Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When You Need Endurance through Difficulties (Daniel 9)

Dannah Gresh: So if God is sovereign, can we just sit back, let go, and let God do it all? Not according to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Heaven rules, yes, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for us to do under heaven’s rule. God moves in response to the prayers, the humility, and the repentance of His people, to accomplish His purposes in our world.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of Seeking Him, for October 11, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Do you pray with passion? It’s something I’ve been asking myself lately—a lot actually. I don’t want my prayers to become rote, faithless, routine communications to God. I want them to be passionate, truth-filled conversations with Him. For Daniel in the Bible, wholehearted, fervent prayer was an important part of his life. We’re going to look at the ways He sought the Lord in perseverance and humility, and, how that made a difference, especially as he faced times of difficulty. Nancy’s been walking us through a series over the book of Daniel titled, “Heaven Rules.” Let’s listen as she continues.

Nancy: Last night as I was doing final preparation to record this program today, I got a text from a friend who is a schoolteacher. Last week she fell in her classroom. She busted her arm—she gave me the technical details, and I don’t recall what all those were. She had to have surgery, and now her arm and her hand are in a cast. She’s in a lot of pain. 

She knew I was teaching this series on Heaven rules, and she texted me to say, “I felt prompted as I was praying for your preparation to write ‘Heaven Rules’ on my cast.” The problem is, the cast is on her right hand, and she’s right-handed. She said, “I can’t write with my left hand,” so with a marker she just did HR and sent me a picture of it on her cast.

I thought, What a picture this is of the theme of this whole series. Whether it’s broken bones or broken hearts or broken nations, Heaven rules. That’s what we’re seeing throughout the book of Daniel.

Now, as we’re reading Daniel—and I hope you are throughout this series. I’m reading it over and over again, sometimes reading it out loud, sometimes listening to it being read. I was doing that on the way over to record today. You’ll find that chapters 1–8 focus on the Gentile nations and God’s plan for them. Then chapters 9–12 focus on the people of God. That’s where we’re going to pick up today.

Turn if you would to Daniel chapter 9. As you’re doing that, let me just say that we’ve seen in this study that Daniel was a man of courage. He was a man of great wisdom. He was a man of great skill. He was also, as we’ll see today, a man of prayer. I believe the reason he was a man of prayer was that he knew and believed that Heaven rules. If you really believe that, don’t you think you would be lifting your eyes and your heart up to heaven and asking God to do what only God can do?

We’ve seen that Daniel was a man of prayer. You remember back in chapter 2 when King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill all his advisors if they couldn’t tell the king what he had dreamed the night before? I can’t even remember what I dreamed the night before, much less telling you what you dreamed last night! But Nebuchadnezzer said that he was going to kill them if they didn’t tell him the dream and what it meant. 

So Daniel went home, told his friends about the crisis, and then chapter 2 says he “urged them to ask the God of the heavens for mercy concerning this mystery.” He said, “Let’s pray.” God heard their prayers. God answered their prayers, and he revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel.

Then we saw in chapter 6, when Darius the king signed an executive order that made it illegal for anyone in the kingdom to pray for thirty days, on threat of death. So what did Daniel do? It says he “went into his house . . . three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” And he did it with the window open so that he wasn’t hiding this; this was no secret. Then it tells us his opponents “found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God.”

This impulse, this rhythm of prayer was hardwired into Daniel’s soul. Day in, day out, regardless of what else was going on around him, regardless of the busyness of the day, regardless of the threats, regardless of the problems and the challenges, he was a man of prayer.

Now as we come to chapter 9, once again we find Daniel praying. I’m going to just give you a breakdown of the chapter so you can get a sense of where we’re heading. 

In the first nineteen verses, we’re going to see Daniel’s prayer. This is an earnest, extended prayer on behalf of God’s people. It’s a model of intercessory prayer. It includes: praise, confession, intercession, and supplication. That’s the first nineteen verses.

