Ladies Bible Study
The Book of Daniel
Relevance for Today
"Effectual Fervent Prayer"
This month we will be studying one of the most interesting and inspiring books of the Bible. It is Daniel Chapter 9. As we have progressed in our study of the Book, we have come to know Daniel as a man of resolution, reverence and revelation. He demonstrates all three qualities in this chapter. We have covered a lot of ground in the past 8 months, we have seen Daniel and his three friends taken into captivity, live in one of the most sinful ungodly nations in existence. Yet they remained true to the Living God and because of their faithfulness, God was faithful in return, protecting and promoting them.
They faced death numerous time, but were always, always saved and able to show God in His omnipotence and mercy each time.
Letís begin by reading Godís Word.
Daniel 9:1-19: In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans 2. in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord, given through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 3. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5. "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6. "Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
7. "O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. 8. "O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9. "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10. "We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11. "Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12. "And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such never has been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. 13. "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14. "Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15. "And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16. "O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all who are around us. 17. "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18. "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.''
Let me begin by looking at another well known Scripture:
James 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Ladies, Daniel was practicing this important principle of pray long before Jesus was born. As you remember we discovered Daniel as a man of pray. In fact Daniel Chapter 6 we see his prayer life almost cost him his life. As we progress in the study of the first part of this chapter, verses 1-19, relate Danielís prayer life to yours. Are you an effectual fervent prayer warrior or do you feel at times your prayers havenít gotten past the ceiling. After our discussion today, you will begin a new life of prayer.
Letís stop and look at the historical events. Babylon has fallen and Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, He is Darius Cyaxares II and he actually only ruled in Babylon two years. This event and vision takes place at the very beginning of his rule.
Daniel 9:2: in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord, given through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel is almost 90 years old. He had interpreted the "handwriting on the wall" seen the end of the Babylon empire and lived to see part of both Nebuchadnezzarís dream and his vision come to pass. The fall of the powerful "head of gold" empire and the rise of the "breast and arms of silver", the Median Ė Persian Empire. Daniel being the man of God he was, went to God for help understanding the times. He studied the Word of God and the known prophets for answers. When he said he "understood by the books the number of the years specified", that is what he is talking about. He studies especially the prophecy of Jeremiah for answers. He wanted to know what was to happen now, to Godís people. . The seventy years of captivity are a result of seventy years of violating seventy sabbatic years. In their disobedience and rebellion, the people of Israel did not keep the law regarding every seventh year as a Sabbath year, therefore they were in captivity 70 years.
Jeremiah 25: 11-12: `And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12.`Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the Lord; `and I will make it a perpetual desolation.
Jeremiah 29: 10-14: For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
These verses in Jeremiah 29 are often quoted verses for us today. I can only imagine what Daniel felt when he read these prophecies. He needed answers. They clearly state the captivity will end but that the people have to pray for it to be accomplished.
That is the way it is with our prayer life, ladies, God so wants to perform His good word toward us. He wants to heal us, provide for us, save us, care for us, but we have to ask Him! We have to seek Him, call upon Him and pray to Him and He will answer us.
Letís see what Daniel did.
Daniel 9: 3-4: Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
Daniel does several things here. First he sets his face. You have to be determined in your prayer life. You cannot be "wishy-washy" or inconsistent. You have to be determined to pray and be willing to spend time doing it. Be willing to fast if called upon to do so.
James 1:5-8: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8. he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways..
Daniel practices what centuries later the Apostle James teaches. That is consistency before God. If you are double minded, wavering in your faith, you will not receive anything because you are unstable in all your ways. God is unwavering toward us and he expects us to be unwavering toward Him.
Daniel desperately wants to know what is happening and if the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. He knows from studying Jeremiah that he needs to call on the Lord, seek God and trust in Him to keep His Word.
Daniel has also gained a lot of Godly wisdom over the years and He realized that sin, disobedience and rebellion caused the captivity. He we see the humility of this faithful servant of God. Daniel not only fasts but he travails. He sees the sins of himself and his fellow citizens and he is broken by it.
In the remainder of the verses we see Daniel confessing the sins of Israel. We see him listing the sins of unfaithfulness, rebellion and failure to perform Godís laws and Word.
