Sabbath School Lesson for February 29-March 6, 2020
Daniel, chapter 9, includes both Daniel’s prayer and the angel’s answer to that prayer. We can see from its study…
- how knowledge of the Scriptures informs and enhances our prayers (Sunday)
- how God’s grace should be interwoven with our requests (Monday)
- the value and result of true intercessory prayer (Tuesday)
- the work of Christ on our behalf (Wednesday)
- the relief that God is right on time with His plan of salvation (Thursday)
Chapter nine of Daniel brings us not only a clearer picture of the vision he was given in the last chapter, but a beautiful intercessory prayer that deserves our attention and appreciation. This longest recorded prayer of Daniel could easily be a model for how we should be praying in these last days.
Daniel, through study of the prophecies of Jeremiah which predicted the Babylonian captivity to last seventy years (Jeremiah 25 and 29), was feeling an intense desire for Jerusalem to be restored. The time was about to expire on those seventy years, and Daniel was understandably anxious for the return and restoration of his people.
God, however, answered Daniel’s prayer in an even more powerful way than he imagined. Not only was he shown the fulfillment of God’s promise to end the captivity, but the many events that would culminate in God’s final restoration of the entire planet!
Memory Text: ” ‘O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.’ “ Daniel 9:19 NKJV
The intensity of Daniel’s desire is shown most beautifully in this verse. Driven to his knees on many occasions, this prayer indicated a strong, emotional connection with God and with the people he prays for.
The vision in chapter 8 happened ten years before the angel Gabriel was sent once again to add to Daniel’s understanding of it. So, not only were Daniel’s prayers for his people intense, they revealed his unceasing perseverance. Daniel definitely would agree with the apostle Paul’s recommendation to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Sunday: The Centrality of God’s Word
Daniel 9:1, 2 gives us the time and setting of Daniel’s prayer. He mentions his study of the prophets, especially Jeremiah, and other books of scripture (which at that time would have included the books of Moses, the first five books of our Bible, called the Pentateuch).
Often, great prayers include many references to the Bible. It’s no wonder, when you realize that the Bible is a major way God speaks to us. Powerfully spiritual people, men and women, who pray to God reveal their deep study of His Word.
In these latter days of earth’s history, we, too, must make a study of God’s Word central to our prayer life. With deceptive religious practices, which are disguised even more and more to look like the genuine, we must stay informed as to how God wants us to worship. The Bible should be the guiding force of not only our behavior, but our prayer life.
Read Daniel 8:14, 26, 27. Why was Daniel so emotionally and physically distraught over the vision described in chapter 8?
Read Daniel 9:1, 2, Jeremiah 25:11, and 29:10. Since Daniel had seen Babylon taken over by king Cyrus, why must he be getting anxious for the rebuilding of Jerusalem? How would this anxiety have affected his faith and prayer life when Darius tried to prevent his prayers by the threat of throwing him into the lions’ den?
Read Daniel 9:4, 11, Exodus 20:6, and Leviticus 26:14, 17. On what was Daniel basing his assessment of Israel’s spiritual condition? What informed him of the consequences they had experienced in Babylonian captivity?
Monday: An Appeal to Grace
Several things might be noticed in Daniel’s prayer:
- Daniel did not seek an explanation for their captivity. He knew that the sins and rebellion of his people had brought about their current, desolate situation. Daniel sought justification for them all from God, and so was not hesitant to admit their shortcomings and ask for forgiveness, including himself among the wrongdoers.
- Daniel knew that only by God’s grace would there ever be the restoration that they so desperately needed. He desired with all his heart for God to make them a holy nation again. Sanctification is always a thing to strive for; but it is only possible when God has forgiven our wayward behavior and attitudes.
- Daniel’s petition did not leave out a very important factor. Not only was Daniel interested in benefits for his fellow countrymen, he was also looking forward to God being vindicated and His name once again uplifted by the pagan nations of the world. Daniel spoke to God of his happiness that he would see his God in His rightful place of worship, the temple in Jerusalem, that His glorification would be complete.
Read Daniel 9:5, 6, 1 Kings 8:47, and 2 Chronicles 36:16. What two failings of the Jews does Daniel mention in his prayer? Why were these sins so serious for God’s people?
Read Daniel 9:16, Psalm 78:38, and Isaiah 48:9. How would you describe God’s anger?
Read Daniel 9:17. What would the Lord gain from having Jerusalem re-established as His holy city?
Tuesday: The Value of Intercession
As one of many intercessory prayers in the Bible, we are struck by similarities with Daniel’s prayer in this chapter. Mostly, they all show an overwhelming sense of humility on the part of those doing the praying.
These prayer mediators, among others, include…
- Moses, appealing to God not to destroy the children of Israel for worshiping the golden calf;
- Elijah, begging God to send rain to save them from the drought, caused by their own idolatry and sins;
- and Jesus, hoping for His Father to heal the broken, divided hearts of His disciples.
And yet, all of these great prayer warriors showed their humility by identifying with those people they cared for, who were in such need of God’s grace.
Jesus, alone, stands apart as the only one who hadn’t sinned on His own (Hebrews 4:15). Even so, He identified with us so much, He took on our flesh and walked among us (John 1:14).
Daniel is seen, with the others, as a type of Christ by being a mediator between God and His people.
Read Daniel 9:18, 19. What part of these verses show us the intercessory nature of Daniel’s prayer? In what ways was he a mediator between God and the Jews?
Read Exodus 32:11-14 and Numbers 14:17-19. Why do you think God listened to Moses’ pleas to save His people?
