Daniel Prays for the People
9 1-2 Daniel wrote:
Some years later, Darius the Mede,[a] who was the son of Xerxes,[b] had become king of Babylonia. And during his first year as king, I found out from studying the writings of the prophets that the Lord had said to Jeremiah, “Jerusalem will lie in ruins for seventy years.”[c] 3-4 Then, to show my sorrow, I went without eating and dressed in sackcloth[d] and sat in ashes. I confessed my sins and earnestly prayed to the Lord my God:
Our Lord, you are a great and fearsome God, and you faithfully keep your agreement with those who love and obey you. 5 But we have sinned terribly by rebelling against you and rejecting your laws and teachings. 6 We have ignored the message your servants the prophets spoke to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors, and everyone else.
7 Everything you do is right, our Lord. But still we suffer public disgrace because we have been unfaithful and have sinned against you. This includes all of us, both far and near—the people of Judah, Jerusalem, and Israel, as well as those you dragged away to foreign lands, 8 and even our kings, our officials, and our ancestors. 9 Lord God, you are merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against you 10 and rejected your teachings that came to us from your servants the prophets.
11 Everyone in Israel has stubbornly refused to obey your laws, and so those curses written by your servant Moses have fallen upon us. 12 You warned us and our leaders that Jerusalem would suffer the worst disaster in human history, and you did exactly as you had threatened. 13 We have not escaped any of the terrible curses written by Moses, and yet we have refused to beg you for mercy and to remind ourselves of how faithful you have always been. 14 And when you finally punished us with this horrible disaster, that was also the right thing to do, because we deserved it so much.
15 Our Lord God, with your own mighty arm you rescued us from Egypt and made yourself famous to this very day, but we have sinned terribly. 16 In the past, you treated us with such kindness, that we now beg you to stop being so terribly angry with Jerusalem. After all, it is your chosen city built on your holy mountain, even though it has suffered public disgrace because of our sins and those of our ancestors.
17 I am your servant, Lord God, and I beg you to answer my prayers and bring honor to yourself by having pity on your temple that lies in ruins. 18 Please show mercy to your chosen city, not because we deserve it, but because of your great kindness. 19 Forgive us! Hurry and do something, not only for your city and your chosen people, but to bring honor to yourself.
The Seventy Weeks
20 I was still confessing my sins and those of all Israel to the Lord my God, and I was praying for the good of his holy mountain,[e] 21 when Gabriel suddenly came flying in at the time of the evening sacrifice. This was the same Gabriel I had seen in my vision, 22 and he explained:
Daniel, I am here to help you understand the vision. 23 God thinks highly of you, and at the very moment you started praying, I was sent to give you the answer. 24 God has decided that for seventy weeks,[f] your people and your holy city must suffer as the price of their sins. Then evil will disappear, and justice will rule forever; the visions and words of the prophets will come true, and a most holy place will be dedicated.[g]
25 You need to realize that from the command to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Chosen Leader,[h] it will be seven weeks and another sixty-two weeks.[i] Streets will be built in Jerusalem, and a trench will be dug around the city for protection, but these will be difficult times.[j] 26 At the end of the sixty-two weeks,[k] the Chosen Leader[l] will be killed and left with nothing.[m]
A foreign ruler and his army will sweep down like a mighty flood, leaving both the city and the temple in ruins, and war and destruction will continue until the end, just as God has decided. 27 For one week[n] this foreigner[o] will make a firm agreement with many people, and halfway through this week,[p] he will end all sacrifices and offerings. Then the “Horrible Thing” that causes destruction will be put there. And it will stay there until the time God has decided to destroy this one who destroys.
Daniel’s Vision beside the Tigris River
For three weeks I was in sorrow. 3 I ate no fancy food or meat, I drank no wine, and I put no olive oil on my face or hair.[s] 4 Then, on the twenty-fourth day of the first month,[t] I was standing on the banks of the great Tigris River, 5 when I looked up and saw someone dressed in linen and wearing a solid gold belt.[u] 6 His body was like a precious stone,[v] his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming fires, his arms and legs like polished bronze, and his voice like the roar of a crowd. 7 Although the people who were with me did not see the vision, they became so frightened that they scattered and hid. 8 Only I saw this great vision. I became weak and pale, 9 and at the sound of his voice, I fell facedown in a deep sleep.
