Can we survive? It's an interesting question, and it's also today's sermon from Dr. Don Wilton here on The Encouraging Word. In just a few moments, we'll be opening the Bible together to study the Book of Daniel beginning in Chapter 9 with this message, Can We Survive?
from Dr. Don Wilton. But as we begin today, we want you to know that we're here for you. We're connecting on our website right now at www.tewonline.org. That's www.tewonline.org, as well as the other end of this phone number, 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673. It's a great place to connect, to have some questions answered, maybe help you find some resources that will help you grow in your faith, like the Daily Encouraging Word Bible Guide.
All that's online as well at www.tewonline.org. Now, today's message with Dr. Don Wilton. The Encouraging Word Well, Daniel Chapter 9.
Now, I would like to make an announcement to you. We're going to be going into what is widely considered to be the most difficult piece of prophetic literature in all of Scripture. We are about to go into probably and I think very widely accepted and acknowledged as one of the most difficult periods of scriptural interpretation. I'm also going to tell you the good news.
I don't consider it to be the most difficult. Not because I'm standing here saying to you that I think that I know all the answers, because you've already judged by now after all these years that I certainly do not know the answers. But I am going to say to you that in Daniel Chapter 9 and particularly beginning from verse 24, we're going to read about one of the most awesome periods of prophetic Scripture in all of Scripture. And if we do not understand who God is speaking to, why God is saying what He is saying, and exactly what it is that He is saying, I will guarantee you we'll find ourselves out in the left field somewhere. I'm going to say this to you and then we're going to read this passage. This passage is written by God through the heart of God to the people of God who were Israel. We've got to understand that. Now, friends, we're going to say this and I'm going to say this a number of times because if we don't understand that this prophecy is directed to the Jewish people, we're going to run into all kinds of problems and I'm going to show you how we know that this is directed to the Jewish people. It is written specifically to Israel and in general it is applied to the Gentiles like you and me. Now, that's very important to understand.
We don't understand that we're going to find ourselves running into brick walls and getting all tied up. And we're going to see a very clear outline of what God has to say concerning Israel. And into this picture, now just if you could just watch me for a little bit here, I want you to just imagine that this whole pulpit here is Israel. It's the Jewish people. By what were the Jewish people known right through Scripture? They were called God's chosen people, weren't they?
God's chosen people. Some people ask this question from time to time and they say, do the Jewish people have a special dispensation? Well, in a sense, yes.
But in a sense, also no. Because the standard of the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ, is applied to all people, be they Jew, Gentile, male, female, bond or free. The Bible says we are all one in Christ Jesus.
But now when God looks down, here I am, I am God and I'm looking down on my people, if you would beg my pardon. And I'm looking down on my people and I see at the center of this picture God's chosen people. These ones who were delivered from bondage in Israel, that were led by Moses through the wilderness for 40 years, that were scattered to the four quarters of the earth in the diaspora.
Those who have been brought back together again in 1948 with the formation of the state of Israel under Ben Gurion and all the things that have happened around the nation of Israel up to this present time. But all around the sides and everywhere around this core group are the people such as you and I, the Gentiles. And you'll remember now friends that when the gospel came to the Jews and the New Testament church began in the book of Acts, the one thing that the Jews had great difficulty in understanding was that the same gospel, which so it seemed was being given to the Jews, would also be applied to those of us who are Gentiles. And in fact, in the institution of the New Testament church, it went even further than that because they divided them up. They were the Samaritans, for example.
I mean, goodness me, are you telling me that Jesus Christ died for the Samaritans? As well as to the people in Ephesus, as well as to the Gentiles in Macedonia, as well as to all these others. Paul, who was once called Saul, had great problem in understanding this initially.
Peter was the one who came to grips with this. In fact, there's one part in the book of Acts where we find Peter sneaking, literally sneaking out of a Gentile's home, wiping hog grease off his chin. And the Jews who looked at this and said, goodness me, what is this Jew having to do with these Gentiles? And the book of Acts is the fusion in Christ between the Jew and the Gentile, between male and female. You see, there was a period of time right throughout Scripture, because you're a lady, you're a female, you were excluded from the gospel of grace. Women were kind of kept out of everything.
Paul said, hold on, Jesus Christ died for all. There is neither Jew nor Greek Gentile. There's neither male nor female. There's neither bond. That is those who are servants or those who are free.
There are neither bosses nor those who work for them. We are all one in Christ Jesus. Now, the prophecy in Daniel and in chapter nine is specifically directed toward the Jews. Now, because when we get to Daniel chapter nine and verse 24, it becomes so critical. Daniel spends almost an inordinate amount of time in preparation for this event. Daniel chapter nine presents to us the prophet of God getting ready for the most incredibly difficult and awesome outpouring of the prophetic word of God to the nation of Israel in specifics and to the Gentiles like you and me in general.
