Daniel 031: A Personal Relationship with God

Dr. Andy Woods | Jul 30, 2017 | Daniel 9:1-3 | Daniel

Andy Woods

A Personal Relationship with God

7-30-17      Daniel 9:1-3          Lesson 31

Good morning everybody.  I hope you’re enjoying this last Sunday in July.  Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Daniel, chapter 9, and beginning at verse 1.   The title of our message this morning is A Personal Relationship with God.  As you know, as we’ve been working our way through the Book of Daniel, how this is a difficult time for the nation, having been evicted from their comfort zone of 800 years in their own land and being transported 300 miles to the east in a place called Babylon, modern day Iraq if you were to look at on the map, a modern day map.

So what is the plan and program of God during this time of captivity and beyond?  And beyond that how is a person living outside of what they’re familiar with, in foreign territory, where their lives are on the line in many cases, how is that person supposed to live for God in that environment?  And that becomes the point of the Book of Daniel.  Daniel is raised up by God to give prophecies covering this time period and his life, particularly his devotional live as we’ll begin to study it today, is sort of a role model, if you will, for how to live for God in difficult times.

We have worked our way through chapters 1-7 which is the historical section.  Chapter 1 sets the stage for the book; it describes the deportation of Daniel into Babylon when he was but teenager.  Then chapters 2-7, as we have talked about, is organized like a literary pattern and we’ve gone through that in great detail.  And you say well I don’t like this pattern stuff, give me some pictures.  Well, here are some pictures and if you were to associate a picture with each chapter you could think your way through the whole Book of Daniel.   Chapter 2 just think of a giant statue because that’s what Daniel saw in chapter 2.  Chapter 3, think of fire because that’s the three youth, Daniel’s three friends thrown into the fiery furnace.  Chapter 4, think of a tree being cut down because that was used as an analogy for Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation and restoration.  Chapter 5 just think of some handwriting on the wall, a giant hand appears, because that was the contents of chapter 4 spelling the end of the Babylonian Empire.  Chapter 6 think of Daniel in the lion’s den, you already know that chapter, that’s probably the most familiar chapter in the Book of Daniel.  Chapter 7 think of four ferocious beasts because that’s another picture, or another portrait, if you will, of Gentile history given to Daniel.

You move into chapters 8-12 and everything is different; this is a section no longer written in Aramaic, the way chapters 2-7 were written in Aramaic; now the language shifts to Hebrew because in those prior chapters God was sending a message to the Gentile world and now what He appears to be doing is speaking directly to His people as they are in captivity.  We have dealt with, over the last few Sundays, the ram and the goat vision, chapter 8, just think there of a giant ram and a goat and the prophecies connected to those two animals.  And now, and I’m very excited about this because I’ve felt the rapture might happen before we got to this chapter.  [Laughter]

But I’m really happy we’re finally making our way into chapter 9.  There is so much in chapter 9 for us, and here is sort of an outline, if you will, which we are going to begin today. You have the setting, verses 1-2.  And then what follows in verses 3-19 is a prayer; it’s one of the greatest prayers of the Bible and so as we begin to move into that section we’re going to be talking a lot about prophecy but we’re also going to be talking about the power of prayer.   And then you go down to verses 20-23 and you get an answer to Daniel’s prayer.  Did you all know that God answers prayer?  Did you all know that prayer changes things.  Daniel prays and he gets an answer to the prayer, verses 20-23, through the arrival of Gabriel who gives to Daniel, verses 24-27, the Seventy Weeks Prophecy, a prophecy that if you don’t understand it you cannot understand God’s blueprint for the future.  So my goal once we get there is not to spend seventy weeks studying the prophecy but we will be unpacking it slowly for you over the course of maybe two or three Sundays.  So that is the direction that we’re moving in as we move into Daniel chapter 9.

Notice if you will the setting, verses 1 and 2.  We have the historical setting, verse 1 and then the prophetic setting, verse 2.  Notice if you will verse 1, Daniel 9.  “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans—” you’ll notice here it mentions this man, Darius “of Median descent.”  He is connected to an empire that we have studied called Media-Persia, and so by the time we get into Daniel chapter 9 Media-Persia is the background for this prophecy that Daniel received.

This chart sort of helps you understand what empire is in power at different times in the Book of Daniel, in terms of the setting.  It’s a little bit frustrating because chapters 7 and 8 are out of order because the book is structured, chapters 2-7 not chronologically but chiastically.  So this chart is sort of a sanity chart, it’ll keep you sane as you go through the book and as we move into chapter 9, Darius, of Medo-Persia is in power when the events of chapter 9 take place.  This is the same Persia, Medo-Persia, that came to power in chapter 5, the handwriting on the wall chapter.  This is the political power that deposed Babylon, Daniel chapter 5.  It’s also the same Medo-Persia power that has thrown Daniel into the lion’s den, chapter 6.  In fact, it’s the same Darius that threw Daniel into the lion’s den, against really his own will as a trick was played on him, as we have studied, chapter 6; it’s the same guy.

