Daniel 9:20
While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and that of my people Israel, and presenting my petition before the LORD my God concerning His holy hill--
Sermons
The Nation's Advocate At God's BarH.T. Robjohns Daniel 9:1-21
Answer to Daniel's PrayerR. Gordon, D.D.Daniel 9:20-23
Daniel's DevotionsJohn Clayton, A.M.Daniel 9:20-23
The Power of PrayerJ. H. Morgan.Daniel 9:20-23
Prayer Opens Wider Horizons of God's KingdomJ.D. Davies Daniel 9:20-27
We have here a signal instance of the fact that God not only answers human prayer, but gives "more than we ask" or conceive. The thing which Daniel asked was small compared with what God bestowed. Compared with contemporary men, Daniel stood above them head and shoulders. Compared with God, he was but a pigmy.

I. PRAYER IS THE BEST PREPARATION FOR RECEIVING LARGER REVELATION. The exercise of real prayer develops humility, dependence, self-forgetfulness; and these states of mind are favourable to ingress of light. "The meek will God show his way;" "To that man will he look, who is of humble and contrite heart." Prayer brings the soul near to God; it lifts us up to heavenly elevations; it clears the eye from mist and darkness. The Apostle John was engaged in lonely worship, when the final revelation of Scripture was made to him. Our Lord was in the act of prayer when heaven came down to earth, and his whole Person was enwrapt in glory. The response to Daniel's prayer was immediate. He had not ceased to pray when the answer came. Swifter than the electric current came the oracle's response.

II. LARGER REVELATION COMES BY A PURE AND PERSONAL SPIRIT, We may fairly conclude that angels have larger knowledge of God's will than have we, because they are free from the darkness and the doubt which sin generates. If they are not counsellors in the heavenly court, they are heralds, ambassadors, couriers. What God wills should happen they know is wise and right and good. In their estimation it is an incomparable honour to be engaged on Divine errands. Swift as their natures will allow, they fly to convey instruction or help to men. It is consonant, no less with reason than with Scripture, that there are ranks and orders of intelligent beings with natures more ethereal than ours, and that communication between us and them is possible. Every form of service is attributed to the angels. An angel ministered to our Saviour's bodily hunger. An angel strengthened him in the garden. An angel rolled the stone from his sepulchre. An angel released Peter from prison. Gabriel interpreted the vision to Daniel. Gabriel announced to Zacharias and to Mary the approaching advent of a Saviour.

III. LARGER REVELATION IS AN EVIDENCE OF GOD'S SPECIAL LOVE. The despatch of a special messenger from the court of heaven was in itself a signal token of God's favour. Not often in the history of our race had such a favour been shown. Further, Gabriel was well pleased to assure the man of prayer that, in heaven, he was "greatly beloved." Every act of devotion to God's cause had been graven on the memory of God. His character was an object of God's complacency. On account of God's great love for Daniel he gave him larger understanding, and disclosed to him the purposes and plans for man's redemption. God's intention was that Daniel should enlarge the area of his vision, and look with solicitude, not on Israel after the flesh, but on the true Israel of God. Yet all revelation is a mark of God's love to men. Because men are "greatly beloved" of God, therefore he has given them this complete canon of Scripture, therefore he gives them understanding to discern the meaning, therefore he leads them further into the truth.

IV. LARGER REVELATION IS FOUNDED UPON A TYPICAL PAST. The thoughtful love of God adapted this new revelation to the capacity and mood of Daniel's spirit. Daniel had been dwelling on the seventy years which Jeremiah had declared to be the full period of Israel's captivity. His hope was resting on the fact that the seventy years were accomplished, and that God was faithful to his word. Gabriel was charged to assure the prophet that restoration was nigh at hand, but that other epochs of "seventies" were opening. The desolation of Jerusalem in the past was a type of a sadder desolation yet to come. The visible reconciliation between God and Israel (implied in the restoration of the Jews) was a type of a more complete reconciliation when sin should be purged away. By identifying himself with the nation, and confessing its sins as his own, Daniel himself had become a type of that Deliverer who should "bear our sins" and "make intercession for the transgressors." Time is reckoned in weeks, to remind Israel of the perpetual obligation of the sabbath. After each cycle of desolation rest shall follow, until the world shall enter into the enjoyment of Jehovah's rest. The mind of Daniel is thus carried onward from the consummation he so much desired to a grander consummation still - the appearance of Israel's Messiah; and this vital truth is impressed upon his soul, that no triumph is real or enduring which is not the triumph of righteousness over sin.

