“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”
Yehovah God had brought forth His people from the land of the Canaanites and into the land of Babylon. The promise which He gave to Abram and confirmed with Isaac, Jacob and Moses was continuing to unfold in the eyes of those unto whom it was revealed. The average citizen of Israel, although ceremonially religious and traditionally arrogant in their concept of God, did not understand the course that He had assigned unto His chosen people. The commonly held notion that because a person or a nation believes in God, He will then cause only good things to happen unto them and the person and his family will be prosperous and influential while the community will grow and flourish. This is still the erroneous doctrine of Adam today but unto the strangers and sojourners of this world who have been those born from above, they “have not so learned Christ”.
The all-inclusive nature of the promise which God gave is manifested in signs and wonders in the heavens and upon the earth as a tangible evidence of His sovereign will. He revealed this promise in the testimony of the Spirit within to the children of the Kingdom of God and confirmed it with types and foreshadows. These patterns of heavenly things are not the fulfillment of the promise but rather are reminders of the manifestation which awaits the weary travelers. He promised trials and afflictions for the perfecting of the faith within and the testimony of the scriptures rehearses these episodes that the children of the present time might have hope. The events in the life of Daniel are no exception.
As a young boy, he grew up in a nation that was boasting of their greatness in Yehovah God while demonstrating the vileness and corruption of man. The nation of Judah had followed after the example of her sister Israel in spiritual adultery which is idolatry. She had not hearkened unto the warnings which God had sent through His servants the prophets and her actions were pronounced more treacherously than those of Israel. Her heart was as impenetrable as an adamant stone as she walked the path of the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life and the lusts of the eyes; therefore the judgment of God was more severely manifested in her than in Israel (Jer. 3:11).
God had promised that this was the course that the people would walk when they refused to follow after His Law and keep His commandments. He demonstrated the broken Law when Moses shattered the tablets because there was the “sound of war” in the camp as the people “rose up to play” before the golden calf that Aaron had made. He told Moses that this was a stiff-necked and rebellious people from the beginning and every action of their recorded and unrecorded history stood as conclusive evidence to this fact. This is not an accusation or an aspersion against the nation of Israel; it is a testimony of the nature of Adam in every one who is born of the will of the flesh. When Daniel was born, he too exhibited the characteristics and attributes of the flesh. He could not keep the Law of God, he could not control or contain his carnal nature and he was not righteous before God therefore he prayed, as taught of the Spirit of God, “My God, incline your ear ad hear. Open your eyes and behold our desolation and the city which is called by Your name for we do not present supplications before You for our righteousness but for Your great mercies” (9:19). He knew that he had nothing to bring and set before his God that was worthy of His pity or His forgiveness for he stood condemned in Adam, condemned in action and condemned in judgment before God.
“And the king spake unto Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring of the children of Israel and of the king’s seed and of the princes” (Dan. 1:3)
Many questions may arise as to the heritage of Daniel and his up-bringing but the testimony is silent to these queries. Daniel was taken in the captivity of Jerusalem because he was of the conquered people of Judah. God had brought forth His unknowing servant, Nebuchadnezzar, to execute the wrath of His judgment against this rebellious people and he dispatched his duties perfectly. Daniel was not killed by the sword, nor did he perish with pestilence and famine but rather he was chosen of the children of the captivity because God had afore prepared him for this assignment. Daniel had no prior training or experience that made him suitable for the position he was about to occupy yet God gave him favour in the eyes of the master of the eunuchs who was caused to hearken unto the conviction in the heart of this slave. God made the master willing to listen to the servant God had prepared and then made him to prosper. God showed forth the continuing manifestation of His sovereign rule over all things, even the metabolism of the body, as He made Daniel not only “fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat”. To this He added unto His chosen vessels in a foreign country ruled by ungodly men the recognition in the esteem of the powers that were ordained of God for good. Unto this He added unto Daniel and his four associates, “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (1:15ff).
These were not adulations of ignorant people or embellishments upon a doctored resume that kept the hang-mans noose at bay or the political piranha at arms length. Daniel and his fellow exiles were not trying to save their lives in this strange land for they were made willing and able to be subjected to the authorities by the grace of God. These were the essential ingredients added unto these significant people for their part in this portion of the history of those things written for our learning. God had given these children essential attributes and qualities which were to be called upon at particular moments in time as testimonies to the power of His Godhead. These superior abilities caused the sons of Adam to acclaim that “of a truth that your God is God of Gods and the Lord of kings ad a reveler of secrets” (1:47) because Yehovah God had sent forth His messengers to “say unto the nations, Yehovah reigns” (I Chr. 16:31).
The Almighty God had decreed that it was not only necessary but absolutely essential that there be a testimony of Him in this land of confusion. He raised up these men and gave them signs and wonders as a notice of condemnation against the wickedness of men and a reminder to His people of their God. His magnificent display in the fiery furnace made it evident to all that He was sovereign over His creation but it also gave the much needed assurance to His people that He was in control of everything.
