Daniel: Chapter 9
This is another of the several extraordinary chapters in the book of Daniel. This setting is placed in the new era of the Medo-Persian Empire, almost a dozen years after the visions that were given to Daniel during the reign of King Belshazzar. Coincident to this chapter is Daniel in the den of lions, Daniel 6:1-28. Though there is no link between the two events in scripture, it does not take much imagination to see how Satan attempted to attack God’s man to whom was and will be given prophetic passages for generations to come. It is instructive to see Daniel’s belief in God’s word; how he anticipated Israel’s return to their land based on the prophecy of Jeremiah, and how Daniel acted upon that information. Daniel prayed a prayer of confession, intercession, and petition on behalf of himself and Israel. The church today would do well to follow Daniel’s example. The word of God speaks of a rapture of the church, the return of Christ to rule over this world, and the prominent place Israel will hold in the world when Christ sits on the throne of David, Psalm 122:1-9.
Daniel serves as a pillar and an example for Christian behavior today. As shown in the first two verses of Daniel, we should be searching through the scriptures to understand what God has revealed and prepare ourselves in a manner like Daniel. All who believe in Christ need to pray a prayer of confession, intercession, petition, for the peace of Jerusalem, and that the Lord will accomplish all He said concerning the church and Israel. In like manner, the Lord gave to us an example, Matthew 6:9-13. It is the anticipation of these prophetic events which are just over our horizon of time that should provide the motivation to actively engage in prayerful submission to God.
In Daniel 9:1, Daniel provides the timeframe of the events described in this chapter, which occur in the first year of King Darius over the realm of the Chaldeans. King Belshazzar had been overthrown and killed, Daniel 5:1-5. The events in this chapter confirm the observation of the other princes and governors under Darius in Daniel 6:1-28, that Daniel was a man of prayer. Whether the events in Daniel 6:1-28 precede or occur after the events in Daniel 9:1-27 is not evident in these passages.
Before the events in this chapter, when Daniel was first taken into captivity, the children of Israel were warned through the prophet Jeremiah that they were not to pray for Jerusalem or for those left behind, but for the welfare of their captors. After 70 years of captivity, the people who believed God’s word knew that the time for them to return to their land had arrived. They had been marking the time and now the long anticipated return was near. Daniel recognized the eminent return of the children of Israel to their land based on the scriptures that were known to him. This is no different for the Christian today who should be looking up for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Titus 2:12-13. The Christian today should be as well studied in the word as Daniel, searching for the times of the promises the Lord had made to His church of His return.
In Daniel 9:2, Daniel understood the dream in Daniel 2:1-49, and that there would be a transition from the Babylonian reign to the Medes and Persians. Based on Daniel's understanding and knowledge of the word of the Lord, he recited the words spoken by the prophet, Jeremiah 25:11-12, Jeremiah 29:10-11, and 2 Chronicles 36:18-21. The dates of the exile and the counting of the 70 years began with the first invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. and the third and final invasion was around 538 B.C. The admonition to Christians today is that the word of the prophets are now made more certain by the Lord during His earthly ministry as witnessed by His disciples, 2 Peter 1:19-21. It is an extremely worthwhile effort, even a responsibility of every Christian to study word of God, as Daniel demonstrated. The words of the Lord, the Law, prophets, and psalms are certain, as the Lord stated, His words will not pass away, Matthew 24:34-35. All of words found in the word of God, the Bible, are given by inspiration 2 Timothy 3:16-17. So for Daniel and us today, it is God who conceals a matter, and we search it out, Proverbs 25:2, by rightly dividing the word, 2 Timothy 2:15.
In Daniel 9:3-8, Daniel set his face toward the Lord God of Israel, as in Daniel 6, and he fasted, wore sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Daniel humbled himself completely before the Lord. The whole context was in petitioning the Lord through prayer to perform the great wonders that he had promised to the nation of Israel after 70 years of captivity.
