December 2, 2017
“In the first year” of Darius’ reign, Daniel was moved to make a careful study of the “books” of Scripture. Surely the sudden shift of world domination by the Babylonians, to the now conquering Persians, made him wonder how it would affect the future of Israel. As he studied the book of Jeremiah, he began to understand that the Lord’s “seventy years” of “desolations” for Jerusalem were nearing an end (see Jer. 25:11-12). The seventy years of captivity was God’s discipline for not keeping the Sabbath Year (Lev. 25:4), allowing the land to rest from planting every seven years. Since they had not obeyed the Sabbath Year for 490 years (490/7 = 70), God rested the land Himself for seventy years (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
The understanding that Daniel derived from his careful Bible study drove him to his knees in prayers of confession and repentance on behalf of his people. He began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He made supplication to the Lord that He might “turn” His “anger” and “fury” away from Jerusalem (Dan. 9:16). And the Lord answered Daniel’s prayers. For that same year, Cyrus the Great (Possibly another name for Darius. Or Darius served under Cyrus) would be moved by the Lord to make a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem (2 Chron. 36:22-23).
We can learn much about discerning the will of God from Daniel. Bible study with much prayer is key for those that would hear direction from the Lord.
December 1, 2017
It is interesting to see the angel Gabriel mentioned in our Old Testament reading on this first day of December. For he will also be of great interest to us as we read the gospel accounts of Christ’s birth during this Christmas season. There are only two angels named in the Bible (excluding the fallen one, Lucifer). They are Michael, the archangel of God and Gabriel, who acts as God’s messenger. The name “Gabriel” means “Strong Man of God.” He described himself to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, like this: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news” (Luke 1:19). Gabriel is recorded as bearing God’s messages to Daniel (Dan. 8:16, 9:21), to Zechariah (Luke 1:19), to Mary (Luke 1:26), and although his name is not given, to Joseph (Matt. 1:20).
There was something about Gabriel’s presence that struck fear in each human encounter. Perhaps it was the lingering presence of God that still clung to his person as it once did to Moses after he came down from Mt. Sinai. His purpose was specific each time. Give the addressee the message and make sure they “understand” it.
December 4, 2016
God gave Daniel great insight into the future, yet his understanding was only partial. No matter how much he studied these future prophecies, much was left cloudy for him. So, the Lord gave Daniel three insights on how to respond to His end times prophecies:
1) “Go your way.” In other words, get busy doing what I’ve called you to do in the present.
2) “You shall rest.” Physical death would come for Daniel long before the end. Death for the believer is not the end, but merely rest from physical labor. Daniel would not see all that God had revealed. He would rest (“sabbath”).
3) “You shall stand at the end.” God told Daniel that he would rise again at the end of days. This speaks of the bodily resurrection of the saints.
This instruction is good for today’s reader of prophecy too. We may not know all that the future holds, but we can know the One who holds the future.