Daniel is giving us, through his various prophecies a panorama of world history for Israel up until the return of Jesus Christ.  There’s probably about six kingdoms that he mentions in his various prophecies and we are focused here on Medo-Persia; at least that’s the empire in place when these events take place.  Persia continued on as a nation in modern day Iran, around 1935 the name was changed from Persia to Iran.  Iran became Islamized, as you know, in 1979.  But the Iranians themselves owe their culture and their heritage to this longstanding empire called Persia, the empire in place when Daniel had these prophecies in Daniel chapter 9.

So we are dealing with the backdrop, the chest and arms of silver; or if you like animals we’re dealing with the bear in the background.  This was the two horned ram that Daniel saw in chapter 8.  And you’ll notice if you look at Daniel 9:1 it says, “In the first year of Darius…” the Persian Empire overthrew the Babylonian’s in chapter 5 in the  year 539 B.C. and chapter 9 therefore takes place one year later.  So the year would be about 538 B.C., the first year of Darius, which would mean that Daniel is in his early 80’s when this chapter unfolds.  Daniel is going to receive his greatest insights and his greatest revelations from God as an older man.

And I just say that as a way of encouragement to those of you, and myself a little bit down the road, becoming older.  You know, becoming older in God is sort of like becoming older because that’s the time that God is really wanting to use your life.  We have a tendency to put ourselves on the shelf because we’re too old or too young or too fat or too thin or whatever and God doesn’t think that way.  God is outside of time.  He’ll use you as a  young person; He’ll use you as an older person and that’s what we see in Daniel 9-12, and older man that’s walked with God many years is now on the precipice of receiving, I think perhaps his greatest insights in revelations to record for our benefit.

So Persia is in power and this event takes place 67 years after Daniel had been deported to Babylon as a mere teenager.  Those events take place in chapter 1; almost seven decades have transpired.  The only thing Daniel knew of the land of Israel were perhaps some memories that he had of it from his youth but he spends his entire ministry outside of the land of Israel in captivity continuing to walk with God.

Well, if 67 years have transpired and the captivity will last for how long?  Seventy years, that means there’s 3 years left on the clock.  So this is 3 years before the decree of Cyrus, a Persian king who will allow the Jews to go back into their ancient homeland.  In fact, you might be startled to discover that Cyrus’s name is called out as the one who will allow the Jews to go back into their land by the prophet Isaiah, 200 years before the man was born.  You’ll see Cyrus’ name at the end of Isaiah 44 into Isaiah 45.

Why is all of this information given to us?  Because it’s showing us that these things are real history.  These things actually happened!  This is not a fictitious story, this is not some kind of Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale; these things are anchored in actual historical events, as is the entire Scripture.

As we move from Daniel, chapter 9 verse 1 into Daniel chapter 9 verse 2 we not only see the historical setting, verse 1, but now the prophetic setting.  Look, if you will, at Daniel 9 and verse    2, it says, “in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.”

You’ll notice first of all it says there in chapter 9, verse 2, “I Daniel”.  Who actually wrote this chapter?  Daniel did.  Who saw these visions?  Daniel did.  Contrary to what you’ll hear on the Mysteries of the Bible, The History Channel, A & E, they’ll try to talk you into this idea that well, we all know the true Daniel couldn’t have written these chapters because how could he know things in advance?  So somebody other than Daniel wrote this 400 years later, and that’s what they call scholarship today.  I call it apostasy and rejection of the truth.  To believe that you have to say well, this right here is not true, “I Daniel” did not see these things, but the text says he did see these things in advance; not in the 2nd century B.C. but in the 6th century B.C.

And you’ll notice that Daniel had been doing some studying.  What was he studying here?  How  To Win Friends and Influence People?  He’s studying the prophet Jeremiah.  You’ll notice there in verse 2 it says, “I Daniel, observed in the books,” now “the books” is later defined as the writing of Jeremiah the prophet, and as he read Jeremiah the prophet he understood that the captivity would last seventy years.  He would never have known that any other way; he could figure out from a calendar how many years they had been in captivity.  He knew there were basically 3 years left.  So he understood that God was wrapping up the captivity and he begins to seek God concerning the future of the nation of Israel.

Now what parts of Jeremiah was Daniel reading?  He was, no doubt, reading chapter 25, verses 11 and 12, and chapter 29 and verse 10 of Jeremiah because those are the only two passages where Jeremiah explained that the captivity that the nation was going into would last seventy years.

Jeremiah 25:11-12, says, “This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”  Not 65 years, not 83 years, specifically seventy years.  [12] “Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.’”  No doubt Daniel that particular morning or that particular day was reading that passage.  He was also reading chapter Jeremiah 29:10 which says, “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.”  What place?  The land of Israel, after the seventy years were over.

