Daniel Chapter 9
Daniel’s prayer to God and the vision of 70 weeks.
The first verse mentions Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, and his first year of reigning over the kingdom. This would have been 538-536 B.C., some five or seven years earlier than what is recorded in Daniel 8. This is the same Darius mentioned in Daniel 5:31 and Daniel 6.
Daniel would have known of Jeremiah’s prophecies, as Jeremiah began his writings about 627 B.C., nearly 100 years prior. Jeremiah had prophesied the captivity of 70 years which covered the time of Daniel’s life. If Jerusalem was taken in 604, we are now some 66 years into the captivity. The “sackcloth” was clothing literally made from sacks, and was a sign of humility.
"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' declares the LORD, 'and [I will send] to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:8-11).
“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” (Jeremiah 29:10).
But Jeremiah not only prophesied concerning the Jews, but he also prophesied concerning Babylon.
“Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, "As soon as you come to Babylon, then see that you read all these words aloud, and say, 'Thou, O LORD, hast promised concerning this place to cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.' And it will come about as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates, and say, 'Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again, because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.'" Thus far are the words of Jeremiah" (Jeremiah 51:61-64).
Daniel also very likely would have access to the scroll of Isaiah which named Cyrus about 690 B.C., so this was written 150 years before Cyrus came on the scene. Another prophecy was fulfilled.
"It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.' And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,' And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid'" (Isaiah 44:28).
The first batch of the Jews that were returning to Jerusalem is mentioned in Ezra 1:1-2. “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.’”
The passage in Ezra goes on to describe the gifts which Cyrus gave to help with the journey back to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple.
Daniel’s prayer goes into detail to express the sins of the people in that they rebelled and did not listen to the prophets whom God had sent.
Daniel continues in his prayer confessing the sins of Israel. Although it is evident that Daniel had not personally been involved in all the transgressions mentioned, he was praying on behalf of his people. We know from the story that Daniel was righteous from the time of his youth. In Daniel 9:13, Daniel cites the Law of Moses in pointing out that what has happened to Israel is just what God said would happen. Daniel is showing both humility and confession in his prayer, both of which are necessary for God to “hear” our prayers.
“But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up” (Leviticus 9:14-16).
Daniel now turns to pray for the rebuilding of the city and the sanctuary, the temple, and not because the people deserve any good from God, but because of God’s “great compassion” In truth, there is nothing that we can do that obligates God to do anything for us. It is by His grace and mercy that we are blessed by God when we seek to do His will.
Daniel’s attitude in his supplication should be a model for us when we pray.
“For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 51:17).
Gabriel Brings an Answer
While Daniel was engaged in his lengthy and earnest prayer, Gabriel appeared to him. Daniel was worn out from his earnest supplication when the angel appeared to him. Gabriel is referred to as a man, for he had taken the form of a man when he appeared in Daniel 8:15. Daniel’s character is affirmed in that Gabriel says he is “highly esteemed.”
Seventy Weeks and the Messiah
There are different theories about taking the seventy weeks as a definite period of time. They all have problems, but a sensible understanding follows.
“There is no satisfactory proof in Dan. 9 that weeks of years are intended. It appears there is no way mathematically to fit these numbers into the major events of history without too much, or too short a time, between each event. We can determine the time span by the events described. Sevens and units of sevens are used throughout the scriptures to indicate completeness, unity, or finality. Half of seven is a short, incomplete period of time. If another other than this interpretation were intended, something within the context would have suggested it.” [Robert Harkrider, “Daniel,” pp. 48-49].
Notice the purpose of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24.
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the trans- gression, 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.”
Gabriel mentions six events that are looking forward to the time of the coming of the Messiah and the end of the Jewish time.
To finish the transgression
The sins of the people were the reason for their captivity in Babylon. (Daniel 9:11) But the law that they had violated was coming to an end, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:14-15: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”
To make an end of sin
The crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection overcame the power of Satan and brought about the means of forgiveness. “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:10-12). In a sense, the Old Testament priests could never sit down, for their job was never done, but when Christ offered one sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, he “sat down.” The job was done.
To make atonement for iniquity
“We can be reconciled to God through Christ. For it was the [Father's] good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, [engaged] in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:19-22). Sin is what separates us from God, but through the blood of Christ, we can be cleansed from sin, and thus able to enter into God’s presence.
To bring in everlasting righteousness
“But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom’” (Hebrews 1:8) In other words, the righteous reign of Christ will never end. It is eternal. The scepter is a symbol of authority or rule.
To seal up vision and prophecy
“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7). The “mystery” had to do with the coming of the Messiah. The mystery had been hidden through the ages, and even the prophets who wrote about these things did not understand them, as Peter wrote. But the mystery has been revealed.
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look” (I Peter 1:10-12).
In writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul mentioned that the mystery was no longer a mystery. “And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4-5).
The prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah to establish his kingdom have been fulfilled. They have come to an end. He will not be coming again to set up his kingdom as the premillennial doctrine claims. It claims that he failed the first time, so he will come again. “Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 22:44).
It is worth noting that prophecy has ceased. There are no true prophets today, even though from time to time some claim to be. Zechariah wrote of this about 520 B.C.
"In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. ‘And it will come about in that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land’” (Zechariah 13:1-2).
The New Testament also confirms this. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (I Corinthians 13:8-10).
The miraculous gifts all served a purpose, but when the “perfect” came, which was the completed revelation, the New Testament, there was no further need for those things which were “partial.”
To anoint the Most Holy place
“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20). The Most Holy Place in the temple was separated by a curtain. Only the High Priest could enter once a year. When Christ died, the curtain was torn from top to bottom, which symbolized that the way was open for us to enter. The earthly manifestation of this is the church or kingdom which Christ established.
Daniel 9:25 mentions the rebuilding of the temple “even in times of distress.” The enemies of the Jews were upset at the rebuilding of the wall and temple and mocked them.
“Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. And he spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy [men] of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore [it] for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?" Now Tobiah the Ammonite [was] near him and he said, "Even what they are building--if a fox should jump on [it,] he would break their stone wall down!" (Nehemiah 4:1-3).
Daniel 9:26 prophesies the crucifixion of Christ, as the Messiah is “cut off.” Following this, the “prince who is to come” will “destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This would be the Roman Titus whose army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. This would be the event described by Christ in Matthew 24:14-16.
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
The passage goes on to describe how people are to respond to the fighting. It is obvious that this is not talking about the end of the world, as Christ tells people to flee to the mountains, and goes on in the following verses to tell people who may be on the rooftop to not go down and try to gather things, but to flee immediately, etc.
Jesus’ ministry was for 3½ years, thus his crucifixion was in the “middle of the week,” as we view figurative language. The second half of the week allows for the amount of time that the new covenant was confirmed among the Jews with the gospel then spreading to the Gentiles through Cornelius in Acts 10.
The text mentions putting a “stop to sacrifice and grain offering.” We know that the sacrifice of Christ was the “perfect sacrifice” for sin, and therefore the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were no longer needed or effective. They did not end completely until the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. There are many Jews today who follow the Law of Moses, but there are no sacrifices made. When the temple was destroyed, all of the carefully kept genealogical records were destroyed. Only priests from the tribe of Levi could offer sacrifices, so since there is no way to establish who is a Levite today, there is no one who can serve as a priest.
An example of this is seen in Nehemiah, as they had returned from Babylonian captivity and were setting things in order, including restoring the priesthood.
“And of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, and was named after them. These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood” (Nehemiah 7:63-64).
In searching through the records, they could not find the names of these men, therefore they could not serve as priests. A conversation I had with a Hasidic Jew rabbi some time ago confirmed this.