“And Darius the Median took the kingdom being about sixty two years old” (Dan. 5:31).
God had brought Daniel along his appointed path through the upper echelon of Babylonian society. He made His chosen vessel to be preferred by the master of the eunuchs and after he was proven of God, “Then the king made Daniel a great man and gave him many gifts and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and the chief of the governors and the wise of Babylon” (1:48). Yet he was tried again by the hand of Yehovah God as his brethren were cast into the fire as a testimony to His power.
He was lifted up again when God sent a dream into the mind and heart of the king. This vision from above brought great fear into the king’s heart so that he called all the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers to him for an interpretation. Yet God had given Daniel this power and, in the fullness of time, He opened the mouth of His servant to speak the truth as His word came to pass.
The race that was run was over numerous hills of adversity and through many valleys of despair yet this child of grace ran the race with patience. God brought him through mans administrations and in each Daniel had a place prepared for him as he fulfilled his role in creation. Daniel did not take up a cause for society nor did he attempt to make Babylon his mission field. He was preserved in the Beloved and made content in his station of life even as there were drastic political and social changes developing all around him. He was not directly involved with these changes, although he was a part of the country and the community where he lived, and when Belshazzar made a feast in celebration of his gods, Daniel was called upon because God had sent a message.
The hand writing on the wall was a dramatic and sobering testimony to the authority of God over the kingdoms of this world. God had orchestrated the events in perfect order so that on the ‘self-same’ night as Belshazzar was feasting, the army of the Medians was attacking. The message was not only to the Babylonian king and his people but was again a continuation of God’s testimony to His people of His ever-present abode in them and so when Belshazzar was deposed and Darius the Mede was made king, Daniel again found favour in his sight and was made the first of three ruling president (6:1).
“And I prayed unto Yehovah my God and made my confession and said, Lord the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him and to them that keep His commandment” (9:4).
Throughout all the events which had transpired in the life of this weary traveler, Daniel was being taught of the Spirit of God. He was shown the vanity of this world and the foolishness of the inhabitants of the land but more importantly he was being shown his sin. The Spirit had lifted him up and brought him low as he struggled with the daily diversity and perplexity of the affairs of this life. He was instructed in the vanity of politics and social endeavours and witnessed the unjust nature of Adam against his children. He stood before men of assumed power and watched them fall at a moments notice by the will of God but he was not parading about in the arrogance and pride of the flesh. This man was humbled by the hand of God in his greatness and taught by the testimony of the Spirit of Holiness within that he was a sinner. He was not thanking God that the wicked were being punished and he, being righteous, was being spared for he was reminded by his daily surroundings, that he was a child of the captivity. He was not standing over these fallen men and thanking God that he was not like one of these Gentile sinners and he was not calling down fire from heaven to overthrow the ungodliness of the people. Daniel was being broken down in the flesh as he saw the outward man perishing and he was given a contrite heart before Yehovah God.
Daniel cannot approach the throne of grace in the qualities or accomplishments of the flesh. He has been shown the vileness of his being as the light of the glory of God shines in his heart. He knows that he is incapable of ‘hitting the mark’ and that his carnal ways are ‘completely distorted, bent and perverse’ and as he grows in the grace and knowledge of the will of God he understands the ‘noise’ and ‘tumult’ of his nature. The more God reveals His testimony unto His sheep the more they see that they have ‘rebelled against God’ in Adam and have ‘turned aside from His commandments and His judgments’. Daniel is also acutely aware of the fact that even though God has sent forth His testimony in all the works that He has done, as the heavens declare the glory of Yehovah and the firmament shews forth His work, yet the natural man cannot see these wonders nor is the carnal mind altered by them. Therefore instead of a modern day boast of being one of the elect or one of the Lord’s people, Daniel is prostrate before God crying, “Be merciful to me a sinner”.
It may be assumed that Daniel was acting the part of the intercessor here for the nation of Israel but he has come before God to make his confession. He is rehearsing the history of the nation of Israel because it shows forth the nature of man but more-so he is speaking of every child of grace who is groaning because of the contradiction of sin. The entire nation of the Israel of our God is made subject to the cares, arrogance and discontent of man when they become partakers of flesh and blood; Daniel is identifying that burden. He is shown the glory and power of God by His Spirit within and as he grows in the grace and knowledge of His will he also sees the vileness of the corruption of the body of this death. He knows that in Adam he has turned his back to the Most Holy God and stepped over His commandments. He understands how the spiritual matters are of no regard to the natural mind for the carnal mind is enmity against the Spirit.