Then in verse 20 through the end of the chapter, verse 27, we’re going to see heaven’s answer to Daniel’s prayer. So while Daniel was still praying, the angel Gabriel was sent from God with an answer and to help Daniel understand the vision that he had been given. So we’ll see Daniel’s prayer, and then we’ll see heaven’s answer.

Verse 1 of chapter 9 gives us the historical context for this prayer. There was massive political change taking place. King Belshazzar and the Babylonian empire—we’ve read about them—were out, and now a new king, a new empire was in. 

In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was made king over the Chaldean kingdom . . . (v. 1)

Let’s pause right there. If we’d had headlines in that day, the Babylon Post or whatever, they might have said, “New King Crowned! Darius Rules!”

Daniel had been in exile in Babylon since he was a young teen, and he was now eighty-one years of age, so he had seen a lot of kings come and go, but he wasn’t focused on the new administration. He wasn’t stressed over how the king’s policies would affect him and his people. Why? Because Daniel knew that Heaven rules.

While everyone else’s attention was turned toward Darius, Daniel’s eyes were fixed on the most high God and His kingdom. That’s what mattered to him. Daniel was eager to know, with all this going on—what’s in the news, what people can see—what was God doing in his day? What was God doing in his part of the world? What was God saying?

How could Daniel know that? And how can we know what God is saying and doing in our day as administrations come and go? Well, look at verse 2. 

In the first year of [Darius’s] reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books according to the word of the LORD to the prophet Jeremiah that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be seventy. (v. 2)

Think about that. Daniel didn’t get his understanding of what was going on from God’s perspective by going to social media or cable news, as so many of us do. “What’s happening in our world?” What do we do? We look at our news; we look at our social media feeds. Daniel got his moorings, he got his perspective, he got his hope, he got his direction by looking up, by reading the Scripture.

As he studied those scrolls, the book of Jeremiah’s prophecy—and particularly he was reading in what we would call today Jeremiah 25 and 29; you can go to those chapters and you can see what Daniel was reading—Daniel learned that the Babylonian captivity and the desolation of Jerusalem back in his homeland would last for seventy years. There were still a few more years to go in that timeline. Then, after those seventy years, God would judge the Babylonians, and God would restore His people to their homeland. 

Jeremiah had written this prophecy that God had given him. Now Daniel reads that prophecy and he’s amazed, he’s startled, he’s moved, he’s stirred in his soul, because he gets a glimpse of what God is up to and what God is doing.

What did Daniel do next? What did he do with what he had seen in the Word? He prayed. Look at verse 3. 

I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. (v. 3)

So Daniel’s study of the Word led him to his knees, led him to pray. Daniel’s prayers were fueled by the Scripture, by the Word of God. The two went hand in hand, as they should for us. Let our study of God’s Word move us to prayer, and let our prayers be grounded in God’s Word.

Daniel says, “I turned my attention to the Lord . . . to seek Him by prayer.” He turned his attention away from all the stuff that was going on in this new administration, all that was going on with a new king and a new empire and changes in rules and laws and policies. “I turned my attention away from all of that to the Lord, to seek Him by prayer.”

If we’re going to pray effectively, we’re going to have to turn our attention away from some things so that we can really seek God. We need to turn our attention away from whatever concerns may be pressing in on us, setting aside unnecessary distractions. 

That’s the hardest thing for me about prayer, all the distractions. Daniel had an intentionality about his praying. He turned his attention away from his iPhone, if you will, away from those things that were part of his day and his distractions and his busy duties as a high-ranking official in the government, and he turned his attention to the Lord, turning to the Lord.

If our eyes are on all the stuff going on around us and that’s our focus, we’re not going to be people of prayer. In order to be people of prayer whose prayers make a difference, we’re going to have to get our eyes in the Word and then lift our eyes up and turn our attention toward Him and seek Him by prayer.