10 He raised me to my hands and knees 11 and then said, “Daniel, your God thinks highly of you, and he has sent me. So stand up and pay close attention.” I stood trembling, while the angel said:
12 Daniel, don’t be afraid! God has listened to your prayers since the first day you humbly asked for understanding, and he has sent me here. 13 But the guardian angel[w] of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, who is one of the strongest guardian angels,[x] came to rescue me from the kings of Persia.[y] 14 Now I have come here to give you another vision about what will happen to your people in the future.
15 While this angel was speaking to me, I stared at the ground, speechless. 16 Then he appeared in human form and touched my lips. I said, “Sir, this vision has brought me great pain and has drained my strength. 17 I am merely your servant. How can I possibly speak with someone so powerful, when I am almost too weak to get my breath?”
18-19 The angel touched me a second time and said, “Don’t be frightened! God thinks highly of you, and he intends this for your good, so be brave and strong.”
At this, I regained my strength and replied, “Please speak! You have already made me feel much better.”
20 Then the angel said:
Now do you understand why I have come? Soon I must leave to fight against the guardian angel of Persia. Then after I have defeated him, the guardian angel of Greece will attack me. 21 I will tell you what is written in The Book of Truth. But first, you must realize that no one except Michael, the guardian angel of Israel, is on my side. 11 1 You also need to know that I protected and helped Darius the Mede[z] in his first year as king.
- 9.1,2 Darius the Mede: See 5.31.
- 9.1,2 Xerxes: Hebrew “Ahasuerus.”
- 9.1,2 seventy years: See Jeremiah 25.11-13; 29.10.
- 9.3,4 sackcloth: A rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
- 9.20 holy mountain: Jerusalem (see verse 16) or the temple.
- 9.24 seventy weeks: Or “seventy times seven years.”
- 9.24 a most holy place will be dedicated: Or “God’s Holy One will appear.”
- 9.25 the Chosen Leader: Or “a chosen leader.” In Hebrew the word “chosen” means “to pour oil (on someone’s head).” In Old Testament times it was the custom to pour oil on a person’s head when that person was chosen to be a priest or a king.
- 9.25 seven weeks and another sixty-two weeks: Or “seven times seven years and another sixty-two times seven years.”
- 9.25 it will be seven. . . difficult times: Or “it will be seven weeks. Then streets will be built in Jerusalem, and a trench will be dug around the city for protection. But Jerusalem will have difficult times for sixty-two weeks.”
- 9.26 sixty-two weeks: Or “sixty-two times seven years.”
- 9.26 the Chosen Leader: See the note at 9.25.
- 9.26 left with nothing: Or “no one will take his place.”
- 9.27 one week: Or “seven years.”
- 9.27 this foreigner: Or “the Chosen Leader.”
- 9.27 halfway through this week: Or “for half of this week of seven years.”
- 10.1 third year: 536 B.C.
- 10.1 Daniel: See the note at 2.26.
- 10.3 olive oil. . . hair: On special occasions, it was the custom to put olive oil on one’s face and hair.
- 10.4 first month: Nisan (also known as Abib), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
- 10.5 solid gold belt: Hebrew “belt of gold from Uphaz.”
- 10.6 a precious stone: The Hebrew text has “beryl,” which is green or bluish-green.
- 10.13 guardian angel: Hebrew “prince.”
- 10.13 one of the strongest guardian angels: Hebrew “chief prince.”
- 10.13 came. . . Persia: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 11.1 Darius the Mede: See 5.30.
1 John 2:18-3:16
The Enemy of Christ
18 Children, this is the last hour. You heard that the enemy of Christ would appear at this time, and many of Christ’s enemies have already appeared. So we know that the last hour is here. 19 These people came from our own group, yet they were not part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, which proves that they did not belong to our group.
