R. Dean: Daniel Lesson 37
Daniel's Prayer Preparation – Daniel 9:1-2
Let's take a few minutes to review a few things that we have studied about Daniel as background for our study in Daniel 9. First of all we need to remember that Daniel is a prophetic book; this sets Daniel apart from many of the other books in the Scriptures. Prophetic books, books like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and the New Testament, Revelation, these books are difficult to interpret and they contain a lot of symbolic language and that is because they are primarily addressed to believers and not to unbelievers. You see, God many times addresses portions of His Word to believers and not to unbelievers. Jesus made that point when He started teaching the parables in Matthew 13, that He did that because He was not speaking to unbelievers, it was like we're going to talk about what's going to happen in the family now and why that's important and this is not information for those outside the family.
In the book of Revelation it talks about the fact that there is a scroll, in Revelation 4 and 5, a scroll that is rolled up and that scroll is sealed with seven seals. And in the ancient world when you had an important document there was information written on both sides, a legal document, a will, a title deed, anything like that had information on both sides and when you rolled it up you would see some information on the outside of the scroll and anyone could read that; anybody who passed by, anyone who handled the scroll could read that. That information was public information, it was for everybody. They could gain a certain amount of information by looking at the scroll, and the scroll in Revelation 4 is the title deed to the earth to be given to the one who is qualified to establish His kingdom in the earth and that's the Lord Jesus Christ. But what's on the inside of the scroll that is not available for public information and that is not public information is private information and that was for the Church. So when you look at Revelation, the unbeliever can look at Revelation and he can get the public message that's on the outside of the scroll, and that is you lose. On the inside you get the private information, all the details given to believers and it's especially going to be for Tribulation believers who are going through the Tribulation that they will be able to see and to discern exactly what's going on and where they are in the Tribulation and that is not information that is going to be readily available to the unbelievers. So prophetic literature is designed as information for believers and primarily for believers only.
And the second thing we notice in Daniel is that it's in the third division of the Old Testament. There are three sections to the Old Testament canon as it was divided up by the Jews. The first division is the first five books of the Old Testament called the Law or the Torah. Torah is a Hebrew word for instruction, and the Torah contained, specifically in Exodus and Leviticus, the 613 commandments; there aren't just Ten Commandments, that's only the preface, there are 613 commandments in the Torah. And when Jesus Christ summarized the Torah He said, when He was asked by the Scribes and the Pharisees, what is the greatest law, He said that man should love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and they should love their neighbor as themselves. So He summarized 613 commandments with one word: love. The 613 commandments describe what love is. See, love in the Scripture is not an emotion, it is not some sort of feeling; love in the Scripture has to do with thinking a certain way, thinking the way God thinks, and applying that information the way God says to apply it. So it has to do with the application of law, not law in the sense of Mosaic Law but application of divine mandates and divine commandments. So love is always viewed in Scripture as an activity related to thinking about reality as God thinks about reality and obeying Him.
Finishing up the second point, the second division of the Old Testament was the prophets, the Nabiim, and that had to do with God's plan for the future, and this would be the Major Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; and Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos and the rest of them. Now we would think because there's so much prophecy in Daniel that Daniel would be in this division, but Daniel is not, it's in the third division called The Writings or the Kethubim and The Writings had to do with the application of the Law and it is called wisdom literature. And wisdom in the Scripture always has to do with application of doctrine.
And that brings us to point three, that the Kethubim is related to wisdom and application of doctrine so the purpose of Daniel is not necessarily to inform Israel about God's future plan but it is wisdom in how to live in the kingdom of man. As part of that God is going to outline the history of the kingdom of man and the successive kingdoms that are going to be displayed in human history but the real issue in Daniel is how to live in the kingdom of man, how the Jews are to live when they are being dominated by Gentile powers during the times of the Gentiles and also for the Church Age believer we can see that God has a plan and a purpose in history and history is not just some collection of random events.
As we look at the book of Daniel it's divided into basically three sections, depending on how you divide it up. In the first chapter we have the history of the prophet himself, where we see the entrance of Daniel himself as a young man into Gentile politics, into the kingdom of man and how Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego survived the brainwashing of the human viewpoint education system of the Babylonians.
