Why do we need a “covenant-keeping” God? Because our world is full of broken covenants and broken promises. We sign contracts and promissory notes, but we over-extend ourselves and don’t pay what we owe. We make promises to our children, but something more important comes up and we don’t keep our promises. We promise to “love and to cherish til death us do part,” but our world is filled with broken marriages and fractured families. We even make promises to God to change, to do better, maybe even to join a church, but we are a covenant-breaking people. We want to change, but only a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God can save us from our brokenness.
In the book of Daniel chapter 9, Daniel called on the covenant-keeping God of Israel to forgive and restore His people and His city, Jerusalem, and God not only answered his prayer, but also revealed to Daniel details about the coming of the Messiah and His eternal kingdom. We can be encouraged because our covenant-keeping God still answers prayers for forgiveness and restoration through the promise of His Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His eternal kingdom.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageGood morning, church. It’s good to see all of you. We’re continuing our series in the book of Daniel. We’re in chapter nine this morning; we’ve entitled this series, “Living in Babylon.” Why Babylon? Because Babylon, in the Bible, is like a metaphor for the world. Daniel and his friends were carried off into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. They were carried off from Jerusalem and spent the rest of their days in that land of Babylon. As we study the book of Daniel, we’re reminded that we’re like exiles in this world. We are citizens of heaven; we’ve been born again in Jesus’ name, but we’re still in this world and we’re waiting for our true home in heaven that He will come again and take us to. We are still living in the world but we feel called to be with Jesus.
How can we know this ? How can we know that this is so? It’s because our God has made promises to us. He’s a promise keeping, promise making God. Another way of saying this is, He’s a covenant making, covenant keeping God. That word, “covenant,” is not used a lot today, but it has the idea of two parties making promises to one another to keep. God has made some promises, some covenants with us. In fact, we often call the old and new Testament the old and new covenant because it’s a record of the promises of God recorded.
Now, as we look at the Book of Daniel, you will notice in verse four, may we just peep under the hood here for a second and tell you where the focus of this passage comes from. In verse four, he says,“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” Daniel is praying to the covenant making, covenant keeping God.
A covenant is unique in the Bible. It’s more than a contract. It’s ratified by blood, and it’s ratified by God, who sent His Son, Jesus, to pay for the covenant that God, who cannot lie and will never break His promises, makes these promises to us that we find in God’s word today.
Why do we need this? Why do we need to know that our God is a covenant making, covenant keeping God? He’s a covenantal God who keeps His promises. Why do we need to know that? It’s because we live in a world of broken covenants and broken promises. We sign contracts and we sign promissory notes but we overextend ourselves and we fail to pay what we owe. We make promises to our own children, but then something comes up and we don’t keep our promises. We have trouble keeping promises; we promised to love and to cherish until death do us part and, yet, their world is filled with broken marriages and fractured families.
We even make promises to God, we say, “I promise, if you’ll do this for me, I’ll change. If you’ll do that for me, I will live differently. I will get back in church or I’ll do this or I’ll serve you.” Then we break our promises to God.
What we need is a God who can change their hearts. We need a promise making, promise keeping, covenantal God who will change us and we can know Him. You see, that’s you. Daniel’s praying to.Chapter nine, verses one through 19 is a prayer. Then, we see an answer to the prayer in the latter part of the chapter. The majority of chapter nine is Daniel praying; he’s praying to a covenant-keeping God. He prays; he says, “God, according to your covenant, will you rescue and restore and forgive my people Israel and restore my city Jerusalem…” and God answers that prayer. He not only answers it , but he tells him, or he reveals to him, the coming of the Messiah and the coming kingdom of the Messiah.
I believe this morning that we can pray like Daniel. We can pray to a promise-keeping God, a covenant-keeping God, and we can pray for forgiveness. We can pray for restoration, and He will give us the very thing that He offers to Daniel. He’ll give us the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible says that all of God’s promises are, Yes, in Jesus. We can know that today.