20 Christ, the Holy One,[a] has blessed[b] you, and now all of you understand.[c] 21 I did not need to write you about the truth, since you already know it. You also know that liars do not belong to the truth. 22 And a liar is anyone who says that Jesus isn’t truly Christ. Anyone who says this is an enemy of Christ and rejects both the Father and the Son. 23 If we reject the Son, we reject the Father. But if we say that we accept the Son, we have the Father. 24 Keep thinking about the message you first heard, and you will always be one in your heart with the Son and with the Father. 25 The Son[d] has promised us[e] eternal life.
26 I am writing to warn you about those people who are misleading you. 27 But Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit.[f] Now the Spirit stays in you, and you don’t need any teachers. The Spirit is truthful and teaches you everything. So stay one in your heart with Christ, just as the Spirit has taught you to do.
Children of God
28 Children, stay one in your hearts with Christ. Then when he returns, we will have confidence and won’t have to hide in shame. 29 You know that Christ always does right and that everyone who does right is a child of God.
3 Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ[g] is, they don’t know who we are. 2 My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is. 3 This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ[h] is holy.
4 Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law. 5 You know that Christ came to take away sins. He isn’t sinful, 6 and people who stay one in their hearts with him won’t keep on sinning. If they do keep on sinning, they don’t know Christ, and they have never seen him.
7 Children, don’t be fooled. Anyone who does right is good, just like Christ himself. 8 Anyone who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. He has sinned from the beginning, but the Son of God came to destroy all that he has done. 9 God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power[i] lives in them and makes them his children, so that they cannot keep on sinning. 10 You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other.
Love Each Other
11 From the beginning you were told that we must love each other. 12 Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the devil and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? He did it because his brother was good, and he was evil. 13 My friends, don’t be surprised if the people of this world hate you. 14 Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if you don’t love each other, you are still under the power of death.
15 If you hate each other, you are murderers, and we know that murderers do not have eternal life. 16 We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other.
- 2.20 Christ, the Holy One: The Greek text has “the Holy One” which may refer either to Christ or to God the Father.
- 2.20 blessed: This translates a word which means “to pour olive oil on (someone’s head).” In Old Testament times it was the custom to pour olive oil on a person’s head when that person was chosen to be a priest or a king. Here the meaning is not clear. It may refer to the ceremony of pouring olive oil on the followers of the Lord right before they were baptized or it may refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit which they were given at baptism (see verse 27).
- 2.20 now all of you understand: Some manuscripts have “you understand all things.”
- 2.25 The Son: The Greek text has “he” and may refer to God the Father.
- 2.25 us: Some manuscripts have “you.”
- 2.27 Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit: The Greek text has “You received a pouring on of olive oil from him” (see verse 20). The “pouring on of olive oil” is here taken to refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and “he” may refer either to Christ or to the Father.
- 3.1 Christ: The Greek text has “he” and may refer to God.
- 3.3 Christ: The Greek text has “that one” and may refer to God.
- 3.9 His life-giving power: The Greek text has “his seed.”
(A song for worship.)
The Lord Will Protect His People
121 I look to the hills!
Where will I find help?
2 It will come from the Lord,
who created the heavens
and the earth.
3 The Lord is your protector,
and he won’t go to sleep
or let you stumble.
4 The protector of Israel
or ever get drowsy.
5 The Lord is your protector,
there at your right side
to shade you from the sun.
6 You won’t be harmed
by the sun during the day
or by the moon[a] at night.
7 The Lord will protect you
and keep you safe
from all dangers.
8 The Lord will protect you
now and always
wherever you go.
- 121.6 harmed. . . sun. . . moon: In ancient times people saw the harmful effects of the rays of the sun, and they thought that certain illnesses (especially mental disorders) were also caused by the rays of the moon.
27 Giving to the poor
will keep you from poverty,
but if you close your eyes
to their needs,
everyone will curse you.
28 When crooks are in control,
everyone tries to hide,
but when they lose power,
good people are everywhere.