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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Daniel 9

 

 


Introduction

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Dan , regarding the destruction by fire of the body of the Beast or fourth universal empire, that immediately preceding the kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints—his body being "given to the burning flame"—science has recently indicated another way in which this judgment might be inflicted on apostate Christendom and the Antichristian kingdoms. The following extract from the Spectator, in relation to a recent conclusion of astronomy, only met the writer's eye while the preceding work was in the press:—"We sometimes doubt whether the world's belief in science is quite as genuine as it seems. Here is Mr. Proctor, whose astronomical authority and ability nobody doubts, has told the world for some time back, we believe, that there is really a very considerable chance of a catastrophe only fifteen years hence, which may put an end to us and our earthly hopes and fears altogether; and, so far as we can see, the world has blandly treated Mr. Proctor's warning as it would have treated an interesting speculation on the future of electricity—that is, has regarded it with a certain mild, literary satisfaction, but has not made any change in its arrangements in consequence.… Yet, supposing Mr. Proctor's facts to be correctly stated—on which we should like to have the judgment of other astronomers—there does seem a remarkably good chance that in 1897 the sun will suddenly break out into the same kind of intensity of heat and light which caused the conflagration in the star of the Northern Crown in 1866, when for a day or two the heat and light emitted by it became suddenly many hundreds of times greater than they were before, after which the star relapsed into its former relative insignificance. Those few days of violence, however, must have been enough to destroy completely all vegetable and animal life in the planets circulating round that sun, if such planets were in existence; and Mr. Proctor shows no little reason to believe that the same catastrophe may very probably happen to us, doubtless from a precisely similar cause, if the astronomers who believe that the comet of 1880 was identical with the comet of 1843 and the comet of 1668 should be right,—which would imply that the same comet, with a rapidly diminishing period, is likely to return and fall into the sun, with all its meteoric appendages, in or about the year 1897. Mr. Proctor tells us that Professor Winnecke believes that the identity of the comets of 1843 and 1880 hardly admits of a doubt; while Mr. Marth thinks that both may be identical with the comet of 1668, its velocity having been reduced by its passing through the corona of the sun; so that on its next return, in a considerably reduced time, it may be altogether unable to pass out of the sphere of the sun's influence, and may precipitate itself, with all its meteoric train, into the mass of the sun. If this event occurs—as at some return or other Mr. Proctor believes to be nearly certain—(the next but one, we suppose, if not the next), there will certainly be an abrupt arrest of an enormous momentum as the long train of meteors enters the sun, which arrest would show itself in the shape of enormously increased heat,—the probable result whereof would be the burning up of all vegetable and animal life existing on the planets of the solar system. It is true that Mr. Proctor is not quite sure how the absorption of this comet and its train into the sun would really affect us. He is by no means certain that our sun would burst into flame, as the star in the Northern Crown did in 1866, but he evidently thinks it much more likely than not. And he does not seriously doubt that in the behaviour of the star in the Northern Crown, which so suddenly broke into flame in 1866, we have the example of a real sidereal catastrophe which from time to time either actually destroys, or would destroy, if they existed, such worlds as ours, if they happen to be the planets of a sun thus suddenly fed with a great accession of cosmic heat."

In connection with the same subject the writer has recently met with the following passage in Mr. Garrat's "Midnight Cry," written about twenty years ago:—"The fiery flood. So it is described in Peter's second epistle. The destruction of the ungodly will be by fire; and out of that fire will issue the new heavens and the new earth. The question is often asked, whether that event will happen at the commencement or the close of the millennium. Perhaps, in different degrees, at both. Isaiah says, speaking of a period prior to the thousand years, ‘By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.' And he seems also to place the creation of new heavens and a new earth at the same period; while it is after the millennium, John says in Revelation, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth.' This and many other apparent difficulties of the same nature are easily explained. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.' The whole millennium is, in God's eye, but a day—the great day of the Lord God Almighty. It is the ‘regeneration,'—the period of earth's new birth; and the events at its commencement and its close are sometimes looked upon as one. God will destroy His enemies with fire at the beginning of these thousand years. The conflagration at their close will be still more terrible. Both are looked upon as one event. And it is to both, regarded as one, that the words of Peter apply: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.' It will come as a thief in the night on the world. They will be alone, because the Church will have been translated. With what bitter remorse will men look on the fiery deluge as it comes sweeping along! They might have escaped, and they would not; and now escape is impossible."


Verses 1-14

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXX.—DANIEL'S PRAYER (Chap. Dan )

We come to what, in more than one respect, is among the most remarkable portions of Scripture. The chapter before us contains one of the most precious predictions concerning the promised Saviour and the work of redemption which He was to accomplish. It has two peculiarities which place it in advance of every other: the one, that it gives the name or title by which He was to be known throughout the dispensation He was to introduce, and which was at the same time to designate that dispensation, viz., Messiah or the Christ; the other, that the time of His advent is distinctly and unmistakably marked out.

IV. The prayer itself. This prayer of Daniel, perhaps beyond any other in the Bible, contains in it all the elements of devotion. Those in Ezr , &c., and Neh 9:5, &c., dictated by the same spirit, probably moulded by this of Daniel. As its constituent parts we have—

1. Adoration. Expressing—

(1.) Reverence. "O Lord, the great and dreadful God" (Dan ). The Lord is great and greatly to be praised, to be held in reverence of all that are about Him. Great fear due to Him in the meeting of His saints and in all their approaches to His throne of grace. "Of all the people will I be sanctified." Filial confidence not inconsistent with the deepest reverence. The song of the glorified on the sea of glass: "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name for Thou only art holy" (Rev 15:4). The tendency of such adoration to deepen our sense of sin.

