At the beginning of thy supplications - We are not informed at what time Daniel began to pray, but as remarked above, it is most natural to suppose that he devoted the day to prayer, and had commenced these solemn acts of devotion in the morning.
The commandment came forth - Margin, “word.” That is, the word of God. This evidently means, in heaven; and the idea is, that as soon as he began to pray a command was issued from God to Gabriel that he should visit Daniel, and convey to him the important message respecting future events. It is fair to conclude that he had at once left heaven in obedience to the order, and on this high embassage, and that he had passed over the amazing distance between heaven and earth in the short time during which Daniel was engaged in prayer. If so, and if heaven - the peculiar seat of God, the dwelling-place of angels and of the just - is beyond the region of the fixed stars, some central place in this vast universe, then this may give us some idea of the amazing rapidity with which celestial beings may move. It is calculated that there are stars so remote from our earth, that their light would not travel down to us for many thousand years. If so, how much more rapid may be the movements of celestial beings than even light; perhaps more than that of the lightning‘s flash - than the electric fluid on telegraphic wires - though “that” moves at the rate of more than 200,000 miles in a second. Compare Dick‘s “Philosophy of a Future State,” p. 220. “During the few minutes employed in uttering this prayer,” says Dr. Dick, “this angelic messenger descended from the celestial regions to the country of Babylonia. This was a rapidity of motion surpassing the comprehension of the most vigorous imagination, and far exceeding even the amazing velocity of light.” With such a rapidity it may be our privilege yet to pass from world to world on errands of mercy and love, or to survey in distant parts of the universe the wonderful works of God.
And I am come to show thee - To make thee acquainted with what will yet be.
For thou” art “greatly beloved - Margin, as in Hebrew, “a man of desires.” That is, he was one whose happiness was greatly desired by God; or, a man of God‘s delight; that is, as in our version, greatly beloved. It was on this account that his prayer was heard, and that God sent to him this important message respecting what was to come.
Therefore understand the matter - The matter respecting what was yet to occur in regard to his people.
And consider the vision - This vision - the vision of future things which he was now about to present to his view. From this passage, describing the appearance of Gabriel to Daniel, we may learn,
(a) That our prayers, if sincere, are heard in heaven “as soon” as they are offered. They enter at once into the ears of God, and he regards them at the instant.
(b) A command, as it were, may be at once issued to answer them - “as if” he directed an angel to bear the answer at once.
(c) The angels are ready to hasten down to men, to communicate the will of God. Gabriel came evidently with pleasure on his embassage, and to a benevolent being anywhere there is nothing more grateful than to be commissioned to bear glad tidings to others. Possibly that may be a part of the employment of the righteous forever.
(d) The thought is an interesting one, if we are permitted to entertain it, that good angels may be constantly employed as Gabriel was; that whenever prayer is offered on earth they may be commissioned to bring answers of peace and mercy, or despatched to render aid, and that thus the universe may be constantly traversed by these holy beings ministering to those who are “heirs of salvation,” Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:4.
“I set my face unto the Lord God,” the prophet declared, “to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” Verses 3, 4. Though Daniel had long been in the service of God, and had been spoken of by heaven as “greatly beloved,” yet he now appeared before God as a sinner, urging the great need of the people he loved. His prayer was eloquent in its simplicity, and intensely earnest. Hear him pleading: PK 555.1
“O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. PK 555.2
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee.... PK 555.3Read in context »
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »
The burden of Christ's preaching was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The “time” which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. “Seventy weeks,” said the angel, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” Daniel 9:24. A day in prophecy stands for a year. See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6. The seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years. A starting point for this period is given: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,” sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years. Daniel 9:25. The commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, as completed by the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus (see Ezra 6:14; 7:1, 9, margin), went into effect in the autumn of B. C. 457. From this time four hundred and eighty-three years extend to the autumn of A. D. 27. According to the prophecy, this period was to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. In A. D. 27, Jesus at His baptism received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and soon afterward began His ministry. Then the message was proclaimed. “The time is fulfilled.” DA 233.1
Then, said the angel, “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].” For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles. “In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease. DA 233.2
The one week—seven years—ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by persecution “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4); and shortly after, Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. DA 233.3Read in context »
With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devoted to the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importance and all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he could find no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel, though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave him only a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall the church was unfolded to the prophet's vision, physical strength gave way. He could endure no more, and the angel left him for a time. Daniel “fainted, and was sick certain days.” “And I was astonished at the vision,” he says, “but none understood it.” GC 325.1
Yet God had bidden His messenger: “Make this man to understand the vision.” That commission must be fulfilled. In obedience to it, the angel, some time afterward, returned to Daniel, saying: “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding;” “therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” Daniel 8:27, 16; 9:22, 23, 25-27. There was one important point in the vision of chapter 8 which had been left unexplained, namely, that relating to time—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuming his explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time: GC 325.2
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.... Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.... And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” GC 326.1Read in context »
If the students who attend our colleges would be firm, and maintain integrity, if they would not associate with those who walk in the paths of sin, nor be charmed by their society, like Daniel they would enjoy the favor of God. If they would discard unprofitable amusements and indulgence of appetite, their minds would be clear for the pursuit of knowledge. They would thus gain a moral power that would enable them to remain unmoved when assailed by temptation. It is a continual struggle to be always on the alert to resist evil; but it pays to obtain one victory after another over self and the powers of darkness. And if the youth are proved and tested, as was Daniel, what honor can they reflect to God by their firm adherence to the right. FE 87.1
A spotless character is as precious as the gold of Ophir. Without pure, unsullied virtue, none can ever rise to any honorable eminence. But noble aspirations and the love of righteousness are not inherited. Character cannot be bought; it must be formed by stern efforts to resist temptation. The formation of a right character is the work of a lifetime, and is the outgrowth of prayerful meditation united with a grand purpose. The excellence of character that you possess must be the result of your own effort. Friends may encourage you, but they cannot do the work for you. Wishing, sighing, dreaming, will never make you great or good. You must climb. Gird up the loins of your mind, and go to work with all the strong powers of your will. It is the wise improvement of your opportunities, the cultivation of your God-given talents, that will make you men and women that can be approved of God, and a blessing to society. Let your standard be high, and with indomitable energy, make the most of your talents and opportunities, and press to the mark. FE 87.2
Will our youth consider that they have battles to fight? Satan and his hosts are arrayed against them, and they have not the experience that those of mature age have gained. FE 88.1Read in context »