TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- Daniel 9:1-11:1

In the second half of the book of Daniel, we have had the record of the following visions:

  1. The first vision of the four beasts (Daniel 7). God allowed Daniel to see the nations from his point of view, the beasts of Babylon (the lion), Medo- Persia (the bear), Greece (the leopard), and Rome (the nameless beast).
  2. The second vision of the two beasts (Daniel 8). The Medo-Persian Empire (the ram) is attacked by Greece (the goat). The great single horn on the head between the eyes represented Alexander. Once he dies and the single horn is broken off, four horns grow representing the four parts of the empire. Then the small horn that grows makes its appearance, representing the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, foreshadowing the future Antichrist.
  3. The third vision is a timetable of seventy weeks of years (490 years) and the events that will precede and lead up to the Messianic kingdom (Daniel 9). Once again, the angel Gabriel delivers this information.

Chapter 9 begins Daniel’s intercession for the immediate restoration of Jerusalem. Daniel has studied the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning the time of the captivity lasting 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10). Therefore, he knew the time of their captivity was about up. He believed God’s word and has been setting his face towards Jerusalem three times a day in prayer for more than 66 years. He confesses his own sins and the sins of the nation and makes his appeal to the mercies and forgiveness that can only come from the Lord (Daniel 9:9).

Daniel recognizes that their captivity was the promised consequence of their national disobedience (Daniel 9:5-15). Yet he is concerned that the captives have not learned their lesson:

Daniel 9:13 13 “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.”

This lack of repentance stirs Daniel to intercede for his people. He asks that the people be restored to the promised land and the temple rebuilt ‘for the Lord’s own sake’. He appeals to the righteousness of the Lord and His mercies.

Daniel 9:18-19 18 “O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

Daniel’s prayer joins the growing list of prayers that are recorded in the ninth chapters Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel:  (Ezra 9- Ezra’s confession of sin on behalf of the people; Nehemiah 9- Nehemiah’s confession of sin on behalf of the people, and now Daniel’s confession of sin on behalf of the people).

The Lord answers this prayer the moment Daniel starts praying. This is an example of the Lord’s willingness to answer prayer, a willingness prophesied in Isaiah 65:24.

Isaiah 65:24 24 “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear”.

Notice the chronology: In 606 B.C. Babylon began to attack Judah. Jeremiah prophesied Judah’s 70-year captivity in 605 B.C., and Daniel prayed this prayer in the first year of Darius’ reign (539 B.C). Cyrus issued his decree permitting the captives’ return in 538 B.C.  In 537 B.C., about 50,000 Jews returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest. Considering that 70 is a round number, Jeremiah’s prophecy is a great testimony to the accuracy of prophecy.

There are some scholars who believe that the captivity should be marked from the destruction of the temple in 586, and the captivity not ending until the second temple was built and dedicated in 515, equaling approximately 70 years (71).  Both calculations make sense and, therefore not worth heavy debate.

The angel Gabriel brings a vision of God’s timetable to Daniel. Seventy weeks of years (490 years) have been decreed for His people and the holy city to accomplish 6 things:  The first three had to do with sin: 1. To finish the transgression (of the Jewish people); 2. To make an end of sin (Israel’s national sins); 3. To make an atonement for iniquity (reconciliation through the cross of Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah).

The next three have to do with righteousness: 4. To bring in everlasting righteousness; 5. To seal up vision and prophecy (When Christ returns, there will be no need for the visions of prophets); and 6. To anoint the most holy place (the sanctifying of the future temple- Ezekiel 40-48).

The Messiah will come to the city of Jerusalem in 483 years.

Daniel 9:25 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.”

Because the decree spoken of here is not the decree for rebuilding the temple, but most likely the decree of Artaxerxes given to Nehemiah to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem in 445 B.C.  If you count 483 solar years from the year 445 B.C., you end up with A.D. 29/30, which takes us to the time of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth on earth.

This Anointed One will not be permitted to rule. The people will cry out, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Therefore, he was cut off.

Daniel 9:26 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.

He came unto His own, but His own received Him not. He was crucified, providing atonement for the sins of those whom the Father would give to Him out of the world.

In A.D. 70, the prophecy of the destruction of the city and the sanctuary comes to pass.  The remainder of the prophecy takes us to the Tribulation period and the work of the Antichrist:

Daniel 9:27 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.”

Chapter 10 of Daniel describes Daniel’s preparation for the last vision. The narrative from Chapter 10 to 12 is one unit and takes place in the third year of Cyrus’ reign (536 B.C.).

The first remnant of Jews had left with Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. Daniel is in his mid-80s and not able to make the trip. He is troubled by his vision of the last days and perhaps also by the news that the attempt to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem is being met with resistance (Ezra 4:4-6).  After three weeks of fasting and mourning, Daniel has a vision of a man dressed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body is like topaz, his face like the brilliance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words are like the sound of a multitude.

The description of the man resembles John’s description of Jesus appearing to him on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:12-16).

Warren Wiersbe defends the view that the man in Daniel 10 is a Christophany.

Frequently in the biblical account of salvation history, you find the Lord Jesus Christ appearing to His servants at special times, either to deliver a special message or to prepare them for a special ministry. He usually appeared in a fashion compatible with their circumstances or their calling. To Abraham, the pilgrim, Jesus came as a traveler (Gen. 18), but to Jacob the schemer, He came as a wrestler (Gen. 32). Before Joshua attacked Jericho, Jesus came as Captain of the Lord’s armies (Josh. 5:13-15), and to Isaiah, He revealed Himself as the King on the throne (Isa. 6; John 12:37-41). But to the two Jewish exiles—Daniel in Babylon and the Apostle John on Patmos—Jesus appeared as the glorified King-Priest. After seeing the Son of God, both men were given visions of future events that involved the people of God, events that would be difficult to accept and understand. – Bible Exposition Commentary (B.E. Series).

