Prayer and Visitation

SYNOPSIS  After praying for the restoration of Israel, the angel Gabriel appears to explain the “vision” to Daniel - Daniel 9:3-23

Prayer - Photo by Humble Lamb on Unsplash
After contemplating the prophecy from the 
book of Jeremiah about the captivity of Israel in Babylon, Daniel began a prayer of confession and repentance. He did not pray for revelation into the meaning of the prophecy - He understood its predicted time of fulfillment - (“I understood by the writings the number of the years”). Instead, he confessed the sins of Israel as instructed by Jeremiah’s prophecy. - [Photo by Humble Lamb on Unsplash].

The restoration of exiles would occur when they sought Yahweh “with all your heart.” In both the books of Daniel and Jeremiah, “seek” translates the Hebrew verb baqash:
  • (Jeremiah 29:10-14) – “For thus saith Yahweh, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. And you will call upon me, and you will go and pray to me, and I will hearken to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, says Yahweh, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, says Yahweh; and I will bring you again to the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
The prayer of Daniel consists of two parts – A confession of sin (verses 4-14); and a supplication for mercy and restoration (verses 15-19).
  • (Daniel 9:3-8) - “So I set my face to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and supplication, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes; Yea, I prayed unto Yahweh my God and made confession and said, ‘I beseech you, O Lord, the great and awesome God, keeping the covenant and the loving kindness to them who love Him and to them who keep His commandments. We have sinned and committed iniquity, and been guilty of lawlessness and rebellious, even departing from your commandments and regulations; and have not hearkened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, rulers, and fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us the shame of faces, as at this day, to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, the near and the far off, throughout all the lands whither you have driven them in their treachery wherewith they had been treacherous against you.
The confession expressed sorrow over Israel’s sin and rebellion. Daniel acknowledged the covenant faithfulness of Yahweh – His mercy and His righteousness - (“O Lord…keeping the covenant and the loving kindness to them who love him”). Israel failed to heed the prophets. No Jew of any social or political rank was exempt from judgment – The entire nation had rebelled against the Lord. Righteousness belonged to Him alone, but the “shame of faces to all Israel, the near and the far off,” and all this on account of her “treachery.”
  • (Daniel 9:9-14) - “O Yahweh, to us belong the shame of faces, to our kings, to our rulers and to our fathers, in that we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belongs compassions and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him; and have not hearkened to the voice of Yahweh our God to walk in his instructions which he set before us through means of his servants the prophets; yea, all Israel have transgressed your law, even going away so as not to hearken to your voice, therefore were poured out upon us the curse and the oath which had been written in the Law of Moses the servant of God, because we had sinned against him. Thus has he confirmed his words which he had spoken against us and against our judges who had judged us, by bringing in upon us a great calamity, as to which there had not been done under all the heavens, as has been done unto Jerusalem. Even as written in the Law of Moses has all this calamity come in upon us, yet entreated we not the face of Yahweh our God by turning away from our iniquities and by getting intelligence in Your truth. Therefore has Yahweh kept watch for the calamity and brought it in upon us, for righteous is Yahweh our God concerning all his deeds which he has done, seeing that we had not hearkened to his voice.”
The Babylonian Captivity was the result of national sins that had spanned generations, beginning with the generation that left Egypt - (“All Israel have transgressed your law”). The captivity was the “curse that had been written in the Law of Moses poured out upon us,” an allusion to a warning from Moses:
  • (Leviticus 26:14-39) - “But if you will not hearken unto me and will not do all these commandments… I will give your cities to desolation…When I scatter you among the nations and make bare after you a sword. then shall your land become an astonishment and your cities become desolation. Then shall the land be paid her Sabbaths, all the days she lies desolate, while you are in the land of your foes, then shall the land keep Sabbath and pay off her Sabbaths.”
  • (2 Chronicles 36:20-21) - “And he exiled the remnant left from the sword into Babylon, where they became his and his sons as servants until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the word of God by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off her Sabbaths, all the days of her lying desolate she kept Sabbath to fulfill seventy years.”
Daniel did not interpret the Babylonian Captivity as a random event caused by historical forces - It was the just punishment of Yahweh in accord with the “law of Moses.” However, even after His repeated warnings and punishments, Israel failed to “entreat the face of Yahweh our God by turning away from our iniquities and discerning your truth.” The confession by Daniel was the appropriate response to the plight of Israel.
  • (Daniel 9:15-19) - “Now therefore, O Lord our God, who brought forth your people out of Egypt with a firm hand and made for yourself a name as at this day, we have sinned, we have been guilty of lawlessness. O Lord, according to all your righteousness I beseech you, let your anger and your indignation turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain, because of our sins and because of the iniquities of our fathers Jerusalem and your people have become a reproach to all who are round about us. Now, therefore, hearken to the prayer of your servant and to his supplications, and let your face shine upon your Sanctuary that is desolate for the sake of your servants, O Lord. Incline, O my God, your ear and hearken, open your eyes and behold our desolations, and the city on which has been called your name; for not on the ground of our own righteousness are we causing our supplications to fall down before you, but on the ground of your abounding mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and perform! Do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”
Daniel supplicated God for the restoration of Israel. His past deliverance of the nation from Egypt was in accord with His covenant promises to Abraham. The prophet appealed to the proven faithfulness of Yahweh to turn away His anger from “your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain.” In this context, “holy mountain” refers to Mount Zion where the Temple was located.

