March 19, 2012
God’s Ultimate Program for Israel
What you are about to read is a reflection on one of the most important chapters in the Book of Daniel, and one of the most remarkable passages in all of the Bible. Its dual theme of prayer and prophecy is like no other portion of God’s Word: Daniel’s prayer stands as a model for any person serious about seeking the Lord and His holiness in his or her life; while the prophecy of the seventy weeks contains the most precise information in Scripture that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah promised to the children of Israel through their own prophets.
- In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
- In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel is starting to do his math, and he’s doing it by looking at God’s timetable for the restoration of Israel. He reads in Jeremiah 25:11-12,
“And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.”
Daniel certainly turned to his Hebrew manuscripts to study 2 Chronicles 36, where he observed that the Jews, because they failed to protect their land (breaking seventy sabbatical years) would be punished for a period equal to their disobedience. The more Daniel read, the more excited he must have felt, because he calculated that the seventy years of judgment on his people had almost come to an end (the captivity of the Jews had started in 605 B.C. and now it was the year 538 B.C.) and that the Jews would soon be allowed to return to their home. But we are forced to say, “Not so fast, Daniel. You have only a partial understanding of what is still to come.” And it is this still-to-come end-time information that is the essence of chapter nine:
- And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
- And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
- We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
- Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
- O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
- O LORD, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
- To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
- Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
- Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
- And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
- As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
- Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
- And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
- O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
- Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
- O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our sup phcations before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
- O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, 0 my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Daniel begins his long prayer with a contrite and broken heart as he addresses God as Adonai-Sovereign Ruler. The word Adonai shows Daniel’s recognition of God’s absolute authority and power, a fitting expression for Daniel to use as he begins his litany of confession and plea for personal and national forgiveness.
However, in verse 2, Daniel suddenly changes his name for God and begins to use the term Yahweh-which refers to God as a gracious, covenant-keeping God, holy, just, righteous, and loving. He uses the name Yahweh seven times, in verses 2, 4, 10, 13, 14, and 20. It’s amazing that Daniel would use God’s holy name in the first place because the Jews never pronounced the name of God because their reverence for the almighty God was so great.
That’s why they used what is called the tetragrammaton, Y-H-W-H-four letters that cannot be pronounced, and only become the word Yahweh when the vowels a and e are added. As we study Daniel’s prayer it will become obvious why he used the term Yahweh, particularly as it relates to God as a covenant-keeping God, the topic which most interested Daniel since he’d now become a one-person spokesman for the plight of the Jews and was relying on the trustworthiness of the most high God to keep His promises. However, as we said before, Daniel still did not have all the information to work out all the details of God’s plan because most of the predictions would only be revealed at the time of the end (Daniel 12:4).
As Daniel bowed before the Lord, his heart was filled with sadness for his own sin and the sins of his people. He fasted, wore sackcloth, and put ashes on his body to show his humble spirit. He was alone with God. No distractions. No interruptions. I encourage you to read and reread Daniel’s prayer, because it is a model for any Christian. Even though Daniel was an upright, faithful, godly man, he still confessed that he had also sinned.
Because of his tender heart toward God and a conscience that could be quickly and easily touched, he was unusually responsive when he heard the word of the Lord. Being sensitive to the Spirit of God also increased his sensitivity to the predicament of his people, the Jews, as he recited the various ways in which they rebelled against God, failed to obey His voice, refused to walk in His laws, and chose not to obey His commands. Daniel recognized that for these reasons, the curse had been poured out upon them.
The Jews had been scattered across the world. What was once their home had become the domicile of heathen kingdoms and pagan rulers. Daniel knew the reason for this dispersion- the Diaspora. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 states,
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”
Not only did the Jews refuse to obey the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20, but they’d also turned their backs on the 613 other commandments given to the people of Israel. As Daniel reflects on the history of how the Jews got mired in their present dilemma, he continues to hope and pray that Yahweh will end the seventy years of punishment on schedule (as he, Daniel, saw it), and bring peace and relief to their sinful, troubled hearts.
Daniel’s Prayer Is Also Personal
Daniel is not revising history. He is seeing history as it is, asserting that God was righteous for what He did to the Jews, admitting that we-Daniel and his people-were the culprits … we were the transgressors . . . we didn’t obey God’s voice . .. we failed to keep His commandments. His prayer was not a whining exercise to get God to overlook the past sins of His people, but a prayer of love and intercession for national and personal forgiveness, and a contrite heart, reminiscent of the words of the psalmist who prayed in Psalm 51:10,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Daniel refused to offer excuses for Israel’s behavior. Again, I urge you to read this prayer over and over, because each time you allow Daniel’s heart of confession to intertwine with your own, you will be blessed and encouraged in your own Christian walk. Unfortunately, for many modern Christians the idea of true and honest confession is a lost spiritual art. But unless we recapture this spirit of humility, face up to what we’ve done to distance ourselves from God, and choose to make amends, our own spirits will remain shallow and insensitive to the work that God wants to do in our lives. That’s why it is always in our spiritual best interest to spend time reading and applying such verses as Psalm 66:18-20:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 0 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”
These verses are amplified by what we read in Isaiah 5 9:1-2:
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
There is a direct correlation between our unconfessed iniquities and God’s blessing for our lives-to the extent that God cannot even hear our cries if repentance is sidetracked. Daniel knew this. That’s why his prayer is so powerful, a model for us to follow today. Daniel walked close to God, and the closer he walked, the more he saw the imperfections in himself and in his people because the Spirit of God lived in him.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
A few summers ago, after sensing the need for a change of pace, my husband and I drove to Montreal, Canada, the largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. It was delightful and so relaxing. Just what we needed. The people were friendly, the old city intriguing, the food wonderful. Montreal is considered to be one of North America’s most interesting cities. And we found it to be true. In fact, we agreed Montreal is one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever seen. In two weeks’ time we walked 150 miles savoring all the sights and delights, and learning about the history and the greater metropolitan area itself.