(2.) Faith. "Keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments" (Dan ). Faith in God as merciful, gracious, and ready to forgive, also expressed in Dan 9:9 : "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him." "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6). Confidence in God's mercy to be coupled with reverence and holy fear. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Daniel's faith further expressed in his appropriation of the Lord as his God. Not satisfied with calling Him "our God," he twice over invokes him as "my God." Faith believes, accepts, and appropriates God as our covenant God in and through Christ. "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." "My Lord and my God." "If we wish our prayers to be heard," says Keil, "then God, to whom we pray, must become our God."

2. Confession. "We have sinned," &c. (Dan ). This confession, large and full, occupying the greatest part of the prayer. Felt by Daniel, in the circumstances, to be that which was so much called for, and so necessary to the obtaining of the object sought He confesses the sins of the whole people in both its sections, and of all classes, including his own. With the sins he acknowledges the sufferings entailed by them, and the justice that inflicted them. "Righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of face" (Dan 9:7-8). Mentions as an aggravation of their case that while the Lord was visiting them for their sin they still refused to repent and pray, and hardened themselves against His corrections. In confessing sin we are to remember and confess its peculiar aggravations.

3. Thanksgiving and praise. Daniel makes thankful acknowledgment of God's past mercies. "O Lord God, that hast brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt," &c. (Dan ). Thanksgiving to accompany prayer and supplication in making our requests known unto God (Php 4:7). Thanksgiving for past mercies a tribute due to their Author and the means of obtaining more. Gratitude both glorifying to God and a gain to ourselves. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." What God has already done, a never-failing source of thanksgiving.

(1.) Intense earnestness. "O Lord, I beseech thee.… O my God, incline Thine ear and hear.… O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God." An instructive specimen of earnest pleading. This the "effectual fervent prayer" of the righteous man that "availeth much." Jacob wrestling with the angel and refusing to let him go without bestowing a blessing.

(2.) Deep humility. "We do not present our supplications before Thee for our own righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies." "To us belongeth confusion of face." Humility refuges every plea for acceptance but God's free mercy. It can indeed plead a righteousness, but not its own. The Lord Himself is its righteousness, wrought out in the person of the Son and freely made over to faith. "This is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." "I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only."

(3.) The prevailing plea. "For the Lord's sake" (Dan )

(8). No doubt as to who this is. "Daniel sets before God the Mediator by whose favour he hopes to obtain his request."—Calvin. "The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord (the Anointed or the Christ, the promised Saviour), Sit Thou on my right hand," &c. (Psa ). The same Messiah who forms the subject of the following vision, God's anointed King of Israel on His holy hill of Zion (Psalms 2) Raising Him from the dead and placing Him on His own right hand, God declared Jesus to be "both Lord and Christ" (Act 2:36). It was through Him that God blessed Israel and that He now blesses men. Prayer accepted and answered on His account, and therefore to be made in His name. Thus David prayed: "Behold, O God, our shield; look on the face of Thine Anointed." "Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, upon the Son of Man, whom Thou hast made strong for Thyself" (Psa 84:9; Psa 80:17). This divine and God-given plea made more fully known after His appearance in the flesh and the acceptance of His offered sacrifice. "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." "Having a great High Priest who is passed into the heavens, let us come boldly to the throne of grace." "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (1Jn 2:2; Heb 4:14-16; Rom 8:32).

(4.) Large-heartedness and unselfishness. Daniel's petitions and pleadings more on behalf of others than himself. Self forgotten in his deep concern for his country and the cause of God. He pleads for Jerusalem, God's city and sanctuary that was desolate, His holy mountain, and His people. Personally, Daniel himself was in comfort, and never expected to see again his native land and beloved city. But his people were still captives and Jerusalem was in desolation. The cause of God and of His Christ was in the dust. Hence his unselfish pleading. Grace enlarges the heart and makes the cause of others our own. The mark of the spirit of Jesus to be burdened with the sins and sorrows of others. True patriotism and benevolence learned at the feet of Him who wept over Jerusalem. "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, till the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." The sign of a mere nominal Christianity and a heartless religion when its professors "drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the chief spices, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (Amo ). Such was not Daniel's. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning" (Psa 137:5).

From the whole prayer we may learn—

1. The spirit of prayer characteristic of a child of God. Prayer in a child of God as natural as a child's cry to its mother. God has many suffering children, but no silent ones. "We cry, Abba, Father!"

2. God's Word the study and enjoyment of His people. Daniel not only a man of prayer but a man of study. "I understood by books." These books the Scriptures. Other books not neglected, but these his daily food. "It is my meditation all the day." "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he doth meditate day and night." God's Word the stream that nourishes the roots of godliness, the oil that makes the lamp of grace to burn. This inclusive of prophetic Scripture. Prophecy a large proportion of the Bible. Daniel moved to pray by the word of prophecy. That word to be taken heed to "as to a light shining in a dark place." Daniel, though a prophet, himself a careful reader of the prophecies of others.

3. The Word read to be turned into prayer. Believing prayer a fruit of the study of Scripture. Daniel read and then prayed. To read little is often to pray little; and reading without praying is of little worth. That is the most profitable reading of the Scriptures that sends us to our knees. That the most lively, fervent, and successful prayer that is the child of a precept, a promise, or a prophecy.