The text, as we look at it today, I think it will give us three ways that our covenant-keeping God responds to our prayers. I’m gonna take the chapter in three portions and then we’ll comment after each portion. Let’s look at, first of all, Daniel’s prayer. We will do verses one through 19 and then we’ll talk about. Daniel 9:1-19 (ESV) “1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and 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 have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” Now some translations say Darius, the son of Artaxerxes, depending on your translation. But it’s just a matter of a difficult name to pronounce, even in the Hebrew. This version of the ESV says, Ahasuerus. I can’t even say Ahasuerus. Slow down. I can say by descent, a Mede. So he was part of the Medes and the Persians empire that we talked about and was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, another name for Babylonians. Verse 2, “in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” So we have the setting, the time period and the occasion.
Then we read this. “3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and 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 have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” This is God’s Word, Amen.
We’re looking at Daniel’s prayer. As we look at it, we can learn something about our covenant-keeping God. Here’s the first reality, the first truth that we can learn about our God.
1. God hears when we pray according to His will.
First of all, I want you to take note of something. We first see it in verse two and then again, especially in verse four as I have noted earlier. The word, “Lord,” is throughout; it’s throughout chapter nine. I want you to focus on something that you may not know about the English translation of the Bible. Whenever the English translators saw the Hebrew word, Yahweh, is the covenantal name given to the Jews alone.
It was given to Moses in the book of Exodus. Moses was asked at the burning bush to go back and rescue his people in Israel. Moses says, “How can I tell them that I’m rescuing them when I don’t even know your name?” God says, “I am that I am,” which in Hebrew is Yahweh or Jehovah. He gives this revelation name that the Jews alone had revealed to them. It’s a covenantal name, a name given to them alone. Many of you call me, “Pastor;” many of you may call me, “Gary” or by my last name, but only a handful of people call me, “Daddy” and even a smaller group call me, “Papaw.” Papaw is my covenantal name to them; you don’t get to call me that. You can call me those other names. But only those seven little grandchildren get to call me “Papaw.” That’s my covenantal name to them. God has the Yahweh name to his people; Daniel has not used that up until now. For eight chapters, he has not been called, “Yahweh.” He’s called Lord and God, but he’s never been called his covenantal name. In the final chapters of 10 through 12, he never mentions it again, but in chapter nine, he says it eight times. How do we know it? We in the English translation. It’s in all caps. You see the word Lord in the English; its capital A, capital O, capital R, and capital D. It’s translated, Yahweh; it’s in there eight times. times.
What have I told you in the past? “If it’s in there once, it’s important. If it’s in there twice, you should underline. If it’s in there three times, you should really act on it. If it’s in there eight times, come on, people. He’s praying to his covenantal God; he’s praying to Yahweh eight times. It’s in there.
You will also see the word, Lord, capital L and then lower case word. When you see that you’re seeing the Hebrew word, Adonai, which is the word, Lord. If Lord is in all caps, it is His covenantal name, Yahweh. Look at verse four, 4 “I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” I prayed to Yahweh, my Elohim, and made a confession, saying, “O Adonai, the great and awesome Elohim…” What makes this chapter unique is that he’s calling on God’s covenantal name; he uses the word in verse four, covenant, saying, “God, you’re a covenant-keeping God.”
Covenant, in the Hebrew, is to cut. It comes from the idea when he made a covenant with Abraham and he said to Abraham, “I want you to take these animals and cut them in half, and then God passed through their midst and made a covenant with Abraham because you can’t have a covenant without the shedding of blood.” That biblical covenant always involves the shedding of blood, and so that’s what he’s talking about here. God, you have written your covenant with blood. Then he uses a word that we can’t miss in verse four, he says, “who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.” Chesad is the closest thing if you’re trying to take note; Chesad is a good way to write it down. Get a little phlegm in the back of your throat and you can say it. It’s the closest word to the Greek word; it’s the idea of covenantal love, your covenant making, covenant loving God. That’s what he’s saying to God, on the basis of Your covenantal name, on the basis of Your written covenant, on the basis of Your covenantal love that I am praying to you. That’s how I’m praying to you.
