The Story of Daniel the Prophet

A few months only expired between the vision of chapter eight and the events which the first part of chapter nine records. The parting words of Gabriel had been that the things seen concerning the two thousand and three hundred days were true. Daniel was unable to hear the explanation of this time, and while he went about the king's business he thought often upon the vision. In the meantime he had been called from Shushan into Babylon and into the king's court to interpret the strange writing on the wall. The fate of the nation had been read, and the words had scarcely died away before the slaughter of the Babylonians began. That same night Belshazzar was slain, and the king of the Medes was proclaimed monarch of the world. By Darius, Daniel had been made chief president, and occupied a position in Babylon next to Cyrus, the associate of Darius.

During the turmoil and bustle of all the change in affairs, while Daniel's hands were filled with court duties and business cares pressed him, he yet had time for prayer and study.

Prophecy had foretold that Cyrus would restore to the Jews their freedom; the time of their deliverance drew near, and Daniel searched carefully for an understanding of the time. The prophecies of Jeremiah were the only ones which told plainly the length of the captivity. Doubtless

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the mind of Daniel was perplexed over the two thousand three hundred days, of which Gabriel had spoken, for to the Hebrews the temple in Jerusalem was God's sanctuary, and the cleansing, to them meant the removal of unholy hands from Mount Zion.

Twice in the book of Jeremiah the length of the captivity is stated. "These nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the king of Babylon." Again the prophet had said, "After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good work toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Babylon had fallen, and Jerusalem had been desolate nearly seventy years. A crisis was near for God's people, and Daniel sought by prayer and fasting to understand the matter.

This is one of the instances in the Scriptures when a prayer is recorded. This one is given as an example of the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man which availeth much. Daniel realized that sin had darkened the vision of many of God's professed people. Some who were in Babylon were careless and indifferent concerning the truth of God. Many had gotten them homes, and rested secure in the assurance that, when the captivity began, they were told to buy land and build homes. Some were content with present surroundings, and dreaded the difficulties which must attend the journey to Jerusalem, which was in the hands of hostile tribes, and where there were no pleasant homes. Jerusalem should be built, they argued, but others should do it, not they.

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A love of Babylon was strong in the hearts of many, for seventy years after the decree of Cyrus, when all were at liberty to return to Palestine, there were still hundreds of Jews in Babylon. In fact, but a small per cent of the Jews ever returned. The young, who had been educated in the city, had, many of them, like the daughters of Lot in Sodom, partaken so largely of the customs that they lingered among the heathen, though angels bade them hurry out. The spirit of prophecy was passed by with a few remarks, or fell upon ears entirely deaf; although in bondage, present conditions were preferable to freedom with the effort necessary to obtain it. Daniel knew of this condition, and he confessed the sins of the people before God. He identified himself with his people. His is one of the most wonderful prayers on record.

This man, whom heaven called "greatly beloved," in whom no fault could be found, even by his bitterest enemies, placed himself beneath the load of sin which was oppressing Israel. Bowed before God, he met the Father with the words, "We have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled;" "neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets." "O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned;" "we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed;" "the curse is poured upon us;" "all this evil is come upon us, yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities;" "we obeyed not his voice;" "we have sinned, we have done wickedly;" "because

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for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers," "behold our desolations;" "we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses."

Before the Father we have one, even Christ, who "hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," "who his own self bare our sins in his own body." Daniel was a representative of Christ, and he had lived so close to God, and knew him so intimately, that the spirit which distinguished Christ from all others was manifest in Daniel also. He was a true shepherd in Israel, and his prayer is a rebuke to all self-righteousness; a cutting rebuke to those who say by word or act, "I am more holy than thou."

"O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not for thine own sake, O my God, for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." Such was the entreaty of a burdened heart. Such were the words with which Daniel approached his God. He was acquainted with the Father, and knew that his words reached the throne of heaven. Faith and prayer are the two arms which mortal man may entwine around the neck of Infinite Love. Christ stooped to listen, and bade Gabriel speed earthward. We let go of the arm of the Lord too soon in our prayers. We should press our petitions higher and still higher. God sometimes tests the strength of our desires by delaying an immediate answer.

"Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation."122

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The very thing for which Daniel had asked, was first mentioned as Gabriel laid his hands upon the prophet. "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the word (margin) came forth, and I am come to show thee." Heaven was more interested than man could be in the very thing for which Daniel prayed, and as soon as the channel was open, the Spirit flowed in. In the spiritual as in the natural world a vacuum is abhorred. As the air rushes into a vessel when a liquid is poured out, so the Holy Spirit fills the heart when it is emptied of self. If there were but more room made for Christ in hearts, the pentecostal experience would often be repeated.