There were three main parts to Daniel’s prayer: confession, intercession, and petition. The first part of the prayer, however, was to acknowledge the greatness and holiness of the Lord. Daniel recited the many great facets of the Lord that had been revealed to mankind over the preceding centuries and millennia. Daniel understood and exhorted in his prayer that God keeps His covenant, is righteous, merciful and forgiving. Next Daniel confessed the shame, sin, rebellion, and transgression of the children of Israel. He recalled the oath written in the Law of Moses being poured out upon them for their sins. This explains why Daniel was in a physical state of mourning, and that he did not separate himself as someone of standing, but instead he identified himself with Israel. His forefathers and peers had turned from the commandments and laws, and choose to not listen to God’s servants, the prophets, despite the visible danger just on the other side of the city walls. So, in Daniel 9:7-8, Daniel professes that God is righteous and just in all that He did, and Israel is shamed, resulting in them being scattered throughout the Babylonian empire. The children of Israel were warned by the Lord through Moses of the consequences of their sins, Leviticus 26:27-35. For the Church today, we are not to be part of the world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, Romans 12:1-2, so that we now have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, 1John 1:8 - 1John 2:2, 1John 2:28-29, and John 15:5-10. As a result of this relationship that we have in this age of grace, and the Lord's promises to His church, we are not looking for a rebuilding or return to anything, but looking up for the appearing of the Lord in the clouds calling for His bride Ephesians 5:25-33 (the bride of Christ) 1Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1Thessalonians 5:8-11 (the return of Christ in the clouds calling His bride unto Himself).
In Daniel 9:9-14, he continues his prayer by acknowledging that the Lord is merciful and forgiving, Exodus 34:5-7, and he further submits that all Israel has transgressed against the Lord and turned their back on Him. Recall the passage just read in Leviticus 26:27-35, and then compare with 2Chronicles 36:15-16, where the people were mocking God’s messengers. But as the Lord responds, He stated that it is not because the people had become perfect, which they had not, but because of His holy name that He would see their return to the land, Ezekiel 36:19-23. Daniel acknowledges that the Lord God of Israel is righteous in all His works, including the judgment against the people of Israel, for they did not obey the Lord. This testament of God's righteousness is repeated by the heavenly hosts and the saints of God as he disposes His judgments upon the world during the tribulation, Revelation 16:4-7, Revelation 19:1-2.
In Daniel 9:15, Daniel rehearses the greatness of the Lord as demonstrated by the exodus of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and that the renown of Him was told among the nations, even centuries later to the day of Daniel's prayer. Then Daniel begins his confession before the Lord. He identified himself along with his people in this confession of sin, Psalms 51:17-19, Isaiah 66:1-2. Their rebellion and sin before the Lord, and the Lord's judgment of His people is public knowledge and known among the nations.
After Daniel's confession, he acknowledged that God was faithful in all things. The Lord had been reaching out to a rebellious nation through His judges, prophets, and the Law of Moses. Now Daniel lays out his petition to the Lord in Daniel 9:16-19. Daniel's prayer is a vigorous plea for God’s mercy, asking Him to turn from His anger at His people who are a reproach to all those around them. He is crying to the Lord to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (based on the Lord’s word to Jeremiah). By Daniel 9:18, Daniel’s prayer arrives at a loud crescendo where he acknowledges that it is not by works, or the self-righteousness of men that he approaches God, but because of God’s mercy and forgiveness, Isaiah 57:15, Psalms 34:15-19. As Daniel prepares to conclude his prayer, and recalling his preparation before the Lord by his reading of Jeremiah, Daniel calls upon the Lord for the forgiveness and restoration of Israel, and specifically for Jerusalem which is called by His name. For the Church today, we rest on faith, not works, just as Daniel states in his prayer to God, Galatians 3:10-14, Romans 1:16-17 (Justified by faith).
It appears that immediately after the end of Daniel 9:19, that Daniel was interrupted in his prayer by Gabriel. This is the second time that Gabriel was mentioned in scripture. The first time is in Daniel 8:1-27, which was then the first time any angel had been named, though their appearance in scripture has occurred many times. Gabriel was seen in the vision of Daniel on the first occasion, but in Daniel 9:1-27 he is fully awake. Daniel has a face-to-face conversation with him and does not react physically or emotionally as he did in his first vision.
