Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile
Daniel gives these incredible insights as to how we can live in a post-Christian culture, a secular age that wants to push a Biblical Worldview to the margins, if not completely out of the picture. So far, our sermons in the Daniel series can be succinctly stated:
Jer. 29:1-14 – Live your life
Dan. 1:1-7 – Stamp your child
Dan. 1:1-7 – Draw your line
Dan. 1:8-21 – Stand your ground
Dan. 1:8-21 – Love your people
Dan. 2:1-23 - Face your crisis
Dan. 2:24-49 - Know your prophecy
Dan. 3:1-30 - Trust your Savior
Dan. 3:1-30 - Understand your culture
Dan. 4:1-37 – Guard your mind
Dan. 4:1-37 – Surrender your pride
Dan. 5:1-31 - Honor your God
Dan. 6:1-28 – Remember your home:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Show your loyalty:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Embrace your leadership:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Check your attitude:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Maintain your integrity:
Dan. 6:1-28 - Establish your consistency:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Welcome your humility:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Seal your legacy:
Dan. 7:1-28 - Quiet your panic:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Resist your (rogue) government:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Worship your God:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Protect your space:
Dan. 7:1-28 - Define your reset:
Dan. 8:1-27 - Improve your serve:
Dan. 8:1-27 - Continue your faithfulness:
Dan. 9:1-23 - Own your mess:
Dan. 9:24-27 - Strengthen your (prophetic) backbone:
The Passage Contents - Daniel 9
Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile.
Though the Bible is not a “Farmer’s Almanac,” it is not just a hodgepodge of apocalyptic drama either. Its prophecies have a neatly programmed calendar, set on a countdown schedule. God’s calendar for the nation of Israel is precise. We have been entrusted with it. It’s like a family secret, and only those in the family know about it. We are living in the “times of the Gentiles” when the nations of the world have authority over Israel. It started with the head of gold in 605 BC when Daniel went into Babylonian Captivity. Gentile domination will end at some point in the future when the uncut stone of Daniel 2 shatters the empires of man. But for now, they rule under the sovereign hand of God.
Daniel 9 and 70 Years of Captivity
Daniel accurately predicted the rise and fall of four world empires. And he did so vividly. In Daniel 9, we have no brilliant metal statues or menagerie of animals rising out of a sea or rams and goats being violent with each other - as in the previous visions. Rather than beasts or monsters, the people of God must now face ‘seventy sevens’. Seventy units of seven.
The seventy years of exile are drawing to a close but God’s purposes for his people involve seventy sevens before they reach completion. Daniel is thinking, “Lord, seventy years and it will all be over.” And God is saying to him, “No, seventy times seven, seventy sevens.” The restoration to the land will not bring in the restoration of all things. The kingdom of God will not immediately appear and you must prepare for ‘a long obedience in the same direction’.
God's Plan for Israel - A Family Secret
God’s theocratic intentions to rule the world through a repentant Israel would not happen anytime soon. But eventually, it will. Shhhh. It’s a family secret. You have the ethnic nation of Israel and then you have the spiritual church. The church is comprised of all those who receive Christ – it’s Christ in you as a Gentile (in other words, you don't have to be Jewish, though Jewish people can be a part of the church). Why does the NT call this a mystery and why does the OT not talk about the church age? If they had known it, it would have always been Israel’s excuse; "we had to reject God and His Messiah so that the church age could happen." They didn’t know or prophesy about it and thus there was no excuses for their rejection.
So, Daniel, “Things must run their course. You are called to a long obedience.” The Jewish people will be sustained even in distressing times; and the great hater of God’s people sits in the Lord’s cross-hairs with the date of his demise clearly marked on God’s calendar. Sixty–nine of Daniel’s “sevens” have already passed, and the final “seven” is yet to be fulfilled. Israel's time of exile under Babylon had been 70 years, but more time was needed for the "Times of the Gentiles" to run its course before Israel's final restoration would be complete. This would take 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens”.
The Backbone of Biblical Prophecy
Sir Isaac Newton once said, quote: “We could stake the truth of Christianity on this prophecy alone, made five centuries before Christ.” Daniel 9:24-27 is a “backbone” prophecy, comprehensive, yet concise, that is, a prophecy that provides a time framework to which most other prophecies can be attached. We’re going to take our time so that you can understand the fullness of all the Spirit of God is saying.
The first part of Daniel 9 dealt with Daniel's prayer of repentance in response to his discovery in Jeremiah's writings that the time in exile would be seventy years. In view of his prayer, God was pleased to reveal even more to Daniel: Gabriel was dispatched by God to… reveal God’s program for His people until its consummation in the covenanted kingdom under Israel’s Messiah. Gabriel apparently suggests that the end of the seventy-year exile begins a process, one that will last for seventy “sevens,” or weeks of years—usually understood as 490 years.
You have three segments to this period of time. First, there’s a seven-units of seven period (a week); then there’s a 62-units of sevens (weeks) period; and then there’s a final seven-week period. Why not say 490 years? Because there is a potential gap of time in between the segments – things that would stop the clock for Israel, even though time marches on for world history. What starts the time clock for God’s future plan for Israel? When Nehemiah received the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Once a homeland is lost, those people hardly ever return and get their land back. One exception: Israel.
Three practical THINGS that comes out of all this for you and me today… (with help from Heitzig)
Prayer. This is an answer to prayer. This is what happens when you pray. Daniel's prayer, though it looks long to read, only takes three minutes to read, three minutes. Have you ever gotten up in the morning and say, "I don't have much time to pray; I've only got five minutes"? "Okay." "Well, that's not long enough." "Why?" "Well, because the devil keeps reminding me I have to be on my knees five hours for it to really be worth something." Just take those five minutes; this was three minutes. He didn't even finish the prayer, didn't even say amen, and he got more than he could handle. Use that time and engage with God—prayer. Daniel prays to God, who in response sends an angel with his answer. In the next chapter we will see that these angels, even as they come with answers to prayer, are involved in a conflict with other supernatural powers
Second thing that shows me is providence. You've heard that term, "the providence of God"? God moves history, God moves circumstances—supernaturally; naturally, using the natural world. The best definition I've ever heard of providence is "it's the hand of God and the glove of circumstance." God moves the players throughout history on his chessboard to get his will done. So people like Titus, Vespasian, Artaxerxes Longimanus, Cyrus, etcetera, they might be powerful rulers, but they're pawns on God's chessboard. He moves them around to get his stuff done. He's in charge here. Although God works according to his own timetable, he nevertheless also works through people.
Prayer, providence; number three, precision. Precision. I have a question for you: The God who can make these kind of accurate, precise predictions about the Jewish people and the coming of the Messiah and his death, can you trust your life to him? Will you entrust your future, your family, your ambitions to this kind of precise God? That's what he's calling us to do.