1 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Daniel nine deals with the vision of the seventy “sevens.” This is the third vision Daniel received from God (chapters seven and eight were the first two). Of all the prophets, only Daniel obtained God’s comprehensive program for both Gentiles and Jews.
We reach the zenith of the book with this vision. We cannot understand the Olivet Discourse of Jesus Christ (Mt 24-25) without understanding this chapter.
Verses 1-19 is a prayer by Daniel. Verses 20-27 are God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer. God already fulfilled the first 483 years of this prophecy. He will fulfill the last seven years in the Tribulation period.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—
The first three verses set forth Jeremiah’s prophecy of the restoration of Jerusalem (Je 15:11-12; 29:10).
Daniel’s vision dates from 538 B.C. to the first year of Darius the Mede (Cyrus; Ezra 1:1). This is the same Darius in chapter six. Belshazzar’s feast (chapter five) occurred between chapters eight and nine.
in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
As Daniel read the twenty-fifth and twenty-ninth chapters of Jeremiah the prophet, he recognized that the length of Jerusalem’s desolation was seventy years (Je 36:23,28). Jeremiah revealed that Jerusalem would be desolate for seventy years and after that time God would destroy the Neo-Babylonian Empire (Je 25:11-12; 29:10-14). Daniel interpreted the seventy years as literal years and understood this was about sixty-seven years after deportation to Babylon in 605 B.C.
Je 25:11-14, “‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation. 13 So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations. 14 (For many nations and great kings shall be served by them also; and I will repay them according to their deeds and according to the works of their own hands.)’”
Je 29:10-14, “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Jeremiah’s prophecy predicted that the king of Babylon would be destroyed at the end of the seventy years’ captivity. The judgment on Babylon and the return to the land took place twenty years before the rebuilding of the temple. This was approximately seventy years after the captivity in 605 B.C. Therefore, the “desolations” of Daniel covered the period from 605 B.C. to 539 B.C. The date for the return to the land of Palestine then would be 538 B.C.
The significance of the word “desolations” is that the return to Palestine (538 B.C.) took place about seventy years after the capture of Jerusalem in 605 B.C. The restoration of the temple (515 B.C.) happened about seventy years after the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. The two time periods (605-538 B.C. and 586-551 B.C.) are twenty years apart. The period of absence from Palestine between 605 B.C. and 538 B.C. is about sixty-seven years; the period between the destruction of the temple in August 586 B.C. and its rededication in March 515 B.C. is less than seventy-one years.
This verse intends to show Daniel’s realization that the time for Israel to return to the land was approaching. Once Israel was back in the land, God providentially delayed the building of the temple until seventy years after the destruction of the temple had elapsed.
The words “would accomplish” mean to fulfill. God assigned seventy years for Judah’s captivity and Jerusalem’s desolations. The burden of Daniel’s prayer is that God would consider 605 B.C. as the beginning of the captivity (terminus a quo) rather than dating its beginning from 597 B.C. Note his request in verse 19 – “delay not.” The period from 605 B.C. (the beginning of Daniel’s captivity) to the date of Judah’s return (538 B.C.) is less than seventy years. God may have shorted this time by a few months.
Daniel uses the term “LORD” (Jehovah) for the first time in this verse and repeats it in verses 4, 10, 13, 14, and 20. This is the personal name for God.
Prophecy should humble the believer to prayer.
Daniel believed in the literal interpretation of prophecy. He appropriated the prophecy of Jeremiah to his experience. Prophecy should bring us to our knees. Effective prayer requires trust in God’s Word and a right heart before God. The Word of God reveals the will of God.
We can fulfill the Word of God by prayer. We need to recognize the certainty of the sovereignty of God in tension with the need for the human agency of faith and prayer. Prayer and Bible reading go together. There is a cyclical relationship between the two. Prayer leads to the Word, and the Word leads to prayer. A true Bible learner goes to prayer for an understanding of God’s Word.
Ac 6:4, “…but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
The name of God is at stake in what we ask of Him. Our plea in prayer rests on the promises of God. Like Daniel, we look to Scripture for spiritual sustenance. As we claim the promises and confess our sin, God enters into fellowship with us. Our plea rests on God and not on our righteousness or merit.