“God’s Indestructible Kingdom”: A Series of Bible Discussions Outlines Based on the Prophecy of Daniel – Lesson IX and X


A. Daniel’s Prayer (9:1–21):

1. Daniel’s faithfulness in prayer is something we have noted before (Chap. 6). This ninth chapter gives us a wonderful insight into the importance and nature of believing prayer, a lesson we can afford to learn and re-learn! Daniel’s unusually great significance does not stem from his diplomatic wisdom so much as the fact that he is an intercessor for his people. It is to such intercessors (most prominently, Jesus Christ. the intercessor at God’s right hand that the Church owes so much. We shall not experience the revival and reformation we so desperately need if such “prayer warriors” cannot be enlisted in this great service.

2. It is of key importance to our interpretation of this chapter to note that the angelic messenger is Gabriel, who also appears in a similar capacity in Chapter 8, and who appears in Luke 1:26 as the herald of the birth of our Savior to the Virgin Mary. In this chapter Daniel’s prayer is answered by God with a prophetic description of the time between Daniel and the coming of our Lord at Bethlehem, and the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.).

3. Chapters 8, 9 arc closely related, although their messages are quite opposite in character. Both deal with the post-exilic period, the time after the captivity until the birth of Christ. In Chapter 8 we see this as a time of wrath and judgment, a kind of end-time in which we see the filling up of the remains of Israel’s sufferings as type of Christ. In Chapter 9 we see the sunshine of God’s redeeming love in Christ Jesus. These chapters complement each other, revealing to us that history moves between the poles of God’s wrath and God’s reconciliation, between divine rejection and acceptance.

4. The most prominent features of Daniel’s prayer might be:

a. His identification of himself with God’s Cause. He is not primarily concerned with his own affairs, but with the fact that the Name of God is being blasphemed because of the rejection and the captivity of Israel.

b. His deep humiliation in which he sees that the shameful situation of God’s people is not to be sought in the cruelty of Babylon but in the sins of himself and his people and their leaders.

c. His appeal to God as the Covenant God who has identified himself with his Church as it came to expression in his city, his holy hill, his sanctuary, his people called by his Name, all of which is a direct result of his sovereign mercy.

B. Gabriel’s Answer from God (9:22–27)

1. Daniel’s prayer was prompted by something which he read in the Scriptures, more specifically in Jer. 25:11, 12 and 29:10, to this effect: “the number of years which…must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” Please remember that Jerusalem for Daniel never lost its importance or his deepest affection. Daniel understood that the way in which God dispenses his grace is the way of his tabernacle, the place where Immanuel (“God with us”) dwells, where his atonement is recognized as the only basis for our redemption. The destruction of Jerusalem and the interruption of its temple-service was of crucial significance for Daniel, therefore.

2. The 70 years which Daniel found in Jeremiah’s prophecy must be taken literally. From the Fall of Assyria (609 B.C.) to the Fall of Babylon (539 B.C.) is seventy years, very likely the period to which Jeremiah refers. Jeremiah does not say that Judah would be in captivity for seventy years, but rather that the nations would be in subjection to Babylon for that length of time, after which Israel would return. Israel’s actual captivity was something like 58 years.

3. Although the historical reference here is to be taken literally, there is a symbolic significance in the use of the number seventy. Seventy is 10 times 7, and the number seven is the basic figure. It is the total of 3 plus 4, or, of God (the Triune God) and the world (“the four corners of the earth”). Seven has been called “the Immanuel number,” the number which symbolically represents the presence of God with us. Multiplied by ten we see the fullness and the perfection of God’s victorious grace in Jesus Christ. The number seventy was for Daniel a ray of sunshine in the darkness of the world’s night, by which he could see that the joyful sound of the Gospel did penetrate through all the noise of a wicked, imperial dictatorship.

4. Gabriel gives a direct response from God to Daniel’s prayer, in fact, Daniel stresses that the answer came even while he was praying from God’s messenger who came to him “in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.” Vs. 24 tells us that Daniel must know that a period of “seventy weeks of years” will take place after which the Messianic, official service will be accomplished. We understand this verse to mean that after a time whose length and whose purpose is governed by God’s decree the Lord Jesus will appear, in and through whom the Church and Kingdom will be established in the way of atonement for sin.

5. Vs. 25 serves to tell Daniel that Jerusalem shall be restored. From the time that God gave the word to restore and build Jerusalem (viz., the word in Jer. 25: 11, 12) until the edict of Cyrus giving them the liberty to restore the Temple is “seven weeks.” This is a roundedoff, God-decreed period which will end in that edict. After that there will be 62 weeks during which the reconstruction will be accomplished, but it will be a “troubled time.” This was literally fulfilled in Israel’s history: the difficulties and dangers in the time of rebuilding, in the time of Ahasuerus, from the side of the very worldly Greek culture, in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Roman domination—all of this indicates that Israel was continuously threatened by the power and influence of world rulers and heathen culture.