Then the second division has to do with the history of the Gentile empires and the focus there is really on the Gentiles, from 2:1-7:28. Then the third section is the section we're in now which has to do with God's plan for Israel, from the beginning of chapter 8 through the end of the book. Now we note that this has to do with the orientation of the material because the first chapter is written in Hebrew for the Jews; the middle section, from 2:1-7:28 is written in Aramaic so that it's information available to Gentiles even, and then the third section is written in Hebrew, it comes back to the emphasis on Israel and God's plan for Israel.
Now the thing that we learn from all of this, in Daniel and other prophetic books, is that the Bible makes it plain that history is the outworking of the decree of God, the plan of God. God has human history under His sovereign control and the Bible rejects the view, especially popular today, that history is just sort of one series of accidents after another. I think it was Henry Ford that said that history is a sequence of events, one damned thing after another. But the Bible says that history is not random, what happens is under God's control and there's no circumstance, no situation, no event that is outside of the control of God, and so when we read a book like Daniel and we come to understand God's plan for history and how it's going to work out, it is tremendous comfort.
Think about how the Jews were when they were outside the land, away from the temple, there is no temple, they can't sacrifice, they've got a law that says that they have to sacrifice, there has to be a sin offering every morning, sin offering every evening, there has to be atonement for the sin of the nation every, what would be for us every September, on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and they can't do it. There was, for those seventy years that they were outside the land there was no sacrifice for sin. Think about what that would mean for you. That would be like saying that there is no confession for sin, you can't confess your sin to God and receive forgiveness, if you sin you're out of fellowship and there's nothing you can do about it. Think about that; that's what it was like for them. They are outside the land, they're outside the temple, there's no sacrifice for sin, God is not present any more, God is not speaking to them, and this is a traumatic event for them spiritually. God is teaching them some lessons; there are many times in life when God is silent and God just leaves us on our own because He is teaching us some things about relying upon Him.
In Daniel 9 we come to an interesting situation where Daniel is looking at the events of his own time and he is beginning to see some of the prophecies that God has given him, Daniel 2, Daniel 7, information is already beginning to come to pass and he is now going to begin to put that together with other information that he has from studying Scripture. And he is going to see some interesting things about God's plan for his life.
So let's take a look at a little background. Daniel 9:1, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans—" this introduces us to Darius the Mede. This is the same individual that's mentioned in Daniel 7 and here he's identified as "the son of Ahasuerus of Median descent." Now there's a tremendous amount of controversy in Scripture as to the identity of Darius because at that particular time in history there is no mention of an individual who is a Mede. And we went through a lot of detail going through the genealogy of the major player in the Babylonian, Median and Persian Empires and this is just a quick little summary on the overhead.
Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold in the statue, he was the founder of the Babylonian Empire, actually his father was but Nebuchadnezzar consolidated it militarily; from 605-562 BC. He married the daughter of one of the more powerful leaders of the Medes, Astyages, and Astyages also had a son named Cyaxares, and he's known in history as Cyaxares II, and Astyages had a third daughter, Mandane, who married Cambyses I of the Persians, the Anshan kingdom, and they had a son named Cyrus the Great. So Cyrus has as an uncle Cyaxares II and he married a daughter of Cyaxares so he is also related to him in two different ways, but it is this Cyaxares II who is about 60 years of age at this time that Cyrus places on the throne over Babylon, and that is why he is called Darius, this is a throne name. In the ancient world, as we noticed this last Sunday the Queen Mom in England passed away and so there were lots of stories about her and her husband who was King George I. Does anybody know what his first name is? His first name is Albert, he went by Birdie. See, in royalty today and royalty back then it's the same, they had many names. You look at the names of many of the kings of England and there will be four, five, or six names there and they will pick one of them as the throne name and he picked the name George because that was his father's throne name, but the name that he was known by growing was Albert.
So the same thing is true in the ancient world, these leaders had different names and their throne name might be quite different from the name they known by on a personal level and some of these throne names later became actual titles for the person in control. For example, after Julius Caesar established the Roman Empire, his name Caesar became a title for the ruler. And this has often happened. So here in this passage we have a couple of different throne names. We have the name Darius and also the name Ahasuerus, which is another throne name. So that emphasizes that he is not a Persian but that he is a Mede and that means that he is not the same person as Cyrus, and any other suggestions that are made.