There are a few points to draw out in Daniel 9:20-23. First, while Daniel was praying, his prayer life resembled the customary daily offerings of the temple, the morning and evening sacrifices. Daniel was careful to observe the commandments of the Lord, though there were no longer animal sacrifices that could be made during their 70 years of captivity since the temple was destroyed. It appears that Daniel’s habit, in addition to praying three times a day (as seen in Daniel 6:1-28), was to offer his prayers when the sacrifices would have occurred, which again demonstrates the total dedication of Daniel in serving and worshiping the Lord throughout the years of captivity. He was faithful from the very beginning of Daniel 1:1-21, where he purposed in his heart to serve God by not defiling himself with the portion of the king’s food or drink.
Second, it is interesting to see Daniel's description of the appearance of time being required for Gabriel to act once he received the command to go to Daniel. Unlike the Lord who in His resurrected body following His crucifixion, who could just appear before His disciples, Gabriel had to travel through space and time to get from one place to another, John 20:19-20, John 20:26-29. But all who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be transformed into like bodies as Christ, to ever be with Him, Philippians 3:20-21, 1John 3:1-3.
Third, Daniel mentions that this was the same angel that he had seen in the vision at the beginning. It is true that Gabriel was first named and identified to Daniel in Daniel 8. However, that was not Daniel’s first vision. His first vision occurred about two years earlier and recorded in Daniel 7. At that time, Daniel recorded only that he approached one that stood by so he could understand what was revealed to him, Daniel 7:15-16. In the vision of Daniel in Daniel 7, and the information imparted to Daniel in Daniel 9, the events and characters relating to the little horn or the prince of the people that destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.. are both the Antichrist in Revelation. Again, these associations are not to be confused with the little horn identified in Daniel 8, who is historically associated with Antiochus Epiphanes.
Fourth, these passages illustrate the close relationship Daniel had with the Lord who gave to Daniel this awesome responsibility to accurately report to us all that was revealed to him. God’s desire was to reveal his truth to all mankind, through Daniel who was greatly beloved. This special relationship was also shown to David. Both men had similar passions in trusting God, and looking forward; Daniel in the fulfillment of God’s promise, and David, toward bringing about a permanent place to worship God. The Lord responded to both men, but not in a manner that they would have anticipated, because He did much more than just respond to their prayers, He bestowed upon them great gifts and knowledge. This occurred to David when he sought to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. God did not permit David to build the temple but left that task to David’s son. However, God did reveal to David a great truth that the Messiah would come through his line. 2Samuel 7:16-17. Now it was the Lord's purpose to give Daniel through Gabriel, an understanding of the vision well beyond what he already had.
As an introduction to these remaining verses in Daniel 9:1-27, recall that the emphasis since Daniel 2:1-49 has always been with the end time (the seven years of tribulation) and in particular the last 3½ years. It may be that the events in Daniel 8:1-27 were to alert the children of Israel that the time of that little horn was not to be confused with the times of Jacob’s trouble, which is the seven years of tribulation. The reign associated with Antiochus Epiphanes would be horrible, but that would be eclipsed by the horrors that will occur during the tribulation period.
The events in chapter seven and chapter nine are complementary with one another through the association between the little horn in Daniel 7:11-28 with the Antichrist as portrayed in this chapter as the prince of the people who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. and who will confirm a covenant with Israel for seven years (represented as one week), then break the covenant after the first 3½ years in the seven year covenant.
