In Dan. 9, Daniel is shown to be a man who practices spiritual disciplines. Most of the chapter is a prayer. From Dan. 9:1 we know Daniel is in his 80s. Listen to the disciplines Daniel practices: READ Dan. 9:2-3.
- Bible reading. He is reading from the book of Jeremiah.
- Study. He knows what Jeremiah prophecied and came to the conclusion that the Jews would be held captive for 70 years. He was likely studying Jeremiah 25:8-11.
- Prayer, which is over half of Daniel 9
- Fasting in Dan. 9:3.
- Sackcloth and ashes is a visual for the discipline of repentance/confession.
What’s the lesson for us? Today Christianity is under attack around the world, today the world is going in a direction that is discouraging… I read articles, listen to news, pundits, friends and family, I scroll through FB and internet… and I see little confession on the part of the Christian world. There is too much finger pointing. At some point we must confess our sins and ask God to revive US. Maybe we are guilty by our participation in bad behavior. Maybe it is the movies we’ve allowed in our homes. Maybe it is patterns of only giving moments of our time to God instead of praying without ceasing. Maybe we need to repent of our phones, computers, tv, sports, distractions, drama, gossip. Daniel sees his sins and the sins of the people of God as the problem.
And what does he ask? The seventy years of captivity is about up in his study of Jeremiah, so it is time: “Restore us Lord. Revive the Holy City, Jerusalem.” I love the words of Daniels prayer in Dan. 9:18b READ… Daniel has found freedom, freedom through the disciplines of Bible reading, study, prayer, fasting and confession… and so it is with humble boldness that the prayer ends: READ Dan. 9:19.
God can fix what we confess. Amen. God can fix us when we are realistic about our true nature. God responds to Daniel when Daniel is receptive to God: READ Dan. 9:20-21.
This is the word of the Lord: READ Dan. 9:24. I believe the “Seventy Sevens” are 70 years of “weeks” or 490 years. It is a symbolic number... God is telling Daniel his plan is far greater than restoring Israel to a “happily everafter” status. If our vision for a restored U.S. is to go back to an imagined peak of Christianity in the U.S., think again. We need to look forward to a greater day of God’s Kingdom. One change in one law is not going to make us all warm and fuzzy as a Christian nation. The vision from God is for a coming day of perfection… Daniel asks about going home to Israel and God says, let me tell you about the next 490 years.
Six things are outlined in Dan. 9:24. READ. In the perfect amount of time,
1) God will end transgression, or rebelliousness,
2) put an end to sin, and
3) atone for wickedness, i.e. repair the scars left on people’s lives.
That is an an assurance that there will be restoration. God can fix what we confess. God then speaks of salvation for the end of time:
4) to bring in everlasting righteousness,
5) seal up vision and prophecy (meaning the final plan of salvation will be set in place) and
6) anoint the Most Holy Place [or Holy ONE]….
These last three point to Jesus, we need no new revelation.. Sometimes I am so thankful I live on this side of the cross so the story is known….I am so thankful I can read the last chapter of the book.
Dan. 9:25 is saying that the time of perfection will be forged out “in times of trouble.” READ. Leading up to the birth of Christ, there was trouble from every side, the other prophecies and visions of Daniel make it clear one world empire after another would cause wars and oppression… Troubled times, yet God’s plan is on time.
Dan. 9:26 is easier to see on this side of the cross. READ. This is a prophecy of death of Jesus. God has a plan: the anointed one will die, before the end evil will be rampant, but God’s plan of salvation will be victorious! In 70 A.D., 35-40 years after the resurrection of Jesus, the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple. To this day it is not restored. I believe this is what is in mind when the Bible says, “the city and sanctuary will be destroyed.”
Then in Dan. 9:27, when it says, “he will put an end to sacrifice” that is referring to the death of Jesus because the daily sacrifices for sin are no longer needed, they were fulfilled by Jesus Christ because he died as a perfect man for us. Good Christians disagree on this point, but I am convinced the Temple will never be rebuilt because Jesus Christ is the new temple, he is the sacrifice for sins, and he makes the literal temple no longer necessary. Jews need Jesus for salvation like every sinner.