Now Daniel makes a point as to when he has this particular event, this prayer in Daniel 9. We're going to spend a couple of weeks on this because this is one of the most significant prayers in the Old Testament. There's two or three and in the prayer series I did I went through a number of them but it's fascinating to study the prayers of the Old Testament saints and New Testament believers to look at what characterized their prayers. One of the things that you'll discover is that there are things about their prayer life that may not characterize our prayer life. And there is some tremendous application there because what we're going to discover tonight is everything that went into this prayer of Daniels; this is not the fact that Daniel was just walking along one day and decided, well, I'm going to pray that God will restore us from captivity.
In fact, his prayer for God to restore the nation from captivity is a prayer that's the consequence of hours and hours of Bible study and is the fruit of his years of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity and what we see is that his prayer is not just some prayer that he was stopped at a stop light day and decided to shoot off a 30 second prayer to God, but that he spent hours preparing this prayer, probably wrote it out, because the view that you have in many of these prayers, and I'm not saying that there's no place for extemporaneous prayers, but many of the prayers of Scripture exhibit the fact that they are the result of a lot of Bible study where the person who is praying is really pictured as someone going before the court of heaven and presenting a legal case for why God should function a certain way in that individual's life or the life of the nation. And so what they do is they marshal evidence from Scripture and they go in and they argue on the basis of God's character, the argue on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant or the Davidic Covenant, and they present a legal case to God as to why He should respond to their prayer in a certain way.
And it's not just this off the cuff, God, why don't you do this, nevertheless not my will but Thy will be done, which kind of negates everything and then off they go and if God answers it so be it, if not fine, I guess I just don't know how to pray. And that's kind of the attitude of most Christians and that's why their prayer life is so lousy and that's why God really doesn't answer a lot of prayer because it seems like the prayers that God answers in Scripture in a significant way are prayers where there is some thought put into them and people present a case to God as to why He should respond the way they are petitioning. We see this in Daniel 9 so we're going to take a few weeks to study Daniel's prayer life.
Now Daniel locates this prayer in a particular event in history. Daniel 9:2, he says it's "in the first year of his reign," that is the reign of Darius, "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." So observation is crucial here. Observation is the first stage of Bible study. We have to take a look at what this Scripture actually says. It's amazing how many people want to… there's three stages in Bible study, there is the first stage of observation, the second stage of interpretation and the third stage of application. And what's interesting is most people jump over the first stage, land in the second stage and answer the wrong question, that is, "what does the Bible mean to me," and then they jump into "what am I going to do about it." And see, the more time you spend in stage one, which is observation, what does the text say, the less time you really have to spend in interpretation and the more legitimate your application will be. The problem with most people is that they read the Bible subjectively, they don't understand how to read it in terms of the time in which it was written, so they read a passage of Scripture and they think, well, then I ought to do that. And maybe it's not legitimate at all for you to do that.
In fact, one of the things that we continuously hear today is a quote from 2 Chronicles, that "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves" and pray to Me, then I will answer them and return life to their nation. That has nothing, nothing to do with a modern Christian, a modern nation at all. If you read the context God is speaking to Solomon at the dedication of the temple and He is simply, the whole context there, He is reiterating the blessing and cursing passages that are related, in the Mosaic Covenant, to the nation Israel, that if you disobey Me I'm going to curse you, in terms of divine discipline, the five cycle of discipline, and if you obey Me, then I will restore you to the land. And that is what God is reaffirming to Solomon in 2 Chronicles. He's saying "if My people, who are called by My name" will turn to Me, in other words, if you've been in disobedience and turn back to Me then I'll bless you again according to the provisions of the Mosaic Covenant, but if you don't read it that way you're going to rip that out of context and say let's have a national prayer day and the verse that you're going to use to justify a national prayer day is a verse that applies to the nation Israel under the Mosaic Covenant some two or three thousand years ago. It doesn't have anything to do with the United States of America in the 20th century and if you take that verse that way you're yanking it out of context so badly that you probably don't understand anything else in Scripture either. That's just one of my little pet peeves because I get tired of reading it and I've been reading it a lot since September 11th. But that verse does not have anything to do with anything other than Israel.
