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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART XIX)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
19 November 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
John 1:29, 35-51
Preparation: (John 4:25-26)
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
As we have been seeing in our study of Daniel, he is a person of prayer, and God is faithful to those of us who, like Daniel, truly seek Him, and desire to live in His will.
Daniel’s prophetic messages are pointed to both the first and second comings
of Jesus Christ; and as we look at both today’s lesson from Daniel and that of
our New Testament, we will see the call of our Messiah.
20. Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God,
21. while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.
As we said, Daniel is a man of prayer.
He is not afraid to call a sin a sin. He recognizes the sin in himself and also in the people of Israel.
Daniel is also humble enough to repent for his own sins, as well as for those of the people Israel, even though he was not part of their sin himself.
And because of Daniel’s heart attitude, God again sends the angel Gabriel to answer him.
There is a lesson here for all of us. If we are not getting answers to our prayers, perhaps we should begin to analyze ourselves and the body of believers around us, and apologize first for ourselves and then for the body, and add the request that God would help you and those for whom you are praying to live more godly lives.
When we do this, we open the door for ourselves to receive God’s answer.
22. And he gave me instruction and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding.
23. "At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.
Have you noticed that the fear of Daniel’s previous encounter is not evident this time?
He has better understanding of what is required to come before God. The fear
came from the knowledge of the sin in his own life. His repentance and God’s
acceptance has opened the door for the relationship with Gabriel that we are now
He is highly esteemed by God, for unlike most of the people, he has a truly repentant heart and he is intent upon serving God.
God wants each and every one of us to do as Daniel does.
And if we do, we will have the same results.
So, God begins to lay out the prophetic message in answer to Daniel’s request about the seventy years mentioned in Jeremiah’s writings.
24. "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.
Daniel had been thinking and asking about years and Gabriel tells him about
weeks. What does this mean?
It means weeks of years; seventy times seven years, or 490 years.
God is giving Israel 490 years to return wholeheartedly back to Him, for at that time judgment will be sealed.
But, in what way?
We might say, and rightly so, that more than 490 years have elapsed since this prophecy was given. Therefore, does it mean that the message was false and doesn’t apply?
No! It is still true, but we must look at it in a special way.
25. "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
The seven weeks will begin when the decree to rebuild Jerusalem is given. And in the year 458 B.C. the decree was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus. This was 80 years after Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the Temple.
The reconstruction of the specified areas of Jerusalem was completed in 49 years, just as the Angel Gabriel told Daniel. It took place over seven weeks of years (seven weeks times seven days per week, or 49 days of years).
So if we continue with this time frame, the next 62 weeks of years, or 434 years, would end in the year 26 A.D. – the year that Jesus Christ began His ministry, of which we will see more in our New Testament lesson.
But in order that people would believe, there is more to this prophecy.
26. "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
And after the sixty-two weeks of years, Jesus Christ was crucified, and the city and the temple were destroyed in the year 70 A.D. by a flood of four legions of Romans under the command of Titus Vespasian.
But what about the 70th week? We haven't talked about that yet. Note the next verse:
27. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
This 70th week of years takes place after a gap period, the length of which we are not told. It is still going on today.
Israel, as a nation, did not accept her Messiah when He came at the end of the first 69 weeks of years, thus it had been cut off, from the year 70 until the year 1948, when Israel was restored as a nation.
And it wasn’t until the year 1967 that Jerusalem again became part of Israel.
This may also be the start of another prophetic clock, but that is a
discussion for another time.
This 70th week of years seems to refer to the coming seven year tribulation period, when the Antichrist will do what we saw Antiochus do when we studied chapter 8. Only this time it will be much worse.
The important thing for each of us to understand is that God, in all His mercy, has shown us what will take place and has reminded us of what has taken place, in order that we would return to Him wholeheartedly.
Just as assuredly as Christmas comes every year, so will the second coming of Jesus Christ be.
But unless He is born in our heart before He calls the Church home, or He returns, whichever comes first, those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and been born again, will be part of the horrors of this coming time of destruction.
Look at the love of God in Jesus Christ’s first coming, not so much at His birth which we talk about during the Christmas season, but at the beginning of His ministry, the time which began after the 69 weeks of years.
Turn with me in your Bibles to John 1:35ff. And as we look at these passages, remember how God’s word showed the similarity in the ways our prayers are answered, as Gabriel also appeared to the father of John the Baptist; for we will be looking at the fulfillment of that prophecy as well.
35. Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
36. and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
And as he also said the day before, in verse 29: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John was proclaiming Jesus to be Messiah.
37. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
Haven’t we also all heard Jesus proclaimed as Messiah?
Have we all truly followed Him?
If you have, didn’t you also find that Jesus was there waiting for you?
And if you have never turned back to follow the Lord, be assured that He is there waiting for you. But a day is coming when He will no longer be there, and all that will be left will be the destructive power of the Antichrist.
Don’t wait until then.
Seek Him now!
38. And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" And they said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?"
Sometimes when we come face to face with God, we don’t know what to say; but don’t hold back because of that. Follow Him anyway and He, who sees the true intent of the heart, will reach out to you and comfort you.
39. He said to them, "Come, and you will see." They came therefore and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
When we have turned and followed the Lord and stayed with Him for only one day, we will know who He is; and then we must proclaim Him to others.
40. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41. He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means Christ).
42. He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas" (which translated means Peter).
When we came to believe, and told someone else, did we also bring them before the Lord? For every person must come before the Lord personally, and be born again, and receive a new name, and a new and softened heart that feels the pain and suffering of the whole of creation..
And as more and more come to the Lord, there should be further proclamation, for we are not to be lazy Christians, we are to work to help bring this world into the heavenly will of God..
43. The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, "Follow Me."
44. Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip followed also, probably not only because of the presence of Jesus, but
because of the witness of Andrew and Peter who were following after Him.
And then the witness is multiplied further.
45. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
46. And Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
In our witness, each of us will meet our Nathanaels who will question what we say about the Lord. Do not get discouraged or become angry, but reach out in love and tell them as Philip did: “Come and see.”
47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said to him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
Jesus answered this way because He knew that for Nathanael to have questioned in the way he did, he also had to have read the Scriptures and in his heart he was truly seeking God. Thus the Lord continues to reach out in love and compassion, as Nathanael continues to question.
48. Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
49. Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."
50. Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these."
51. And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
The angels were here on earth surrounding Jesus, ready to take His prayers to heaven and bring back the response. And I truly believe that this statement is true for each and every one of us; but our heart must also be truly set upon the Lord.
In this message is the key to our true thankfulness, for we have a God who loves us and is faithful to forgive all who repent, and then to call us to Himself. There is nothing for which we could or should be more thankful.
Additionally, at Christmas we have seen our messages leading in that direction. So instead of thinking of the physical presents we get for other people, consider giving the gift of the Lord’s spiritual presence, through our words and our very lives, for that is the true gift of love.
And this is not to be something we give at Christmas time and forget about for the rest of the year. It is something for everyday of the year.
Remember also that in this light, every day should be Christmas, as well as Thanksgiving.
We are to be living witnesses of Christ in us.
I love you all very much, and I know Jesus loves you too!