Notice also that Daniel didn’t passively sit back once he saw this prophecy and this promise—in seventy years the Babylonian captivity will be over. That didn’t make him just sit back and passively wait for God to fulfill His promises. “Okay, that’s what God has said He’s going to do; that’s what He’s going to do. Great! I’ll just wait for that to happen.” “Jesus is coming back? Great! I’ll just sit here and wait for that to happen.” No! Daniel humbled himself after he read that prophecy, after he learned what God was about to do, and he prayed. He prayed.

Heaven rules, yes, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for us to do under heaven’s rule. God moves in response to the prayers, the humility, and the repentance of His people, to accomplish His purposes in our world. Our prayers matter.

That’s one thing I see in Daniel’s life, and it’s one thing I’ve seen in praying people. They’re not usually the people who are the most famous or whose names you see on billboards or speaking at big conferences. The people who pray are the ones that God is using to accomplish His purposes in our world. He has ordained those means. So heaven rules, but our prayers still matter.

You find Daniel’s prayer in verses 4–19. I would love to take time to read the whole thing; I’m not going to do that, but I want you to read it. I want you to read it after you listen to this session, and read it prayerfully, read it thoughtfully. We learn to pray by hearing other people pray, and I’ve been learning a lot about praying as I’ve been soaking in Daniel’s prayer over these last days. It was not a casual prayer, it wasn’t a hurried prayer. In fact, it’s one of the longest, most earnest prayers that you’ll find anywhere in Scripture. Daniel pours out his heart to God.

I’m just going to give a brief overview of the prayer, but again, I want to encourage you to go back and soak in every word of this prayer. I’ve listened to it over and over again, I’ve read it over and over again.

He starts in verse 4 by saying, 

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:
Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands—

How does Daniel begin his prayer? With praise, with worship, with a Godward focus. He exalts God’s covenant-keeping character. 

Then what happens when we see the greatness and the grace and the goodness of God? We see ourselves more clearly in His light. Daniel’s worship led him to an awareness of sin and heartfelt confession of sin, as it will for us. When we worship, we begin to see how sinful and needy we are of God’s mercy and grace.

In verse 5 he says, 

We have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, ancestors, and all the people of the land. 

And so on through verse 15 he confesses sin.

Now, you’ll notice in this lengthy prayer of confession that there is not a single mention of the sins of the Babylonians or of the Medes and Persians. They had plenty of sins, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not what Daniel confessed. What did he say in verse 5 and again repeatedly through this prayer? “We have sinned.” In verse 20 he says, “I was praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel.” Daniel identified himself with the sins of God’s people. He didn’t excuse. He didn’t blame. He didn’t defend. He didn’t rationalize. He just humbly confessed, “We have sinned.”

Then he goes on in that prayer to basically say to God, “Because we have sinned, You have brought disasters on us. This captivity is something You did. The Babylonians weren’t the ones responsible for this, ultimately. You did this because you told us that if we turned away from You, You would bring disaster on us.” 

He quotes the Word of God to God. He sees the hand of God in this Babylonian exile. He says, “We deserve everything that has happened to us. You are righteous in all that You have done. You have disciplined us, and yet we’ve still refused to turn away from our sin and to return to Your truth.” This is what he confesses in that prayer.

Then he says, “In spite of all this, You are compassionate and You are forgiving.” Knowing that about God, we come to verse 16, and he’s making his petition, his supplication. Praise, then confession, and then petition and supplication. Verse 16: 

Lord . . . may Your anger and wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem . . . Make Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. . . . Open Your eyes and see our desolations . . . For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts, but based on your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name. (vv. 16–19)

Daniel pleads with God to act according to His character. He humbly and boldly appeals for mercy, knowing they don’t deserve it. He says, “Lord, this isn’t for our sake, this is for Your sake. This is not about us; this is about You and Your great name.”

Where are the men and women today who pray this way? There aren’t many, are there? I’ve found myself asking as I was living in this passage in recent weeks, “Why don’t I pray this way,” knowing what I do about the desperate condition of God’s people and the amazing, gracious promises of God? This is the kind of prayer that flows out of that understanding of God’s ways.