We have to read things in terms of their context, and the biggest problem that people have in terms of application is they go read their neighbor's mail and they want to apply it to themselves. So if your neighbor gets a call down to the IRS for a little audit, does that mean you're going to go? Of course not, but that's what we try to do, we read somebody else's mail. If you get a refund check from the IRS, are you going to run over there and make it yours? That's called thievery. The Bible is filled with promises of blessing and cursing to Israel. It's amazing how many Christians in the Church Age run over to their neighbor, Israel, and try to make that stuff apply to them today. So that's all part of observation of the text.
And Daniel is a very careful observer of the text and he's not simply reading Jeremiah, he's also reading numerous other passages in the Old Testament because Daniel had Old Testament Scripture available to him. He had the Torah available to him, he had portions of Jeremiah available to him, remember Jeremiah is probably twenty or thirty years senior to Daniel and Jeremiah had been his Bible teacher when Daniel was a young man in Jerusalem. So he had portions of Jeremiah, he had, as we'll see in a little bit, he had a letter from Jeremiah that's included in the book of Jeremiah that Jeremiah had sent to the exiles in Babylon. So Daniel has the Old Testament, he's got Leviticus, he's got Deuteronomy, he has access to information in Jeremiah and he's studying the Scripture. He's not sitting around contemplating his navel waiting for God to tell him what to do. God has clearly given Daniel revelation; He gave him the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2; he had a vision in Daniel 7; he has another vision in Daniel 8 which came before this event in Daniel 9, he's had these visions but as he contemplates the fulfillment, the present fulfillment that he's seeing of these visions, he needs more information, before he can even come to an understanding or application, what does Daniel have to do. Notice, he is not praying for God to give him more information, more revelation, he's praying for application from what he does understand so he gets into the Scripture and he begins the study of the Scripture.
In Daniel 9:1 we read that this is "the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus," and this is the fulfillment of prophecy from Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. Let's put a time line up here so we can remind ourselves of this chronology. This is one of the most important passages in the entire Scripture chronologically. By the time we get to the end of the chapter we're going to get into that well-known prophecy of Daniel's seventy weeks where Daniel prophecies to the day the entrance of the Messiah into Jerusalem. But in order to understand that we have to understand the first half of the chapter and what's going on in these first 2 or 3 verses.
586 BC is a key date we have to keep in mind; 586 BC is the time when the nation went out under divine discipline, when Jerusalem was overrun by the troops of Nebuchadnezzar, and the temple was destroyed. Preceding that the last five kings of Israel were Josiah, who was a good king, then Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Now what happens in 605 BC, while Jehoiakim is on the throne, Nebuchadnezzar invades, for the first time, he invades Judah for the first time, and while he is headed south pursuing the Egyptians after the battle of Carchemish, he seized Jerusalem and he goes and besieges it. At that time he takes a number of young men hostage; that's where he takes Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego hostage and he took them to Babylon. That is the beginning of the fifth cycle of discipline for Israel; they are young men who are being taken out of the land. At that point the prophets, like Jeremiah are announcing there's no turning back, Israel, you're going to be defeated, you're going to be taken out of the land, you'd better prepare for it now because this is exactly what's going to happen.
This is the same kind of thing that people need to be paying attention to in this nation, watching what's going on in the Middle East right now and there's a certain potential there. I'm not a prophet, I don't have a word from God like Jeremiah or Isaiah did, but there's potential for some real disaster coming up. And we need to be prepared for it. Americans don't like to hear that but that's definitely possible. If things play out a certain way, I heard someone, a military analyst over the weekend suggest that it would be within 90 days that we go into Iraq. If we go into Iraq, any kind of major invasion like that could really dry up the oil pipeline for a while; oil and gas prices could double or triple in a few short months. Are you prepared, do you have some emergency plan in mind for how you're going to handle it financially.