4. Prayer to be accompanied with thanksgiving and confession of sin. God's past mercies and our own past sins never to be forgotten at the throne of grace. He prays ill who forgets God's favours and his own faults.

5. Believers especially to cultivate intercessory prayer. For this purpose Christ makes us priests. Our high calling to be God's remembrancers. God's people watchmen set on Zion's walls to give Him no rest till He establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. A wide field and a loud call for earnest intercessory prayer. Prayers and intercessions to be made for all men (1Ti ). "Seek the peace of the city, and pray unto the Lord for it." "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." "Brethren, pray for us." "For all saints." "Pray one for another, that ye may be healed." Abraham's intercession all but saved Sodom. Paul's prayers saved the lives of all that sailed with him (Act 27:24).


Verses 20-23

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXI.—PRAYER ANSWERED (Chap. Dan )

The character ascribed to God by the Psalmist founded on absolute truth, and in accordance with the universal experience of the godly in all ages, "Thou that hearest prayer." The promise, "Call on me and I will answer thee," verified in believers both in the Old and New Testament times. Natural, if God stands to them in the relation of a father. Natural for a child to ask and a parent to bestow. The promise, "Ask, and ye shall receive," never broken when the conditions are fulfilled. The constant experience of Daniel through his whole life in Babylon. Another distinguished instance to be added in his extreme old age. Concerning this last recorded answer to his prayers, related by himself, we notice—

III. The answer given in a different way from what Daniel probably expected. The thing asked by Daniel, that God would visit and restore Jerusalem and the Jews in mercy. The answer, a divine messenger sent to inform him of what should afterwards take place. That information included the restoration of Jerusalem, and a great deal besides. The information both doleful and delightful, enough to make Daniel weep, and yet greatly to rejoice. Prayer often answered in a way different from our expectation. Paul prayed for his way to be opened to visit Rome. God answered his prayer, and sent him there two years afterwards, but bound with a prisoner's chain. "By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation" (Psa ).

IV. The answer far beyond the request. Daniel prayed only for the restoration of "the holy mountain of his God" (Dan ). God answers by the promise that not only should Jerusalem be restored, but Messiah Himself should at no very distant period appear—a period expressly declared—with the glorious benefits that should result from his Advent (Dan 9:24-25). Thus God, in His kindness to His children, often far exceeds their prayers in the answers He sends them. Solomon asked for wisdom, and God in addition gave him power and riches beyond those of any other monarch. He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think," and in the riches of His love He often does so.

From the whole observe—

1. The blessedness of a truly godly life. Fellowship with God a leading element in such a life. Freedom in asking and readiness in bestowing included in such fellowship. Asking and receiving the privilege of children, and constantly realised in family life. Not less so among the children of God and in the "household of faith."

2. The encouragement to persevere in prayer. Prayer offered according to God's Word and for things according to His will sure, sooner or later, and in one way or other, to be answered. A parent's ear never shut to his children's cry, be the parent otherwise ever so wicked. "And shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night to Him continually, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily" (Luk ). Daniel one example out of millions.

3. God's love in giving His children much more than they ask. When He answers prayer, He gives "heaped up and running over;" and when He withholds the thing asked, it is only to give something better. Moses prayed to be taken over Jordan to Canaan; God instead takes him to the country of which Canaan was but a shadow. Paul asks for the removal of the thorn in the flesh; Christ instead gives him an assurance that was to comfort and strengthen him in all the trials, sufferings, and conflicts of his future life.

4. Precious grace that makes a sinful man to be one "greatly beloved" of God. Paul's testimony of himself and others, including Daniel, in their natural condition as the fallen children of Adam, apart from divine renewing grace, is, "Foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another;" "Children of wrath even as others" (Tit ; Eph 2:3). How rich the love and how mighty the grace that out of such materials can form such characters as Paul, and John, and Daniel, men "greatly beloved"! "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ" (Eph 2:4-5). "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of glory" (1Sa 2:8; Psa 113:7-8).

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXII.—THE MAN GREATLY BELOVED (Chap. Dan )

This remarkable and precious testimony borne to Daniel by the Angel Gabriel. The same thing done twice over in the next chapter by the same person, if not by one greater than he; the difference being that in the latter cases it is used as an epithet to Daniel, "O man greatly beloved," and "O Daniel, a man greatly beloved" (chap. Dan ; Dan 10:19). The expression may be viewed either as the ascription of a character—worthy to be greatly beloved, or as the declaration of a fact,—actually so beloved. A "man of desires" (the literal marginal rendering of the word) is either one worthy of such desires or the actual object of them. The expression may also be viewed as indicating both what Daniel was in himself, very lovable or lovely, and what he was in relation to others, actually beloved. In the latter case, those by whom he was beloved were, in the first instance, the Divine Being Himself; then the angels, especially Gabriel, who speaks; then good men in general, including the spirits of the just made perfect, who were doubtless cognisant of Daniel's character and worth. The testimony, in any case, expressive of Daniel's moral excellence, as rendering him both lovely and lovable and actually beloved. It is remarkable as coming not from a man but from a celestial being, lovely and lovable himself, as a spotless and unfallen creature, and a correct judge of what is truly lovely and lovable, and well acquainted with the facts of the case as an angel of light. The text affords an occasion of gathering up and considering some of the points of Daniel's character as brought to our view in the book before us, and as justifying the testimony borne in the text. Some of these are—

1. His early piety. Piety in youth is especially lovely and attractive. This conspicuous in Daniel. Daniel still a youth when, though a captive in a foreign land and surrounded with temptations in a heathen and luxurious court, he resolved to deny himself the luxuries of the king's table, and to live upon beans and water, rather than do what he believed was contrary to the law of God. His amiability and sweetness of disposition were such as to gain for him the favour and attachment of the officer in the palace, under whose charge he and the other Jewish youths were placed. Daniel was still only a young man when, in a crisis of great danger to others as well as himself, he, in childlike confidence, carried the matter to the Lord, and obtained, through a divine communication vouchsafed to him, deliverance both for himself and the wise men of Babylon. Daniel's piety in youth the foundation of his character and greatness as a man.