Then, he opens it up and he starts praying. Notice what it says in verse one and two. I don’t want to overlook that I mentioned some details about it. Darius is the Mede; remember that the Babylonians have been overthrown now by the Medes and the Persians. Darius is the Mede and Cyrus is the Persian. Cyrus seems to be the greater, and he’s put Darius over that portion of Persia which is the portion of Babylonia. Chaldean is a synonym for Babylonian. Ahasuerus is sometimes in some of your translations.
I want to pop this up just to give you a timeline. ￼This is the time period we’re talking about. We’re right here about 538, 537 BC in the first year of King Darius the Mede. Also, you’ll see Cyrus here. He’s the one over Persia. Darius is over the Babylonian area. You can see that the 70 years that’s found in Jeremiah have now come to a conclusion. Daniel, who was carried off back over here in about 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar has outlived King Nebuchadnezzar. He has outlived King Belshazar and now he’s during the time of the Medes and Persians. So that’s the timeline, and he gives us the setting right here; it’s about 538 BC.
Daniel is saying that here’s what got me praying; I was reading the word of God specifically, I had the Jeremiah scroll out. I was reading and got to that part that says we’re only gonna be in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. God had already told Jeremiah before they even got carried off to Babylon that it would last 70 years. In Jeremiah 25:11 (ESV) “This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations ￼shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” And in Jeremiah 29:10 (ESV) “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for ￼Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”
They’ve been carried off to Babylon and have the scrolls from the temple. They have the Torah; they have the books of the Bible. They even have the latter prophets like Jeremiah. So here’s Daniel; he is 80 years old. He’s studying Jeremiah. He’s talking to God, saying , you’ve told me in these previous chapters, as we’ve been studying together. You have told me about Nebuchadnezzar. I translated the vision about the coming kingdoms of the Gentiles. You gave me my own vision about the coming kingdoms of the Gentiles. You told me that Babylon will be conquered by the Medes and the Persians; that the Medes and the Persians will be conquered by the Greeks and that the Greeks will be conquered by the Romans. But then he asks God, but what about us? What about this 70 years? It looks like the 70 years is up. In fact, I’m serving this Darius now. Who are the Medes and the Persians? What about Jerusalem? What about us? You told me about the Gentiles. What about us? That seems to be what’s going on.
You see, this is the right order of things. The best prayer follows the best Bible study. Get God’s Word in your heart before you pray. Because then you’ll pray the promises of God back to God.
How can you pray the promises back to God if you don’t know what they are? How can you pray according to God’s will if you’ve never studied God’s will? , Right here is the old and new covenant. The new covenant fulfills the old covenant. They’re all fulfilled in Jesus. Here’s the covenant; right here it is. It’s all written down for you. How can you pray according to the covenant if you don’t know it? How can you pray according to God’s will if you don’t study it?
Here’s Daniel. He’s studying, and then in verse 3, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” He’s praying according to God’s will; verses 3 thru 15 is a prayer of confession.
I remember when my children were small. My wife and I would take turns doing their bedtime prayers, teaching them how to pray before they would lay their head down to go to sleep. As they grew older, we wanted them to move past the children’s prayer of, “now I lay me down to sleep…” This is good enough for a two or three year old, but around the time they were the age of five, we started teaching how to really pray. And so, I was teaching one of my children how to pray and I said, so you should confess your sins. I remember my son, Stephen, was the one I was teaching at that time. And he asked me, what do you mean, Daddy, because I always ask Him to forgive me for my sins. I said to Stephen, yes , but you should be more specific. He looks at me with an expression of he didn’t mind telling God, but he’s not saying anything in front of me about his sins. And so, the next night as I was teaching him, he came up with a new line. His new line was, God forgive me for all my sins, especially for the ones I did, and I can’t remember what they are. I’m assuming he must have remembered, but he just didn’t want to confess them in front of his daddy.