This war against terrorism is not status quo; I think a lot of Americans have just sort of eased back into a normal life style since Sept. 11th. Unless you are traveling, then you deal with that with the airlines all the time or if you're in the airline industry, they are doing everything they can to stay afloat because with more and more security regulations it's harder, it's more difficult, they're losing more and more money and some of them are just literally days away from declaring bankruptcy. I think we may see a couple of these major airlines go under and once that starts happening the ripple effect economically through this nation is going to be incredible. You stack on top of that the fact that we could invade Iraq and see some real escalation in oil and gas prices and that has all the markings of economic disaster and a call for sacrifice on the part of a lot of Americans which Americans don't like to do. We need to prepare for disaster.
That was exactly the message of Jeremiah during the time of Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion and that is there is going to be a disaster. We don't know what will happen here, I don't claim to be a prophet, I don't know what will happen but Jeremiah did and he said you have to prepare for it, you're going to be out of the land and God is going to take you out of the land under the fifth cycle of discipline and you'd better prepare for it now. Well, they ignored him; they didn't like that message so they did not prepare for the inevitable, which came in 586 BC. 586 BC began the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. This number seventy is crucial to understand what happens at the beginning of the chapter and what will happen at the end of the chapter. And the seventy years, it's almost like it has two areas of fulfillment, number one, from 605 BC when the first deportation occurred to 535 BC, that's seventy years, in 535 BC the first group returns. From 586 BC, that is when the temple is destroyed, to 516 BC which is when they began to rebuild the temple, so you see two aspects of this seventy year Babylonian captivity, but the seventy years that matters is from 605 to 535 and I'll explain that when we get there, but that has to do with the fact that God had prophesied that there would be seventy years under the heel of the Babylonians.
The Babylonian Empire ended when the Medes and the Persians came into Babylon and conquered, that was after the handwriting on the wall, Daniel 5:30 says, "That same night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king was slain," in 5:31 "So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two." This is his first year, this is the same time frame, this happens and then within six months to a year the events of Daniel 9 take place. And the reason is, as Daniel sees the Medes and the Persians come in, he realizes that this is the shoulders and arms of silver taking over from the kingdom of gold, in Daniel 2, he realizes this is the bear, the lopsided bear of Daniel chapter 7 replacing the winged lion of the first empire described in Daniel 7. So as he starts seeing this prophecy take place, and he realizes the freedom that the Jews have for the first time since 605 BC, he begins to go back into the Scripture to study to see exactly what God's plan for Israel is.
So when he comes to verse 2 and he emphasizes the first year of Darius' reign we ought to stop and ask the question, what is significant about this first year of Darius, 538 BC. Why is it that Daniel seems to emphasize this, and that is because that this the first year that the Jews had any significant level of freedom from the rule of the Babylonian Empire. It's the first year of freedom since Nebuchadnezzar first invaded in 605 BC and the Medes and the Persians had conquered most of central Asia and what we call the Middle East now, from Asia Minor, what we call Turkey, all the way to the Indus River which would mean all of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, all of that area was conquered, they had conquered to Egypt, the held the crossroads of the world in their hands and they were in control of the area that we call Israel or Palestine today.
The Medes and the Persians were much more lenient towards the Jews than the Babylonians had been. So the Hebrew community has a level of freedom that they've never had before. This was prophesied in Isaiah and in Jeremiah, that Cyrus would come as an anointed shepherd who would deliver the Jews and give them freedom. So Daniel is seeing prophecy fulfilled before his very eyes. He remembers Daniel 2:39 where in the identification of the statue, he was told by God, "And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you," the "you" being Nebuchadnezzar, "then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth." So he is seeing that change from Daniel 2:39. And then again in Daniel 7:5, "Behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, Arise, devour much meat!"
So Daniel has had access to the information in Daniel 7 and Daniel 2 and he sees these things taking place. Also in Daniel 8 we have the information in 8:2, and Daniel has a vision there, "And I looked in the vision, and it came about while I was looking, that I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision, and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal.  I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before," the ram was the Medo-Persian Empire, "nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself." And the angel told Daniel that the ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. So as Daniel has this information in Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 in front of him, before Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire, when it happens he knows that God is doing something phenomenal in history. He is fulfilling prophecy.