Jeremiah is a prophet of God who prophesied probably from about 627 B.C.  Most of his prophecies take place before the captivity happened but his prophecies go on all the way till about 580 B.C.  The Book of Daniel stretches from about 605 to around 538, 537, 536, so there’s a little bit of overlap between the prophets but Daniel is seeing these prophecies written by Jeremiah, probably about 50 years, give or take, when Jeremiah happened.  Jeremiah had his prophecies in the land of Israel primarily; Daniel had his prophecies, or received his prophecies 300 miles to the east in Babylonia.  And Daniel simply by studying Jeremiah knew exactly what time it is prophetically.  He understands exactly what God is about to do and he has this insight because he gave himself to the prophetic Word of God.  If he had been studying some other book or some other part of God’s Word that is not prophetic he would not have the insight that he had.

1 Chronicles 12:32 says this, “Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do….”  The men of Issachar were different because they understood the times and they knew exactly what they should do because of the time period they were in.  And that is how prophecy functions.  Daniel knew exactly what time it was because he gave himself to what Jeremiah had said and he knew exactly what God was about to do and consequently he knows how to pray.

And this is the same not just for the prophecies in Daniel’s day, this same principle applies to the prophetic Word today.  There are many people that will not study the prophetic Word, they are scared of the prophetic Word.  There are many pastors and preachers and teachers that will not aggressively teach the prophetic Word of God.  It’s actually Satan, I believe, that convinces them to not preach prophecy because the Book of Revelation spells the end of Satan in the lake of fire.  I mean, how would you like a book being promoted around the world that doesn’t end well for you?

So there has always been throughout church history a great blindness, a great struggle on the whole subject of prophecy.  But you see, the Book of Revelation is the only book I know of in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who read and heed its instruction.  Now is there anybody in here that does not want to be blessed… put your hand up please.  We all want to be blessed.  Revelation 1:3 tells us that when we study the prophetic Word we’re blessed.  [Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”]

Daniel was blessed in terms of insight, in terms of what was happening in his world and in his nation only because he studied prophecy.  Prophecy gives you the cutting edge in world events because it tells you those world events before they happen and you can look around the world and see, I’m not setting a date of course but you can see the general season or the general time  you’re living in and the urgency of the hour and you only get that perspective through the prophetic Word of God.

So you’ll notice that Daniel had been in government, first in Babylon, then in Persia when the Persians came to power, all of these years of his life; 67 years, he’s probably in his 80’s now and yet you’ll notice he was never too busy to study the Word of God.  And that’s not my closing song but… we’ll play that same one a little later for the closing number.

But you know, we so many times look at our lives and we say I’m just too busy for the Word of God; I’m just too busy to pray, and yet here is Daniel, serving in government in pagan territory, no doubt a demanding job, all this time and yet he always has time somehow to meditate on the Word of God.  Not only does he have time to meditate on the Word of God that he carves out but he has time to pray because beginning in verse 3 all the way through verse 19 is one of the greatest prayers in the entire Bible.  That’s why I’ve entitled this message A Personal Relationship with God.

We talk as Christians all of the time about a personal relationship with God through salvation in Christ alone. What does that really mean, “a personal relationship with God”?   Well, if you go to a marriage counsellor because your marriage is having difficulties the marital counsellor, if he or she is worth their salt the first thing they’re going to ask you is what is your level of communication like?   What do you mean “communication”?  Talking to each other.  Well, I’m married to So and So and we haven’t talked in 5 years.  Well, that’s not much of a marriage as far as I can tell.  I have a friendship with so and so but we never talk.  That wouldn’t make any sense, would it.  The lifeblood of any relationship is communication.

So once you’re saved how do you grow in your relationship with God; after all, we’re the bride and He is the groom.  You grow through communication.  He, number 1, communicates with you.  Well, how does He communicate with you?  A lot of different ways, He communicates through nature Paul tells us in Romans 1.  He communicates through conscience Paul tells us in Romans 2.  But the primary way God communicates to you is through this Book.  If a person simply has no real discipline in this Book, if this Book is nothing more than an ornament on a coffee table that collects dust then the communication is shut off.  That’s one of the advantages of coming to a church like this that labors in seeking to teach the Bible verse by verse; as we are teaching the Bible verse by verse it is an opportunity for God to speak to you through the preaching and teaching of His Word.

Well, if God communicates to us through this Book how do we communicate to God, because conversation is two ways, isn’t it?  Have you been around people all they do is talk but never listen?  Have you been around people all they do is listen but never talk?  That’s not a conversation, is it?  A conversation by definition entails two directions.  How exactly do we communicate to God?  We communicate to God via prayer.  God is talking to us primarily through His Word; we are talking to God primarily through prayer and if that’s not a regular practice in your life you can’t grow in your relationship with Christ any more than you could develop a marriage with no communication.