Daniel was very specific. He says, God, we’re in shame, but You’re in righteousness. We are sinners, but You are merciful. In chapter nine, this prayer is peppered with God’s Word throughout. He’s talking about the attributes of God, and he talks about God’s attributes of mercy. In fact, to get God’s attributes of mercy on his side, he went ahead and said, you know what? I’m not only praying, but I’m also going to fast.
When’s the last time you fasted? I’ve never done that, you may say; I don’t even have any sackcloth. I wonder if you can order that from amazon.com Is there a place where you can get sackcloth? I don’t know. It’s just so irritating to the skin and then todump ashes on your head and deny your body food and sustenance so that you would just totally focus on God for mercy? Daniel prays to God, I’m sorry that I have sinned against you and my people have sinned against you, and I want to get your attention. I want your mercy. We’ve already seen Your righteousness. We’ve already seen that You followed your part of the covenant. Look down there. He talks about the law of Moses. In verse 11, it talks about the curse, and those that are written in the law of Moses, the servant of God has been poured out upon us. What’s he talking about? He’s talking about Leviticus 26 whereas the people came into the promised Land, he gave him all these promises that if they kept God’s word, you get all these blessings. But before you can get out of Leviticus 26 he then says, but if you break the covenant, you’ll get all these curses upon you. You’ll be scattered to the ends of the earth, and the land will lie desolate .
What has happened now? Daniel says, You know what, Lord? I was reading in the Torah, the Book of Leviticus, and I see that You are righteous. You kept Your side of the covenant but we have broken our side. Shame upon us, but righteousness and mercy upon You. He’s being specific. He’s quoting the Psalms when he says, “may the light come upon us. Open our eyes and make your light come upon us.” Oh Lord, forgive this whole thing. I’m calling on the attributes of God, not us.
And then he begins, in verses 16 through 19, with a prayer of supplication. So he starts off with confession and he gives to supplication. What’s supplication? That’s when you ask for supply. You ask for what you need. He started with confession throughout his adoration. Have you ever heard of this way of praying? It’s a good acronym to help you remember how to pray because Daniel is giving you an great idea of what prayer should look like. It’s called A.C.T.S. Have you ever heard of this? Prayer should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.
Here we are, at that phase of supplication, asking God what we need. We’re all pretty good at that phase, asking for what we need. But look at how he prays in verses 16 through 19. He says, “because of Your great mercy…” He’s basing all of his requests on His mercy. 16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away.” You’ve been righteous and what You’ve done, we deserve. But could you stop? Could you stop now? We have become a “byword.”
That’s what my mom used to say. Gary, don’t you use those bywords. Do you know what a byword is? According to my mom, that’s if you say “gosh darn it, you’ve actually said the bad words. If you say “all shucks,” you’ve actually said the bad words. right? But my mom called those by words. They were words that pointed to the ugly words.
Here, Daniel says, our city has become a byword. Our people are like a byword for what it looks like when you disobey God. Then, he says, “but make your face shine upon your sanctuary.” That’s a quote from Psalms 80:3,NIV “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” Lord, do this. Lord, forgive us. Lord, pay attention. Lord, here, because it’s your city and it’s your people and they have Your name on them. He reminds me of how David prayed after he had been found out from his sin of adultery with Bathsheba . He writes down this psalm, this prayer. of how he prayed for forgiveness. ￼abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. ￼abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1 begins like this. “Have mercy on me. Oh God, according to your steadfast love according to your abundant mercy, blot out all my transgressions. “ In other words, David says, have mercy on me; not according to me, but according to You. That is how Daniel has prayed, called by Your name. He’s using God’s Name. He is using God’s name that’s found in Moses’ prayer. It’s found in David’s prayer. Yahweh, called by Your name. That’s the covenantal name; Yahweh.
What’s the covenantal name of the New Testament? Is it Yahweh? No. Do you know what it is? What name are you given by which to pray? What name are you to seal every prayer? The name is Jesus. Jesus is the covenantal name of the New Testament. Jesus is the one who poured out His blood to pay for the new covenant. It’s Jesus. That’s the name above every name.