6. Vs. 26 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (“an anointed one”), who is represented in terms of his suffering. This suffering is undeserved, for there is nothing against him. The city whose destruction is predicted is Jerusalem (70 A.D.), which will be overcome by the flood of God’s wrath (cf. Nahum 1:8).

7. Vs. 27 is best interpreted, we feel, if it is seen to refer to the Coming of Christ, the Head of the Covenant of Grace. In the week of his coming he will by his ministry and sacrifice confirm the covenant for many. In the middle of a week, that is, abruptly, will the Old Testament sacrifice and offerings be brought to a finish. The last half of the verse refers again to the destruction of Jerusalem. That which God has decreed shall take place, so that the predicted desolation is realized in the way of his judgment.

8. Reviewing the whole of this chapter, we see that it is God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer concerning the restoration of Israel and its temple service. The answer goes far beyond the prayer. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts! So in the New Testament, thanks to the Spirit of Romans 8:26 ff., the prayers of the Church have a scope far beyond the knowledge of the believers. This does not make their prayers less urgent, but rather intensifies the need for prayer. The essence of this chapter is not exhausted in the prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall, but in the coming of the promised Savior. In and through the channel of Israel’s history flows God’s great salvation, and this river reaches to all the nations.

Suggested Questions for Discussion:

1. How does the Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 45) describe the need for prayer?

2. How does Bible-reading and prayer relate in Daniel 9?

3. Is it at all necessary to demonstrate our sorrow for sin in such an extreme manner as is done by Daniel in chapter 9?

4. Daniel appeals to God’s mercy and to God’s self-interest (“thy city and thy people are called by thy name” vs. 19); is this the right thing to do in prayer?

5. What is the significance of the Covenant for prayer?

6. Is it always true that God is so eager to answer prayer as Gabriel’s swift coming to Daniel indicates?

7. Why does Scripture refer so often to the destruction of Jerusalem?


A. Introductory Remark


Chapters 10, 11, 12 of Daniel comprise a single prophetic experience. They reveal to Daniel that a mighty warfare goes on in heaven, and that the struggle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world is not isolated from that conflict. Especially in chapter 10 do we see something of that which is going on in the (for us) invisible world of the spirits. Chapter 10 begins by referring to “the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia.” Cyrus is the king who gave permission for the Jews to return to Palestine. Chapter 10 takes place a few years after this return, and is concerned with the welfare of Jerusalem and of them who are there to restore the holy city. Daniel was left behind, not because he preferred it that way, but because God had a task for him to perform.

B. Daniel Sees a Visitor (10:2-9):

1. Chapter 10 takes place in the 6rst month of the year (corresponding to our March), a time of festivity in honor of the god of gods, Marduk. The prophet is “on vacation” during that time, abstains from the worship of the false god, and, while everyone else is giving expression to play and merriment, retires to fast and pray, not merely for devotional reasons, but because of his concern for Judah.

2. The occasion for his mourning is the state of affairs among them who have returned to Judah It is estimated that about 200,000 returned (men, women and children). This was but a remnant of the number that had been taken into captivity, and was not the more successful or prominent of the Jews living away from Jerusalem. These were the spiritually-minded nucleus, for whom return was very desirable. However, the group was not strong, and the earlier experiences in Palestine were very discouraging. There was spiritual weakness within the group, due to the influence of decades of residence in a heathen land (many of the wives were of heathen origin), and there was resistance from without (cf. Ezra 3, 4). All of this hampered the reformation in Jerusalem, and this really troubled Daniel.

3. There were other avenues of influence open to Daniel, for he was a great man in one of the greatest empires of the world, but he turns to the one which is open to every believer, no matter how small he might be in the kingdom of heaven. That is the avenue of prayer. His prayer is not routine, formal or perfunctory, it is fervent, Jas. 5:16. Daniel fasts in order that he might concentrate upon that task which is prayer, and in order that he might plead the cause of his people with the God of heaven.

4. We visualize the course of events this way: Daniel has finished his vacation and is on his way back to the capital city, accompanied by a caravan of assistants, soldiers, etc. Suddenly an angel appears in dazzling, radiant appearance. T hose with Daniel see nothing, but sense the awesomeness of the event and flee. He is a mighty messenger, equipped for battle, holy, and fearful to behold. Daniel’s strength ebbs away, and he sinks into a deep coma. By his prayers Daniel has moved heaven itself to action, but contact with the heavenly messenger is a terribly disconcerting experience.