And so it is interesting to me that Daniel, despite the strains and stresses and pressures of his life, whether it be government, whether it be aging, whether it being thrown into the lion’s den, think about that, all the problems the man had there’s always a place in his life for prayer and the Word of God because as you pray we communicate to God; as the Word of God is read or taught God is talking to us.  This is the lifeblood of who Daniel was.  Daniel is role modeling how Israel is to live in pagan territory and maintain a devotional life.  It’s a role model for us because life can be very stressful; life can be very pressured.  We, like Daniel, to some extent, are living in pagan territory, living in the devil’s world.  The last time I checked Satan is still the god of this world.  That’s not going to change until the Second Advent.

So how do we grow in a hostile environment.  It has to be communication—the Word of God and prayer.  If you don’t have the Word of God and prayer in your life consistently you have almost nothing because when you study the early church what you discover is the Word of God and prayer is always a priority.  In fact, this is how the first deacons arose over in the Book of Acts, chapter 6 and verse 4.  Everybody came to the apostles with this problem or that problem and they said you know, if we get invested into all these problems we’re not going to have time for our priorities.  And if we don’t have time for our priorities the church will lose direction, the church will lose power.  And so they appointed these other tasks to be governed by a new office that God raised up in Acts 6 called deacons.  For what purpose?  So the apostles, being quoted here, will devote themselves, Acts 6:4, to prayer and the ministry of the Word.  [Acts 6:4, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”]  Had the church not devoted itself to prayer and the ministry of the Word the church would have been emptied of its power and Satan tried to get the church busy in Acts 6, too busy for the lifeblood of the relationship, communication, the vitality of communication.

And as the pastor-teacher here at Sugar Land Bible Church I’ll tell you the exact same thing.  This church has nothing going for it if we don’t have those two things happening: the Word of God and prayer!  It doesn’t matter how many people come, it doesn’t matter how big the budget becomes or whatever.  And it’s always the plan of Satan to get a church distracted from those priorities because if they become distracted from those priorities the devil knows that the church is emptied of its power.  Now the Word of God is taught here every Sunday morning and as we start up Wednesday nights at the end of August it will be taught on Wednesday night.  And in every cell group the Word of God is going to be taught, and in every Sunday School class the Word of God is going to be taught.  This is not an environment for people to come and dispense their own personal opinion about whatever; this is a place where the Word of God is taught.

Beyond that this is a place of prayer.  One of the things our elders do is, most of the meeting quite frankly, is spent praying for the needs of this flock.  The church staff on Friday, from 12:30 till whenever gives itself to prayer.  As the leader of the staff I don’t a lot of harsh rules and regulations except one; we have a mandatory prayer meeting on Fridays at 12:30 and when I first announced that you should have seen the reaction of the staff; it was like I was pulling out teeth or something.  But you know what happens?  As the staff gathers and prays and you know what?  God answers, what starts to happen?  Gosh, I’m looking forward to prayer meeting.  And so you see these priorities here in the life of Daniel.  What a role model to the Jews in captivity; what a role model to us.

Now you’ll notice that the captivity, based on what Daniel had seen in the Book of Jeremiah, would last exactly seventy years.  Why didn’t God allow the captivity to last seventy years.  Why didn’t God allow the captivity to last sixty-five years or eighty-three years?  Why exactly seventy?  And there’s a reason for that because God deals in mathematical precision.  When you go back to the Book of Leviticus, actually before that, when you go back to the Book of Exodus, chapter 20, verses 8-11, it says this.  “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, [your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.]  And it goes on and it says, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; [therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.]

People say well, you don’t really believe that God created the world in six days do you?  I mean, scientists tell us it would take billions of years, you don’t believe God did it that fast… six 24 hour days?  My question is why did it take God so long when He could speak and the heavens and the earth would come into existence.  He deliberately stretched it out to six 24 hour days and no activity on the seventh day as a pattern for the Jewish work week.  See that.  So the Jew was to work six days and rest on the seventh; that’s the weekly sabbath.

Now when you go to Leviticus 25:1-5 you’ll discover that that’s the same pattern that God had for the land, not in terms of a week but in terms of a seven year increment.  In Leviticus 25:1-5, it says this:  “The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, [2] Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. [3] Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, [4] but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. [5] Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.”

So just as you work six days and rest on the seventh do the same thing with the land, work the land six years (not six days but six years) and let the land have a year off, called the land sabbath.  So the nation of Israel basically said ah, we’re going to do it our own way.  We’re just going to work the land when we want to, we’re not going to pay attention to what God said.  And God said okay, you want to play that way, the land is going to get its rest whether you want it to or not.  Every year you do not follow My sabbath principle is a year I’m going to kick you out of your land and once you’re out of your land guess what?  The land is going to get its rest.  So you can either let the land have its rest on the seventh year or you can just do what you want and I’ve got a calculator, God says, I’ll add up the numbers and every sabbath year you reject I will kick you out of your land so the land can have its rest.  He said it’s going to get its rest one way or the other.