1 John 5:13-15 (ESV) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” God hears when we pray according to His will; God hears when we pray in the name of the covenantal name of Jesus.
Do you pray in the name of Jesus? How do you do that? You have to have Jesus in your life. You have to know Him as Lord and Savior. You can’t pray in His name if you don’t have his name as your name . You can’t call me “Papa” unless you’re one of my grandkids. You can’t call on the Lord Jesus if you haven’t called him Lord of your life. That’s how Daniel prayed and that’s how we can pray. We can call on His name.
Here’s the second way that we can see how our covenant-keeping God responds to our prayers.
2. God answers when we pray for His mercy.
Daniel 9:20-23 (ESV) “20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.”
God answers when we pray; look how quickly God answered in this passage. Apparently, while the prayer was still on his lips, the Lord God sent a word out, and Gabriel the angel took up the word and carried it down to Daniel. Look at verse 23, “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy, a word went out.” (Can you see me Father? Wait a minute. I hear one of Mine calling on My covenantal name. Hold up right there. Gabriel. I want you to go and give the words.) He calls on Gabriel every time it involves the Messiah in the Old Testament. Here, in the book of Daniel, He sends Gabriel.
In the New Testament, when He’s going to tell Mary and Joseph about the birth of the Messiah, who is He saying He sends? It is Gabriel, whose name, Gabri, means mighty warrior and El, the shortened version of Elohim, means God. He is a mighty warrior of God. Gabriel hears God say to go tell him so he can understand but the first thing God wants him to have on his lips when He answers Daniel’s prayers is I want you to know what you did here. Here’s what I want you to tell him: he called on My chesad love, my covenantal love. I want you to say to him, you are greatly loved. That’s the first thing I want him to hear. I love you, Daniel. I love you greatly.
And that’s a good word from God. God says, I gave you this covenant. It’s motivated by my love. You are greatly loved. It’s hard for me to read that part without a tremble in my heart. You are greatly loved.
The timing, according to verse 21, was at the evening sacrifice. Well, there could be no evening sacrifice because there was no temple and there was no Jerusalem. What does he mean? He means at the time of the evening sacrifice for Daniel. The only sacrifice he could offer, because he couldn’t go to the temple, was prayer. He offered himself as a living sacrifice to the Lord during the time of the evening sacrifice and prayer. He says in verse 21, “while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.”
A Hebrew scholar decided to time how long it would take to read Daniel’s prayer aloud in the original Hebrew. He said, at the conclusion, it looks like it took about three minutes. Based on his scientific study, he determined that it took Gabriel about three minutes to fly from the throne room to Daniel’s upper room. So apparently that’s the distance between heaven and earth; it takes about three minutes by swift flight. I’m not sure how scientific study was, but it is interesting to consider, isn’t it?
Some of you are praying this morning, you’re asking God for something, but you haven’t heard from Him yet. Know this; the minute you called on God’s covenantal name, the minute you use the name, Jesus, from your heart, meaning the son of God, the Savior, The Lord, the minute you called on him, asking for mercy, a word went out. There was no delay. A word went out and it will come to pass. You might not see it yet but you will get His answer. It might take some time, but a word goes out, because you are greatly loved and God hears and God answers when we pray according to His covenant, according to His promises.
It says in Psalm 143:1 (ESV) “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!”
When I get in my recliner at home, I have kicked back all the way, I’ve kicked my shoes off, I have the clicker in my hand and I’ve dialed in on a favorite history channel or sports event, I’m not ready to go anywhere for a little while. Are you with me? But, if one of my little “crumb snatcher” grandchildren comes into the room and asks his Papa, would you get me some cereal? I get out of that old recliner, I get out of my little throne and I move. I’m bigger than them, I’m stronger than them, everything in the house belongs to be and none of it belongs to them but everything I have is theirs. All that I am is theirs because they’re mine. There’s when you pray in the name of Jesus and God answers.