We are now living in the day described by Dan. 9:27. READ. Last week I told you the story of Antiochus Epiphanes, an anti-Christ that rose up to persecute the Jews 160+ years before Christ. Among other atrocities, he sacrificed pigs on the alter in the temple. Antiochus was not just a real person, but he also is symbolic of another antichrist, “an abomination that causes desolation” as it says in 9:27. I believe we are now living in the day of the final anti-Christ, not embodied in one person, but in world powers, world evil, systems…. We are living in the final “week” of Dan. 9:27.
“until the end that is decreed.” How are we to respond to the present day of trouble? That’s what this vision is about. God’s plans are unfolding no matter what we think or say or do. We have no power to move the Second Coming along, or to hinder it. What we are given is a choice in how to live.
Daniel is a man that reads the Bible, studies the scripture, prays, fasts and confesses. God says, because you have confessed, I can fix what you have broken, and I am letting you in on my much bigger plans. God’s great desire and gift for Daniel, and us, is to see the glass as half full. There will be troubles, but God’s plan is unfolding to bring in the day of perfection, through the anointing of the Holy One.
Next week scripture: God gives Daniel a vision of Jesus. The Holy One spoken of in Dan. 9 will be fleshed out in greater detail. Confidence in God and knowing Jesus personally is the purpose of this vision.
I’d like to share a story of a man that through an agonizing desire to understand Daniel 9, came to discover the final chapter of the story, and he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
This is the story of Leopold Cohn, born in the Orthodox Jewish community of Brezezna, Hungary in 1862. When he was 7 both his parents died and he was left to fend for himself. Feeling a call from God, he set out to become a rabbi and graduated with high marks from the Talmudic academy at the age of 18. Soon he was married and in keeping with the custom of the time moved into the home of his wife’s parents. This allowed him a great deal of free time to study the Hebrew Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) and the Talmud, the collected writings of leading rabbis commenting on the Scriptures.
Every morning he repeated the 12th article of the Jewish creed: “I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he tarry, yet will I wait daily for his coming.” As he studied one question bothered him: “Why does the Messiah not come to deliver his people?” He discovered other rabbis had wrestled with the same question. As he continued to study he concluded the Messiah should have come long ago. He decided to study the words of the Hebrew prophets for himself. He paid particular attention to Daniel’s prophecy of the “70 weeks” in Daniel 9:24-27. It seemed plain that Daniel predicted the coming of Messiah some 400-500 years after the prophecy was given. But that was 2500 years ago and the rabbis said that Messiah had not yet come. How could he resolve this contradiction?
He took it upon himself to visit with an older rabbi. When he posed the question, the older man advised him to drop the subject or he might lose his career. He suggested Leopold should go to New York where people were more free to discuss such forbidden topics. Emboldened, Leopold left his family behind and traveled to New York in search of the truth about the Messiah.
Soon after he arrived in 1892 the young rabbi passed by a church in a Jewish section of the city. A small sign advertised “Meetings for Jews.” The minister gave Leopold a copy of the New Testament and urged him to read it. He did so, starting at 11:00 in the morning and finishing at 1:00 a.m. the next day. He did not understand everything, but he concluded Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah. He was the one of whom Daniel had written, the one whose coming was predicted hundreds of years earlier. Not long after that Leopold trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Little did he know the sorrow and hate that would come to him because of his act of faith. He would face years of vicious attacks from his Jewish brothers who felt he had betrayed their ancient faith. Eventually Leopold set up a storefront mission in the Brownsville section of New York. Life itself had but one purpose—to tell others that the Messiah had already come and that his name is Jesus Christ. That mission eventually became Chosen People Ministries. (Story of Cohn from a sermon by Ray Pritchard)
Many of you know Alan Shore, a friend and former pastor in our sister church in Nooksack, who now works for Chosen People’s Ministries, traveling around the world with his one man play, “A Chosen Vessel” on the life of Paul. Many years later a man named Moise Rosen left Chosen People’s Ministries to form Jews for Jesus, another organization dedicated to bring the final chapter of the book to the Jewish People, so they can know the truth of the Messiah. I knew Moise Rosen in my days of San Francisco, when Jews for Jesus used our building for their own gatherings… Wonderful ministry…
Confidence. Assurance. Knowing Jesus. Nothing more important. I would not advice anyone read Moby Dick without reading the final chapter. You will be haunted. I would not advise anyone to read the Bible and leave off the story of Jesus. For it is in Jesus that all the prophecies make sense. It is in Jesus that we can walk with confidence in this day of trouble. He alone is the way to life. Apart from him there is no salvation. He is the promised Messiah of Israel and the Savior of all those who trust in him.