Well, in verses 20–27, we have heaven’s answer. Starting in verse 21: 

While I was praying [the answer came while he was praying] Gabriel, the man [the angel] I had seen in the first vision, reached me in my extreme weariness [he was exhausted from pouring his heart out] about the time of the evening offering. He gave me this explanation: "Daniel, I’ve come now to give you understanding." (vv. 21–22)

In the previous chapter, chapter 8, eleven years earlier, Gabriel, God’s messenger, had come to explain to Daniel the vision of the ram, the goat, and the little horn. Now Gabriel appears again to explain more of God’s purposes and God’s plan to Daniel. Verse 23: 

“At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God.”

In Deuteronomy 14 God told His people, “The Lord has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession” (v. 2). The people of God are treasured by God. He loves them, and He hears and answers their prayers. So Gabriel said, 

“Consider the message and understand the vision:
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people [the Jews] and about your holy city [Jerusalem, hundreds of miles away, in ruins].” (v. 24)

Now, seventy weeks. We could spend a week or more on just trying to figure out these last seven or eight verses of chapter 9. Commentators almost universally agree that this is seventy sevens, seventy weeks of years, equally 490 years; but they differ about when that period starts and when that period ends. It may be the period between the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon to their homeland in Jerusalem up to the death of Christ. From the return from exile to the death of Christ is about 490 years, plus or minus depending on when it starts and when it ends. But the ultimate outcome of this period of time is clear in this passage. He goes on to say, 

“Seventy weeks are decreed . . . to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity . . .” (v. 24) 

Now, stop and think about what Daniel had just been praying. He’d been confessing sin, and he’d been saying, “God hear me and forgive our sin!” What does God say before Daniel is done praying? “I have heard your prayers, and over this period of time I’m going to bring your rebellion to an end. I’m going to atone for iniquity. I’m going to put a stop to sin. All in answer to Daniel’s prayer.

Then he says, “. . . to bring in everlasting righteousness . . .” He’s not just going to put away sin, but He’s going to make a whole new world order where there is no sin. How great is that!  “'. . . to seal up vision and prophecy . . .'” Prophecy and visions won’t be necessary any longer because it will have all been fulfilled and faith will be sight; we will see the Lord. “'. . . and to anoint the most holy place'” (v. 24).

Now, the rest of this chapter isn’t very long, but it’s an extremely detailed and complex prophecy about this seventy-week period. Bible scholars have spilt a lot of ink trying to figure out who and what these prophecies are referring to and when they’re to take place. Most agree that, as with many prophecies in the Old Testament, these prophecies have both a near view and a far view. 

The near view isn’t tomorrow. The near view covers events related to the people of Israel over the course of hundreds of years, including the coming of Christ to earth. That’s the near view—hundreds of years. Those prophecies that have that near view were fulfilled in stunning detail and precise timing. When God said these things would happen—if you go and pick these prophecies apart, you can see that to the day God fulfilled these prophecies.

But there’s also a far view in these prophecies that points to the end of time, when God’s eternal plan for the ages will be finished, consummated. 

Now, there’s a lot that’s not clear in this passage and in the last chapters of the book of Daniel. I’ve wondered at times, “Couldn’t You send Gabriel to help me understand this?” as I’ve been trying to study. Then I’m reminded, I think that’s why we have the Holy Spirit, to show us what we need to know and understand! But there are things that are really hard to understand in these last several chapters of Daniel, but I want to just highlight several things that are clear in the end of this chapter: God has a plan for His people, then and now; and His plan is to put an end to our sin, to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness (v. 24). What could be more important than that?

Then in verse 25, to bring all this about, God promised to send an Anointed One to earth; “Messiah, the Prince,” some of your translations say. In verse 26, this Messiah would be “cut off.” This is a reference to the crucifixion of Christ. That’s what would bring about the forgiveness of sin and the atoning for our iniquity.

We see also in verse 26 that an “evil ruler” would once again destroy the holy city, Jerusalem, and the temple. Now in the near view, that was fulfilled in 70 A.D., when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. In the far view, that prophecy will be fulfilled in the Antichrist toward the end of this age.