Do you know the Jesus prayer? It’s very simple. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” There it is. Have you ever prayed that prayer? He will hear it and He will answer it.
We have four more verses that God will reveal to Daniel. He told Daniel, I love you but now I want to reveal some stuff to you that you’ve asked about. These four verses have been called by many theologians “the four most difficult verses in the Bible.” Let’s read them and then let’s talk about them.
Daniel 9:24-27 (ESV) 24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression,to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood,and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
3. God reveals when we pray for His understanding.
Okay, this is the part where God is answering Daniel’s question. What about Israel? What about Jerusalem? What about the temple? What about us? You told us about the age of the Gentiles and those coming kingdoms. What about us?
God says seventy weeks is your answer. Then, He breaks it up into three parts, seven weeks, 62 weeks in one week. We’re gonna work this out to the best of my understanding, with the full and humble acknowledgment that there are many who have different interpretations.
May I say to you, my approach has been consistent over 26 years. My approach is this. I believe in the supernatural. I believe in the miraculous. I believe that we can take it literally rather than symbolically or metaphorically, unless the scripture signals that it’s metaphorical. So I always do my best to try to follow it as literally as possible. So, that’s my approach . I’ll do my best, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to explain it to you.
The first twenty-four of the seventy weeks are decreed about your people in your holy city. This is what you want to know. Daniel is about the Jews; this is about Jerusalem. Seventy weeks, literally in the Hebrew, is seventy times seven. It’s 490. In other words, in 490 years, this is how it’s gonna break down for you. Do you want to know what’s coming, Daniel? For the next 490 years, here is what’s coming. Wow, God just parted Heaven and sent Gabriel down and we’ll tell it to him.
Here it comes now. First of all, seventy times seven. That’s where he will start. Here’s the key thing I want you to get; this is for the Jews. This part of the Scripture, the seventy weeks part, is not for the Gentiles. It’s not for the church. It’s for the Jews in their holy city. That’s what He’s answering very specifically.
Do you see it in verse 24? In verse 24, he gives six attributes of future achievements by the Messiah for God’s people. Six attributes. I’m going to go through them quickly because I must go through them quickly in order to finish.
Here’s the first attribute of the coming Messiah. (1) He will finish the transgression. In other words, Israel will stop in rebellion. There’s coming a day when Israel will believe in the Messiah. They rejected Him on His first coming, but on His return, they’ll believe Him. Here’s the second attribute of the coming Messiah. (2) He will put an end to sin. In other words, sin will no longer reign. He’s gonna put a stop to sin. (3) He will atone for iniquity. It will die on the cross, and He will cover our sins. (4) He will bring everlasting righteousness . There’s a day coming when that will last forever. When Israel will be in a right relationship with God and the church will be in a right relationship with God. It will last forever. We will experience everlasting righteousness. (5) To seal both vision and prophet. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 says this, “Since Christ, all of His glory will be with us in the future. We will no longer need a prophet. “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” Such things will cease because we will no longer be looking in a mirror darkly, but we’ll be seeing face to face, and so we’ll have no need for that. (6) To anoint a most holy place. The coming down of the New Jerusalem and the anointing of the millennial temple, Ezekiel’s temple (Ez.40-48). There it is. There’s the first twenty-four, the six attributes of the Messiah for God’s People; the six achievements.
Let’s look at verses 25 and 26; I want to use the New King James version because it’s a little bit more clear. Instead of saying “anointed one,” it says “Messiah.” I think you’ll find it helpful.
Daniel 9:25-26 (NKJV) 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…”
So, there’s a command that’s going to go forth from some human king that when that goes forth until Messiah, the Prince that there shall be seven weeks. There will be 49 years after that command goes forth. It will take 49 years. Then there will be 62 weeks when the street shall be built. In other words, it’ll stay built for 400. What is that? 62 times seven. That’s 434 years that it will stand. It will stand even in trouble sometimes because this will be during a period when the Greeks and the Romans are still over them but there will be a temple and there will be a Jerusalem during that time. That’s what he’s saying.