Leviticus 26:33-35 says this: “You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.  [34] Then the land” once I kick you  out, “will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then” while you’re in your enemy’s land, “the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. [35]All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.”

See, these are principles that God clearly revealed through Moses at Mount Sinai.  Everybody knew the rules and yet the nation of Israel says we just want to follow our own rules.  Think how much easier it could have been for Israel if they had just done what God said.  And before you point too strong of a finger at Israel look at your own life, and look at my life and look at some of the prices we’ve paid in our own lives that we could have avoided if we had just done things God’s way.  See, the Bible teaches the way of the transgressor is hard.  [Proverbs 13:515, “Good understanding giveth favor: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV]

God is the one who has outlined laws and principles which govern the universe and it is just foolish to live as if those principles don’t exist in any area, whether you’re talking about finances, sexual immorality or morality, work ethic, devotional life, whatever principle you want to talk about God is the one who has ordained the rules and to rebel against those rules is like rebelling against the law of gravity.  It’s a foolish endeavor and we end up bringing so much suffering into our own lives because we don’t do things God’s way.  And that’s exactly what happened with the nation Israel.  They didn’t do things God’s way and so they went into a seventy year captivity.

2 Chronicles 36, eight hundred years later, just prior to the captivity, says this in verses 20-21, “Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,” verse 21 is key, 2 Chronicles 36, “to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. [All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.]”  Jeremiah didn’t just come  up with this number, seventy year captivity, it’s related to the fact that Israel rejected the land principle for seventy sabbaths; God kept a note of it and said fine, I’m going to make it up at some point, the land is going to get its rest while you’re in captivity for seventy years.

That’s where the 70 year captivity comes from.  God deals in precise numbers.  Did you know, and I can document this, not from the Bible but I can document this from the Talmud and other documents, that the temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 on the exact day that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple back in 586 B.C.  In other words, the first temple and the second temple were destroyed on the exact day.  Now do you think that’s coincidental?  God is a God of mathematics; God is a God of precision.  So let’s put our mathematical caps on, shall we?  Did you know that being a Bible student requires math?  That kind of bummed me out when I heard that the first time, I don’t know how good I did in math.  But if the nation of Israel neglected God’s Sabbath principle for seventy sabbaths and the sabbath comes up on the seventh year, how many total years of disobedience are we talking about? Well, let’s just multiply seventy times seven and that gives us the number 490.  What I’m trying to get at is simply this: the nation of Israel had come out of 490 years total of disobedience.

You say well who cares?  The seventy weeks prophecy, which we haven’t gotten to yet, Daniel 9:24-27, reveals a time clock for Israel that’s going to last how many years?  Just take a wild guess.  490.  See the symmetry here; you came out of 490 years of disobedience, now I’m going to give you 490 years of your future.

[Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, 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.  [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.  [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.  [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.”]

Daniel knew nothing about this future, all he knew was that this captivity is ending, perhaps there was a misconception in the mind of Daniel that the kingdom of God was going to materialize at the end of the seventy years of captivity that he was emerging from.  Perhaps he felt that the stone cut without human hands striking the foot of the statue in Daniel 2, that grows and grows and grows until it fills the earth (which is the kingdom of God), perhaps Daniel thought that that kingdom of God was going to materialize at the end of this seventy year period.  And God through Gabriel says no, the kingdom is not going to come at the end of the 490 years you’re coming out of.  Let me give you another 490 years  yet future which is symmetrical to the 490 years you came out of; at the end of that 490 years the kingdom will come.  And that becomes the whole symmetrical logic or basis for the 70 weeks prophecy.

So the prophecy hasn’t been given yet, Daniel knows nothing about the future 490 years, all he knows from the prophet Jeremiah is that the 70  years are coming to an end; because he’s a student of the Word of God he knows how to pray.  So what follows then, verses 3-19, is Daniel’s prayer. In fact, this prayer, 3-19 of Daniel 9 is one of the three great prayers of the postexilic time period.  What do I mean by postexilic?  There are three prayers recorded around the same general time period, postexile, the captivity having ended, it’s just getting ready to end here, and it goes on in history and the captivity has ended and the Jews are back in that land; we call that the postexilic era.  And there are three great prayers given right during that time period.

You say well where do we find them?  Let’s make it easy on ourselves; can you remember the number 9?  They’re all found in a chapter 9.  Number 1, Daniel 9, we’re just getting ready to study it.  Number 2, Ezra 9.  Number 3, Nehemiah 9.  If you were to go home beginning today and this week and you were to study Daniel 9, Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 9 you would know how to pray because these are examples furnishing timeless principles regarding exactly how to pray.  Ever ask yourself that question…how do we pray exactly?  You’re not the first person that asked it.  Over in Luke 11:1 it says this: “It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”  In other words, I noticed this thing about You Jesus, You keep going away from the masses and the crowds and You’re devoting Yourself to prayer and You do it all the time.

