealing to the truth of God’s character as testified by passages such as Jeremiah 3:12. He pleas that the wrath will be directed away from
“your city Jerusalem, your holy hill” (מֵעִירְךָ יְרוּשָׁלַםִ הַר־קָדְשֶׁךָ).
-The city of Jerusalem is none other than the city whereby God chose to establish His name (2 Chronicles 6:5-6). Because the old city was built upon Mount Zion where the king’s palace was, the phrase “holy hill” became synonymous with the city of Jerusalem. The Lord had decimated the city by sending the Babylonians against it, but now Daniel pleas for God to direct His wrath away from the city of Jerusalem.
-Daniel humbly admits that
because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us”
(כִּי בַחֲטָאֵינוּ וּבַעֲוֹנוֹת אֲבֹתֵינוּ יְרוּשָׁלַםִ וְעַמְּךָ לְחֶרְפָּה לְכָל־סְבִיבֹתֵינוּ).
-The “sins” (
חֵטְא) and “iniquities” (עָוֺן) of Israel were staggering. They had committed spiritual adultery with the Lord by turning after other gods of the surrounding nations. They had repeatedly desecrated and blasphemed the Temple in Jerusalem. Sexual immorality became rampant. Child sacrifice became commonplace. Horrible forms of sin defined God’s people until they were carried away into exile. And these were not occurrences that lasted a few days, weeks, years, or decades, but 490 years. 490 years ago from 2017, the world was smack in the middle of the medieval era. Electricity and indoor plumbing had not been invented. The world was ruled by kings and dukes and princes. The Protestant Reformation was 10 years young.
-Daniel mournfully declares that because of the sins of Israel, “Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us”
(
יְרוּשָׁלַםִ וְעַמְּךָ לְחֶרְפָּה לְכָל־סְבִיבֹתֵינוּ).
-A “byword” (
חֶרְפָּה) is a word of disgrace, taunt, abuse, and shame. The NIV accurately renders it “an object of scorn”.
-Sin always brings suffering, and sin always brings shame (Micah 6:16).
-The Lord warned His people Israel that if they continued in their sin, they would not gain the accolades of the nations around them, but rather become an object of contempt and scorn (Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:8-12).
-Daniel himself experienced this shame throughout his life, even though he was not himself guilty of the sins others had committed (Daniel 5:13).
-When God’s people endeavor to become like the world by becoming worldly, they will never earn the favor of the world but rather bring shame upon themselves and the name of Christ.

