All Eyes on Israel
Chapter 2 - Is Modern Israel the Israel of Promise?
Page 5 - The Babylonian Captivity
(Go Back to Page 4 -
The 12 Tribes of Israel)
The Babylonian captivity marked a really low point for the people of Israel and it was during this time that Daniel had dreams and visions concerning their fate and concerning events at the end of the world. Daniel was meditating on the captivity of his people when he recognized that the prophesied time of teh Babylonian captivity was almost completed:
"In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." (Dan 9:2)
He then began to pray earnestly for them, even with fasting and sackcloth and ashes (verse 3). He recognized that God keeps His covenants (His side of the agreement):
"And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;" (Dan 9:4)
He also realized and admitted that the Babylonian captivity and all the evils had come upon them because of their disobedience. See how many times in his prayer he referred to their sinful state:
- "We have sinned, " (v.5)
- "have committed iniquity," (v.5)
- "have done wickedly" (v.5)
- "have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts" (v.5)
- "Neither have we hearkened" (v.6)
- "because of their trespass" (v.7)
- "we have sinned against thee." (v.8)
- "we have rebelled against him;" (v.9)
- "Neither have we obeyed" (v.10)
- "all Israel have transgressed thy law" (v.11)
- "we have sinned against him." (v.11)
- "we obeyed not his voice." (v.14)
- "we have sinned," (v.15)
- "we have done wickedly." (v.15)
- "for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers," (v.16)
In spite of all their sinful behaviour, Daniel pleaded for mercy for his people:
- "hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary" (v. 17)
- "incline thine ear, and hear ... for thy great mercies." (v.18)
- "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive;" (v.19)
- "O Lord, hearken and do;" (v.19)
While he was still praying (verse 21) the answer to his prayer came:
"At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter (dabar), and consider the vision." (Dan 9:23)
The word "matter" used in this verse is the same original word "dabar" that is translated as "word" in Daniel 9:2.
"... I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word (dabar) of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." (Dan 9:2)
Daniel was being told to understand the matter he was praying about which was, of course, the state of his people and his request for mercy. In reading the book of Jeremiah, he would have realized that the word of the Lord to Jeremiah (Jer 29:1 uses this same word "dabar" translated as "word") gave the time specified for the Babylonian captivity:
"For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (Jer 29:10)
From this, Daniel would have known that the Babylonian captivity was near its end. He had confessed his and his people's sinfulness and failure to obey and asked for forgiveness and mercy. Daniel was basically asking for a second chance for his people. And this second chance was granted with the conditions clearly laid out, including the time period.
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end 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." (Dan 9:24)
Essentially, they were granted a period of probation, an opportunity to turn back to God and keep their end of the covenant and to accomplish, in cooperation with God, a number of objectives. These were:
- to finish the transgression
- to make an end of sins
- to make reconciliation for iniquity
- to bring in everlasting righteousness
- to seal up the vision and prophecy
- to anoint the most Holy
These objectives were meant to happen in the experience of God's people in the specified time frame - "seventy weeks are determined upon they people to ..." This would require their cooperation with God in the covenant relationship. Remember, it was "determined upon thy people ... to finish ... to make ... to bring in ...to seal ... to anoint ..." They were to complete some very specific actions.
It is God's purpose, of course, that sin come to an end etc. And God was willing to grant another opportunity even after the previous failure had lead to the Babylonian captivity.
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