All right, let's read it. Daniel nine, in the first year of Darius son of Xerxes, a mead by descent, he was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom. In the first year of his reign, Daniel understood from the scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet. Remember, we went back there into Jeremiah chapter 25 and some of those other passages and we discovered that Daniel discovered that he had three years left before the fulfillment of the prophecy of God related to the nation of Israel in exile and in bondage under the Babylonian rule, which had now become the Medo-Persian rule. He realized that they were just three years left.
Panic kind of sets in. It sets in because Daniel realizes that the 67 years that have gone by since 605 BC that the children of Israel are persistently continually missing out on God's instructions to them. God told them 70 years from now you're going to be delivered so long as you understand that you have to live according to my ways and you have to honor me.
Daniel looks around and he sees the nation of Israel and he sees them doing anything but honoring God, anything but loving the Lord and anything but doing what God had commanded them to do and there's a sense in which he begins to panic and he begins to prepare himself and he says, I want to do whatever it takes to get God's attention and to prevent a catastrophe from falling on these people. Forgive the interruption. You're listening to Dr. Don Wilton, our teacher here on the Encouraging Word broadcast. We'll be back in just a minute with more of this message entitled, Can We Survive with Dr. Don? But Dr. Don wants me to remind you that we're available to not only talk and pray together, but maybe to answer some questions and dig a little deeper about what God's stirring your heart about as we study the Word together, considering the message and understanding the vision.
Again, we're here at 866-899-9673, not just now during the broadcast, but 24 hours a day, as well as online at www.tewonline.org. And again, we've had a record number of friends joining us in studying God's Word on a daily basis. Through an email we send out, actually Dr. Don sends it out every morning about 6 o'clock in the morning with a bit of God's Word, some insight from him, and a wonderful application to how we can place God's Word more centrally in our life every single day. Again, it's the Daily Encouraging Word Devotional. You can sign up online right now at www.tewonline.org to receive it via email or via mail. But you can also text the word daily to 30500. That's right, daily, D-A-I-L-Y to 30500.
Once you text us, we'll text you back a quick link. You can sign up and have that email from Dr. Wilton coming into your box first thing tomorrow morning. Now let's dive back into today's message.
Can we survive with Dr. Don Wilton? Look at verse three. So I turned to the Lord and pleaded with him in prayer and petition in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed. Now listen to his prayer. It's rather a long one, this intercessory prayer.
I'm going to try and read it without interrupting. O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled.
We have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame. The men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem and all of Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants, the prophets.
All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. Therefore, the curses and sworn judgments written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the word spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster.
Under the whole heaven, nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does, yet we have not obeyed him. Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned.
We have done wrong. O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away from your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor upon your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear.
Open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, hear and act. For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name. Now fasten your seatbelts and see what happens. While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill, while I was still in prayer, the angel Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
That is about three o'clock in the afternoon. He instructed me and said to me, Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision, which is as follows. Seventy-sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, number two, to atone for wickedness, number three, to bring in everlasting righteousness, number four, to seal up vision and prophecy, number five, and to anoint the most holy, number six. No one understand this from the issuing of the decree in Nehemiah chapter two, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem till the anointed one, the ruler comes.
There will be seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble, after the sixty-two sevens, the anointed one will be cut off, that's the crucifixion, and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end, Armageddon, and desolations have been decreed. He, the Antichrist, will confirm a covenant with many for one seven.
That's seven years. In the middle of the seven, three and a half years, he, the Antichrist, will put an end to sacrifice and offering. Daniel chapter eight, Revelation chapter 13, 17, and on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation. Until the end, that is decreed, is poured out on him. I want you to know I had to discipline myself to get through that passage without stopping too many times.
Let me just simply say this to you. It is very important for us to understand the things that Daniel is about to see. There is a sense in which Daniel, here in chapter nine, is sensing something. God is moving.
You just think about it for 67 years. Daniel has refused to defile himself with the food from the king's table. He's taken a stand. He's watched the antics of Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego. He has been witness to the fourth man in the fiery furnace. He has interpreted dreams and visions.
Meanie, meanie, tackle you fasten. And even though you still don't know what it means, there was something deep down in the heart of Daniel that gave him a spiritual understanding of the heart of a sovereign God, of the character of a sovereign God, of the wrath and the anger of the righteousness of God poured out upon the disobedience of God's people. And so Daniel begins to prepare himself. And he says to the Lord, Lord, before I turn to you in prayer, I'm going to prepare myself for prayer.
Something that I think we have lost sight of today. I want to ask a rhetorical question of all of us here today. I wonder how many of us prepared ourselves to come into God's house this morning. Now I could never understand that when I was growing up, brother Jim. My dad would say to me, son, don't come home so late on Saturday night.
It's God's the Lord's day tomorrow. Kind of went in one ear and out the other. It didn't matter. But you know, the older I've become and the more I've studied God's word, the more I've come to understand that there's something deeply significant about preparing to come into the presence of God. Well, I want you to notice what he did here, and I'm just going to outline it for you very briefly. First of all, Daniel turned away from himself. He turned away from himself. If you and I are going to turn to God, we've got to turn away from ourselves to begin with.