We saw John the Baptist talk about this, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament dispensation, John the Baptist, a man of prayer.  And so they had heard John talk about it, they had seen Christ role model it and they asked one day how do we do that?  Can You teach us how to pray?  Have you ever asked God that?  If you were to read Daniel 9, Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9 and if  you were to extract the timeless principles exemplified in those chapters you would know exactly how to pray.

What Daniel is praying here is the covenant; a covenant where God entered into an agreement with Israel going all the way back to Genesis 15, the time of Abraham.  We call this the Abrahamic Covenant, where God unconditionally promised to Abram and his descendants three things, land, seed and blessing, which forms the structure of Israel’s whole covenantal system.  When Daniel prays he’s praying language in this covenant.  The covenant informs him regarding how to pray because God comes along after this covenant was articulated to Moses and He articulates a condition of blessing and cursing.

Now if you were with us on Wednesday nights, as we began our study of the Kingdom and will continue it beginning at the end of August, you know the difference between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant gives the nation ownership of her blessings which can never be withdrawn.  The Mosaic Covenant, though, has an if/then proviso, unlike the Abrahamic Covenant the Mosaic Covenant is conditional;  the condition is not for ownership but the condition is for possession or enjoyment because you can own something without possessing it.  I could a beach house in the Hampton (but I don’t) but I’m so busy working I never enjoy it because I never possess it or enter into it even though I own it.  Do you see the difference?

The Abrahamic Covenant gives the nation of Israel ownership forever, of her three blessings.  But whether a nation enters into these blessings demands a response of obedience as articulated in which covenant?  The Mosaic Covenant.  Now the Mosaic Covenant can be very severe because it has principles of blessing and principles of cursing; if you do this here come the curses; if  you do that here come the blessings, tangible real blessings.  The Mosaic Covenant doesn’t cancel the Abrahamic Covenant, it augments it by articulating the principles by which Israel can possess or enjoy what she owns.

And Daniel, as you look at this prayer, completely understood the reason that the nation of Israel had gone into captivity, because God in the Mosaic Covenant says if you don’t obey Me here are the curses you can count on.  One of those curses is deportation.  Daniel understands that the cycle of discipline is ending and what you see all the way through this prayer is an awareness of God’s timeless covenant.  The great principle for us is the better you know the Word of God, the better  you know the revealed will of God as spoken in the Word of God the better you know how to pray.

1 John 5:14 says, “… if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  God is not obligated to answer prayer requests outside of his will.  And thank God for that!  God, I want to be the richest man in the world.  God says well, you know, I know what that’s going to do to you if I let you be that so I won’t answer that one.  God, I want to effectively evangelize my neighbor, I have a heart for this person, they’re unsaved, they’re on their way to hell, can you give me the wisdom on how to reach them.  Now you’re in the will of God because there’s direct Scripture that tells us to preach the gospel to every creation.  [Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”]  Now God starts to answer.  See that?

The better  you know the Word of God, the better you know the priorities of God, the better you understand the will of God, the better  you understand how to pray within His will the more effective a person’s prayer life is.  James talks about prayers amiss, prayers that don’t reach any higher than the ceiling.  Why is that?  Because they are outside of His will.  If we ask according to His will He hears us.  [1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”]

Why was Daniel the man of prayer that he was?  Because he understood this covenant.  Not only did he understand the writings of the prophet Jeremiah but he  understood the revealed will of God as expressed in the covenant for the Jewish people, so he knew what time it was, he knew what to pray, he knew how to pray, and he knew how to petition God.

And so this prayer of Daniel has three parts to it.  Number 1, a confession of sin, verses 3-10  Number 2, an acknowledgement of judgment, maybe better said discipline.  In other words, Lord, we’re getting what we deserve here in this captivity, verses 11-14.  And then number 3, a request for divine mercy, a request for the future of three things: number 1, the city of Jerusalem, verse 16; number 2, the temple which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, verse 17, and number 3, a petition for the people of Israel.  So he’s requesting mercy for these three things.

And you know what happens?  Gabriel shows up with a prophecy from God to give to Daniel called the Seventy Weeks Prophecy which lasts how many years?  490, not a coincidental number.  And do you know what’s answered in the Seventy Weeks Prophecy? Just take a wild guess.  Information about Jerusalem, information about the temple, information about the people, exactly what Daniel prayed for.

