Daniel 9: Providence and Prayer

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.”  Daniel 9:11

I LOVE Daniel 9.  The scope of time in this chapter is huge.  It starts with Daniel confessing the sin of the Israelites and referring back to the time of Moses, when God warned them against straying, and laid out the consequences of doing so.  Then it prophesies what will happen at the time of Jesus, and even what will happen for all eternity.

Jake and Bethany last night

Jake and Bethany last night

It seems like a wonderful time to be reflecting on God’s plan for the ages.  A little over a year ago we were struggling along in our church, feeling overwhelmed, trying to do our best in spite of no ministry leaders.  We had tried and tried to find a couple to lead, and it seemed hopeless.  How good God is, that He brought us the very best — Jake and Bethany — to be our temporary ministry leaders, and then Mike and Marge to be our permanent ministry leaders!

Mike leading church

Mike leading church

Last night we had our end of the school year banquet, and wished goodbye to Jake and Bethany.  We are just so grateful to have had them for the time we did.  We watched a multimedia presentation showing many scenes from the past year.  How powerfully has God worked!  How He has added to our numbers!  How blessed we have been!  God is making our ministry grow and flourish.

“the moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”  Daniel 9:23

This verse was what the angel Gabriel told Daniel.  It is powerful!  It tells us:

  1. That God is very attentive to our prayers.
  2. That he wants to answer, he is just waiting for us to ask.
  3. That Daniel’s prayers were important to implementing the plans of God.

I believe that Daniel’s prayer was an impetus to God revealing His will and carrying it out.  And I think it is the same for us.  God’s providence will prevail, but our prayers are vital to the implementation of it.  Consider how Jesus taught that we need to pray, “Your will be done.”  God intends for us to participate in the process of achieving his overarching plan for man through prayer.

There is one more great thing about Daniel 9:23.  The phrase “very precious” is taken from a Hebrew word which means “to covet.”  It is also translated “greatly loved,” and “highly esteemed,” and “greatly desired.”  This means that God craves a relationship with us.  It is something he longs for.

The angel Gabriel goes on to describe God’s supreme plan: “A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”

  1. Seventy sets of seven:  That is, 490 years.  As a note of interest, if you count 490 years from the time that Ezra started to the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem in around 459 BC, then the time it is referring to is 32 to 33 AD — the time of Jesus!  (Artaxerxes took the throne in 464, and Ezra 7:8 says this happened in the 7th year of the king.  A great discussion on why this is the date to apply to this prophesy is in “DANIEL Prophet to the Nations” by John Oaks.)
  2. Sin would be done away with, and guilt would be atoned for.  It is certainly encouraging that God’s supreme plan was to deal once and for all with the problem of sin that had existed from the very beginning of man’s time on earth.
  3. Everlasting righteousness.  Jesus is the Righteous One, and he gives us his righteousness — “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  II Cor 5:21.  (Another great verse that talks about everlasting righteousness is Romans 5:21 — “just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.“)
  4. Anoint the Most Holy Place – from what I’ve read, scholars think from the Hebrew word used for “Most Holy Place,” Gabriel isn’t referring to anointing the inner sanctuary, but to the anointing of an individual.  One instance where it is used in this way is when Samuel is preparing to anoint David, God tells him, “Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” (I Sam 16:3)  Thus we can infer that Gabriel is talking here about the anointing of Jesus.  And he does go on to describe “The Anointed One.”

And then Gabriel pronounces, “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

What does this passage tell us?

  1. The Anointed One will be put to death. Obviously this happened with Jesus.
  2. The city and the sanctuary will be destroyed.  This happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
  3. There will be an end to sacrifice and offering.  When Titus leveled the temple in Jerusalem, it was never rebuilt. Since that time the Jewish system of sacrifice is no more.  As John Oakes wrote in “DANIEL Prophet to the Nations, “In God’s eyes, the Old Covenant and the usefulness of Jewish religion came to a complete and final end in the year 70 AD.”  It’s very interesting what Oaks says about this.  The statement of Gabriel makes it sound like the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem would happen one after another.  Oakes says that what probably happened was that God, in a sense, suspended time for 40 years to allow the Jews to have a chance to follow the Messiah he had sent, before he executed his final judgment on them.
  4. The end will come like a flood.  Great massacres came with the fall of Jerusalem, wave after wave of death and destruction.
  5. At the temple there will be an abomination that causes desolation. When the temple was destroyed, Titus offered his own pagan sacrifices  right there in the temple area.  This was certainly an abomination in God’s eyes.
  6. The end that is decreed will come on the conquering “ruler” as well.  There will be a judgment on the nation who levels Jerusalem and desecrates the temple.  The Romans gained power for a time, but ultimately their kingdom fell.

All of this helps me to have such confidence in God’s plan.  What He has said will happen will happen.  I am in the right place at the right time.  Our church will grow because it is a part of His plan, that He has had through the ages.

God has gone to great lengths to bring us to this time.  From the time of the patriarchs, to the Exodus, to the kings, to the captivity, to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and then the fall of Jerusalem, God has been shaping the future.  There is providence.

And somehow, in this vast intricate scheme, there’s an important place for me and for you.  As we pray, we become more and more integrated into the mighty work of God.

The chains of sin can be broken!

Everlasting righteousness is advancing!

How blessed we are to be part of the process.

 

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Prayer

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