 Daniel alone saw the vision. The men who were with him did not see it but sensed the supernatural presence and fled. Daniel fell to the earth in a deep sleep.

Then a hand touched Daniel. He is told that there was a spiritual battle, and the delivery of the answer to his prayer was resisted for 21 days, but the angel was helped by the assistance of Michael. Michael is a warrior archangel who deals with Satanic forces in the Book of Revelation also.

 The one who had the appearance of a man assures Daniel that he is esteemed by those in heaven and that he has come to give him an understanding of what will happen in the future.

Daniel 10:19 19 He said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!”

Daniel records his gratitude:

Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

He is assured that God is in control, despite adverse circumstances.

What an encouraging word for our day! 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 John 2:18-3:6

Both the Book of Daniel and the first epistle of the Apostle John remind us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle that has lasted for centuries. Both the Old Testament passage and the New Testament passage that we read today refer to the Antichrist.

1 John 2:18 18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

The last hour is an eschatological term referring to the time that began with Christ coming into the world. Satan opposes the message of Christ. The end of this hour will begin with the coming of the Antichrist (v.22; 4:3; 2 John 7; 2 Thess 2:3f).

John describes the reality that there will be some professing believers who have never surrendered to Christ, even though they may have claimed at one time to believe. They turn away from the faith or ‘apostatize’.

 John refutes those who believe that they can have a relationship with God the Father without God the Son (1 John 2:23). Jesus Himself taught this also (John 5:23; John 16:6).

John affirms the role of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Whom he calls ‘the anointing’) Who will always witness to the preeminence of Christ, the deity of Christ, the truth of God’s Word, and the reality of eternal life. The Holy Spirit bears witness to our salvation.

Romans 8:16 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

The Apostle John makes an argument that a true child of God will practice righteousness and love other Christians despite differences. And what a marvelous privilege it is to be placed into this eternal family, as a legal heir of God and joint heir with Christ.

1 John 3:1-3 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – Psalm 121:1-8

May the majesty of the ancient hills and mountains trigger your awareness of the fact that your help comes from the King of Creation, the Maker of heaven and earth.

You are under His watch care. His eye is on you. He will not allow Your foot to slip. So, heed His counsel.

Not only is the Lord on the throne looking down upon us, but He is near us. He is at our side as our comforter, shield, and protector. He protects us day and night and in all kinds of weather.

He is your passport control, guiding your going out and coming in!

Psalm 121:7-8 7 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – Proverbs 28:27-28

Proverbs 28:27-28 27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. 28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – UKRAINE

(Taken from Prayercast.com)

Once one of the Soviet Union’s most fertile republics, Ukraine was a major producer of Europe’s wheat and a primary source of minerals such as coal and iron. The country’s rich, black soil generated more than 25% of the Soviet’s agricultural output. Since gaining its independence in 1991, the nation has struggled to take advantage of its economic potential and remains largely dependent on Russia for oil and gas. And while Ukraine has become a mixture of ethnicities, traditions, and customs, Ukrainians continue to be a very hospitable people.

During the seventy-one years of Soviet rule, Ukraine endured engineered famines in which an estimated eight million died. The government strictly limited attempts to develop Ukrainian culture, even forbidding the study and use of the Ukrainian language. The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 continues to inflict environmental damage, disease, and death.  In 2013, after the government abandoned close trade ties with Europe for more favorable ties with Russia, massive protests began with hundreds of thousands in attendance. When the government passed anti-protest laws, the protests escalated into deadly riots. Though these laws were later annulled, fighting and unrest continued across Ukraine, resulting in a civil war that has since taken thousands of lives. In the midst of this internal chaos, Russia annexed Crimea, adding further confusion to an already divided nation. Attempts at peace and reconciliation have been largely unsuccessful. In addition, the population suffers greatly from HIV/AIDS and alcoholism. Rampant drugs, crime, and prostitution enslave many of Ukraine’s most vulnerable, including orphans.

As the “Bible Belt” of the former Soviet world, the Ukrainian Church has faced a long history of persecution. Though freedom of religion is improving, it is not yet protected in both law and practice. Leadership training and direction are greatly needed among Christians, especially with the rapid growth of thousands of new congregations since 1991. Doctrinal schisms in the Orthodox church and divisions between Catholic and Protestant believers hinder their witness. The pain suffered under Soviet rule and during the most recent conflicts has greatly divided the Ukrainian people. But even amid recent violence, the Church has responded as the hands and feet of Jesus, meeting physical and spiritual needs. This has provided increased opportunities for Ukrainians to know and follow Christ.

PRAYER– Lord of hosts, we are reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. You are Victor, and You have promised that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church that You are building. We are also reminded that You have established a timetable in relationship to Your people, Israel, and Your timing is perfect. We also know that You have given promises to the church, that no man knows the day or the hour, but we are to expect and look for the return of Christ. We thank You for the Holy Spirit, The Anointing from above, that establishes His reign in our hearts.  We ask that You keep us alive to His ministry and alert to all the attacks of the evil One. Cause us to stand and be strong in the power of His might. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Pastor David