So at this point Daniel is looking around and he's evaluating and observing history and he says I've just survived the fall of a major civilization and a major kingdom, and God has spoken to me in the past about these events and I've seen them come to pass, so what impact is this going to have now on my people, on the nation Israel.
One of the great doctrines that we emphasized as we went through this is that in the exilic period, this period when Israel is out under what's called the Babylonian captivity or the exile, when they are not in the land, that they are learning that God is sovereign over all the nations. See, up to this point Israel tended to have a very myopic view of God's role in history. They looked at everything through these near-sighted glasses that God, Yahweh, is their God, He's the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He's the God who controls the destiny of the Jews. But they really didn't look at God as a God who controlled the history and the destiny of all the Gentile nations. So now that they are out under captivity, when they no longer have their own land, they no longer have a temple, they no longer have a functioning priesthood and everything seems in a chaos, what God is demonstrating to the Jews during the exile is that God is still on the throne and God is still the God in control over all the Gentile nations. He is emphasizing His total sovereignty over human history.
So all of this is on Daniel's mind as he looks and observes in the books the number of years for the completion of the desolation of Jerusalem, namely seventy years. So what was it that Daniel was looking at, what were these books? Let's look at some of the passages in the Scripture that Daniel obviously studied and was putting together for his own understanding. Turn first to Jeremiah 25:11, this is a prophecy of the coming judgment on Israel. Jeremiah states, "And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon for seventy years." And look at verse 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." Now the point I want to make is that it's seventy years here, Daniel is reading this, and he realizes this is going to be seventy years and the land is going to be desolate during that time, it's like it was until the Jews began to return to Israel in modern times, it was a barren wasteland, it wasn't productive, it was going back to desert, there was no one working the soil, there was no one taking advantage of it, and God was really giving the land rest, as we will see.
Jeremiah is warning the nation again that they need to prepare for this time of judgment. Remember there were three, really three raids by Nebuchadnezzar into Israel; the first occurred in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which was in 605 BC and that was when Daniel was taken captive; the second raid came in 598 BC when Nebuchadnezzar made another raid and took more hostages out, and that included Ezekiel. And then in 586 BC was when he finally destroyed Jerusalem.
Now let's go back and look at the context of this prophecy a little bit. In Jeremiah 25:1 we read, "The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim," that's 605 BC, this prophecy is being made at the same time that Nebuchadnezzar is on the verge of attacking the nation and taking out the first group of hostages. Look at verse 3, "From the thirteenth year of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened," that's negative volition. Again and again they heard from Jeremiah the warning from God and they refused to listen and now it's going to be too late.
Jeremiah 25:4, "And the LORD has sent to you all his servants the prophets again and again," notice the repetition, he is making it clear, again and again they have refused to listen to the prophets, "but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear," you don't want to go to Bible class, you don't want to study the Word, you're just too busy with all of the day to day affairs of your life. And then he goes on to cite the warnings, verse 8, "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, Because you have not obeyed My words,  behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, declares the LORD, and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation."
And this was so bad, to read the accounts in Josephus about what took place during that invasion when Jerusalem was surrounded and people had no food and they were reduced to, in many cases, there were mothers who boiled their children in order to have food to survive. And you just read some really fascinating stories in Josephus about how the people survived and that's what they were doing, they were living off of one another and reduced to cannibalism. And this had all been prophesied as what would happen under divine discipline under the fifth cycle of discipline back in Deuteronomy.
Then Jeremiah 25:12, "Then it will be when seventy years are completed," now remember that phrase, I'm going to come back and look at that in just a minute, "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.  And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, al that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations." So it looks as if there is some sort of premature cut off when the Medes and the Persians conquer Babylon in 538, it's not until 535 before they start to go back to the land. And that is a transition period, it's an administrative transition that's necessary in order to reorganize the people and get them prepared before they can go back into the land.