Moreover, Daniel pleaded for God to hear his prayer concerning the sanctuary in Jerusalem that remained “desolate,” likewise, the “desolations” of the nation. Both words are derived from the Hebrew term shamem, a verb used in verse 27 for the “abomination that desolates.” - (Daniel 8:13, 11:31, 12:11).

Ruined Church - Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

At the time of this prayer, the Temple lay in ruins and the city remained “
desolated.” His use of the term not only appeals for the reversal of the “desolation” already afflicted – Its repetition anticipates the future “desolation” of the city and sanctuary predicted at the end of the chapter:
  • (Daniel 9:26-27) - “The end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that desolates.”
Daniel based his plea for restoration on the covenant faithfulness of Yahweh. In response, the angel Gabriel appeared:
  • (Daniel 9:20-23) - “And while yet I was speaking and praying and confessing my own sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and causing my supplication to fall down before Yahweh my God concerning the holy mountain of my God; while yet I was speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, wearied with weariness, touched me about the time of the evening offering. Yea, he came and spoke with me and said, O Daniel, now have I come forth to teach you understanding. At the beginning of your supplications came forth a word, I, therefore am arrived to tell because you are a man delighted in, mark then the word and have understanding of the vision.”
Gabriel arrived while Daniel was still praying, the same figure he had “seen in the vision at the beginning.” This visitation, along with several verbal links, connects the visitation to the preceding vison of the “little horn” and the defilement of the Sanctuary, the “transgression that desolates” - The connection is critical for understanding the prophecy of the “seventy seeks” - (Daniel 8:8-18).

Wearied with weariness.” The description refers to Daniel - The angel touched him to relieve his weariness. At the end of his last vision, he found himself “faint and ill.” His weariness is another link to the preceding vision. Gabriel came so Daniel would “understand the vision” from the previous chapter, and to teach him “understanding.” The verbal and conceptual parallels are deliberate. The vision of the “ram and the goat” is connected directly to the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” - (Daniel 8:15-18, 8:27).

Gabriel referred to “the vision,” yet no vision is described in chapter 9. The explanation of the “seventy weeks” was given so Daniel might “understand” the vision he received already, the one recorded in chapter 8. The prophecy of the “seventy weeks” builds on the preceding vision about the time when the “latter part of the indignation” - (Daniel 8:14-19).

The visions of Daniel have common themes and terms, including the “abomination that desolates,” the cessation of the daily sacrifice, and the defilement of the sanctuary. The explanation of the “seventy weeks” was not given in isolation from the rest of the visions found in the book of Daniel.


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