Read John 17:20-23. Who was Jesus praying for in this passage? What was He praying for, and why was He praying for them?
Wednesday: The Work of the Messiah
It was obvious from Daniel’s prayer that he was concerned for God’s people, but the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple also weighed heavy on his heart. Therefore, the angel brought greater understanding of this matter as an answer to his prayer.
The work during the 70-week prophecy time period (Daniel 9:24) would accomplish these things:
- “to finish the transgression”–their time of open defiance against God would come to an end
- “to make an end of sins”–meaning the Lord would take care of their sins by forgiving them
- “to make reconciliation for iniquity”–which was brought about by the death of Jesus for their sins
- “to bring in everlasting righteousness”–our eternal life and righteousness were made available
- “to seal up vision and prophecy”–Christ’s sacrifice fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah
- “and to anoint the Most Holy”–the inauguration of God’s Son as our great High Priest through His baptism (Hebrews 8:1)
Read Daniel 9:21. How would the time of the angel’s visit suggest that the message would involve the sanctuary services?
Read Daniel 9:23 and 8:27. What vision was the angel referring to, and why had Daniel become sick after receiving it?
Read Daniel 9:24 and Hebrews 8:1, 2. How many years would make up the 70 weeks, if one day stood for a year? How do we know the vision was about the Messiah and His work for our salvation?
Thursday: The Prophetic Calendar
Most troubling to Daniel must have been the 2,300 days/years that would culminate in the cleansing of the sanctuary. That was a long period of time, but Daniel was left guessing when that time period would begin. Would it begin with Abraham, Moses, or perhaps David–all great Jewish figures in Israel’s history? Or would it begin when the Babylonian captivity began?
The angel Gabriel, who had appeared to him ten years earlier, returned to give Daniel further light on this disturbing topic. Cut off from these 2,300 years would come a 70-week time period (or 490 years) that God’s people would continue to represent Him to the world.
What was most helpful this time was the inclusion of the missing piece of information that would verify when both the 2,300 days and the 70-week prophecies would begin. They would begin “from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25). (Although several decrees were issued, the one in 457 B.C. most fits the criteria for this prophecy.)
The final week of the 70-weeks was given special attention. This week would include several events that happened right on schedule.
When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned in 34 A.D. (which marked the end of the 490 years), the work of the Lord began its focus on the Gentile world, rather than the Jews.
Although there are pieces of this prophecy that remain rather obscure and difficult to interpret, even for the most studied Bible scholars, we can take much from the passage to bolster our faith that Jesus was in fact the long-waited-for Messiah.
Here are the three sections of the 70 weeks spoken of by the angel:
- seven weeks (or 49 years)–most likely referred to the time it would take to rebuild Jerusalem after the decree by Artaxerxes (it wasn’t complete until 408 B.C., right on schedule)
- 62 weeks (or 434 years)–from that time forward to the anointing, or baptism, of Jesus (Jesus’ baptism was in 27 A.D., right on schedule)
- the seventieth week (or final 7 years)–during which Jesus was crucified, in the midst of the week (three and a half years later), and then, of course, Stephen was martyred at the end in 34 A.D., right on schedule
Read Daniel 9:25 and Mark 1:14, 15. What prophetic fulfillment might Jesus, the Messiah, have meant when He makes this statement at the beginning of His earthly ministry, right after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness?
Read Daniel 9:26 and Luke 19:43, 44. Although much speculation exists on the meaning of this verse, what evidence is there that the “war desolations” could have been partly in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. that caused Jesus to weep over the city?
Read Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 27:51. How and why did Jesus’ crucifixion bring an end to the sacrificial system? What symbolic meaning was there for the veil being torn in the temple?
Daniel, now armed with a further picture of the role and timeline of when the Messiah would come, was also informed of events that would occur, at least in the heavenly sanctuary, all the way to the end times.
Remember his vision in chapter 8, which ended with the cleansing of the sanctuary happening 2,300 years from some unknown date. Now he knows that beginning date to be the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. He has a beginning point to measure when the last phase of ministry would begin.
That date for the cleansing of the sanctuary would turn out to be 1844. Since that time, when Christ began the final phase of His High Priestly duties, we have been living in the latter days of earth’s history, anxiously waiting for His soon return. (We’ll see more light on those final days in the last three chapters of Daniel.)
Daniel was prayerfully waiting for their return to Jerusalem, and we should be just as zealous about the return of our Lord now. It’s time for the most intense intercessory prayer time of our lives. Just as the seventy years of captivity were about to end, our captivity to sin and the time for Satan’s control over our lives is about to expire.
Our intercessory prayers, modeled after Daniel and others, should include these elements:
- confession of any sin we may have committed
- identification with those we are praying for, even considering their faults as our own
- gratitude and praise for the Lord who hears our prayers
- urgent appeals for God’s intervention to act in a way that most glorifies Him
While focusing on the needs of others, we not only imitate Christ, we are also the recipients of the very grace we are seeking for them. In all likelihood, we will be blessed even more than those we pray for.
That is the beauty of intercessory prayer. It, like all prayer, connects us more intimately with the Lord. What an important benefit, as we draw closer than ever to an end of all suffering and sin that has marred our planet and the individual lives that inhabit it. We need to develop an even closer relationship with the Savior who loves us so much He gave His life for us.
What a privilege to freely approach His throne of grace, and express our prayer requests for ourselves and those we give to God to work His will!
Be sure and also see Ed Dickerson’s article Daniel’s prayer at https://outlookmag.org/daniels-prayer/
Next Week’s Lesson: From Battle to Victory (Daniel 10)
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/