The next passage that Daniel looked at was in Leviticus 26:32-34, and here is another important element. This is the fifth cycle of discipline as it is outlined in the Mosaic Covenant. Now I keep having to reiterate this because I'm not sure everybody really gets this. There were five stages of discipline that God promised Israel. These are five series or cycles of discipline. They were for Israel; they are outlined in Leviticus 26 and Leviticus 26 is part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law or the covenant that God made with Israel in Mount Sinai is one single document. It was given to the Jews; it wasn't given to any other nation. That makes Israel a unique nation in all of history. They are covenant nation to God and God promised within this doctrine that if they obeyed Him there would be certain blessings, certain privileges that they would enjoy and if they disobeyed him there would be certain disciplinary action that would be taken, certain curses that would come, these cycles of discipline. These don't relate to any other nation in history. Why? Because no other nation has a direct covenant with God. This is why we loosely talk about the fact that we see a nation today going under the fourth cycle or fifth cycle of discipline but that's really just an extended analogy or application. The five cycles of discipline only have to do with Israel as a covenant nation.
And the final stage is that they are taken out of the land. Now why is that important? Because this is the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it is the land that God reaffirms to Israel in Deuteronomy 29 and 30 in a separate covenant to the nation that some people call the Palestinian Covenant, I prefer to call it the real estate or the land covenant. But we look at the fifth stage, which begins in verse 27, Leviticus 26:27, "Yet if in spite of this, you do not obey Me," that is in spite of the previous four cycles of discipline, if "you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me,  then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins.  Further, you shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat," that was fulfilled not only in the siege in 586 BC but it was also fulfilled during the time of the Romans going in in 70 AD. Verse 30, "I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars," that is the idolatry and idolatry is always demonism, and the Jews have always had this propensity toward demonism and that's even true today, there's an element of mysticism in … [tape turns]
…the Kabalah, you may run into that sometime and that's Jewish mysticism. Any kind of mysticism always opens you to the demonic. "I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols; for My soul," God says, "shall abhor you.  I will lay waste your cities as well, and will make your sanctuaries desolate; and I will not smell your soothing aromas," that means the temple is gone and there is no longer a place for sacrifice, for the sin offerings or for the offerings for the Day of Atonement.
Then we come to Leviticus 26:32, "And I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled over it." See, that happened both in the Old Testament and it happened from 70 AD up until the late 19th century. The land of Israel was desolate, it was a barren wasteland, only nomadic Bedouins were there, there was no agriculture, there was no irrigation, there were no crops that were grown, it wasn't until the Jews began to return to the land in the Zionist movement, starting in the 1890s, began to purchase land and irrigate that now Israel became a land that is once again almost flowing with milk and honey, it's very profitable, they have tremendous agriculture there. So God promised that He would make the land desolate.
Then in Leviticus 26:33, "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.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths." Now under the Mosaic Law the Jews were to rest, not just every seventh day but also every seventh year. They would work for six years, they were an agricultural economy so they would plant and they would sow and they would build their granaries and their barns and they would store up the excess. But when it came to the seventh year they weren't supposed to do anything, the land was supposed to lie fallow, the land was to rest, of course that had the benefit of chemical restoration of the soil, but that wasn't its purpose. Its purpose was for them to rest in God's provision; they weren't supposed to do anything, if anything grew up then the poor, the widows and the orphans in the land, those that were on what was their welfare system would go out into the fields and they could collect, they could harvest whatever was out there in order to sustain them. But this was a time for the nation to take the year off, nobody worked for a year, and they were going to rest in God's provision and God would take care of them. And that's a picture of the faith rest drill, that we are to completely relax in God's provision, not worry about where our food is going to come from tomorrow or if there's going to be anything there for us tomorrow, but that God is going to supply it.
Well, because the land, because over a period of years, for at least 70 of those sabbatical years they failed to rest, so over a period of some 490 years, we don't know if they were consecutive, you can't go back and say it started at this point and then went to this point, they didn't follow the sabbatical year, but the point is that there were a period of seventy sabbatical year, now a sabbatical year comes every seventh year, seventy times seven is 490 years. Now remember, that's an important number because when we get to the vision at the end of the chapter of Daniel's seventy weeks, that once again comes back to 490 years. So this all ties together. We have to understand this as background before we can understand Daniel's seventy weeks.