In Daniel 9:24-27, Gabriel reveals that the purpose of the 70 weeks is for the Jews and Jerusalem, not the Gentiles, and reflects Christ’s two advents:
- The issue of sin (at the end of the 69th week) was accomplished with Christ’s first advent
- To finish transgression
- To seal up sins
- To make reconciliation for iniquity
- The second set of three purposes are accomplished with Christ’s second advent during His millennial reign (at the end of the week)
- To bring in everlasting righteousness
- To seal up vision and prophecy
- To anoint the Most Holy
In Daniel 9:25, Gabriel indicates that the starting point for the 70 weeks is based on the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. During the Medo-Persian empire, there were four separate decrees concerning the temple and the Jews, but only one decree concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem:
- 539 B.C. Decree of Cyrus, Ezra 1:1-4
- 519/18 B.C. Decree of Darius, Ezra 6:1-12
- 457 B.C. Decree of Artaxerxes, Ezra 7:11-26
- A later decree that satisfies the criteria given to Daniel was given in 444 B.C. which was the Decree of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah 2:1-8
The term for weeks in Daniel 9:25, is meant to be measured by seven years, based on the lunar cycle, as shown in Leviticus 25:8-9 concerning the sabbatical years and year of Jubilee. The usage of a week can be understood through the following relationships:
- 1 prophetic week in Daniel = 7 years according to the prophetic year
- 360 days = 1 prophetic year (based on the lunar cycle)
- 70 weeks = 490 years (lunar)
Gabriel further indicates that the within the 70 weeks, Israel will see her Messiah, whom God had promised through His prophets, after 69 weeks had elapsed. This is the date of the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the week of His crucifixion. Gabriel refines the length of the 70 weeks into three periods:
- The rebuilding of the wall and streets of Jerusalem, during the first seven weeks
- The rejection of Israel's Messiah, the following 62 weeks
- Seven years of the Antichrist, which is also the time of abomination and desolation in the temple worship, the last week, or the 70th week
The trigger event that signaled the beginning of the prophetic 70 weeks was the order for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Daniel 9:25. Those days were prophesied to be a difficult period of time, which is verified by the record of Nehemiah, Nehemiah 4:7-14. The second time period is when the Messiah will be cut off, or rejected by His people Israel, and then crucified. The people of Israel were are warned that the third prophetic period will be troublous times for them.
It is interesting to note the historical context that led up to the initiation of this 70 weeks of years. With the emergence of Cyrus as king Persia after the overthrow of the Babylonian empire, he issued the decree to rebuild the temple, Ezra 1:1-4. There were three major waves of Jews returning to Jerusalem. The first wave was led by Zerubbable and Jeshua, Ezra 2:1-2. The second wave was led by Ezra about 80 years later, Ezra 7:1-7. The third wave was lead by Nehemiah about a decade later, Nehemiah 2:1-8.
After the arrival of the first wave of Jews returning to Jerusalem, the people in the land attempted to frustrate the rebuilding of the temple and City, Ezra 4:4-5. At that time the Jews attempted to rebuild the city and its walls, but were rebuffed by the king of Persia, Ezra 4:21-22. The adversaries of the Jews wrote another letter to the Persian king, to alert him that the temple and its walls were still being built, Ezra 5:8-10. On this occasion, when reviewing the records, the Persian king confirmed the records that indeed the Jews were allowed to rebuild the temple. So the original order was reaffirmed, that the house of the Lord was to be built, and this time paid out of the king’s own funds generated in that region, Ezra 6:6-8. It was not until a later time that King Artaxerxes was solicited about the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah. Then a decree was issued by the king of Persia to rebuild the walls and streets of Jerusalem Nehemiah 2:3-5, Nehemiah 2:17-18. It was God's sovereignty at work to set the exact date when the decree would be issued by the second decree of Artaxerxes, which began the prophetic clock of 70 years.
- 70 weeks are divided into 3 periods
- 7 weeks = 49 years (lunar), the building of the wall and streets of Jerusalem in troublous times
- 62 weeks = 434 years (lunar), the appearance and rejection by Israel of their Messiah, Zechariah 9:9, John 12:15
- 1 week = 7 years (lunar), the seven year covenant between the Antichrist and Israel that will be broken by him after 3½ years
The conversions to the Gregorian calendar is not a trivial exercise. A tool is available on the Internet, at the time of this writing, which can be used to translate from lunar years to solar years, which is at the scienceworld.wolfram.com.
There are also two excellent books, one authored by Sir Robert Anderson, and the second by Harold W. Hoehner, who both conducted elaborate studies and calculations to convert prophetic time to our current Gregorian calendar in order to date the appearance of the Lord at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Sir Anderson’s writing was pre-WWI, and was a very laborious analysis. Hoehner used solar time calculations to calculate the end of the 69 weeks, which he placed at the time of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem The last week of the 70 weeks will be the tribulation period.
