Study Notes

Daniel 9:1-3


We are in the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel, having had his first two prophetic visions described to us. It has been many years since Daniel's last vision, and he is now in his 90's.

9:1 First Year Of Darius

Darius the Mede received the former kingdom of Babylon (Dan. 5:31) and immediately appointed leaders. Remember we saw in chapter six that Daniel was one of his three commissioners over the kingdom. And it was while in the service of this same King Darius that Daniel had been thrown in the lions' den.

Whether or not the events of this chapter occurred before or after the lions' den experience, we have no way of knowing. We do know that the year was 538BC, about 67 years since the Jews' deportation to Babylon.

9:2-3 Observed In The Books

Daniel is reading the Word. I think this is of vital importance to notice. Remember, Daniel had a new job - one with incredible responsibility and time commitment. He was overseeing the largest nation on earth. But he still found time for Bible study.

Interesting, isn't it, that most of us have convinced ourselves that we don't have time for Bible study? But the fact is, the busier we are, the more desperately we need the Bible study. God's command to the king of Israel was,

Deut. 17:18-19 "Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life...

Daily Bible study is not just for those with great responsibility, but for all who would be noble-minded. The Bereans were complimented because of this.

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, {to see} whether these things were so.

If we get into the Word, the Word will get in us.

Jeremiah The Prophet

Daniel was reading the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. Although the Bible's chapter divisions were not introduced until the year 1250, Daniel was reading what we today call Jeremiah 25.

Years before the Babylonian captivity happened, when Nebuchadnezzar had just become king of Babylon, Jeremiah had written by the command of God to the people of Judah. Because the Jews had not listened, they had provoked the Lord to anger and would be judged. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah,

Jer. 25:11-12 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.'

Imagine how excited Daniel must have been when he realized that there were to be only three more years before they would be released to go home!

Why Seventy Years?

The question of course arises, "Why did God choose seventy years to chastise the Israelites?" Was seventy just a number that God picked out of a hat? Was there a reason for it? Yes, there was a reason.

Back in the book of Leviticus, when God was giving Moses the laws for the people to obey, He said,

Lev. 25:2-4 "...When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard."

Then He warned that if they did not obey Him and observe the commandments, He would remove them from the land and scatter them among the nations.

Lev. 26:34-35 ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the days of {its} desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.'

For 490 years, the Israelites lived in the land, but never gave it the sabbath rest commanded by God. Instead, they walked in wickedness and rebellion.

God, in His compassion, kept sending the prophets to remind them, but they only mocked the prophets (2Chron 36:15-16). Finally, mercy had been exceeded, and it was time for justice. The Babylonians attacked, killing many, burning the temple, and stealing the treasures.

2Chr. 36:20-21 And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

Seventy sabbaths for the land had been ignored. Now, they were given back to the land. God had waited 490 years, but they never learned.

I find it interesting that Peter asked Jesus,

Matt. 18:21 ..."Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?

The answer was not what we might expect. Instead,

Matt. 18:22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Seventy times seven - suddenly not a fancy figure of speech, but exactly how many times God had allowed the Israelites to be punished.

My Good Word

Fortunately, there is a difference between the way God punishes those who seek Him and those who reject Him. For those who are His people, God's punishment is temporary. Thus, Jeremiah continued his prophecy, saying,

Jer. 29:10-14 "For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find {Me,} when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'

God's love for Israel was evident even as He pronounced their punishment.

Gave My Attention To The Lord

When Daniel realized that the time of the captivity was almost up, he gave his attention to the Lord. Now, we must realize that by our standards, Daniel's attention was already on the Lord. After all, he was known for being a man of prayer,

Dan. 6:10 ...kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God...

So this was a normally godly and devout man turning up the spiritual temperature in his life. Do you realize that we can always take a step up in our walk with God? We'll never "arrive" at the place where we can't grow. We can always grow in faith (2Cor. 10:15), grow in love (2Thes. 1:3), become more diligent (2Cor. 8:22; 2Pet. 1:10), excel still more (1Thes. 4:1,10), and encourage one another more (Heb. 10:25).

For Daniel, giving his attention to the Lord meant praying more, as well as fasting.


Maybe you don't know how to turn up the spiritual temperature, how to take that next step up. Maybe for you the next step is learning to add fasting to your own prayer life.

If you don't know what fasting is, it is simply going without food for a time, so that you are denying your flesh and feeding your spirit. The result is that you grow spiritually stronger. Plus, it adds more power to your prayer life. Scripturally, we see that fasting helps you hear from God (Judg. 20), helps you to humble yourself (1Kings 21), helps you seek the Lord (2Chron. 20), and aids in seeking God's intervention in a matter (Esth. 4).

Jesus told us to fast, and gave us instructions on how to do it righteously.

Matt. 6:16-18 "And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites {do,} for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

If you are looking to take that next step in your walk, consider adding fasting to your dedication. If you are seeking answers from the Lord, consider adding fasting to your prayer life. If you simply need to humble yourself and get right with God, consider a fast.

Next week, we will look at Daniel's prayer of confession to the Lord. The week after that, we'll be looking at the final eight verses of the chapter, which clearly and specifically give us God's plan and timeline for the earth.

Go to next study

Go to previous study