V. LARGER REVELATION CENTRES IN THE PERSON AND WORK OF MESSIAH. If now and then God should lift us up to some spiritual height, and give us a wider vision of human destiny, we should be amused and saddened at the littleness of our petitions. Often do we pray and plead for some good, which seems to us a very consummation of blessing; but when we have gained it, we find that there are far larger possessions awaiting us. The desires of Daniel's soul were concentrated on Israel's return to Palestine; yet, at the best, this was only a temporal advantage. Change of place and resumption of worldly power would not in themselves secure nobleness of character or purification of soul. The best blessings of God can be enjoyed anywhere, and amid any outward conditions. But God is too wise and too beneficent to confine his gifts within the limits of human request. "His thoughts are not as our thoughts;" and from inferior restoration to outward privilege, as a starting-point, he leads our expectations onward to a nobler restoration of character and of life. The centre of the world's hope (whether the world so regards it or not) is Jesus the Messiah. Before Gabriel had satisfied Daniel with respect to Israel's earthly fortune, he poured into Daniel's ear what was uppermost in his own mind - the advent of the Son of God. The grandeur, the value, the triumphant issues of Messiah's work, - these were the tidings which he delighted to convey. The revelation which, in any age, man most needs is revelation respecting the removal of sin - knowledge how the great redemption can be accomplished. No tidings from heaven can ever be so joyous as these, viz. that sin shall meet with final destruction, and that reconciliation between God and man is made secure. Such a revelation embraces an enormous sweep of blessing, and comprises every possible interest of humanity. The possession of the earthly Canaan is a very short-lived benefit; the inheritance of heaven is an eternal good.

VI. THE LARGER REVELATION EMBRACES THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; For the present the outlook of Israel is flecked with light and shade. Like an April day, our present experience is an alternation of blustering storm and bright sunshine. The defences of Jerusalem, Daniel was assured, would be rebuilt, but would be rebuilt amid harassing trouble. Messiah the Prince should in due time appear; but Messiah should be cut off. The city and the sanctuary should rise from the reproach of present ruin, but they would again be destroyed - desolation, like a flood, would sweep over them. Sacrifice should be restored in the temple, but sacrifice and oblation should again cease. These were but temporary arrangements to prepare the world for a real atonement. But the final upshot shall be the destruction of abomination. Upon the desolater there shall be desolation. "All that defileth" shall be exterminated. Death shall die. "Captivity shall be led captive;" "God shall be all in all." - D







O Lord, hear.
A believer might say to one who questioned the value of prayer, that God has authourised and commanded him to pray, with the express promise that the prayer of faith, offered up in the name of Christ, shall be heard and answered, and that he can safely leave it with God himself to provide fur the fulfilment of His promise, in perfect consistency with the immutability of His counsels. He is warranted also to maintain that prayer is most deeply concerned in the determination of all the purposes of Cod concerning His people; that every believing supplication that has been, or ever will be offered up, was as much the subject of the Divine foreknowledge as any ether action or event that was to take place in the moral world. The event for which Daniel had been praying, namely, the restoration of their captive brethren to their country and their privileges, had been the subject of many a prediction variously expressed, and of special promises frequently repeated . Every circumstance conspired to give him the assurance that the event which he longed for was infallibly secured. Yet he gave himself to prayer, obviously with the conviction that, in order to give efficiency to all the subordinate causes that were conspiring to bring about that deliverance of Judah, there was required an immediate determination of the Divine mind — an act of the will of Him who "speaks and it is done; who commandeth and all things stand fast." The prayer of the prophet formed an essential part of the plan by which God was graciously pleased to carry His purposes into execution. There was, indeed, suspended on it, so to speak, that act of the Divine will that was to give efficiency to every other agency whereby the desired event was to be brought about. Did we conceive of it as we ought to do — did we know what it is that constitutes the honour, and dignity, and blessedness of our nature, there is nothing in which we should consider ourselves more highly honoured, or more richly privileged, than in being permitted and encouraged to pray. Of the truths of these remarks, we have a very striking and instructive illustration in the passage before us. Of none was it ever more true than of Daniel, that the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Yet, notwithstanding the honourable and distinguished place which had been assigned to Daniel among the servants of God, never did a soul breath its desires under a deeper sense of its own unworthiness than when he "set his face unto the Lord God." And does not the experience of believers still bear witness to the same truth? Such is the honour which God vouchsafes to put upon His people when He gives them permission to pray; and such is the tendency of that honour to generate a spirit of humility and dependence on the part of those who enjoy it. Whether, therefore, we view prayer as glorifying God, by recognising His supremacy, and resolving our will into His; or whether we regard it as bringing us into that state which is the most salutary for ourselves, we are not without abundant encouragement to avail ourselves of this distinguished privilege. Our text furnishes other considerations calculated to excite us to frequent and earnest and persevering prayer. But the point to which I specially direct attention is the fact here stated by the angel, that at the beginning of Daniel's supplication the commandment went forth, a fact which places in a very striking light the important place which the prayer of the prophet occupied, among the various means which God was pleased to employ, in effecting the deliverance of Judah. In as far as concerns the condescension of God, and the encouragement which He has given us to pray, our text virtually tells us that the blessing was in readiness — that it waited, so to speak, only to be applied for — and that its actual communication was suspended on the supplication of the prophet Nor was this a privilege confined to particular individuals as Daniel, or to special times like those in which he lived. It appears, from the whole tenor of the preceding context, that the immediate object of the prophet's anxiety and concern was the redemption of his brethren from the bondage of Babylon; that he felt aa if it were possible that there might still attach to them so much of their former impenitence and forgetfulness of God as would provoke Him to protract the period of their captivity; and that it would have been, in the prophet's own estimation, a full and satisfying answer to his prayer had he simply received the assurance that God's "thoughts toward Judah were still thoughts of peace." But how exceedingly abundant, above all that he asked or had conceived, was the communication which was made to him in answer to his prayer! We cannot suppose that when he "set his face unto the Lord God" he anticipated the extent of the answer which was vouchsafed to him. If such, then, be the encouragements whereby we are excited to prayer, how shall we think, without humiliation and shame, of the disinclination which we may frequently have felt towards engaging in that holy exercise, and of the formality with which we have so often observed it? The habit of mind — preparedness for prayer — will not be cultivated from a mere sense of duty alone. Prayer is in truth the protection, the safeguard, of the Christian.