C. The Heavenly Messenger’s Message (10:10–11:1):

1. The outstanding fact in the angel’s message is that he had left the presence of God some three weeks earlier, but arrived only then. During the intervening period it must have seemed to Daniel that God was no longer minded to hear his prayers. The agony of this experience for Daniel may be compared to that which our Lord experienced on the Cross when he suffered the abandonment of the Father (the comparison must be limited lo the type-antitype relationship). But now Daniel learns something which every praying Christian must realize, namely, that God had heard, had dispatched help, but that there were other things that had to take place before this might be seen. It is a Biblically established fact that God is a hearer of prayers, and we must resolutely believe this—even if we do not see the evidence in our time.

2. But why did it take the angel 21 days to reach Daniel? The angel explains that “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” resisted him for that length of time. This is not the king of Persia, but an evil angel, a mighty spirit out of hell. He intercepted the good angel, possible because angels also are subject to time and space. The battle was spiritual in character, a word-battle, in which the anti-christian genius which infected and motivated the Persian Empire was defended over against Daniel’s right to be heard by God as his “beloved.” The issue was the righteousness of God as he seeks to bless his elect, lead them to glory, and render them acceptable in his sight upon the basis of the promised atonement.

3. It is the time before the birth and sacrifice of the Christ, and so the battle could not be brought to easy victory by God’s angel. He needed help, and so the faithful and powerful Michael comes to his aid. Michael stays on in the arena of the spiritual warfare, and his colleague goes to find Daniel. This cooperation indicates the oft-repeated Biblical description of the angelic world, both good and evil, as well-organized. Apparently some among the demons are assigned certain specific areas of concern, in this instance the political empire of Persia.

4. Daniel is told that this struggle continues unabated throughout history. After Persia’s downfall another anti-christian world-power will arise in Greece. Fact is, Daniel is told that things will get worse. The influence of Greece was most dangerous for the Church since it represented a more cultural and philosophical opposition. Persia was rather limited, being another heathen, brutal power. Greece was more subtle, offering attractive ideas which did not seem to be so seriously incompatible with God’s Word, but which were actually most devastating for God’s people.

5. Please note that when the angel speaks to Daniel he recovers his strength and his courage. This effect is characteristic of God’s Word, and is an indication of the fact that the Christian must not try to live apart from the ministry of the Word. The Word is a power, indeed, and it gives strength to those who hear it in faith.

6. The angel says that he is telling Daniel things out of “the book of truth” (vs. 21). This is not the Bible insofar as it was then available, but rather the book of God’s counsel or sovereign decree, God’s counsel is his plan, the eternally established and existing plan of salvation and history. Please note that although the angel knows of this predestinating plan of God he is not fatalistic or passive. This is because the zeal of the faithful is not geared to the possibility of triumph or defeat, but to the actuality of God’s will and the deep desire to serve its grand purpose, namely, God’s glory.

7. Why does the angel say that only Michael helps him in this struggle? Does not Jesus say that the Father has legions of angels? The answer is that their service has very definite limits. Its limit is to prevent the demonic frustration of God’s redemptive plan, which is to save his people in the way of suffering. They are to keep the measure of that suffering within proper bounds, to render the opposition helpless beyond a certain paint, and to serve God’s counsel so that the salvation through the Cross of Christ may surely take place.

8. We ought again to note that Satan has a peculiar interest in the Church, and in the politics of the world. These seem to us to be quite separate from each other, although the modern church shows great interest in current matters of international diplomacy and in all problems of social inequity. There is in our time a great revival of “the social gospel!” The truth is, of course, that Persia and Greece arc inspired of the Evil One in order to destroy the people of God. That is their “real meaning” in Daniel’s prophecy. It is true that Satan’s first concern is always the downfall of the godly. And it is likewise true that Satan knows that the great political movements arc very effective as instrumentalities to embarrass and harass God’s children. 9. The comforting message of the chapter is that the good angels will care for us, and that the victory of Christ over anti-christian powers is assured. This was the answer to Daniel’s prayer, and this is the answer to ours as well. Our posture before God must be the same as Daniel’s, however. Of us, too, the angels must be able to say, “you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God” (Vs. 12, RSV).

Suggested Questions for Discussion:

1. Why is the angel dressed so luxuriously if they are humble servants of God?

2. Can you 6nd comparisons between Dan. 10 and its description of the angel with the description of Jesus Christ in Rev. 1:12–16? Is it possible that the angel of Dan. 10 is the Angel of the Lord (the Christ of the Old Testament)?

3. Was it sin for so many of the Jews to stay back in the heathen world rather than to return to Palestine?

4. Why did the people of the area wish recognition and participation in the work of the temple-and city-restoration in Jerusalem?

5. How must we conceive of the relationship of the angelic world to ours, and what is the influence of that world upon ours?

6. Is there a special demon in charge of Washington? Moscow? Chicago? Grand Rapids?

7. If there was a demonic influence at work with respect to Greece, why do so many prize and praise the culture which developed there?

8. How could it be possible for Daniel to serve the Lord better in Persia than in Jerusalem?

9. What comfort did Daniel derive from the angel’s revelation?