One of the things that you discover about God is when He honors a prayer and executes a prayer it’s shocking about how you get, many times, exactly what you ask for.  You know, a lot of time God doesn’t work on our timetable; have you noticed that?  A lot of times there’s sort of a postponement in the answer to a prayer but when He moves His hand and the prayer is answered it’s almost a stunning thing that it actually happened precisely as articulated.  It’s like the early church with Peter.  They’re in a prayer meeting, Lord, get Peter out of jail.  And then someone starts knocking on the door.  Don’t listen to the door.  Lord, get Peter out of jail… someone’s knocking on the door.  So Rhoda goes out there… it’s Peter!  Oh, you’re seeing his angel, you’re seeing a delusion.  It’s all in Acts 12, knocking on the door more, and it was Peter.  They kept praying because God had already answered exactly what they asked, they just didn’t have enough faith to understand that God had answered the prayer.  Do you see that?

What Daniel is praying for here in terms of, number 1, the city of Jerusalem, number 2 the temple, number 3, the people is exactly what gets answered there at the end of Daniel 9.  So the prayer begins with a confession of sin, verses 3-10.

[Daniel 9:3-10, “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. [4] I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, [5] we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. [6] Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.  [7] Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. [8] Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.  [9] To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; [10] nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.”]

I would suggest to you that’s not a bad way to begin a prayer.  When the Lord taught the disciples to pray, which has misnamed “The Lord’s Prayer,” that can’t be “The Lord’s Prayer” because it ask for forgiveness for sin.  Did Jesus ever sin?  No!  He was sinless, so He is not offering a prayer regarding how He did it.  He’s offering a prayer regarding how they are to do it in terms of a role model.  And it’s very interesting to me that part of that prayer, Matthew 6:12 says, “Forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.”  Do you start your prayers with a confession of sin.  I’m not talking about unbelievers who don’t know Christ; I’m talking about people that are saved, that are growing in their relationship with the Lord, you pray to the Lord, do you take a moment to ask for forgiveness and cleansing from sins.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Wait a minute, I thought we were already forgiven and if we’re already forgiven why in the world would I begin a prayer with a confession of sins?  Because you need to know the difference between position and practice.  The death of Christ permanently bridged the sin gap between you and God and you are positionally holy, HOWEVER, as a Christian, now not this audience, you guys look very spiritual out there with your Bibles and everything, shivering in the cold… as a Christian you might occasionally sin.   Amen. I won’t ask for hands for that one.  So what does that do?

What does unconfessed sin in the life of a believer do?  It does not alter  your position; it alters your fellowship with God.  When I sin against my wife, notice I didn’t say “if” I said “when,” I say something out of anger, I say something unkind, I do something stupid, which I fall into that category quite regularly, what does that do exactly?  That doesn’t end my marriage; positionally we are still married.  What just got injured is my moment by moment enjoyment and fellowship and intimacy with my wife.  So if I want fellowship restored I just say you know, I really messed up on that, will you forgive me?  Does that make me married any more than I was before?  No, what just got restored is broken fellowship with my spouse, my marital partner.

Remember, our relationship with the Lord is analogized to bride/groom; if  you can think about insulting your spouse and saying something unkind or offensive  you can think about what that does to your marriage.  It doesn’t end the marriage, the papers are still there, it’s still a positional reality, it’s just the moment by moment enjoyment and intimacy and fellowship with my marital partner is injured, it is damaged to the extent that unconfessed offense remains.  Do you see that?  That is exactly what unconfessed sin does to your relationship with God.  It doesn’t take away your eternal security, that’s a done deal.  It doesn’t remove your name from the Lamb’s Book of Life, that is a done deal.  What it does is your moment by moment intimacy with the Lord is short-circuited because of unconfessed sin.

You say well, does the Bible teach that?  Psalm 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my heart the Lord will not hear.”  1 Peter 3:7, “You husbands, in the same way live with your wives in an under­standing way as with someone weaker, since she is a woman and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” notice the end of the verse, “so that your prayers will not be hindered.”  Oh my goodness, you mean if I’m not living out Bible based principles in my marriage that damages my prayer life?  Are  you telling me that tension that I cause in my horizontal relationships causes tension in my vertical relationship with God.  That’s exactly what I’m telling you.  That’s why prayer begins with the confession of sin.  You’re not trying to get saved again.

And there are people that don’t understand the difference between position and practice, position and fellowship and they think they’ve got to get saved all over again.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is you need fellowship restored.  Think about David;  is there any doubt that David was saved?  I don’t think that was ever in question.  David, of course, became the second king of the United Kingdom and look at what happened to him through his number 1, adultery, number 2, murder.  What did that do to David?  It did not take his position away from getting into heaven but as he tried to bury his sin and pretend like it didn’t happen and sort of sweep it under the rug, what he says in the Psalm is the heavens have become like brass.

What does that mean exactly?  He’s going to hell?  NO, it meant his moment by moment intimacy with God, that he once enjoyed, was short­­­-circuited or damaged as long as he tried to hide that sin.  That’s why David says he who hides his sin will not prosper.  [“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”  Proverbs 28:13] Hiding a sin, pretending like it didn’t happen, sweeping it under the rug, which is what David was doing; that’s why Nathan the prophet, 2 Samuel 12, had to have been called into action to confront David over this issue.  But that unconfessed sin damaged that moment by moment intimacy with God.