So Daniel studied Leviticus chapter 26. And then he studied 2 Chronicles 36:21, and here there's precise statement of the reason for the Babylonian captivity, "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." So God is going to give the land its sabbatical rest and just as a note, this also shows something about the environmental responsibility that believers are to have towards the land, not just to use it and abuse it but there is to be a responsibility and this was included, even within the Mosaic Law, that they were to give the land rest and to give the animals rest, and it's a basis for showing how people are to treat animals and how they are to treat the land as something that God has given them in trust and that they are to use responsibly. But remember, man is to subdue the earth; the earth is for man's use, for technological advance, it's not a pantheistic concept, where man just lives with nature and we can't use or develop nature or exploit nature for technological advance. So this isn't the approach of the modern tree-huggers that we're all one with nature so let's not do anything. We're to use it responsibly but we are to use nature.
Then we come to the last passage which is in Jeremiah 29 and this is a letter that Jeremiah penned to the exiles.  "Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah, the prophet, sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon." So Daniel not only has the Law and the earlier fragment of Jeremiah but now he has this letter from Jeremiah. Now in Daniel's time this letter is not part of the book of Jeremiah and it doesn't become included into Jeremiah until after the Babylonian captivity.
Skip down to Jeremiah 29:4, "Thus says the LORD of hosts," that is Yahweh, Lord of the armies, "the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,  Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce." See, they were thinking, well, we're just going to be here a short time, let's get ready to go but God says no, you're going to putt down roots, you're going to stay, you're going to build houses, you maybe living outside the land in captivity but you are to be involved culturally in that environment, in that empire. And the application for the believer today is we are citizens of heaven but we're living here on earth, we are to be involved, we're to put down roots, we're to have careers, we're to have jobs, we're to have an impact on the culture around us just as the exiles did during the captivity.
Jeremiah 29:6, God goes on to explain this, they are to "Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease.  And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile," be involved in local politics and local community activities, "and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare." So this indicates that the believer living outside of his natural domain, the Jew living outside the land in the Old Testament, the believer living on earth, not in heaven today, that we are to be involved in the society around us for good. And we are to pray for its welfare that we might have welfare, we are to pray for its peace that we might have peace.
Jeremiah 29:8, "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream," see there's always problems in history with people thinking that God speaks to them and giving out that information as revelation.  For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, declares the LORD." We have to deal today with what God has revealed in Scripture. Think about it, in terms of application. Here's Daniel, a prophet who has had direct revelation from God and yet what is he relying upon for information during this crisis? The written Word of God. He's not like most modern charismatics and Christians who are wanting a word from God to solve the problem in their life that they're facing here and now. He goes into the Scripture and he studies the Scripture. He studied the Scripture intently and he knows how to study the Scripture in order to extract the information. Now the application today is that believers need to be in a local church where the pastor-teacher, someone with the gift of pastor-teacher is teaching and explaining the Word and then God the Holy Spirit is going to use that in application in their own life.
Then we see in Jeremiah 29:10, "For thus says the LORD, When seventy years have been completed for Babylon," notice again, he says when these "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." In other words, it doesn't matter how much you pray to go home, it doesn't matter how many times you confess your sins and pray a national prayer of repentance, I'm not going to listen to you or do anything until the seventy years are up. There's nothing you can do to change My mind until those seventy years are up. This is the plan. So He says when that time is up, "then I will visit you and fulfill My word to you, to bring you back to this place."
And then verse 11, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Now there's a verse that has always been yanked out of context too by Christians. And they want to apply that to just any situation, I've head people who are going through a hard time and some other Christian will quote this verse and say "I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity," well, it doesn't have to do with anything going on in a believer's life today. This had to do with God's plan for Israel in the Old Testament, so we have to once again quit reading somebody else's mail and stick with out own mail and information for us.
So God lays it out that there are going to be seventy years of captivity, not 68, not 69, but 70. God had a purpose for that. And then in verse 12, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you." And that is what Daniel is reading, it is time to pray and the seventy years are just about up so I am going to take the information I've learned from Leviticus 26 and from Jeremiah 29 and I'm going to apply this in terms of a national prayer. Daniel is going to focus on this and we will look at that next time, and Daniel's prayer and the things that we can learn about prayer from Daniel's prayer.