2. His steadfastness and perseverance in well-doing. Daniel's piety, which began in youth, was retained to the end of a long life. Beloved while a young man by the chief of the eunuchs for his amiability and good behaviour, he receives the angelic testimony, when above fourscore, that he was still "greatly beloved." From a youth of fourteen he had lived among idolaters and in a licentious court, yet his piety remained unshaken. More than once his religion brought him into danger of his life, but he remained the same. Neither the plots of enemies, nor the elevation of earthly greatness, nor the seductions of pleasure, nor the cares of statesmanship, were able to draw him from the paths of piety and virtue. In prosperity and adversity, in sunshine and storm, Daniel remained the same faithful servant of God and of the king, walking with his Maker and seeking the welfare of his fellow-men.

3. His consistency and symmetry of character. Daniel's conduct was the same throughout, always in harmony with itself. Attentive to his duty to God, he was equally so in his duty to man. Faithful to his God, he is equally faithful to his king. His morality is no less conspicuous than his religion. He is fervent in spirit, but no less diligent in business. Regular and earnest in his closet, he is equally assiduous in his office. Studious in his Bible, as a man of business he is well acquainted with his books. His enemies can find no fault in him, and no ground of accusation with the king, but in the matter of his religion. He is favoured with revelations from Heaven and the visits of angels; yet no sooner are his visions withdrawn and his usual state of health recovered, than he returns to do "the king's business." He is endowed, even while yet young, with a wisdom and understanding superior to that of all the wise men of Babylon, yet disclaims all merit and wisdom of his own as being greater than those of other men. He is tender and gentle, while bold and uncompromising in professing the truth and reproving sin. He is distressed as being the bearer of evil tidings to Nebuchadnezzar, yet fearlessly declares to the hardened Belshazzar both his sin and his doom.

4. His conscientiousness even in the smallest matters. This exhibited in his carefulness in regard to the law respecting forbidden meats, as also in his observance of his usual practice in his devotions, although at the risk of his life, when to have done otherwise would have appeared a want of faith in God and obedience to His will. He that is faithful in the least is faithful in much. The smallest duty, because a duty and the will of God, attended to by Daniel, as well as those of apparently a much more important character. Love will be obedient and seek to please in the least as well as in the greatest matters. Such conscientiousness a feature in the man "greatly beloved," and a considerable part of what made him such.

5. His faith and confidence in God. Seen in early life in his proposal to put the desired change of diet to the proof, assured that God would answer prayer and honour obedience to his will. The same trust in God as the hearer of prayer exhibited in the matter of the king's dream. So afterwards Daniel went calmly to the lion's den, believing in his God, and assured that he was safe in His keeping, whatever might be the result. Daniel enabled to walk in the steps of his father Abraham, and of that faith which gives glory to God. Nothing more pleasing to God, or likely to make a man "greatly beloved "of Him, than a simple, childlike, and unwavering trust. Jesus was pleased wherever he found faith in Himself. Daniel's childlike faith made him, like Abraham, "the friend of God."

6. His prayerfulness. From youth to old age Daniel characterised as a man of prayer. His whole life an example of the Apostle's words, "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Prayer to God the natural fruit of faith in God. Prayer the element in which Daniel lived. Each life presents constant calls to prayer, and constant opportunities for it. No place where prayer is not needed, and none where it may not be made. Daniel's prayers both regular and special. Daniel prayed in his closet, and prayed by the river-side. Had his stated prayer morning, evening, and at noon, and yet set himself to pray for a whole day with fasting and sackcloth. Prayed for himself, but with at least as much fervency for others. Had his whole days of prayer and fasting for his brethren, his country, and the cause of God. His prayerfulness well known to his heathen neighbours. This the charge brought against him, and that which all but cost him his life. Daniel prayed with a cruel death before him as its probable consequence. His prayerfulness the secret of all his other excellences, the key that unlocked to him the treasury of all spiritual blessings; brought and kept him in fellowship with the source and sum of all excellence, and so made him like Him; made him walk with God as a man with his friend, so that, like Moses, his face shone with the reflected glory. Prayer the continual source and supply of strength for every duty and every trial; not only for doing and suffering, but for doing and suffering in the right spirit. Makes Christ's strength our own, and at all times sufficient for us. Daniel waited on the Lord, and so renewed his strength.