One afternoon we found an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. “It has to be a great place,” Jack said, “look at all the people!” He patted his “midsection” and I raised my eyebrows and we walked in. We found an empty table and placed our order.
Just as we were being served, two bedraggled-looking young people came in each carrying a backpack. They were obviously exhausted. They spied an empty table where the waitress hadn’t removed the plates from the previous customers, and they plopped down. But just that quickly, they snatched up the leftovers and wolfed them down. Eyes darting around, never making eye contact with anyone, they focused on other empty tables with plates containing food and quickly ran from one to the other, stuffing the food into their mouths. The young woman, whom I guessed to be about twenty, was more aggressive than the young man. They were just starved!
It happened so fast that everyone was in a state of shock. About the time we and others had recovered from seeing this, they grabbed their backpacks and were out of the door and gone. “Jack, if only they’d stayed long enough, we could have offered to buy them food!” I was dazed by the brief encounter. “Oh Jack,” I continued, “I wonder whose child she is …” my voice trailed off.
Jack leaned across the table and patted my hand. The food which had been served so attractively had somehow lost its appeal. I looked around and noticed others were feeling the same way. The charming place which just moments before had been the scene of animated conversation now seemed strangely silent.
Jack’s eyes were sad; mine were tearful.
As we left the ice cream parlor and continued our leisurely walk, my eyes glanced around. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the young couple. “There are so many like them in city after city all over Canada and the United States,” my husband said.
“Where are the parents?” I asked. Jack shook his head. Later, as I reflected on the incident, (in fact, I don’t think I will ever forget those two young people), I was reminded that one of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that we are Gods children. Our needs are important to Him and He is always ready to supply (Phil. 4:19). He knows the way that we take (Job 23:9). I took comfort in the knowledge that God even knew their names (Isa. 45:4). I could leave them in the Fathers hands.
As we walk through life, we can do so with confidence, knowing that the steps, as well as the stops, of God’s children are ordered by Him (Ps. 37:23). Because we are His children, we can count on His promises, and they are so many! Our potential as His children is limitless.
But we need to be living up to our potential. How do people know we belong to God? Three things, it seems to me, characterize the life of a child of God: (1) Our conversation; (2) Our conduct; and (3) Our convictions.
Our conversation: She (or he) openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Prov. 31:26).
My mother had a little saying which I have called to mind many times: “He that thinketh by the by the inch, and speaketh by the yard, shall be kicked by the foot.”
The Bible is full of counsel about the need to guard our conversation. Consider just these few: A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous word stir up anger (Prov. 15:1). How many relationships would fare better if these words were called to mind when people were tempted to temperamental outbursts! The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is (of) little worth (Prov. 10:20). Silver reflects. What a beautiful word picture this presents! Our tongues should reflect the Lord.
Our conduct: We must back up our conversation with right conduct. Those beautiful graces depicted in Galatians 5 should exemplify the conduct of our lives: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (w. 22, 23). An entire article could be written around each word, but let me simplify it in this way: LOVE is a new constraint, JOY is a new cheer, PEACE is a new compassion, LONG-SUFFERING is a new continuance, GENTLENESS is a new characteristic, GOODNESS is a new character, PATIENCE is a new confidence, MEEKNESS is a new courtesy and TEMPERANCE is a new contentment.
Our Convictions: The story is told of David Hume, the agnostic, who was reproached by his friends because of his inconsistency. He used to like to go hear the famous preacher John Brown preach, and when questioned about this he explained, “I don’t believe all that he says, but at least once a week I like to hear a man who declares his convictions.”
How important for us to have strong convictions and to abide by them. The letter of James emphasizes that our “yes” should be a simple “yes,” and our “no” a simple “no” (Ja. 5:12). In other words, be convinced in your heart and stand by your convictions. Be a man or woman whose word is unquestionable. If you say you are going to do something, or you promise something, it ought to be as if you were in a courtroom and had taken an oath to speak the truth.
These are just some of the identifying characteristics that mark us as children of God. The Psalmist said, Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace (Ps. 37:37). None of us have arrived, we aren’t wholly perfect, progress is perhaps a more accurate word to describe our condition. But we should be progressing.
Perhaps a good prayer would be: “Lord, help me to reflect the fact that I am your child.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Jack & Rexella,
We enjoy watching your show. We record it because it comes on late but we try and watch it every week. We love your preaching and you are right on! You preach right from the Bible just as our wonderful pastor does. We are strong Christians and also are members of a wonderful Evangelical church right in town.
Keep preaching the Word my brother and sister in the Lord! We love and appreciate you!
David & Shari M.
I’m a retired soldier of the “United States Army” and a “Gulf War Veteran” and your show is far above any show airing at this time (PERIOD!!). Now I have my fingers crossed in hopes that (2012) will be the year that the lord comes for us but if not I will still maintain the faith until the very end and beyond.
SSgt. D. R. B.
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
Could various cultural and secular sources be right about earth’s final day?
- Ancient Romans believed 2012 would be an historic year.
- Ancient Mayan prophecy of the world’s end revolved around 2012.
- The Ancient Chinese I Ching predicted doomsday in 2012.
- In the 16th Century, English prophetess Mother Shipton said history would end in 2012!
Do these prophecies from all over the world correspond with the truth of God’s Word? In their exciting video teaching, Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe demonstrate the very real possibility that 2012 could be a year of culmination – could December 21st 2012 be history’s final day?
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