“We have sinned and have committed iniquity and have done wickedly and have rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and from Your judgments” (9:5)
The Spirit has taught Daniel that he cannot ‘hit the mark’ in anything he attempts. He has also been taught that this perverseness includes everything in his life. He is not confessing the guilt of another before God, he is making his confession about his condition. In the midst of all the magnificent displays of God’s majesty and power, Daniel is brought low with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Herein he is blessed of the Lord to know the curse upon Adam. The promise unto Abram, Isaac, Jacob and Moses was that of bondage. Israel completed the four hundred years as foretold to Abram and now the seventy years foretold of Jeremiah was nearing an end. The bondage of this captivity was no more a response from God for sin than His blessings are a reaction to obedience. He promised by the mouth of Moses that when the children of Israel would not hearken unto Him and do all His commandments then He would appoint terror, consumption and the burning ague that shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart upon them (Lev. 26:14). He further told Jeremiah that the whole land had been corrupted and therefore would be made desolation until the seventy years were accomplished (Jer. 25:11). This was not because those things which God had purposed in His heart to do never came to pass and thus He had to change His plans nor was it because He looked down the annals of time to see what man would do before He made any arrangements that might be contrary. NO! He purposed in His heart that this type of the inheritance would be polluted that no flesh should glory in His sight. He told Moses that this people would rebel and as soon as he died and it came to pass. He told Joshua that this people would violate the oath they swore to keep the Law and set up a pillar of testimony against them for thus it came to pass. He set six tribes upon the mount to call out the curses against Israel when they trespassed the Law of God and thus it came to pass and when the fullness of time was come He scattered His testimony of His people through the defilement of the land into all the nations of the world.
Daniel was not given to claim some ‘Zionistic’ right to the mercy of God, nor did he claim a birth-right in Abraham. He spoke of the eternal love of God for His people for therein does the mercy of God proceed. Everything God is and does is righteous. He formed the heavens and the earth, the day and the night and He called it good. He fashioned the crooked serpent as His servant to do His commands and created the wicked to be reserved unto the Day of Judgment. He formed the light and fashioned the darkness; He made peace and He created evil “I Yehovah do all these things” (Is. 45:7).
Now He was revealing His presence in His servant Daniel who was born of Jerusalem which is from above, the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26). He had removed that heart of stone and given the heart of flesh whereby Daniel felt his guilt and the disappointment of turning (confusion of face). He had put His Spirit in His child who caused him to walk according to the statutes of God but which also made him understand his evil ways and his doings which were not good, therefore he loathed himself in his own sight for his perverseness and his idolatry (Ezek. 36:31).
In this revelation, Daniel does not look outside into this foreign land to find his enemies, those ‘stinking Babylonians’. He does not blame the environment, the school system or the government as he acknowledges his guilt before Yehovah God. He pleads for intercession because he knows that he cannot bring anything to present in defense of his inability and perverseness. He has been taught and shown in his life that “there is none righteous, no not one”. He knows he needs to find forgiveness for his offenses and he, unlike Adam in the garden, seeks the only One who can forgive. There is no bargaining or settling for second best as the righteousness of God will not accept anything less than the perfect sacrifice for sin and the perfect atonement for His people; therefore Daniel’s prayer is “according to Your righteousness, I beseech You, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your Holy city Jerusalem, Your Holy mountain:” (9:16).
“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of years, whereof the Word of Yehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Israel” (1:2).
Daniel had been given understanding from the study of the books. He had read and deduced that the seventy years spoken of by the prophet were about to come to an end. He did not know how they were to end but he was indeed shown why they were needed. He was unaware of the fact that Cyrus the king of Persia had already given his edict for the people to return and begin re-building the Temple (Ezra 1:1) and that these preparations were underway. He did know that the God who keeps His covenant with His people is faithful to fulfill His word in the accomplishment of the determined years but this was only the beginning. While he was making his petition before the Lord, Gabriel came and “touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (9:20). Although Daniel was given to understand from the writings yet was he to know the beauty of the reality of the heavenly truth.
The “full satisfaction” of the seventy years is the manifestation of Messiah. He came to show forth the works which were finished before the foundation of the world and He came in the fullness of time. He came to make an open display of His triumph over sin and the Devil who was overcome by the blood of the Lamb. The joy of the salvation of Yehovah is to become the inability of His people in Adam, shed His blood as the propitiation for their sin and to cover them with His blood. This is the completion of the seventy weeks. There can be no joy in salvation if there is no understanding from what one was saved. There can be no peace of forgiveness if there is no understanding of what sin is and there can be no desire to be delivered from the tabernacle of this dwelling unless there is the experience of the body of this death.
Daniel was taught of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things to know why he groaned within himself waiting to be delivered. He saw with they naked eye the wonders of God and he knew by the inner spiritual man that he was a sinner in need of mercy thus he cried out “for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (9:19). The city is the New Jerusalem which is His Bride come down from heaven and His people re the redeemed of Yehovah.
“Who is a God like unto You, that pardons iniquity and passes by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever because He delights in His mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities. You shall cast our sins into the depths of the sea. You will perform the truth to Jacob, the mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn unto our father from the days of old” (Micah 7:18f).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
October 4, 2015