7. His amiableness of disposition and kindness to others. When God brought him into tender love with Ashpenaz, his superintendent in the palace at Babylon, it was doubtless by giving Daniel that which gendered such love. Daniel's amiable spirit and loving demeanour such as to commend him to his superiors. Love in others towards us begotten by love and lovableness in ourselves. The amiableness of his disposition and tenderness of his spirit followed Daniel into mature age. Struck dumb and unable at once to declare to the king the unhappy import of his dream, he only does so when urged by his royal master, and then does it in the tenderest and most loving manner, while yet faithfully seeking the king's best interests. Daniel seemed to care for the imperilled lives of the wise men in Babylon more than his own; and on his deliverance from the death which his heathen enemies had devised, for him, he makes not the slightest reference to their cruelty and wickedness while declaring his innocence to the king.

8. His patriotism and concern for his country's welfare. It was concern for his country that moved him to that day of solemn prayer and fasting which the chapter before us relates, and which brought Gabriel down with an answer and the testimony in the text. To an enlightened man the cause of his country will be bound up with the cause of God and of religion, as it can be well with the former only as it is so with the latter. This was especially the case with Daniel, whose country God had made and called His own, and whose city, Jerusalem, was God's holy mountain, the city of the great King, who had chosen it for the place of His special worship. That country was now in desolation, and Jerusalem with its Temple was in ruins. God's worship there had been brought to an end. Sin on the part of the people had brought the desolating foe that had put a stop to their solemn feasts. Provoked to anger by their continued rebellion and apostasy, the Lord had "caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and had despised, in the indignation of His anger, the king and the priest. The Lord had cast off His altar; He had abhorred His sanctuary; He had given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces" (Lam ). This was the burden that pressed upon the heart of the beloved prophet. The cause of his people, and with that the cause of God and of true religion, which was bound up with it, was his deep sorrow, and drove him to incessant prayer as the time of the promised deliverance drew nigh. He was concerned not only for his country's peace, but for his people's repentance, which must be at the foundation of it. It was this that led him, as a true patriot, to pour out his heart before God in the fervent prayer and deep humiliation here recorded.

9. His unselfishness. This sufficiently apparent from the last particular. In the remarkable prayer of this chapter, self is entirely forgotten in his concern for his brethren and his country. The same renunciation and forgetfulness of self conspicuous on many occasions. He associates with himself his three companions in the interpretation of the king's dream, first asking their participation in his prayers, and then giving the interpretation as if from them all conjointly—"We will tell the king his dream." He makes no mention of himself in relating the noble stand which his three companions made in the matter of the golden image, refraining from saying anything to account for his non-participation in their steadfast refusal to worship it, and leaving the entire honour of it to themselves. When Belshazzar holds out to him the promise of the highest reward he could bestow for the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, his answer is, "Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards unto another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation" (chap. Dan ). Dr. Pusey well remarks: "A self-laudatory school has spoken much of the laudation, as they call it, of Daniel, as being unnatural, on our belief that he was the author of the book. To me certainly much more striking is his reticence about himself." At the very commencement of his remarkable course he distinctly renounces in the king's presence all claim to any superior wisdom or merit of his own in the interpretation of his dream, and ascribes it entirely to God, who wished to acquaint the king with its meaning. In like manner, all that he is obliged to relate in regard to his gifts and attainments, his answers to prayer and divine revelations, he ascribes to the same source—the free bounty of a gracious prayer-hearing God, who does what He will with His own. "He giveth wisdom to the wise and knowledge to them that have understanding.… I thank Thee and praise Thee, O Thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of Thee" (chap. Dan 2:22-23).

In leaving the character of this man "greatly beloved," we may remark with Dr. Cox: "It is characteristic of Scripture biography to record the censurable actions of good men as well as their virtues and graces; the entire omission of the former, therefore, in the account of Daniel, naturally leads to the conclusion that he was a person of preeminent excellence." The same writer adds: "The estimation in which Daniel was held by successive potentates, the public honours he received, the eminent rank he held, all fade into nothingness before the testimony from Heaven, a testimony founded on no external glory, but on a character invulnerable to reproaches, and formed of all the elements of pure religion." Nor in thinking of Daniel's character, which entitled him to this high testimony, should we forget that he was only an Old Testament saint, living in what is called by the Apostle the "ministration of the letter that killeth," instead of the ministration of the Spirit that succeeded it; the former, glorious as it was, "having no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth," the glory of the dispensation of the Spirit in which it is our privilege to live (2Co ). If that inferior dispensation which possessed comparatively so little of the Spirit that renews and sanctifies, produced a character of such excellence as to merit this angelic testimony, to what moral excellence ought New Testament believers not to be able to attain? Daniel beheld God and His sanctifying truth only with the veil of Moses on his face, and yet attained to so much of his likeness. What may, what ought we not to attain to when the veil is done away in Christ, and when we, beholding with unveiled face, and reflecting, as in a mirror, the "glory of the Lord," enjoy the privilege of being "transformed into the same image from glory unto glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit"? (2Co 3:14; 2Co 3:18, R.V.) The character of Daniel is portrayed in this book by the Holy Ghost for our imitation, even in these last days of the ministration of the Spirit; for "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning," that the man of God might be "perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work" (Rom 15:4; 2Ti 3:17). The present dispensation has produced many Daniels,—its Fletchers, its Paysons, its M‘Cheynes, its Pennyfathers, and multitudes besides, whose record is only on high. It will produce many more. It is the privilege both of the reader and the writer, by contemplating in the Word not merely the character of Daniel, but of Daniel's Lord, to possess Daniel's character, by possessing more and more of the character of Him from whom that eminent saint derived all his excellence; learning of the Master, who was "meek and lowly in heart," and walking in the spirit and steps of Him who was "holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners." For this, however, we must become one with that Master, united to Him as a branch is to the tree by a cordial acceptance of Him, surrender to Him, and trust in Him, as the provided Saviour for poor helpless sinners. Reader, may that be your happiness and mine!


