After the assassination of Belshazzar, a new king took over and that opened up a whole bunch of questions in Daniel’s mind. When Darius the Mede ascended the throne at Babylon, Daniel started perusing through the writings of Jeremiah to look for the signs for when God will rescue his people.
When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:10-11
We all know the second part of the above verse from the book of Jeremiah and often quote it to reassure ourselves that we will be rewarded while we are still on this earth in lieu of our loyalty to God. But it was part of Jeremiah’s prophecy which was fulfilled seventy years later when Zerubbabel and Co. were allowed to return to Jerusalem by Cyrus (Ezra 1).
Just like we slice and dice through passages and pick out verses that seem comforting to us without understanding the context, Daniel was also doing the same and did not have the perspective of what Jeremiah was taking about and neither the leading from the Spirit when he misinterpreted the above verse to mean that Israel would be restored to its former glory soon.
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.Daniel 9:3
Daniel pours his heart out and confesses the sins of Israel, pleading for God’s forgiveness. Even though the punishment perfectly fit the crime that Israel had committed, Daniel was hopeful that their misery would soon end. He goes as far as asking God to resurrect Jerusalem for His name sake, suggesting that the mockery of Israel was being transferred on God.
Daniel is representing the entire nation of Israel in his plea to God for their redemption. While he acknowledges all the sins of his ancestors that led to their downfall, he also knows the heart of God and is seeking forgiveness for the entire tribe of Jacob. The fact that the language was switched back to Hebrew for the second part of the book means that Daniel’s petition was made known to his fellow exiles.
We also sometimes take advantage of the love that God has for us and think that we can manipulate Him according to our whims and fancies. But God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The God who led the Israelites out of Egypt was the same when he exiled them to Babylon. God is the same with Daniel as He is with us. Naivety is understandable in the early stages of our faith, but as we grow closer to God, we must be able to understand His heart and accept His will.
Along Came Gabriel
While Daniel was still praying, the angel of the Lord, Gabriel, came to him in the cool of the day to help him understand God’s will. This is more likely a physical appearance of the angel and not a vision similar to when Gabriel appeared before the New Testament fathers, who like Daniel had trouble accepting God’s plan.
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.Daniel 9:24
The Seventy Sevens is often a disputed time-frame with some believing it denotes the period leading up to the evil king Antiochus’s reign. But just like Jesus’s response of seventy-seven when asked that how often we should forgive our transgressors, does not mean a finite number, the above time period could also be an indefinite one, about events that are yet to come.
Your righteousness is everlastingPsalms 119:142
and your law is true.
Apart from God there is nothing that will last forever. The evil one might trick us into believing otherwise but unlike Eve, we have the Spirt of God to help us connect with God. He is the only one who can seal up prophecies and visions and He has anointed the Holy One, His Son, to bear our transgressions. If we have complete faith on God, knowing ETAs of events become irrelevant and the confidence of knowing that it will happen matters most.
Gabriel talks about three time periods in cryptic terms, describing these time periods as “Seven” or weeks. The seventy “Seven” are divided into seven “Seven”, sixty-two “Seven” and the last remaining “Seven”. The first time period might denote the end of the exile period when the Jews volunteered to go up to Jerusalem to rebuild the ruined city. The Second time period seems to be leading up to Jesus’s death on the cross that liberated us from our eternal exiles. The last seven seems to be the current time period during which, the forces of evil will seek to overthrow God and set up an abomination that causes desolation about which Matthew chronicle’s Jesus describing.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel… then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…. For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again.Matthew 24:15-21
Doubts Creep In
Like Daniel, we too start questioning God and start listing down all the good we have supposedly done for Him. We want to prove to God that we are worthy of His Grace and Blessings on us and are in some sense ‘demanding to see the manger’ when things are not working out for us. We must realise that if we try to play that game with our Creator, we will never win, as what He has done for us is immeasurable, while our so-called good deeds, more often than not, are driven by self-preservation.
Let us give control of our lives to God and patiently wait for Him to work in our lives. Remember that He never interfered in our lives when we were trying out new things, rather, He waited all those years for us to accept Him as our Saviour. He transforms our lives and gives us an unexplainable joy in our lives and if we patiently wait for Him, we will be able to witness His Everlasting Righteousness.