We also see in these verses that until the end of time, there will be difficulty and desolations in the earth, including natural disasters, war, persecution of God’s people. Don’t be surprised when these things happen, because all of these have been decreed by God.

We see in this passage that God controls the exact timing of when all these things happen, and God controls the precise extent to which these forces are able to do their evil things. He controls everything, but that includes the forces that come against His people. We see in this passage that no matter what happens to God’s people, He never forsakes His own, those who belong to Him.

We see in verse 27 that ultimately God will restore and purify His people, and He will pour out destruction on those who brought about these desolations on the earth. When it looks like evil people, kings, rulers, evil people with evil designs are winning—like the filth is just sewage all through the world—remember, the time will come when all that will end and God will destroy all those who have perpetrated evil and desolations on this earth. Through all of the worst that earthly rulers and their efforts can bring to bear against the people of God, heaven still rules.

Then we’re reminded in verse 26, two times, “All these troubles will come to an end.” You’ll see that word “the end” repeatedly in these last chapters of Daniel. There will be an end to sin and violence and assaults and attacks and wickedness and evil. These things will come to an end.

Daniel prayed for God to forgive and intervene on behalf of His people, and the answer brought by Gabriel was that God had heard Daniel’s prayer, and that God would do as Daniel had asked . . . on His own timetable. In the meantime, God’s people should not grow discouraged. 

We need to endure through the difficulties, clinging in faith to Him who has promised that one day all things on this earth will be redeemed and made new. At the center of this complex, detailed, eternal plan that is fully known only in the mind of God is God’s Anointed One, His Messiah. Jesus is who this passage points to. He is our hope. He is the answer to all the deepest longings, all the greatest crises, and all the earnest prayers of His people.

So let’s pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and trust that God is hearing. God is answering even when we cannot see the answer, even when it is yet hundreds or thousands of years out, perhaps; but knowing that in Christ those prayers will all be answered, and all things will be made new

Dannah: When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation and can’t seem to see any light at the end of the tunnel, don’t give up. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been reassuring you that God hears your prayers; He is with you. You can persevere through whatever you’re facing, by His strength, when you keep your eyes fixed on Him. Sometimes we need tangible reminders to prompt our thinking back to Christ.

As we get ready for the Advent season coming up, Revive Our Hearts wants to provide you with a resource to help you cling to Christ. Our new, 31-day Advent card set is made up of displayable, beautifully designed cards. Each day includes a Scripture for you to meditate on along with an inspirational quote from Nancy in her Advent devotional, The First Songs of Christmas. These cards are designed to help you push back on the busyness, fretfulness, and fast-pace of the season, and steady your heart with the peace of Christ. You’ll receive a set of the Advent cards when you give a gift of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

It’s one way we want to thank you for your support. Plus, when you make your donation, you’ll receive a special discount code to purchase the devotional, The First Songs of Christmas. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com today, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Make sure you request your Advent card set.

Can I remind you that whatever situation you’re in today, any troubles you face, won’t last forever? As we’ve been learning in this series over Daniel, we have hope because we know who wins in the end. Our suffering is only temporary. Erin Davis has more to say on this topic, and I’m excited to tell you that the newest season of The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast just released today! The title of this season is “In a Little While.” I think you’ll find it especially encouraging if you’re needing endurance through difficulties. You can find it on the Revive Our Hearts app or at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, on the next episode Nancy’s taking us to Daniel chapter 10. This is another tough passage. So can I encourage you? Sometime between right now and tomorrow’s episode of Revive Our Hearts, why don’t you read ahead? In fact, chapters 10 through 12 form a unit . . . and they’re chapters we tend to skip over. But they give us a glimpse into God’s eternal plan for our world and His people. So there’s your homework for tonight. Prayerfully read through Daniel chapters 10–12, and look for more “Heaven rules” sightings. Okay?

Thanks for listening today. Join us tomorrow when we’ll once again ask the Lord to revive our hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.