And then, he says in verse 26, after the 62 weeks. Forty and eighty three years, after the 483 years, Messiah shall be cut off, so he’ll be here. But he will be crucified. He’ll be rejected, but not for himself. They will reject him.
Does all that happen? It does. It absolutely happens. I’m gonna pop this up for you. This is my humble attempt to try to get these four verses out. I looked everywhere to try to find a chart. And I end up making my own to try to explain it. Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks[a] are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. This is primarily for the Jews, he says. There’s seven weeks that will happen from the time the decree goes out. A word goes out to rebuild and restore Jerusalem and the temple. That’s 49 years, and we have kings.
who decrees to Nehemiah, and says the walls are not rebuilt. The city’s in terrible shape. He has been trying to rebuild the temple. It hasn’t been rebuilt yet, but in 45 BC a word goes out, and over the next 49 years, Jerusalem gets rebuilt. That’s during the time of the Greeks and the Romans. The Old Testament canon is complete.
Malachi was written during the early part of this time. We sometimes call this the 400 silent years because there was no more prophetic word during this time. Then, at the end of the 62 weeks, Messiah will be cut off (this is a chart that is being shown on screen). After you add these two together, right, after 483 years, Messiah will come, but He’ll be rejected. (refer to chart in sermon video). This happened. You better believe it.
This is why people who have trouble with the supernatural have trouble with Daniel. It’s just too accurate. He told Daniel exactly when the Messiah was coming, and he also predicted that he would be rejected and killed.
He, also, predicted later in verse 26, “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood,and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” This happened; the temple and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and it has never been rebuilt to this day. The Jews were scattered all over planet Earth, and there was no place called Israel. There’s never been anything like this in the history of the world. There’s never been a nation that ceased to exist that came back into existence.
There is no Hittite nation . You can’t point to one. There is no nation that you could quote from the past that was gone for 2000 years and came back. But Israel did. Israel came back in 1948 and the Jews started gathering there.
Ever since that day, Jesus calls this time period, which is like a parentheses between the weeks. (Remember, the seventy weeks are for the Jews. They’re not for the church. He’s not talking about the church.) Why is that? Because, in the Book of Ephesians, Paul says, the church was a mystery to the prophets. They never knew about it; it was a secret that God kept from the prophets. Study about that; it’s in the Bible. Jesus called it the time of the Gentiles. It wasn’t for the Jews. That’s the age we are in today, and this is the age of Pentecost to the Rapture. That’s where we are. This is where we are right now.
There’s one week left of Daniel’s prophecy. There’s one week left that is yet to be fulfilled. All the rest of it has been fulfilled. But that week has not been fulfilled yet, and that week is the latter part where it says, “and he shall make a strong covenant with many.” Who is that? That’s the prince that is to come. That’s the antiChrist; he is the beast. That’s the little horn from Daniel, chapter seven. He’s going to usher in three and 1/2 years.
Where do we see that? Let’s look, it says in verse 27, “and he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week and for half a week; that’s three and 1/2 years. One week is seven years, half a week is three and 1/2.
This weekend, the UK France in the United States bombed Damascus, Syria. Damascus is the city that Paul was going to when he met Jesus on the way. What are we gonna do about the Middle East? Nobody knows how to solve it. But what if one came along? One who was like the prophecies and Daniel? And he said, “peace” and he proved it. And the whole world bows down to him and there’s peace in the Middle East and even the Jews turn to him. Wouldn’t everybody turn to a leader like that if he could guarantee peace in the Middle East?
Well, the Bible says one is coming who would make a strong covenant and even the Jews will buy into it. And there’ll be three and 1/2 years of peace. We see the need for that. We see it right now, don’t we? That is to come. That week is to come. But then, after he makes that time of peace, that three and 1/2 years, at the half point at the halfway mark, his true colors are revealed, and he claims to be God. He claims to be the son of God. He puts his own image; the image of the beast, in the holy of holies. The book of Revelation says he will put it in the holy of holies. That means the temple has to be rebuilt. It hasn’t been rebuilt yet, but it’s going to be rebuilt. It has to be rebuilt for the 78th week to be fulfilled. He’s gonna put his own image in the holy of holies. And then the Jews were going to turn against him and the great tribulation breaks out.