God has many favorites among the sons of men. Indeed, every man is a special favorite, and highly honored by the King of heaven, but there are very few to whom angels have spoken the word, "Thou are greatly beloved." The marginal reading of the twenty-third verse gives the Hebrew rendering as "a man of desires." That man whose desire is heavenward, who longs for spiritual food as the heart panteth after the water brook, is greatly beloved of God, for God is in search of such to fulfill his will on earth. To such Gabriel can speak.

Beginning with the twenty-fourth verse the angel explains the period of time, the two thousand three hundred days of chapter 8: 14. There are no preliminaries. Gabriel knows the thoughts of the prophet, and hence he says, "Seventy weeks are determined upon [or allotted to] thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end

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of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy." The entire future history of the Jews as a nation is contained in this one verse. No other history ever crowded so much into so few words. Here is given the exact date for the beginning of the work of Christ; the time allotted Israel as a nation for repentance, the time when type would meet antitype in all sacrificial offerings; the period when probation would end for the Hebrew race, and everlasting righteousness would be preached to the world at large. In this interview with Gabriel only that part of the two thousand three hundred days which applied to the Hebrew nation was given. To Daniel had already been revealed the history of the nations of the world; the two thousand three hundred days has to do more especially with God's people, independent of national governments.

The period of seventy weeks [70 X 7 = 490], or four hundred and ninety days of prophetic time, covers a period of four hundred and ninety years, during which Jewish history as such would continue. This four hundred and ninety years did not begin at once, for the angel said they should begin to reckon from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. The period of seventy weeks of Jewish history is thus divided by the angel: Seven weeks for building the walls and streets of Jerusalem; threescore and two (62) weeks till the work of Messiah; and one week, which would cover the period of his ministry, and the time following, until the gospel should

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go forth to the Gentiles. This last week is devoted to the confirmation of the covenant.

For an understanding of the first division, the seven weeks or forty-nine years, we have the history as recorded in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. God raised up Cyrus and placed him on the throne, that he might restore the Jews to their native city. Long before the Babylonish captivity began, the prophet Isaiah (44: 28) wrote of Cyrus, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."

In the first chapter of the book of Ezra is recorded the decree of Cyrus. The fulfillment by Cyrus of the prophecy of Isaiah is striking: "In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, the king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven . . . hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem."

Then it was that every Jew in Babylon was at liberty to return to Palestine. If necessary, the expense of going would be borne by the government of Cyrus. There was ample provision for all the poor and the sick. Such a decree had never before been issued. Israel should have arisen en masse, taking with them all those of other nationalities, who, having heard the gospel, were willing to cast their lot with the people of God. The land should have rung with shouts of praise and with the songs of the ransomed. The exodus from Babylon should have been a mighty witness to the nations

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of the earth of the power of the God of the Jews. The exodus from Egypt, and the wonders attending the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan, and the feeding of the thousands in the wilderness, would have dwindled into insignificance had Israel taken advantage of the way which God had prepared.

What was the result of the decree? Daniel watched with anxiety the preparations which were made to depart, and at the end of the first year scarcely fifty thousand had journeyed from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Cyrus was discouraged and disgusted because of the feeble response, and relapsed into indifference. Later the angel of God with Michael's help pleaded with him for three weeks in order to touch his heart again.

The vessels taken from the temple to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were returned to the leaders of the Jews, who carried them back to Jerusalem. In the second year of their coming into Palestine, the work of restoring the temple was begun. The site of Solomon's temple, which had been burned by Nebuchadnezzar, was hidden by rubbish, the accumulation of nearly seventy years. The work of restoration was soon stopped by Samaritans living in the country, and further progress was impossible until the issuing of a second decree by Darius, king of Persia, in 520 b. c. Work on the house of God stopped for fifteen years. Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah rebuked the people for their inactivity.

It would seem that the Jews while professing to be God's people, yet built their own houses, and delayed work on the temple, because there was no direct command from the king to proceed.126

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But God wanted them to go forward, exercising faith, and when, in response to the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, they did go to work, the Lord stirred up the heart of the Persian king to help them. This will be further seen in chapter twelve. Men of the world, enemies of the Jews, openly complained to the king, but this, instead of hindering the work, occasioned a searching of the royal records, which revealed the decree of Cyrus. Then Darius, instead of rebuking the Jews, issued a decree that the work should go forward, and further commanded that the work of building be helped forward by money from the royal treasury.

