Through the Bible with Les Fedick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 81
DANIEL’S PRAYER AND PROPHECY – 1
Okay, it’s good to have everyone in today as we begin the third part of Book 81. For those of you out in television, again we just want to welcome you to our Bible study. And I have to take the time to thank you out there for your letters. My, how we enjoy mail time, don’t we, Honey? We still manage to read them all. We may not all get them the same day they come, but sooner or later we get every letter read. So don’t ever hold back from dropping us a note. And again, I have to emphasize: please don’t write two, three, or four pages; because then we can’t get every letter read.
But we do appreciate your letters, your gifts, and your prayers—everything that has made this such a blessing to so many. For those of you here in the studio—we appreciate your coming in. Many of you have traveled a good distance here today, and we realize that.
Before we begin the lesson, I want to again let our audience know we still have this question and answer book available. We just got a whole semi-load again the other day. It’s the one and only book we’ve ever had, and they are still going out by the hundreds. They are available, and if you’d like a copy just call the office and we’ll get them out to you. Probably the best $11 you’ll ever spend. They also make wonderful gifts.
Okay, now we’re going to get right into the Book, and we’re going to pick up where we left off after our last taping. For those here in the studio, that’s over a month ago. For those of you out in television, it was yesterday or last week, whatever the case may be.
We’re going to come back to where we left off in Daniel chapter 9. We made rather a hurried commentary on the first two verses. I didn’t really get to finish it like I’d like to, so I’m going to go back and touch on those for just a moment before we drop into verse 3. So, let’s start at verse 1.
All right, in chapter 9 verse 1, remember now that poor old Daniel is about 87 or 88 years of age, having been kidnapped out of Jerusalem when he was probably 12 or 14, which tells you how long he has now been out there in the area of Babylon and Shushan. Well over the 70 years that he knew the captivity was to be. So what’s in the old fellow’s mind? Well, we should be getting back to Jerusalem one of these days.
The seventy years of captivity has run its course. It’s over. And I think that’s why back even in a previous verse in chapter 8—if you want to look at it a minute, in verse 27—I think the old fellow was getting so anxious for the opportunity to go back home to Jerusalem; which, as far as we know, he never did. But look what he says in verse 27.
“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision,…” Well, I think what he was really sick at was that he had spent all these years throughout that seventy years that was promised in prophecy and there was still no sign of going back to Jerusalem. Anyway, in chapter 9 verse 1:
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes,…” Now you remember I pointed out in the last taping that we are already past the Babylonian K ingdom. And by the miracle-working power of God old Daniel moves from Baghdad, or Babylon, up to Shushan which is the capital of the Medes and Persians. Unbelievable that here this Jew survives the whole Babylonian time and now moves up into the Mede and Syrian Empire and is still in a place of authority. It’s just unbelievable, except that God is in it. Now verse 2:
“In the first year of his reign (That is of Darius the son of Ahasuerus.) I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, (Well, what number of years is he talking about? The seventy. The seventy years should be fulfilled by now and we should be ready to go back home. All right, we’re looking at it in just a moment, but let’s finish the verse.) whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish (or fulfill) seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Now Jeremiah prophesied it—but you’ve got to know your history, and you’ve got to know your time. Jeremiah was writing about the time that Daniel was the little lad being carried out to Babylon. So Daniel knew Jeremiah at least by name if not personally, and he’s referring to his prophecy.
But before we look at Jeremiah’s prophecy, let’s go all the way back—and I love to do this to show the scornful world that this Book is like no other book. Nothing compares to this Book. Because here Moses is writing in Leviticus chapter 26—way back at the very beginning of the Nation of Israel you might say—and he’s already predicting this seventy years of captivity which won’t happen for years and years. Leviticus chapter 26, drop in at verse 32, and God says through the prophet Moses, who we know wrote Leviticus.