Verses 24-27

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXIII.—THE PROMISED MESSIAH (Chap. Dan )

1. "Messiah." This Hebrew term, equivalent to the Greek Christ, denotes "the Anointed." The promised Deliverer had already been spoken of by the prophets as God's Anointed. See 1Sa ; 1Sa 12:3; 1Sa 12:5; Psa 2:2; Psa 18:50; Psa 84:9. Now, however, perhaps for the first time, He is designated by this name alone, Messiah or the Anointed. God speaks in the Psalms of having anointed Him, as the King whom He had chosen and appointed to rule over Israel on the throne of His father David, Solomon's antitype (Psa 89:19-20; Psa 2:6, marg.) Isaiah speaks of Him as anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, as a prophet to make known the glad tidings of salvation to fallen men (Isa 61:10). This in accordance with the practice of both kings and prophets being installed in their office with the anointing of oil, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, with whom, as the true king and prophet, Messiah was to be anointed. As the great High Priest also, He was to receive the same anointing, it being appointed under the law that the priests should be introduced into their office by the anointing with oil (Exo 30:30; Exo 40:15; Psa 133:2). This symbolical anointing, which was to receive its fulfilment in the promised Deliverer, hence called the Messiah or Anointed, was actually fulfilled in Jesus, on whom the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape at His baptism, and of whom Peter testifies, that He went about doing good, being anointed by God "with the Holy Ghost, and with power" (Act 10:38). The evangelists relate that Jesus went up from the Jordan full of the Holy Ghost, and was led by the same Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that it was through the eternal Spirit that Jesus, as the Great High Priest, "offered Himself without spot unto God" (Heb 9:14). Through the Holy Ghost He gave commandments to His apostles after His resurrection (Act 1:2). He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. God gave not His Spirit by measure unto Him (Psa 45:7; Joh 3:34).

It may here be interesting to inquire how far Messiah had been promised and made known previously to this communication made to Daniel concerning Him, and through Daniel to the Church. We may mark seven leading promises, previously given, revealing so many particulars concerning the Saviour who was to come:—

(1.) The original promise in Eden, showing that the Saviour of men was to be a man, and that while He was to be the destroyer of him who had overcome and sought to ruin man, He was Himself to suffer (Gen ). Hence the name He generally gave Himself, the Son of Man.

(2.) The promise made to Abraham, and renewed to Isaac and Jacob, indicating the nation from which the Saviour was to spring, that of which Abraham was to be the head, the Jewish people (Gen ). Salvation was to be of the Jews.

(3.) The promise made through Jacob on his dying bed, intimating the tribe in the Jewish nation out of which the Messiah was to spring, viz., that of Judah, the royal tribe, indicating that Messiah was to be a king (Gen ). Jesus claimed the title of King of the Jews.

(4.) The promise through Moses, showing that the Saviour was to be a prophet as well as a king (Deu ). It was more especially in this character that He exercised His three and a half years' ministry, teaching the people.

(5.) The promise by David, showing the family in which Messiah was to be born, viz., that of David the son of Jesse; and that though He was to succeed His father David as king of Israel, He was to be rejected by the leaders of the people, and to suffer and die; while, as a priest, He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the world, the very kind of death He was to suffer being indicated (Act ; Psa 89:4; Psa 110:4; Psa 118:22; Psa 40:6-8; Psa 22:16). The Son of David, the name by which the Jews generally designated the promised Messiah.

(6.) The promise by Isaiah, B.C. 714-50, that He was to be miraculously born of a virgin, intimating also that while truly man He was also to possess a divine nature, as Emmanuel, the Mighty God; and showing at the same time more distinctly than before that He was to be rejected by men, and made by God a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Isa , Isa 9:7, Isaiah 53.) Isaiah especially the evangelical prophet, or prophet of the Gospel.

(7.) The promise given through Micah, B.C. 710, shortly after the preceding, and showing the place where Messiah was to be born, viz., in Bethlehem, a small village in Judah, and declaring still more explicitly that, notwithstanding the lowly place of His birth, He was the everlasting God (Mic ). Singularly fulfilled, while Mary and Joseph were at the time inhabitants of Nazareth.

II. The time of Messiah's appearing. This is expressly intimated in the text, though somewhat enigmatically. Seventy weeks are said to be determined upon Daniel's people for the accomplishment of those gracious purposes connected with Messiah's advent (Dan ). These prophetic weeks are again divided into three portions, of seven, sixty-two, and one; each portion having some important event or transaction connected with it (Dan 9:25-27). The points requiring consideration are—

We may observe from the text—

2. The duty of personally accepting that Saviour whose advent was thus graciously foretold, and at the predicted period actually took place. The text reveals a Saviour and promises a salvation which meets the requirements of every human being; a salvation not only from sin's consequences, but from sin itself, and one which in the Gospel is freely tendered to every creature. Millions, accepting the announcement and cordially embracing the promised Saviour as their own, have experienced its truth both in life and death, and, made by it new creatures in Christ Jesus, have rejoiced with exceeding joy. Such an experience is for each to make his own, and that without delay. "To you is the word of this salvation sent." "Behold, now is the day of salvation." "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Has the reader embraced it?