And so prayer, if all of that is true, would logically begin, wouldn’t it, with the confession of personal sin.  Notice, if you will, verse 3, Daniel 9, as how the prayer starts, “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.”  You’ll notice here that he gave his “attention to the Lord.”  That’s what prayer is; that’s what a conversation is.  Isn’t it irritating when you’re out to dinner with somebody and they’re not talking with you at all because they’re on their Facebook or their Twitter or whatever they’re on that they’re pushing all these buttons; it’s not a conversation, they’re distracted.

How do  you think God feels when we don’t even give Him proper attention in prayer? Oh yeah Lord, You know, bless this day, make it great but I’ve got the news on here, I’ve got e-mails coming in.  Take all that electronic stuff and just shut it down for a while; take a little break from that.  You won’t die, trust me.  We need to get ourselves into a position where we’re giving God attention and we are, it says here, “seeking God.”  That’s what prayer is, you’re seeking His faith, you’re seeking His will.

Didn’t Jesus talk about this, Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”   You know those are present tense verbs the last time I checked; seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking is a better translation.  [8] “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  [9] Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? [11] “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who” what? “ask Him!”

That’s what it means to seek God.  You know pagans, unregenerate humans know how to bless their children.  How much more does God, who is untainted by the sin nature, desire to bless His children as they petition Him in prayer.  I think God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed.  I think this: God wants to use us more than we want to be  used.  And God can’t wait to listen to you as you seek Him in prayer.   You’ve got to be kidding me, you mean the Creator of the universe can’t wait to listen to me?  It’s all true, it’s what the Bible teaches.  But we’re so distracted, there are so many things that have to get done, there’s so many emergencies.  I don’t see that happening here in the life of Daniel.  I don’t see him becoming so overwhelmed with emergencies.  I know people in here who are having a lot of difficulties from time to time as I do but I never see Daniel in his personal devotional life becoming so distracted with emergencies, like being thrown into a lion’s den for example, that he has no time for prayer.

So “seek the Lord by prayer” what’s the next word, “and supplication” what is a supplication?  A supplication is a supply, you are asking God to supply a need.  There is a particular prayer in the Bible called the prayer of supplication.  Paul says, Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing,” I don’t know about that Lord, I’m anxious about a lot of things, well, here’s the problem, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer,” that’s why we’re anxious and worried, because we never get into the presence of the Lord and deposit our needs into His presence.  We’re trying to always solve it in our own power.

“Be anxious for …” so tell me your anxiety level and I’ll tell you what your prayer life is like.  If  you’re worried and tense and nervous about every little thing likely what’s happened in your personal life is  your prayer life has become dissipated, it’s become superficial.  If you want to solve worry and anxiety in your life, prayer then becomes the solution to the human problem of anxiety.  By the way, I didn’t mean to get off into all of this, but anxiety is a sin.  That’s why it says “Be anxious for nothing,” it’s a command.  So when I am anxious for something I’m in sin.  Why is that?  Because anxiety is rooted in unbelief; God is not going to come through, I’ve got to fix it.  You’re just put a God-sized burden on your shoulders and your anxiety ridden so therefore you’re not walking in faith which makes it sin because “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.”  “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  What is a “supplication”?  It is supply; you’re at whatever the need is, whatever the lack is, you’re asking God for supply.

You mean to tell me God’s going to supply my needs.  Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your” greeds, oh, it doesn’t say that, “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”  When Jesus taught us to pray He not only taught us to confess personal sin, He taught us to ask God to supply needs.  “Give us this day, our daily bread.”  The food need, nourishment.

And so what you see here in Daniel is he is seeking God in an undistracted way; he’s giving attention to God in an undistracted way and he is moving into supplication and also intermixed with this is confession, fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.  2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray” how do you humble yourself (in ancient times) and perhaps in modern times, a practice we’ve lost sight of: “fasting, sackcloth and ashes.”     “if My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face” now I’ve heard many, many politicians quote this verse, one politician if I called his name out you would all know who I’m talking about, no it’s not Rick Miller, when they quote this verse they leave out part of the clause which says “and turn from their wicked ways….”  Hey Mr. Politician,  you left part of the verse out, how convenient.  “And if My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Daniel is role modeling this here as he is not just seeking God, not just requesting a supply, but he’s actually role modeling confession through self-abasement, which in this case would be fasting, sackcloth and ashes.  We made it through verse 3, praise the Lord; we’ll pick it up at verse 4 the next time we’re together.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for the setting of this chapter, the principles of prayer that it teaches us.  Make us this week, Father, people of Your Word and people that seek Your face and communicate with You via prayer given the fact that that’s the lifeblood of our relationship with You.  We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.  And God’s people said… Amen.