We have here as interesting a Chapter as in the whole book of prophecy, and which wholly treats of the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel is taught of God, by books, to count the number of the years determined to the Babylonish captivity. He is deeply engaged in fasting and prayer, when he is favoured with a vision. The exact period to Jerusalem's bondage is marked out to him.
The Prophet is particular to set down the precise time of this wonderful and blessed vision. I call it wonderful, because of the grace manifested to the Church at such a season, when suffering captivity for their rebellion. And it is most blessed surely, for the Holy Ghost hath commissioned it with blessedness to thousands of the Lord's people in all ages. The first year of Darius corresponds to the first year of Cyrus; for Cyrus and Darius, jointly reigned after the death of Belshazzar. And it was that memorable year, in which Cyrus made proclamation for the Jews to return if they wished it, to their own country, about five hundred and thirty-six years before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ezra 1:1, etc. Daniel was at this time taught concerning the memorable prophecy of Jeremiah. See Jeremiah 25:8-13 and Jeremiah 29:10. Daniel found, by comparing what the Prophet Jeremiah in those scriptures had said, with what was passed, and then come, that the seventy years were now expired.
The Lord had said by his servant Ezekiel, that for all his promised blessings, he would be enquired of by the house of Israel. Ezekiel 36:37. Here, therefore, Daniel set himself to pray, and that earnestly. And what a beautiful earnest supplication it is. The very soul of the Prophet seems to be going forth with every petition. I do not think it needful to point to the Reader the many blessed things contained in it. The prayer would lose its own lovely simplicity, and force, by any comment. I only beg the Reader to remark with me, the devout breathings which appear in it, of a soul truly in earnest, in wrestling with God. His solemn address, his free, and full acknowledgment, of his own and the people's guilt, and God's just punishment. His view of the accomplishment of scripture, in having disregarded God's threatenings; the obduracy and indifferency shown by the people to the Lord's chastisements; the tender mercies of the Lord through all, that they had not been given up, as they justly deserved, to total ruin; these are all so many strong points, the Man of God dwells upon in prayer, most particularly and strikingly. But, what I beg the Reader yet more especially to remark, is, the argument the Prophet lays all his stress upon, when pleading for divine mercy: I mean, in the person, work, and glory of Christ, as Jehovah's covenant. For thine own sake, he saith, defer not, O my God. He had urged before very strong causes, why the Lord should be gracious. Jerusalem was the holy city; the Lord's name was there; and mercy was asked for it, not for the deservings of the people, but for the Lord's own righteousness. But Daniel makes this the finishing and unanswerable argument, his own sake, as God in covenant in Christ. Reader! do not fail to remember, that this, and this alone, is the one all-prevailing motive with Jehovah. This is the bow Jehovah hath set in the cloud, and to which he looks. And this the only foundation of hope to the Church in all ages. Genesis 9:1-16; Isaiah 54:9; Revelation 4:3.
Who this Gabriel was, is not so very plain, as for us positively to decide. Daniel calls him the man. Hence some have thought it was Christ. It should seem to be the same as appeared in after ages to Zacharias. Luke 1:19. But whether Christ, or not, remains to be determined. One thing we certainly know, that our adorable Redeemer made frequent secret manifestations of himself, before his open display in substance of our flesh; as if to tell the Church, how much he longed for the time appointed, when he should come to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. I beg the Reader to make one observation more, upon what is said in those verses. It was about the time of the evening oblation, that is, three o'clock in the afternoon: the memorable hour in which Christ gave up the ghost. And it is well worthy the Reader's as well as the Writer's most diligent observation, that with an eye to this one great event, to which every type, and every sacrifice under the law had reference, and in which the whole had their fulfillment: all the evening sacrifices were at that very hour. Hence we read, that Peter and John went up to the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour, that is, three o'clock in the afternoon, Acts 3:1. Pause, Reader! and consider how important must this one glorious offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all, have been in the eye of God the Father; when in his appointments of the Jewish sacrifices, the evening oblation, from the beginning, had the very hour of Christ's death, as well as Christ's sacrifice, set forth. Reader! shall not this hour, henceforth be peculiarly sacred to our meditations? Methinks, I would, if possible, never let it pass without arresting its fleeting moments to thoughts of Jesus! This I would say, as the clock strikes three, this was the solemn hour, in which, after darkness had covered the face of the earth, from the sixth to the ninth hour, Jesus, my adorable Lord, cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. Luke 23:44-46. See Exodus 29:41; 1 Kings 18:36.