(R. Gordon, D.D.)

From this remarkable scene we learn several lessons in reference to prayer.

I. THAT PRAYER IS A LEGITIMATE AND EFFECTUAL METHOD OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN MAN UPON EARTH AND THE WORLD OF SPIRITS.

II. THE RECEPTION AND RECOGNITION OF TRUE PRAYER ARE IMMEDIATE, ALTHOUGH THE ANSWER MAY BE DELAYED. "At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth."

III. THAT PRAYER SECURES FOR ITS OFFERER THE SERVICE OF THE GREATEST AND MOST EXALTED OF GOD'S SERVANTS.

IV. THAT PRAYER IS A VALUABLE AID IN THE STUDY OF DIVINE THINGS. "I am now come forth to give thee knowledge and understanding."

V. THAT THE SUCCESS OF PRAYER DEPENDS UPON THE MORAL POSITION THE OFFERER OCCUPIES BEFORE GOD. "For thou art greatly beloved."

(J. H. Morgan.)

Daniel was a man of high birth, of extraordinary talents, of singular tact in the-affairs of government, of strong magnanimity, of great generosity, and of singular sympathy. Three things respecting him are worthy of notice. He was a close theological student. He was remarkable for his disinterestedness and public spirit. And he was distinguished by a spirit of prayer.

I. THE PROPHET'S OCCUPATION AT THIS TIME. He was secluded from the bustle of business and the turmoil of Society, and engaged in meditation on the things of God, and in communion with his own heart While retirement is necessary on occasions for all men, it is especially necessary for those who are busily employed in the concerns of public life. There are two extremes into which it is possible for us to fall on this subject. There are two devotional employments in which Daniel was occupied.

1. Penitential confession of sin. This was both personal and relative.

2. Intercessory supplication.

II. THE SEASON AT WHICH DANIEL WAS THUS ENGAGED.

1. It was the evening hour.

2. It was a time when he was desiring and expecting a revival of the Church, and the return of the people of God.

III. THE SUCCESS WHICH FOLLOWED DANIEL'S DEVOTIONAL EMPLOYMENT.

1. The promptitude of the bestowment.

2. The messenger who conveyed the intelligence.

3. The nature of the communication which Daniel received through the instrumentality of this Heavenly messenger.Partly it respected his own personal character. And partly he obtained clearer and much more copious views of the designs of God in reference to a fallen and ruined world. Learn, then, that humble and devotional prayer to God is one of the best means of ensuring clear views as to the prophecies of God, and clear views as to the prosperity of the Church in the latter days.

(John Clayton, A.M.)

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