“And I will bring the land (At this point they weren’t even there yet, but they will be.) And I will bring the land into desolation:…”
Now, I’ve made the point on this program over and over down through the years: anytime the Jew was uprooted from the land—which we normally call the Promised Land, or that part of Palestine that was Israel—anytime the Jew was absent from the land, it went into desolation. No one else could come in and cultivate it and take advantage of it. God made sure it went into desolation.
See, that’s what ol’ Arafat never agreed to. That’s why when he was holding forth and he would say over and over that it was the Arab’s land; it’s always been their land; it has always been a verdant land, which meant green. It has always been a green land. No, it hasn’t. When Israel is out of the land, it becomes a total desolation. And I’ll comment on that a little further on. All right, but here it is. God says:
“And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies who dwell therein shall be astonished at it. (The desolation) 33. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: (In other words, they would be invaded by these enemy nations.) I will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.” Now verse 34, so we know that Moses was talking about the seventy-year captivity.
“Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths,…” Now for most people that needs some defining, doesn’t it? When Israel went into the Promised Land, as part of the Law what were they to do with the productive end of the land every seventh year? Let it lay fallow. They were not to farm the orchards or the grain fields. The seventh year was to be a land sabbatical. But did the Jews do it? No! They never did. For 490 years they never gave the seventh year sabbatical. All right, now look what the rest of the verse says.
“Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.” And how many would there be in 490 years? Seventy. So, there’s the promise of the coming seventy years of captivity down in Babylon while the land of Israel would lie fallow.
Okay, now let’s jump up to what Daniel is referring to—to one of his earlier contemporaries—Jeremiah chapter 25. This is the beauty of Scripture. These aren’t just fables conned up before the campfire. This is the immaculate, intrinsically prophetic Word of God. Here we have Jeremiah writing shortly before the Babylonian invasion and before the Temple is destroyed. Verse 11:
“And this whole land (See?) this whole land shall be a desolation, (The same word that Moses used. Nothing is going to grow or survive.) And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon (How long?) seventy years.” All in line with prophecy.
Now then, let’s come back to Daniel and carry on with what he’s talking about—that all these years of the seventy years out of the land are done, and it should be time for them to be going back and re-occupying the land and rebuilding the Temple and so forth. Which of course is going to happen as we’re going to see before the afternoon is over. All right, verse 2 again.
“In the first year of his reign (Ahasuerus or Darius) I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, (And I’m going to add—as well as Moses.) that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Now again, just to rise above all of the statements from the Arab world—they like to make it sound like (I’ve already alluded to it with Arafat) it has always been green, it has always been productive, it had always been Arab lands. Well, now let’s just show you what a lie that is.
Come back with me. Now, I didn’t intend to do this. That’s what I told Iris coming up, “You know, Honey, I never know where I’m going to stop at thirty minutes.” I have no way of knowing it. I don’t come up here with a set format or anything like that. I didn’t intend to do this. Let’s go back to Nehemiah. The unbelieving world knows nothing of this, yet we have to be aware of what the Word of God says. Go back to Nehemiah, and we’re going to be doing this again later this afternoon, hopefully.
Nehemiah chapter 2 just to show you that when Israel was gone those seventy years, nothing, nothing was done to embellish it; to bring it back into production; to get it ready for occupancy by whatever people might do it. No, it stayed desolate for the whole seventy years. Nothing was done to bring it back into production. Nehemiah chapter 2. He’s sent by the king to go back and get ready to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem. Now Ezra, of course, was sent to rebuild the Temple. But Nehemiah was sent back a good long while later to rebuild the city walls and make it preparatory for occupancy by the Jewish people.
“Then I said unto them, (those who were examining this with him) Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem (Is…teaming with Arabs? Is that what your Bible says? That’s what the ridiculous would try to tell us. After seventy years there’s nothing in Jerusalem. It’s what?) lieth waste,…” It’s desolate, see?