Jerusalem was subject to the Persian government until the days of Ezra in the reign of Artaxerxes. In the seventh year of the reign of that king, 457 b. c., was issued the third decree concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem. This decree (1) permitted all Jews who so desired to return to Jerusalem; (2) it allowed the taking of a freewill offering from all Babylon for the cause at Jerusalem; (3) it proclaimed perfect freedom to follow the commands of God in all the territory west of the Jordan; (4) it relieved all Levites and ministers from paying toll or tribute; (5) the walls of Jerusalem were to be rebuilt; (6) it arranged for the appointment of magistrates and judges in Palestine from among the Jews themselves, thus organizing a government of the people, a thing wholly foreign to the policy of an Oriental monarchy.

This was in the year 457 b. c., and is the time from which the period of seventy weeks should be reckoned, according to the words of Gabriel to Daniel. That it required the three decrees to

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constitute the commandment of Dan. 9: 25, is evident from the words of inspiration in Ezra 6: 14: "They builded and furnished it, according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia." The three decrees are thus connected.

The "troublous times during which the building should be carried forward are described by the prophet Nehemiah. Between fifteen and twenty years after the decree of Artaxerxes was issued, Nehemiah, who was a cupbearer for the king in Babylon, was mourning over the troubles in Jerusalem, and in answer to his petition he was permitted to go up to the city in behalf of the work. Under the direction of Nehemiah the people worked on the walls of Jerusalem with weapons fastened to their sides. 'They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.' So we labored in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared."

Nehemiah in these times of trouble was a wonderful leader for Israel. His lessons to the people on the taking of usury, wages, and rent should be followed by Christians to-day. The rebuilding of Jerusalem in troublous times is a fit symbol of carrying the gospel to all nations in the last days. Israel brought this trouble upon herself by her sins and lack of faith; and what she should have done by way of warning the world in peace and quietude, had to be done in great distress. Furthermore, it will be noticed that a few years of rest always found sin and

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iniquity abounding in Israel. The nation was scarcely from under the hands of Babylon till the people held their own brethren as slaves because of debt. A proclamation of freedom must come from within their own borders before there could be peace and help from without. When it should come from within, God's word pledged the support of even their enemies. These principles are true in the body of Christians to-day. The spread of the gospel will be an easy work, and it will be as the voice of a mighty angel enlightening the world, when God's people proclaim liberty among themselves.

"From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks" (7 + 62 = 69 weeks, or 483 prophetic days, or literal years). Messiah, in the Hebrew, and Christ, in the Greek, are the same as "anointed" in English. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost. This anointing took place at the time of his baptism. The sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years, reached to the baptism of Christ by John in the River Jordan.

From the decree of Artaxerxes, four hundred and fifty-seven years reach into the year i a. d., in the present dispensation. But twenty-six years remained of the sixty-nine weeks (483-457=26), which terminated with the baptism of Christ. Twenty-six years added to the year i a. d. bring us to 27 a. d., in the fall of which year Christ was baptized. See Mark 1: 10, margin; Luke 3:21-23, margin.

For years the Jewish nation had had the promise of a deliverer. The close of sixty-nine

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weeks found the Jews under the control of the fourth kingdom, the dreadful and terrible beast which Daniel has before described. The desire of every Jewish woman who was true to her God was to be the mother of the Saviour. At the family gatherings this was often talked; whenever a babe was presented to the Lord, it was with the hope that he might be the accepted One. The place of the birth of the Messiah had been foretold. Malachi had prophesied concerning John, the forerunner of the Saviour, and for six months the voice of this witness had been heard throughout the land of Israel. The time of the preaching of John is established by six historical facts. Israel and Judah flocked to the banks of Jordan, and among them came Jesus of Nazareth. John recognized him by a sign from heaven, and as he came out of the water the heavens opened; and he saw the heavenly dove resting on his head, and heard the voice proclaiming him the Son of God.

The sixty-nine weeks had closed. Those who were at that time studying the prophecies of Daniel were looking for him, and believed the words of John when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ also said, "The time is fulfilled," referring to the prophetic period of the sixty-nine weeks of Daniel. But the nation as a whole was blind. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." They might have known. The book of Daniel was for them to study. The same book, together with the book of Revelation, proclaims the hour of God's judgment, and his second coming, but men will be taken unawares because they heed not the prophecies.

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As the baptism of Christ was one sign given by Gabriel by which the Jews might know the Messiah, so his death was a second token. One week-seven years-remained of the allotted time for the Jewish nation. During one half of that time-three and one-half years-the Son of God walked among the people. The sick were healed; he comforted the broken-hearted, and preached the gospel to the poor. High and low, rich and poor, alike came within the circle of his influence.