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXIV.—THE OBJECTS OF MESSIAH'S ADVENT (Chap. Dan )

"Die man or justice must, unless for him

Some other, able and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death."—Paradise Lost.

"Oh, how unlike the complex works of man,

Heaven's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan?

It stands like the crulean arch we see,

Majestic in its own simplicity.

Inscribed above the portal, from afar,

Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,

Legible only by the light they give,

Stand the soul-quickening words—BELIEVE AND LIVE."

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXV.—A REJECTED SAVIOUR (Chap. Dan )

The prophecy brings us to the great central truth of the Bible, and that which constitutes the foundation of a sinner's hope. The same fact that formed the greatest wickedness of the Jews, and brought the heaviest judgments upon the land and nation, is that which brings life and salvation to a guilty world. It is the violent but vicarious death of the provided Saviour. "MESSIAH SHALL BE CUT OFF." To the astonishment of angels who had studied the predictions regarding Him with deepest interest (1Pe ), instead of hailing and embracing their own and the world's Deliverer when He came, after having for more than a thousand years been promised to their nation by a succession of prophets, and foreshadowed by numerous divinely appointed types, they, and especially their priests and elders, reject Him with scorn, anathematise Him as a blasphemer, and in bitter hatred demand that He shall be put to an ignominious and cruel death. They took Him, and by wicked hands crucified and slew Him (Act 2:23). The prophecy brings before us—

Let us turn aside and consider this great sight, Messiah cut off. The provided and promised Saviour, the mighty God in man's nature, is rejected and made to suffer the death of a felon, a blasphemer, and a slave. Wonder, O heavens, at man's depravity! But "the thing is of God." While the act is that of their own free will, it is what His hand and His counsel "have determined before to be done." Joseph's brethren sold him; but it was God that sent him into Egypt, to save much people alive. Messiah must be cut off, or man must remain in his sins. He who is to save must suffer—suffer in the room of those whom he saves. Sin must be atoned for, if it is to be forgiven. Justice must be satisfied, if mercy is to bless. The woman's seed must have his heel bruised, if he is to bruise the serpent's head. The Son of God in man's nature must die, if man is to live. The Blessed One must be cut off, if the accursed are to be restored. It is done. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. To save the sinner, it pleased the Lord to bruise His Son. Wonder, O heavens, at God's love to man!

Messiah was cut off both by man and for man. By man. But how could such wickedness exist? The answer is not far to seek. The root of that wickedness is in the heart both of writer and reader. He who knows that heart has declared it to be "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." A sinful blindness occasioned by the Fall, unbelief regarding the testimony of God, pride, self-righteousness, love of the world and sin, hatred of a holy God and what is holy—these are the natural products of man's wretchedly depraved heart, and these, yielded to, were sufficient to reject the Son of God and to murder the Saviour that God sent. And they still do so. The Saviour whom the Jews crucified, the Gentiles reject, and in rejecting Him trample on His blood. He is still despised and rejected of men. We still turn away our faces from Him. Though in Himself the chief among ten thousand, and for sinful ruined man everything that is to be desired, yet we esteem Him not.

Such, to the Jews, were some of the consequences of a rejected Saviour; and these are but a shadow of those which the eye cannot now perceive. Israel are now, and for eighteen centuries have been, suffering what they themselves call their "great captivity," because they are reaping the consequence of their great sin, the rejection and crucifixion of their King and Saviour. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Mat ). May the day speedily come when, with the veil taken away from their heart, this shall be the language of penitent Israel!

The section suggests two obvious topics for reflection.

1. The remarkable fulfilment of prophecy at an evidence of the inspiration of the Scriptures and the truth of Christianity. The verse before us contains three distinct predictions, each of which has received an obvious fulfilment.

(1) The Messiah when He came was to be rejected and cut off by a violent death;

(2) this was to take place at a certain definite period, nearly four hundred and ninety years after a decree from the ruling power to restore and build Jerusalem; and

(3) as the consequence of that rejection and cutting off of their Messiah, the Jews were to see the destruction of their city and sanctuary, and the desolation of their land for a lengthened and indefinite period. The fulfilment of each of these is obvious. The Jews as a nation rejected Him whom we know, and many among themselves have acknowledged, to be the Messiah. History leaves no room to doubt that this took place at the time predicted, the time at which the Jews themselves expected their Messiah to appear. And every one knows what happened to Jerusalem and the temple soon after, and what has been the condition of the country and the people these eighteen centuries, and still is to this day. Humanly speaking, such a state of things was in the highest degree unlikely. Such a treatment of the Deliverer promised to their fathers for nearly two thousand years, and eagerly expected by all the godly among them, was only to be accounted for on the ground of the desperate depravity of the human heart, and the secret purpose and plan of the Almighty thus to effect the redemption of the human race. More, surely, is not needed to convince any reasonable mind that such a prediction was from God, and that Jesus who was crucified is indeed the Saviour of the world, whose coming had been promised and foretold from the beginning. The words of Alfred Cave, in a recent number of the "British and Foreign Evangelical Review," may be suitably quoted here. "How is that notable phenomenon of the Hebrew religion called Prophecy to be regarded as a datum on which to found the Spencerian theory of evolution? The reply afforded by the advocates of a theory of natural development is—by banishing from prophecy any idea of prediction. The question arises whether the idea of prediction can be dissociated from the Biblical idea of prophecy? This is firm ground. If there is a single instance of prediction in the Old Testament which cannot be adequately described as conjecture, then any such theory as the Spencerian is declared insufficient in its explanation.… Such facts as the adoration of the Magi, and the fulfilment to the letter of Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, which might be augmented a hundredfold, provide incontestable proofs of the reality of prediction; and these facts receive a most impressive recognition from the laboured attempts of rationalistic interpreters to explain them away."