Observe the gracious condescension of the man Gabriel. (I say the man Gabriel, because I wish to use the very same name as the Scripture.) Supposing him to have been a created angel, his kindness in his message deserves our thanks. We know that angels are ministering spirits, and commissioned by our Lord God to our good. Hebrews 1:14; Psalms 34:7. But supposing, (what I confess I am rather inclined to believe,) that this man Gabriel was the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! Reader! contemplate his love! Well might Paul desire, as the chiefest of all blessings, to be able to comprehend with all saints, the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Ephesians 3:18-19. When Daniel is said to be greatly beloved, or as the Hebrew hath it, greatly desired, or a man of desires; how blessed is it to consider the loveliness of the Lord's people in Jesus. Ezekiel 16:14; Song of Solomon 4:7. I must detain the Reader with one observation more on this passage. The man Gabriel tells Daniel, that it was at the beginning of his supplication he came forth, to show him the matter of this vision. Consequently, it was not for any arguments Daniel had used in prayer: neither was it for the merit of his prayer that the message came. Sweet consideration this to encourage the Lord's people in prayer! For when the Lord sets his people to pray, he is coming forth in mercy to bless; and their prayers become not the motive for divine favor, but the preparation of the Lord's grace in their hearts to qualify them for the mercy. The Lord teacheth them to ask for what he hath already prepared for them, and is about to give, so that the promise is fulfilled; before my people call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24.
We have within the compass of these few verses one of the most illustrious prophecies of scripture: and blessed be our God, he who gave the prophecy, hath given to his Church to see the fulfillment of it. The prophecy itself is introduced by the man Gabriel with great solemnity, and equal affection. Daniel had simply prayed for the restoration of his people from the Babylonish captivity. But the Lord not only answers this to the full, and tells him that that captivity is now over; but the Lord opens to the Prophet's mind a subject of infinitely higher moment, in the deliverance from a more grievous captivity: of sin, death, and hell, by the wonderful coming, and more wonderful labours, sufferings, and blood-shed of the Son of God. Seventy years had been determined, and was now past, of Israel's captivity in Babylon. Now Daniel is called upon to number seventy weeks more to be accomplished, and the Shiloh shall come, to whom the gathering of the people should be, Genesis 49:10. What a blessed promise was here! What a glorious answer to prayer! Various have been the opinions of men, concerning the commencement and termination of those seventy weeks. Volumes have been written on the subject: and the matter is left just where the whole body of writers found it. Reader! let it be your wisdom and mine to rest satisfied in those grand points, concerning this blessed prophecy; that it hath been fulfilled; that Christ to whom it pointed is come; that he was, and is, and ever will be, the anointed, and the most holy; that he hath finished transgression: mark the expression, finished it; not sin in this or that man, but sin itself, made an end of sin; sealed up sin, as the margin of our old Bibles hath it; so that when sin is sought for it is not found; made reconciliation also for iniquity, and brought in an everlasting righteousness; that he hath been cut off, but not for himself, hath confirmed the covenant with many, and caused the sacrifice to cease. These are truths, facts, and doctrines, perfectly plain, clear, and undeniable. And whether the seventy weeks, (which, no doubt, agreeable to scripture language, meant weeks of years) making four hundred and ninety years, were to commence the first year of the people's deliverance from Babylon, when Cyrus commanded them to return; or as some think, at the command of Artaxerxes, another prince of Persia, about one hundred years after, see Ezra 6:11, etc. in either case the events are the same. Certain it is, that near two thousand years are run out since Christ came, and finished transgression, and made an end of sin by the sacrifice of himself. So that the Jews who reject Christ, can now expect no other Christ from all their own prophecies. And while believers rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory, in him that is come; they are now, and for many centuries have been, as one of their Prophets described them, abiding without a king, without a prince, without sacrifice, without an image, and ephod, and teraphim. The Lord grant the prophecy that follows may be hastening to be fulfilled. Hosea 3:4-5; Romans 11:25 to the end.
GRACIOUS God! what praises hath the Church of the Lord Jesus to offer for the illustrious prophecy contained in this Chapter! Blessed be God, in that he left not himself without witness, when for the transgressions of Israel he gave them over into the band of the enemy! Blessed be God, in sending his Prophets Ezekiel and Daniel with the Church, that the law should not perish from the priests, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the Prophet. Blessed be God, that enabled Daniel to read the word of the Lord, in a strange land, and gave him grace, and wisdom, to understand by this blessed Book of God, the number of years to be accomplished in the desolations of Jerusalem. And blessed be God, for handing down to the Church in succeeding generations, and so on to the present hour, the records both of the prophecy and the accomplishment; whereby we behold the exact correspondence; and can, and do, trace our mercies to their source, and discover the Lord presiding over and appointing all. And now, O Lord! as we have here seen thy grace and mercy magnified to thy servant the Prophet; so we beseech thee, that thou wouldest go on to display all the riches of thy grace to the Church at large, in the person, work, blood-shedding, and glory of thy dear Son. We behold, Lord, in this glorious scripture, the features of Jesus very plainly and clearly drawn. And we have seen in the Gospel, how truly the original answers to the portrait. Yea! blessed Jesus, thou wast indeed in the days of thy flesh, anointed as the most holy, to seal up the vision and prophecy, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness. Heavenly Redeemer! let this righteousness be unto all, and upon all thy people, for there is no difference. And, oh! Lord! grant to thy servants now, as to thy Daniels of old, such revelations of thine holy will as may suit the wants of thy Church now, as the ministration of thy Prophets were needed then. And may every enlightened eye, like that of Daniel, be always on the lookout in the expectation of thy second coming; that when the weeks appointed for the desolations of thy people be run out, Jesus may come to take his people home to himself, that where he is, there they may be also. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Daniel 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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