Daniel 9:26 shows that after the first 69 weeks of years, Christ will be cut-off (crucified) without establishing His earthly rule. He will be rejected by Israel who did not know the hour of their visitation, and as John reported, His own did not recognize Him, John 1:10-11. They also did not recognize the time of their visitation, Luke 19:41-44, or accept Him as their Messiah, John 19:13-15. The 69th week of years was the time when the Lord approached Jerusalem and cried over it for their soon rejection because of the judgment that would come upon them, Matthew 23:37-39. It was because of their bold pronouncement that the Lord's blood be on us and our children, Matthew 27:24-25, which led to the Romans under Titus to later destroy the temple and Jerusalem, and impose a worldwide dispersion of the Jews.
The arrival of the Roman army under Titus, was revealed to Daniel to destroy the city and the sanctuary. The whole affair was characterized as being a flood, whose destructive affect would be sudden and complete. The result would be desolations, or no temple worship, until the end of the war, which is Armageddon. In Luke 21:20-24, the Lord warned of the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and then Jerusalem will be trodden underfoot by the Gentiles until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the battle of Armageddon, Luke 21:24, and Revelation 19:11-16.
In Daniel 9:27, Gabriel describes the last week of the 70 weeks as when the ruler from the renewed Roman Empire will enter into a seven year covenant. In the middle of this covenant, the ruler (Antichrist as shown in Daniel 7:1-28 and Revelation 13), will break it, set up his image in the holy place, and fulfill the events in Daniel 7:1-28. He will exceed the events recorded in Daniel 8 of the little horn, which is representative of Antiochus IV Epiphanes who is a type of the Antichrist. These events would continue until the end of the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:17-21.
The focus of this passage is further illuminated in Revelation 12, which is the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation period. The dragon represents Satan, the Woman represents the nation of Israel, and the man-child is Christ. During this time in the wilderness, the Lord is going to again meet with His people. Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 13:6-9 . There will be a day coming that will mark the end of the transgression of Israel as a nation against the Lord. During the time in the wilderness, the Lord will seal up the issue of sin, Ezekiel 20:31-38. The Lord will cause the nation to pass under the rod of judgment to separate the rebels from those whom would follow the Lord. Then He will enter into a new covenant with this remnant of Israel. Jeremiah 31:31-34. The issue of Israel’s transgressions, sins, and reconciliation will be forever resolved at that time. The last three events are tied to the second advent of Christ, with His return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Much is said of these future events that will occur following the end of the seven years of tribulation, Jeremiah 23:5-8, Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 20:4-6.
When Christ returns to reign for a thousand years on earth, it will be in righteousness and complete sovereignty, exceeding anything that was the best of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, which was the golden head in his image he dreamt in Daniel 2:1-49. This will be the complete fulfillment of all that was promised to Abraham, David, and through all the prophets. Examples include the possession and habitation of all the lands that God had promised them, King David’s throne continuing through eternity, and that Christ’s rule will be righteous, Isaiah 11:1-5, Hebrews 1:1-3, Revelation 22:18-19. All things will be fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and after the book of Revelation given to John the Apostle, there is no further word given. The anointing of the Most Holy is consummated by the new temple, written about in Ezekiel chapters 41-46. There are many details describing the temple that will exist during the millennial rule of Christ, Zechariah 14:16-17, and Zechariah 14:20-21.
There are passages in the Old Testament which merge the first and second advents of Christ together, without a hint of the current halt in the prophetic time clock presented by the 70 weeks. These are found in the following passages:
- Isaiah 61:1-2, the passage quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:17-19 when he only quoted the first part of the prophecy and told the audience that part of the prophecy was fulfilled in their hearing
- Isaiah 9:6, the birth of Christ, and the government on his shoulders. The first advent of Christ Jesus was fulfilled by His birth, but the government on His shoulders will occur during His millennial reign
- Zechariah 9:9-10, riding on a colt, then rule from sea to sea, which was fulfilled during the Lord's first advent when He rode on the colt during His triumphal entry, but His rule from sea to sea will occur during His millennial reign