Daniel 9:20-23

Daniel 9
The Seventy Weeks Prophecy

Answer to Daniel's prayer
Daniel 9:20-23

Is God your "Energy Drink" or your "Sedative"?
Or is He both? Or none of them? 

As the Passover is coming, there will be special celebrations in many churches. On Palm Sunday, we'll remember Jesus' entry in Jerusalem. On Good Friday shall we most probably hear the last Seven Words of the Lord, and on Resurrection Sunday, we'll celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. The core message of the Gospel is the issue of this whole week: Jesus died for our sins, and was raised to life for our justification.

The first statement, about the death of Jesus on the cross, was prophesied by Isaiah with the words, "the chastisement of our peace was upon him" (King James Version) that come from Hebrew "musár sheloménu aláv". The literal translation of KJV sounds like a rather strange construction, because not everybody associates his or her peace with some kind of chastisement - let alone a necessary chastisement. Maybe that's why the NIV elaborates, "the punishment that brought us peace was on him", meaning that our peace with God is the consequence of not being justly punished because of our sins, because Jesus was punished in our place.

We all need peace. That's one reason many people become alcoholics, take sedatives, go to psychiatrists or engage in oriental religions. They are dealing with the lack of peace in their souls. The main reason of this lack of peace is the failure to live according to God's will, the transgression of God's moral law that weakens our conscience through Satan's accusations of culpability. When we sin, we give Satan a foothold. In Isaiah's call, there was an angel who touched the prophet's mouth and said to him, "your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for". On the night of May 24, 1738, when John Wesley felt God's call, the Holy Spirit spoke to him and told him his sins were forgiven, that he was free from the law of sin and death. God's forgiveness is the reason that king David wrote, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety". God's pardon is the first and supreme reason of peace in our hearts.

When God is your "sedative", your peace, it doesn't mean that you will live without a conscience. That's the definition of evil monsters, that they "don't have a conscience". God's peace means that your sins are forgiven, not that they weren't sins. Nobody can experience the peace that comes from the forgiveness of sins, without being first a sinner, being confronted by God about it, and repenting. That's why the message of Good Friday about that "punishment that brought of peace" is vital. And your conscience, cleaned of guilt by the blood of Jesus, will remain in you, hearing God's voice and showing you good and evil (otherwise you wouldn't have a moral compass)

But God is not a sedative. And peace is not the only gift He grants us. There are too many people in churches that come every Sunday to hear, "your sins are forgotten" and then they go back to the same life they've been living for years. There are 60 chapters more in Isaiah's book, and many years of ministry after that call in Isaiah 6. The day God told the prophet that his sins were pardoned was only the beginning of his ministry. The Methodist church, part of the Great Awakening, and the whole ministry of Wesley, were the results of the Aldersgate experience on May 24, 1738, not only because he received peace from God but anointing to act as well. If you have peace, then you've got a revelation from God, and that's good. But you'll need other revelations to go on.

The opposite of sedatives are "energy drinks". Most of us know it as "cofee in the morning". But there is much more in God to energize our lives than that you can get from an energy drink. The Spirit of God enables us with SPIRITUAL energy, that we could call "the three p's": Passion, Power and Purpose. There are many stories that illustrate this anointing of the Spirit of God in men and women of the Bible who would play a significant role in His plans. Let's remember the call of Gideon.

The Hebrews had been for seven years under the oppression of the Midianites. The cause of this oppression was Israel's apostasy; they were worshipping other "gods". When they claimed to God, His answer was to send a prophet with this message, and to raise Gideon, son of Joash the Abiezrite, from the tribe of Manasseh, who would be the leader of the fight to deliver Israel.

In Judges 6:34-35 we read:

"Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them"

There is power in God's Spirit. This power was indispensable for Gideon, who wasn't capable of seeing himself as the military leader of the Israelite rebellion. That's what he had told God when He called him:

"Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" 
Judges 6:15

God knows that many things are impossible for us to achieve because we lack the power. But the power we need is in Him, and with God, nothing is impossible. This verse shows also why the "purpose" hadn't rise in Gideons mind. Together with God promise of empowerment, the purpose became an achievable one, not just wishful thinking. We lack purpose in many areas in our lives because we don't believe we have the power, and we don't seek that power because there is no purpose. That's a vicious circle that holds us bound. But God came to break the vicious circle in Gideon's life, and to rise him as Israel's judge.

Gideon's life was not only impoverished because of his lack of confidence in himself. It was also influenced by his lack of confidence in God's love and care, because he had lost the sense of Israel being God's people. How do we know that? Observe Judges 6:13, where Gideon is telling God why is he confused:

"Pardon me, my lord", Gideon replied, "but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian"

The Midianite oppression on Israel had caused Gideon to doubt God's love and care. His image of God as Israel's God was deteriorated, though he hadn't go after other gods as many others. He had to overcome incredulity, cynicism, and every obstructive idea - read "demon" - that was blurring the real image of God.