And then, at the conclusion of the seven years and on the wing of abominations, the abomination is when he puts the abomination of desolation in the temple. He puts his own image to have it worshipped and says, this shall come. One who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolation until Jesus comes again and he destroys the evil one. This is the anti-Christ, the Beast, the Little Horn.
Jesus is coming again. Friends, let me tell you; 69 weeks are fulfilled. This has already happened. This is where we are. There’s one week of Daniel’s prophecy remaining. Are you still with me? Are you still listening? This is what we’re talking about.
Daniel says in Chapter two, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. God knows the future because He wrote it; He knows what’s coming. The 69 weeks are fulfilled, but one week remains for Israel; that one week is to bring them to Messiah. But we’re the church, and we already know him.
How do we live? That’s the question . How do we live? How do we pray? We pray according to the name of Jesus.
A story is told of a European rabbi, a Jewish rabbi who lived in Europe named Leopold Kahn. Leopold Kahn was studying these four verses in chapter nine of Daniel, and he concluded that the Messiah must have already come. He was very troubled by this, and so he went to a senior rabbi and he said, Do you study this? It looks to me like the Messiah has already come. The senior rabbi agreed with him and said, it does look as if he should have already come. Where do you think he is? I don’t know where he got this answer, but he says, I hear he might be in New York City. This is a true story. And so Leopold Kahn travels to New York looking for Messiah, and he looks and he’s walking up and down the streets of New York, and he wonders up and down one of the streets and he hears singing . He goes into this little storefront church and he hears the gospel. He hears the story of Jesus, the Christ the Messiah, and He receives Him as his Lord and Savior. Later, he felt called to start an outreach that’s called the American Board of Missions to the Jews. It all started because a European rabbi read Daniel, Chapter nine. He came to that conclusion.
Friends. I believe there’s a day coming when Israel will embrace the Messiah, but not yet. It’ll happen during the 78th week. But what about us? We can learn how to pray, and we can learn how to believe, and we can learn how to be encouraged because our covenant keeping God hears us when we pray. He answers when we pray and He reveals when we pray. That same God that Daniel prayed to, we can pray to. He’s the God of the new covenant that He predicted in the book of Jeremiah. He’s going to write it in our hearts.
He’s the God who, in the covenantal name of Jesus, took bread and as He broke it , said, this is My body which is broken for you do this in remembrance of Me. He then took the cup and said, that cup is the new covenant, the new covenant, the new promise in my blood. And whenever you drink it, you proclaim my death until I return, because I promise I’m coming again.
Let’s pray. God, we pray in the name of Jesus right now because that’s the name of the covenant. And we pray, asking right now for people in this room that are far from God to be brought near. People have come in hurting; they have come in distant. I pray that they would leave, healed and leave connected to us as sons and daughters. My friend, is that you? Would you confess right now, coming to God and just saying, I’m a sinner. I confess, like Daniel. I confess I’ve broken your commandments. I’m a sinner. Lord, I pray, not according to me, but according to your mercy. Forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. He atoned for my sins and that he’s raised from the grave and he lives today. I believe that. Come into my life and forgive me of my sin and make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God. If you prayed that prayer right now, he’s a promise keeping God. If you prayed in the name of Jesus, believing in your heart that he was raised from the dead and that he lives today, he’ll save you. Why? Because he keeps his word. Others were here this morning and you’re struggling with something. Will you pray the promises back? I need strength. Will you pray the promises back? I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Pray the promises back. Know the word and then pray the word. He loves it when you pray his word back to him. He loves it when you call on him by his covenantal name it, moves him from his throne. Would you pray right now; whatever it is in your life he’ll send the word out because you are greatly loved. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.