We need to become irrelevant in the picture. My own desires, my own interpretations, my own understandings, my own preferences, my own ways of doing become absolutely irrelevant. I need to turn my back on myself. Number two, Daniel turned to God. Verse three, chapter nine. So I turned to the Lord. We're going to come to grips with real intercessory prayer. We must begin by turning away from ourselves and we're going to see how this works out in just a moment. And we need to about face and turn completely toward God.
That means that our focus and our tension needs to be on the things of God. I don't want to pick on my dad, but dad always used to just really, when I was growing up, and I know it may sound ridiculous to some of us here, but I grew up hearing this drone coming from my father's study. And I'm telling you morning after morning, if not almost every morning, my dad would be in his study on his knees and you could hear him praying.
You could hear this kind of drone going through the house. That's what I grew up with. And if you would peep into dad's study, which we did often, dad was on his knees there at his desk or at his chair, just pouring his heart out to God. And on Sunday morning, I'm telling you, it was deadly. In fact, I kind of almost resented Sundays in a way because I was a preacher's kid and I kind of felt like our home resembled more of a morgue than it did a home. I mean, it was just so filled with prayer and preparation. Do you know what I'm saying?
For a teenager, it was almost kind of aggravating. I mean, I wanted to get out there and do something, but my father believed that if he was to come into the house of God and into the presence of God, and if he was to be able to present the word of God with power from on high, that he needed to turn away from himself and turn toward God. And he need to focus his attention on God. Today's day and age, we say, well, no, we'll go to a ball game and go to bed late and get up at the last possible moment and we'll rush off and get to church at the latest possible moment, right when the gong strikes and all these things. And believe me, we understand that.
It happens in my household too. And we're so busy and tied up and many of us come in and we sit down in God's house and we say, whew, we made it, you know. Okay, let's have church. One of the greatest blessings we have in this church is our television ministry. Wouldn't change it for anything. But it's not a total blessing because it causes the clock to control us.
We're like that by nature with or without television. I mean, we started this time and we end at that time and we, you know, we are a time-oriented people and Daniel here sensing in his heart that God was moving and God was going to do what God was going to do because he is sovereign and he is complete. He turns away from himself and he turns to God and he says, I don't want anything else to interrupt me.
I want to be totally focused. And the third thing he does is he begins to plead with God. Verse three, I turned to the Lord and pleaded with him.
Now that word plead there means beg. And folks, if you go into Daniel chapter nine, you begin to understand this entire intercessory prayer is punctuated with begging, pleading, pouring his heart out. Here are prayers and petitions in verse 17. Verse 16, O Lord. In verse 15, O Lord our God. Down there in verse 19, O Lord, won't you listen? O Lord, won't you forgive? O Lord, won't you hear and act? O God, we are absolutely without hope outside of you.
Our time's gone for today. We'll have more of this message tomorrow, but the simple phrase Daniel turned to God could be right where you are right now. Do you need to turn away from a path that is taking you away from God?
Do you need to turn away from a habit or a hang up, a situation or circumstance that you know is leading you away from God? I pray that you would be open to what the Lord wants to speak to you next in these special moments from our pastor and teacher, Dr. Don Wilton. Are you ready to give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Why don't you pray this prayer with me right now? Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner, and I know that Jesus died for me on the cross. Today, I repent of my sin, and by faith, I receive you into my heart in Jesus' name. My friend, I welcome you today into the family of God.
This is exciting news. If God has brought you home to himself, if you've given your heart to Jesus Christ, oh, you need to tell somebody, and why not tell us? We would love to put some free resources in your hands from Dr. Wilton as you begin this life of living for Jesus day after day.
Perhaps you're coming back to the Lord. This is the time to rededicate your life and recommit and refocus yourselves. We'd love to pray with you about that as well. We're connecting on our phone line at 866-899-WORD, not just now during the broadcast, but 24 hours a day.
Jot the number down, store it in your cell, 866-899-9673. Again, we'd love to be a part of your support system to encourage you and pray with you and for you as God is moving in a very special way. You can meet with us online as well.
T-E-W online.org is our website. As a matter of fact, that's the place you'll find a lot of information about this wonderful book, Jesus in Me, by Anne Graham Lotz. In the midst of life's changes and losses, we each need a friend, a confidant, someone who will come alongside us and share every step of our journey, someone who will listen to us, advocate for us, and comfort us, someone we can trust. This month, for your gift of support to the encouraging Word, we will send you the inspiring book, Jesus in Me, by Anne Graham Lotz. In Jesus in Me, Lotz draws on biblical knowledge and personal stories, including her recent cancer diagnosis to help us understand the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Call us at 866-899-9673 to request your copy of Jesus in Me today. The encouraging Word is a viewer and listener-supported ministry sharing God's truth around the world. Thank you for your support. Thank you for listening today. Again, we'd love to connect with you anytime, 24 hours a day online at T-E-W online.org or our phone number, 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673.
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