2. The guilt involved in the rejection of the provided Saviour. What was it that consigned to the flames that magnificent temple which the Roman general did his utmost to spare; that overthrew that strongly fortified city which so long defied the power of the Roman army, and which Titus declare he could never have taken had not God Himself wrought with him in the siege; and that caused the Jews to be banished from their own land, and to be scattered over the whole earth, while that land lies desolate, even to this day? We have only to point to Calvary, and the cry that preceded it, "Away with Him! away with Him! Crucify Him! crucify Him!" Nor need we wonder. Had Jesus of Nazareth been a mere man, as the Jews wished to believe, and as some who are not Jews even still maintain, it would be, to say the least, unwarranted to connect these unparalleled and long continued calamities of the Jewish people with Calvary and the crucifixion of the Nazarene. He suffered death as a blasphemer. But if Jesus was what He declared Himself to be, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who shall one day come with the clouds of heaven, then the whole is clear. What tongue can describe the guilt of rejecting and crucifying the Son of God when, in His love, assuming man's nature, He came to save a dying world? This was the crying guilt of the Jews. But what of the Gentiles? Have they not rejected Jesus? Are thousands and tens of thousands not rejecting Him now? The charge is too true. Even where a nominal and outward profession of acceptance of the Crucified is made, the life declares in too many instances that He is still in heart rejected. "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" Where the Gospel is preached and the offer of the Saviour is made, men must either believe and accept that offer and so be saved—saved from sin and all its consequences, and have peace with God, and be made new creatures—or, like the Jews, they must reject Him. The streets of Britain, the Sabbaths of Protestant England, the land of Bibles and of Gospel light and liberty, proclaim too loudly that the secret language of the heart is that which the lips of the Jews dared openly to utter, "We will not have this man to reign over us: not this man, but Barabbas. We have no king but Cæsar. Away with Him!" When, for the rejection of their King, the kingdom of God was taken from the Jews, the Gentiles were to have their time, and they have it now. Their rejection of the Son of God and Saviour of men is not winked at, although not now signally punished as in the case of the Jews. Individuals experience the blessedness of accepting and the misery of rejecting that Saviour. A day also has been foretold, and cannot now be far distant, when that same Jesus, who had been preached to the nations, "shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ." Happy those who, having through grace cordially accepted Jesus as their Saviour and King, are in a condition to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXXVI.—THE LAST WEEK AND ITS EMPLOYMENT. (Chap. Dan .)

We have seen what was to take place at the end of the first seven of the seventy weeks, and did take place; also what was to happen after the second period, or other sixty-two weeks, and actually did so. The street and wall of Jerusalem were restored, and Messiah was cut off. The prophet seems to be further informed what was to take place during the remaining one week of the seventy determined upon his people and the holy city. This is related in the last verse of the chapter, and is given in three particulars.

(6) The appalling and unparalleled calamities which he relates as overtaking his countrymen in the siege and in the war, we may regard as the beginning of that desolation which was to follow the overspreading of abominations, until the decreed consummation, even now still going on, should be poured upon the desolate. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings; but ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Mat ).

Let us make one reflection.

The verse before us exhibits the terrible consequences of abused privileges. To the Jews belonged the giving of the law, with its types and shadows of good things to come; and the service of God, with its temple, priests, and sacrifices; and the promises, including that crowning one, the promise of a Saviour-King; and the covenants, the old one at Sinai, and the new one promised in connection with the Messiah, tendered to them first by Christ and then by His apostles, and securing to them, on their acceptance of it, all the blessings of a present and an eternal salvation. These privileges, however, were abused. The law given to them they made their boast of without yielding to it the obedience of a loving heart which it required; and rested in its outward and typical observances, instead of embracing the substance to which they pointed. The promised Saviour, when He came, they rejected; and the covenant which held out to them the full forgiveness of their sins and the renewal of their nature, they refused, preferring to merit their acceptance with God by their own wretched works of a mere external righteousness. The consequence was that while a remnant accepted the offered covenant and entered into the enjoyment of all its precious blessings, the rest were blinded, and went on in the hardness and frowardness of their unbelieving hearts, adding sin to sin, not only refusing to accept Christ themselves, but doing their utmost to hinder others from doing so, and persecuting even to the death those who accepted Him themselves and sought to make Him known to others; till the measure of their iniquity being full, the threatened judgments of God came upon them to the uttermost, and from being the most favoured nation in the world they became outcasts from their own country and wanderers over the face of the earth, as we see them at this day; a beacon and a warning to the Gentiles, to whom their privileges were graciously transferred, to beware of similar unbelief and misuse of Gospel-mercies, lest a like judgment happen to them also. "Be not highminded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches (of the good olive tree), take heed lest He also spare not thee (who hast been only grafted in among them). For unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith" (Rom ). The language that comes to us from that long desolated land, once the glory of all lands, and that long desecrated templeless mount, where Jehovah once had His abode, and that wretched remnant of the scattered nation, once God's favoured people, the kings and priests of Jehovah, now unable to find a settled home or resting-place for the sole of their foot, is, "Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart. If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries" (Heb 2:3; Heb 3:7-8; Heb 10:26-27)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 9:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/daniel-9.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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