Verse 17

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.
-In light of this, Daniel implores God for mercy. “Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant” (
וְעַתָּה שְׁמַע אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶל־תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ).
-Israel had long rejected Yahweh as their God, but Daniel rightly declares that Yahweh is “our God” (
אֱלֹהֵינוּ).
-We must know in our daily lives that God is God alone and God will be exalted in all that He does (Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 45:5a).
-Daniel prays to God alone to “listen to the prayer of your servant” (
אֶל־תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ).
-Daniel is praying as the Lord’s “servant” (
עֶ֫בֶד). However, the word ebed does not mean “hired hand”, but rather more strongly means “slave”.
-Daniel was a slave in exile, even though he was highly exalted within the government of Babylon and later on Medo-Persia. He was not a free man. However, Daniel knew that ultimately he was none other than the slave of the Lord and not of men, for he was the Lord’s prophet in the land of captivity.
-The prophets were often identified as the “servants” (slaves) of the Lord (Ezekiel 38:17; Daniel 9:6; Daniel 9:10).
-In the New Testament, the apostles of Jesus Christ identified themselves in the same way (Philippians 1:1; James 1:1; Revelation 1:1).
-Whatever else may define our earthly identify, we must remember that we are people of our Master and King Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:9-10).
-Specifically, Daniel desires God to listen to “his pleas for mercy” (
תַּחֲנוּן) in the same way that a king would listen to the supplications of his subjects for royal favor.
-We too can and must entreat our King for unmerited favor and forgiveness (Psalm 28:2; Psalm 130:2; Psalm 143:1).
-Even in the midst of sitting in the ruin and rubble of the destroyed city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah stated that God’s mercies are new every morning and God’s faithfulness is exceedingly great (Lamentations 3:22-23).
-Daniel again entreats the Lord “for your own sake, O Lord” (
לְמַעַן אֲדֹנָי). But why entreat the Lord for His sake and not the sake of the people Israel or the sake of Daniel himself?
-God’s glory is the fundamental reason behind all the righteous acts of the Lord. Hence, the righteousness and glory of God are the basis of Daniel’s appeal.
-The Old Testament teaches that the glory of the Lord’s name is the basis whereby God’s people were forgiven (Psalm 25:11; Psalm 79:9; Jeremiah 14:7).
-We are not saved or forgiven based on any righteousness of our own or any merit we may have. We are saved and forgiven solely based on the righteousness of God for the glory of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
-Daniel has entreated the Lord to look upon the city of Jerusalem, and now he entreats the Lord to look upon the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. He states, “Make your face to shine upon your sanctuary
(וְהָאֵר פָּנֶיךָ עַל־מִקְדָּשְׁךָ). The phrase “make your face to shine” means “to look at with divine favor”.
-The blessing of God upon His people was the Aaronic blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26.
-In order for restoration or forgiveness to come to us, God’s face must shine upon us (Psalm 80:19).
-Specifically, Daniel asks God to look with favor upon His “sanctuary” (
מִקְדָּשׁ), which refers to the Temple in Jerusalem.
-For several centuries, the glory of the Lord dwelt in the Most Holy Place in the Temple above the Ark of the Covenant (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). However, it departed during the time of the exile (Ezekiel 10:18).
-Without the Temple in Jerusalem at that time, no sacrifices for sin could be offered. Temple worship could not continue. God’s manifest presence could not dwell among His people. Hence, Daniel pleas with God to look with favor upon the Temple in Jerusalem, for it “is desolate” (
הַשָּׁמֵם) together with the surrounding territory of Jerusalem (Lamentations 5:18).