Daniel is a very humble man, he is not proud of his spirituality. He has been a faithful servant of God but he does not let that go to his head. We see him constantly saying "we have sinned, we have not obeyed your laws, the judgment has come upon us." He does not divorce himself from the sin, he confesses it as his own.
Matthew 6:5-8: "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6. "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7. "But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8. "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Luke 18:9-14: Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank You that I am not like other men extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12. `I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
13. "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God be merciful to me a sinner!' 14. "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.''
Humility before God is so important.
Daniel is fervent and honest but he is not long winded. Hebrew scholars tell us the prayer is only about three minutes long. We donít have to pray until we are exhausted we have to pray until we break through. If we get to the point of not knowing what to pray that is when the Holy Spirit in us takes over, we pray in our prayer language and we break through to the answer.
The other important characteristic of this prayer is Danielís remembrance of who God is and what He has done for the Hebrew nation in the past. He glorifies God continually through the prayer. He reminds God of His righteousness and faithfulness, How great and awesome He is. That He is Keeper of Covenant and merciful towards them. Donít ever forget who God is and what He has done in your life. Donít ever stop thanking Him for his goodness and mercy toward you.
Letís move on to another important point.
Daniel 9:17-19: 17. "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18. "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.''
Daniel gets down to business here. He is desperate and shows it in his vocabulary and tone. ""O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay."
Ladies, God responds to our need. He is good and merciful and even when we donít see the answer in our time, it is on the way.
Daniel 9:20-21: 20. Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21. yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.
I find this very interesting and encouraging. Earlier in our lesson we quoted Matthew 6:8. God knows what we need before we ask for it. He knows what we need, but we have to ask Him to provide it. God will never infringe on our freedom. He is a giving God but we have to ask him to give. He wants us to love Him, need Him and depend on Him. He wants a total relationship with us. That is why we were created. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. Ladies, a relationship is two ways. Donít just spend your prayer time begging for something, talk with God about everything. He is there to listen and honor. He will show you things in His word, He will show you how to deal with life. He also enjoys hearing how much you love Him. Honor Him with your praise and thanksgiving, not with just your need.
Letís move on to the second important part of this chapter, the prophetic.
Daniel 9:22-27: 22. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23. "At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: 24. "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
25. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
26. "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. the end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. and on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.''
This is the famous "Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks." It is a complicated yet interesting and very important. I am simply going to list the important points for the sake of simplicity.
1. Verse 24: The "seventy weeks or sevens refers to years. It is 70x7 or 490 total years.
It deals with the next 490 years in the future of Godís Covenant people. It is divided into 3 parts, 7 weeks Ė 49 years, 62 weeks Ė 434 years and 1 week Ė 7 years.
2. It begins sometime between 458 and 445 BC. Using Nehemiah 12:1-8 and Ezra 7:11-26 as references. This is when the decree to return to Israel is given.
3. Verse 25: first describes the seven weeks or 49 years. It is the time span from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple to the end of the Old Testament.
4. Verse 25: also refers to 62 weeks. This is based on a Jewish year of 360 days and equals 434 years. It begins at the close of the Old Testament, the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple and ends around the time of the "Triumphal Entry" of Christ in Jerusalem described in Luke 19: 29-40.
5. Verse 26: "Messiah will be cut off." Refers to the crucifixion of Christ, who dies for all. It also encompasses the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the spreading of the Gospel and the destruction of the Temple and the Holy City, Jerusalem in 70 AD.
This is all historical information, it has all come to pass. What was prophetic for Daniel has now become historical for us. We now move into the prophetic.
The 434 years also encompasses the church age or the age of grace, in which we now live. It will come to end with the rapture of the church. Leading into the seventh week of verse 27.
6. Verse 27: The seventh week or last 7 year period. The prince of the people who destroys the temple and Holy City is the antichrist, the little horn of Daniel 8. He will rise from the rebuilt Roman Empire as it is the Romans who destroy the city and temple in 70 AD. The antichrist will be miscast as a savior and will make a Covenant with Israel for seven years. He will break it half way through or 3.5 years. This last week is prophetic and has not been fulfilled. It is up to the church to bring it about. That is why it is not in chronological order. We must do certain things to fulfill it. We must be in unity, we must spread the Gospel throughout the whole world, teaching people to live the "kingdom life" and we must pray for His swift return.
"Even so, Lord Come."
Next month continues this exciting study with Chapter 10.