Now that’s the point I’m trying to make. Don’t believe all this garbage. Don’t believe it. It’s not true. When Israel is out of the land, it becomes a total desolation. God won’t let anybody make anything of it, and—well, I might as well comment on it now. I was going to later.
Even after A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and drove the Jews out to go wherever they wanted, and they literally became the wandering Jews of the dispersion; again, did the Arab world come in and occupy Israel and Jerusalem and put it into production? Never happened! For nineteen hundred and some years Palestine—now I use the word Palestine as the big area in which we have the land of Israel. So don’t get on my case for calling Israel Palestine. Palestine is that geographical area.
All right, from the destruction in A.D. 70 until around the turn of the century of 1900, so that’s about eighteen hundred and thirty years, it was a total desolation. Oh, there were a few little isolated pockets of people, of course. But by-and-large the land was in total desolation.
You know, I’ve always over the years referred to Samuel Clemens, the author of Huckleberry Finn. We know him better as Mark Twain. And you’ve heard me refer to it more than once on the program. He traveled in the ancient land of Israel in the middle 1800’s. I think it was around the time of our Civil War, around 1865. And he wrote a book called Innocence Abroad. And he was merely speaking of being abroad as an innocent traveler. In that book he gave this graphic description of the land of Israel in 1865. He said, “The land is a total desolation. Not even the weeds of the desert will grow here. We traveled mile after mile and never saw another human being. The further we went toward Jerusalem the hotter the sun got. By the time we got to Jerusalem,…” he said again, “…I would not want to live here.” Well you see, that was all during that period of time when Israel was out in the dispersion, and the land of Israel was a desolation.
Now then, before I’d even seen this book by Mark Twain, I knew a gentleman who had been in World War II, detached from the American army and was attached to something in the land of Israel. So, he served a couple of years at the very height of World War II in Jerusalem. Well, he was in one of my home Bible studies in Iowa after I began teaching up there. And that was when we first became aware of this very fact. He was telling us that it was such a—and it was a term he used—Godforsaken. He said, “Why in the world anybody would want the Promised Land? What was God thinking when He gave such a worthless piece of real estate to Israel.” Well, that’s the way it was even yet in the 1940’s. It was still a total desolation.
Well, the first time Iris and I got there in 1975 it wasn’t much more than that. Because I still remember as we were coming down the Jordan Valley, I said to her, “Honey, how in the world could God ever call this the land of milk and honey.” It was still for the most part just barren desert. Now, of course, every time we go back there’s more cultivated area. My, remember last fall in the area of the Sermon on the Mount? My goodness, what used to be just brush and sand dunes is now banana groves. See, everything is just constantly increasing. But the point I’m trying to make is that when the Jew is out of the Promised Land, it is desolation. And don’t ever believe the propaganda of anything other than that. All right, now reading on in Nehemiah verse 17 again:
“…Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, (Now remember, this is at the end of those 70 years, even quite a few over, and Jerusalem is lying waste.) and the gates thereof are burned with fire:…” Has anybody fixed them? No. They’re still laying there charred just like they were when the Babylonians destroyed it. Nobody lifted a finger. And, oh, our people are being fed all this garbage. When Israel is out of the land, beloved, it’s desolate; and God sees to it that it stays that way.
Now even after modern days, when people would try to go and build up some of the cities—the Romans, of course, tried it, and every time they’d get started rebuilding a city, what would God destroy it with? Earthquakes. In fact, those are a lot of the places that we visit when we’re over there. Bet She’an is a good example right down there south of the Sea of Galilee. It was evidently a beautiful Roman Colony. But before they finished building the city, what happened? Earthquake. Totally destroyed it! It all lays there in rubble.
And then malaria came in when the Hula Valley was swamped. It was just totally infested with malaria. Malaria was so prevalent in the land of what we call Israel, that no more than two generations could survive it and they’d die off from malaria. Then the drought came in. The rain stopped. So, God used those three areas to keep it desolate: Earthquakes, Malaria, and Drought. And that’s all it took, and for the most part it stayed desolate. All right, just a couple more verses here in Nehemiah and we’ll get back to Daniel.