Verse 18
O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
-Daniel states, “O my God, incline your ear and hear.” (
הַטֵּה אֱלֹהַי אָזְנְךָ וּשֲׁמָע)
-There are moments in the Christian life when we can no longer do anything except cry out to our loving heavenly Father to hear us (Psalm 5:1).
-The heartfelt cry of Daniel and ourselves in the moments in which we need forgiveness of sins is taken up in numerous passages of Scripture (Psalm 61:1-2; Psalm 143:1).
-Taken together with the phrase “Open your eyes and see” (
פִּקְחָה עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה) this is a statement made in great distress (Isaiah 37:17).
-Scripture speaks of the heart-cry of those who implore God to look upon them and heal them (Psalm 80:14).
-“Now Daniel passionately pleaded with God to “give ear” (lit., “turn” or “bend your ear”) and “hear” his request. The picture is of a person bending the ear in order to hear more clearly. God was being asked to listen intently to the prophet’s prayer (and possibly also to the insulting words being spoken about Yahweh by the heathen). The Lord was then implored to “open” (“open please!”) his eyes and observe the plight of the Jewish people and the condition of Jerusalem.[2]
-Daniel asks God to hear and see “our desolations and the city that is called by your name” (
שֹׁמְמֹתֵינוּ וְהָעִיר אֲשֶׁר־נִקְרָא שִׁמְךָ).
-The desolations of Jerusalem were heartbreaking and jarring (Lamentations 2:1-5). The city walls were destroyed, the magnificent temple of Solomon that stood for over 400 years was destroyed, and the inhabitants had either been slaughtered or carried away to foreign lands.
-Out of all the cities of the earth, Jerusalem is the city “that is called by your name”
(
אֲשֶׁר־נִקְרָא שִׁמְךָ).
-The city called by the name of the Lord now lay desolate and destroyed (Lamentations 1:1).
-Even though it might appear hopeless for any redemption, forgiveness, or restoration to happen for the people of Israel, Daniel does not think so.
For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy
(
עָלֶיהָ כִּי לֹא עַל־צִדְקֹתֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ מַפִּילִים תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ לְפָנֶיךָ כִּי עַל־רַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים).
-Daniel is very clear: we do not and cannot present our pleas before God “because of our righteousness” (
עַל־צִדְקֹתֵינוּ).
-Any righteousness Israel may have imagined they had after 490 years of sin utterly fails in comparison to the infinite glory of the holiness of God (Daniel 7:9-10).
-Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets warned Israel that any righteousness they thought they had could not deliver them or forgive them from the penalty of their sins (Isaiah 64:6).
-Rather, we plead with the Lord “because of your great mercy” (
כִּי עַל־רַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים).
-The “mercy” (
רַחֲמִים) of the Lord is His loving compassion.
-The Scriptures declare that God lovingly and compassionately cares for His people (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 145:8).
-Yahweh’s loving compassion is “great” (
רַב). But just how great is the loving compassion of the Lord?
-His loving compassion was great enough to rescue a Gentile prostitute from a city of destruction and make her a forbearer of the Messiah (Joshua 6:25).
-His loving compassion was great enough to bring an outcast from an enemy nation of Israel and bring her under the protection of a man from Bethlehem, making her another the great-grandmother of David (Ruth 4:21-22).
-His loving compassion was great enough to save the most wicked ruler in all of Israel’s history (2 Chronicles 33:10-13).
-His loving compassion was great enough to humble the most powerful monarch in the world and bring him to salvation (Daniel 4:34-37).
-His loving compassion is so great that He promised His people that He would restore them to their land and forgive them of their centuries of sin (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
-God’s loving compassion is so great that He gave us His Son Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer to die for our sins when we deserved eternal damnation (Romans 5:8). God can save the unsavable; He can forgive the unforgiveable; He can heal the incurable; He can restore the irreparable; He can redeem the irredeemable.


Verse 19
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
-Daniel now ends his prayer with short, staccato pleas. He first says, “O Lord, hear”
(
אֲדֹנָי שְׁמָעָה). In v. 19 the prayer reaches a passionate crescendo as the prophet concludes with short staccato-like sentences reflecting the emotion that filled his heart. God is addressed “O Lord” three times in this verse, emphasizing his sovereign power and ability to answer this prayer.[3]
-Scripture promises us that when we cry out to the Lord, He hears us (Psalm 6:9; Psalm 28:6; Psalm 116:1; 1 John 5:15).
-Daniel then cries out, “O Lord, forgive” (
אֲדֹנָי סְלָחָה).
-To “forgive” (
סלח) means “to pardon sin”.
-Scripture promises us that when we cry out to the Lord for forgiveness, He will forgive us (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9)
-In Christ Jesus we have forgiveness through His crucifixion and resurrection (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14).
-Daniel then cries out, “O Lord, pay attention and act.” (
אֲדֹנָי הַקֲשִׁיבָה וַעֲשֵׂה)
-Scripture states that when God purposes to act, He will indeed act (Isaiah 48:11).
-Daniel cries out to the Lord to “Delay not, for your own sake, O my God”
(
אַל־תְּאַחַר לְמַעַנְךָ אֱלֹהַי).
-Scripture states that God does not delay when He has determined the times and seasons for His actions (Hebrews 10:37).
-Daniel again appeals to God’s purposes to glorify Himself on behalf of “your city and your people who are called by your name” (
כִּי־שִׁמְךָ נִקְרָא עַל־עִירְךָ וְעַל־עַמֶּךָ).
-We today are called by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When God’s covenant people recognize their sin, see the errors of their ways, and turn back to the Lord, God will act on their behalf. He will forgive every sin and bind every wound.

Conclusion
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Handout
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Recording
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[1] Calvin, J., & Myers, T. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel (Vol. 2, p. 178). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[2] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, p. 249). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[3] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, p. 249). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.