"In the midst of the week," said the angel to Daniel, "he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." At the time of the passover feast in the spring of 31 a. d., three and one-half years after his baptism, Christ was crucified by the very people whom he had tried to save. As his life went out, the inner veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. The mercy seat, seen only by the high priest once each year, was laid open to the gaze of the multitudes. The knife fell from the hand of the priest, and the sacrificial lamb escaped. God had withdrawn his presence from the temple. The Lamb of God himself had been slain, and sacrifice and oblation were forever done away. Those ceremonies, which shadowed forth the death of the Saviour, ceased at the cross. This was in the midst of the last week of the prophetic seventy.

Mercy still lingered over the Jewish people; there was yet a little time in which to repent. What was not accomplished in the person of Christ, God, sending his Holy Spirit, sought to accomplish through his disciples. Humble fishermen imbued with the power of God taught the people concerning a crucified and risen Saviour.

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In one day three thousand accepted the message. But as many believed, the enmity of Satan was again aroused. In 34 a. d., Stephen was stoned, and as the result of the severe persecution which followed, the believers were driven from Jerusalem and "went everywhere preaching the word." Israel had withdrawn from God, and his Spirit could no longer protect them. In less than forty years the city was captured by the army of Titus, the temple was burned, and the Jews were scattered to the ends of the earth, there to remain until the consummation of all things at the time determined. There can be no question as to the accuracy of the date 457 b.

There can be no question as to the accuracy of the date 457 b.c. as the beginning of the seventy weeks, for it is established by four events: The decree of Artaxerxes; the baptism of Christ; the crucifixion; and the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. History established the date 457 b. c. as the seventh of Artaxerxes by more than twenty eclipses. The four hundred and ninety years can be reckoned backward from the New Testament history, or forward from the decree to restore and build Jerusalem.

Of the two thousand three hundred days of Dan. 8: 14, the angel has given the events for the first four hundred and ninety years. Eighteen hundred and ten years remained, 2300-490 = 1810. The four hundred and ninety years ended in the year 34 a. d. To this add eighteen hundred and ten years, and we have the year 1844 a. d. Daniel had been shown the event which would mark this year. It was the investigative judgment, and the giving of the message of the first angel of Revelation fourteen.

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This message was given within the memory of many who are still living, and is known as the advent message. About twenty years before the expiration of the prophetic period of the two thousand three hundred days, the attention of some men was called to a study of the prophecies. Foremost among these students was William Miller, who became thoroughly convinced that the prophetic period of Dan. 8: 14 would close in 1844. The expression, "unto two thousand and three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," was interpreted to mean that at the end of that stated period the earth would be destroyed by fire at the second coming of Christ. Consequently between 1833 and 1844 the personal coming of the Saviour was preached throughout the world. Men were warned according to the wording of the first angel's message of Revelation 14, that the judgment was at hand, and thousands prepared to meet the Lord.

When the year 1844 passed, and Christ did not appear, many lost faith in the prophecies; but others, knowing that the word of God abideth sure, were led to search more diligently for the event which did take place at the close of the prophetic period. Further study corroborated the truth of the interpretation of the time, and revealed also the light on the sanctuary question.

For the first time men saw that the "sanctuary" spoken of in Daniel's vision referred to the work in heaven rather than upon earth. An investigation of the typical service instituted in the wilderness revealed the work of cleansing on the day of atonement, It was seen that

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the work of the high priest in the earthly tabernacle was but a figure of the service upon which Christ, the great High Priest, entered in 1844. At that time he entered into the presence of the Ancient of Days, as seen in the vision of the seventh chapter, and began the work of the investigative judgment, at the end of which work he will appear in the clouds of heaven. William Miller and others who preached the second advent in 1844 were mistaken in the event, but not in the time of the period mentioned by Daniel.

the work of the high priest in the earthly tabernacle was but a figure of the service upon which Christ, the great High Priest, entered in 1844. At that time he entered into the presence of the Ancient of Days, as seen in the vision of the seventh chapter, and began the work of the investigative judgment, at the end of which work he will appear in the clouds of heaven. William Miller and others who preached the second advent in 1844 were mistaken in the event, but not in the time of the period mentioned by Daniel.

The events which transpired between 34 a. d. and 1844 a. d. are described in the next vision, which was given to Daniel, four or five years later than the vision of the ninth chapter.

Since Gabriel explained with such care and minuteness the history of the Jews, that as a nation they were without excuse in the rejection of the Son of God, we may expect that this same angel of prophecy will set the waymarks high and clear, that men in the last days may know the time of Christ's appearing in judgment, and of his second coming in the clouds of heaven. Let us watch and be ready.