“…the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (Because you want to remember, that in antiquity the wall was the first line of defense.) 18. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 19. But (Now watch this.) when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite,…”
Now stop a minute. What kind of people are Ammonites? Huh? Arabs. So just as soon as the Arabs got wind that these Jews were thinking about fixing the place up, they opposed them. Then, already! And it’s no different than it is today. All right, reading on, verse 19:
“But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, (See, now that makes it plain enough.) heard it, (that they were going rebuild the city) they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?” Well, the poor idiots, you know what they didn’t know? Nehemiah had the contract in his hand from the king to get whatever he needed from the forest of Lebanon or from the quarries. He had it all okayed by the king and these Arabs didn’t know that.
“Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, (See, that’s always what makes the difference.) The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build: but ye (to the Arabs) ye have no portion; nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem!” And, beloved, it’s just as valid today as it was back here in 606 B.C. Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that it’s still the Promised Land and God is in control.
All right, now time’s just about gone. I didn’t intend to do any of that, but maybe there’s a reason for it. Daniel chapter 9 again and we’ll move on. Verse 3, that’s what’s on the board.
“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4. And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God,…” Now if anybody knew how great and dreadful, by now Daniel with all of his visions was totally aware, wasn’t he? So he knows what he’s talking about. He has seen God evidenced in more ways than one over these previous 70 years.
“…keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;” Now, what is that telling you? Who is Daniel primarily writing to? Well, his fellow Jews. That’s what this is all for. Even though we have a lot of Gentile prophecy in here, yet it is still Jewish ground.
So the objects of his prayer are the people of Israel who are out there still in captivity and haven’t as yet made their way back to Jerusalem, although that’s certainly now in the immediate future. So, we’re dealing primarily with the Jews under the Law, even though they’d been away from any Temple worship. Yet this is all Jewish language, “to them that love him and keep his commandments.” That’s exactly what Jesus instructed the people of His day—keep the Commandments.
I might be biting off more than I can chew. I think I can bring you back. I hope I can find it back in Matthew, where he told the rich young ruler—my goodness, I hope I can find it. I think it is 19, but I’m not sure. Well, I’m in Mark, no wonder I can’t find it! Come back with me to Matthew chapter 19 verse 16. Because I want you to see how identical the language is.
Now, I don’t know how many of you got to see the program this morning? I was getting ready, and I just got little bits and pieces of it. Did you? Did you see what I was driving at? Oh, when you compare the language of James, it’s word-for-word what Moses said back there in Exodus. Not even close to what Paul said. But it all fits if you leave it where it belongs. All right, now here’s another one. Exact words that Daniel is using. Oh, wow, down to two minutes.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, (I think I emphasized that this morning, didn’t I. Yeah. Matthew 19 verse 16.) Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Now look at His answer.
“And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Now that’s plain, isn’t it? Why? Because they were under Law. They knew nothing of Grace. And that was exactly the situation that Daniel is speaking of.
Now flip back there for the minute that we have left. Back to Daniel chapter 9, his praying is based on his love for God as a good law-keeping Jew, and he is keeping His commandments. But the Nation? Huh! Anything but. The Nation has just almost become degraded. And we’ll take the next verse until the half hour is up. Verse 5 and now he’s praying on behalf of his people—We—the Nation, Israel. Now this doesn’t affect us Gentiles. Don’t ever try to come back here and pray like this for us today. We have Paul’s prayers to copy. This is Daniel praying on behalf of his people Israel.
“We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:” In other words, what’s he referring too? All the facets of the Law which the Jewish people should have known, if they didn’t, even though they were in captivity.
They still had the Law and Temple worship in their memory, if nothing else, because it had been drilled into them. Just like cults do today. They were taught those commandments and those rules and regulations from infancy on. So it became second nature for them to keep all these things.
Well, we’ll pick up here in the next half hour.