There's a lot of "help-yourself" literature out there, and many times the vicious circle of lack of purpose and power can be broken, so that people can "achieve great things" in a worldly manner. But when you are called to achieve God's great things, that will not be enough. Only when you are a real believer, who has a passionate love for God, nothing and nobody can separate you from God's purpose for your life. Satan does very little - if something - to stop the seekers of worldy reward (he knows they will be punished) But he does every possible maneuver to stop people who's seeking God's will.

There's no way of serving God half-heartedly. The first thing Gideon had to do in order to show God his passion, or his commitment, was to destroy the Asherah pole and Baal's altar his father had erected. Cause when you passionately love God, you passionately abhor Satan also, and when you seek holiness, you shun evil and sin.

There's no way of serving God and serving other gods. The demolition of his father's idols almost costed Gideon his life, and the people of the town that had fallen in idolatry wanted to kill him. Nevertheless, Joash' love for his son gave him the spirit and wisdom to protect Gideon from the lynch mob, and God used him to avert Gideon's dead in the hands of the idolaters.

The rest of the story is well known. Gideon summoned an army of thirty two thousand men, but God reduced it to three hundred in order to show to Israel that it wasn't their number, ability or courage that would save them, but God. Those three hundred, the elected ones, caused the Midianites to flee from Israel in fear, and the Israelites pursued them and defeated them. We can se how a man whose father was an apostate and idolater, who had lost his confidence in Israel's God and in his own ability, was endowed with purpose, power and passion and defeated Israel's enemies that had oppressed the Hebrews for seven years. All this, because he gave ear to God and obeyed Him.

In the verses we are dealing with today, a similar treatment can be seen with the prophet Daniel. He was praying for Israel and asking God to show them mercy. And the angel Gabriel came to him in answer to his prayer.

Daniel 9:20-23

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill - while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice"
"He instructed me  and said to me, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision"

The Hebrew original text sounds like this:

"Veod aní medabér umitpalél, umitvadé khatatí vakhatát ammí Yisraél, umapíl tekhinatí lifnéy Yaweh Eloháy, al har-kódesh Eloháy, veod aní medabér batefilá, vehaísh Gabriél, ashér raíty vekhazón vatekhilá, muáf viáf nogéa eláy keét minkhát-áreb. Vayáber vaydabér imí vayomár:"  
"Daniél, atá yatzáti lehashkilkhá biná. Bitekhilát takhanunékha yatzá dabar, vaaní báti lehagíd, ki khamudót áta. Ubín hadabar vehabén bamaré"

When Gabriel says to Daniel, "you are highly esteemed", it is a very strong proclamation, coming from Hebrew "khamudót áta". The verb "khamád" means "to esteem" but also to "desire", "love", "take delight in". For the rest, it is a literal rendering of the original Hebrew.

Did God give Daniel "peace" and "energy"?

What peace did Daniel get?

"Khamudót áta" is the strongest reason to have peace in this world. No matter what happens with us, God will deliver us because He loves us. Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

But Daniel's peace came not only from the fact that God loved him. It came also from the conviction that God was "meaning business" with Israel and was going to deliver His people. That's in a nutshell the message God wanted to convey the prophet, and He did it through a supernatural messenger, an angel.

Did Daniel get peace only, or spiritual energy also?

What energy did Daniel get?

When God said to Daniel he was loved, it is not at all a reason for inactivity. The angel Gabriel INSTRUCTED also the prophet, and told him, "consider the word and understand the vision". Now if somebody tells you that a star in the Andromeda Galaxy, 2,5 million light-years from us, is about to explode and dissapear, there would be little to "consider and understand" in that message and vision, if you're not an astronomer. But if we discover that our Sun is about to explode and dissapear, then it would be a different matter.

Why did Daniel have to be so attentive?

Both "consider" and "understand" come from the Hebrew verb "bin", that means not only to "perceive" but to "observe", "mark", "discern", "inform", "instruct", "teach". Gabriel was about to give Daniel the "seventy weeks prophecy", one of the most powerful messages of the Old Testament to all believers - this prophecy is the issue of our next message, if the Lord allows. And he was telling the prophet to put his heart and mind in understanding it. That Daniel obeyed is evident in the coming last three chapters of his book, that show us he kept praying, he saw the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, and he received one of the longer and more detailed prophecies about history, Israel and the last times.

Why was this prophecy so important?

The correct interpretation of Daniel's prophecies, which mirror the book of Revelation dealing with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, have caused churches to live for Jesus and do God's work. The wrong interpretation of these prophecies have caused strong satanical influence in churches, the decay of reverence to the Word of God, the rise of atheism, antisemitism and other sorts of evil, and a total ignorance about God's love for us and God's plans for us. That's why the commandment of Gabriel to the prophet, "consider the word and understand the vision" is so pertinent to us - if not more - than it was for Daniel.

I don't know if you're lacking peace and not seeking God to have it. I don't know either if you lack the purpose, passion or power, meaning, if you have given up on God. The only thing I know is that Jesus is able to give you all of this through His revelations in His Word, and through the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Only by repenting your sins and coming to Jesus can you receive the revelation of God for your life. Pray to the Lord for it! As He answered Daniel, He'll anser you.

In the love of Christ, your broher

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon! 

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