Daniel 9:21
while I was still praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
The Nation's Advocate At God's BarH.T. Robjohns Daniel 9:1-21
Answer to Daniel's PrayerR. Gordon, D.D.Daniel 9:20-23
Daniel's DevotionsJohn Clayton, A.M.Daniel 9:20-23
The Power of PrayerJ. H. Morgan.Daniel 9:20-23
Prayer Opens Wider Horizons of God's KingdomJ.D. Davies Daniel 9:20-27
Ministry of Angels in Individual LifeG. A. Johnston Ross.Daniel 9:21-27
The Great Spirit-WorldH. S. Holland.Daniel 9:21-27
Words of the AngelHomilistDaniel 9:21-27

We have here a signal instance of the fact that God not only answers human prayer, but gives "more than we ask" or conceive. The thing which Daniel asked was small compared with what God bestowed. Compared with contemporary men, Daniel stood above them head and shoulders. Compared with God, he was but a pigmy.

I. PRAYER IS THE BEST PREPARATION FOR RECEIVING LARGER REVELATION. The exercise of real prayer develops humility, dependence, self-forgetfulness; and these states of mind are favourable to ingress of light. "The meek will God show his way;" "To that man will he look, who is of humble and contrite heart." Prayer brings the soul near to God; it lifts us up to heavenly elevations; it clears the eye from mist and darkness. The Apostle John was engaged in lonely worship, when the final revelation of Scripture was made to him. Our Lord was in the act of prayer when heaven came down to earth, and his whole Person was enwrapt in glory. The response to Daniel's prayer was immediate. He had not ceased to pray when the answer came. Swifter than the electric current came the oracle's response.

II. LARGER REVELATION COMES BY A PURE AND PERSONAL SPIRIT, We may fairly conclude that angels have larger knowledge of God's will than have we, because they are free from the darkness and the doubt which sin generates. If they are not counsellors in the heavenly court, they are heralds, ambassadors, couriers. What God wills should happen they know is wise and right and good. In their estimation it is an incomparable honour to be engaged on Divine errands. Swift as their natures will allow, they fly to convey instruction or help to men. It is consonant, no less with reason than with Scripture, that there are ranks and orders of intelligent beings with natures more ethereal than ours, and that communication between us and them is possible. Every form of service is attributed to the angels. An angel ministered to our Saviour's bodily hunger. An angel strengthened him in the garden. An angel rolled the stone from his sepulchre. An angel released Peter from prison. Gabriel interpreted the vision to Daniel. Gabriel announced to Zacharias and to Mary the approaching advent of a Saviour.

III. LARGER REVELATION IS AN EVIDENCE OF GOD'S SPECIAL LOVE. The despatch of a special messenger from the court of heaven was in itself a signal token of God's favour. Not often in the history of our race had such a favour been shown. Further, Gabriel was well pleased to assure the man of prayer that, in heaven, he was "greatly beloved." Every act of devotion to God's cause had been graven on the memory of God. His character was an object of God's complacency. On account of God's great love for Daniel he gave him larger understanding, and disclosed to him the purposes and plans for man's redemption. God's intention was that Daniel should enlarge the area of his vision, and look with solicitude, not on Israel after the flesh, but on the true Israel of God. Yet all revelation is a mark of God's love to men. Because men are "greatly beloved" of God, therefore he has given them this complete canon of Scripture, therefore he gives them understanding to discern the meaning, therefore he leads them further into the truth.

IV. LARGER REVELATION IS FOUNDED UPON A TYPICAL PAST. The thoughtful love of God adapted this new revelation to the capacity and mood of Daniel's spirit. Daniel had been dwelling on the seventy years which Jeremiah had declared to be the full period of Israel's captivity. His hope was resting on the fact that the seventy years were accomplished, and that God was faithful to his word. Gabriel was charged to assure the prophet that restoration was nigh at hand, but that other epochs of "seventies" were opening. The desolation of Jerusalem in the past was a type of a sadder desolation yet to come. The visible reconciliation between God and Israel (implied in the restoration of the Jews) was a type of a more complete reconciliation when sin should be purged away. By identifying himself with the nation, and confessing its sins as his own, Daniel himself had become a type of that Deliverer who should "bear our sins" and "make intercession for the transgressors." Time is reckoned in weeks, to remind Israel of the perpetual obligation of the sabbath. After each cycle of desolation rest shall follow, until the world shall enter into the enjoyment of Jehovah's rest. The mind of Daniel is thus carried onward from the consummation he so much desired to a grander consummation still - the appearance of Israel's Messiah; and this vital truth is impressed upon his soul, that no triumph is real or enduring which is not the triumph of righteousness over sin.

V. LARGER REVELATION CENTRES IN THE PERSON AND WORK OF MESSIAH. If now and then God should lift us up to some spiritual height, and give us a wider vision of human destiny, we should be amused and saddened at the littleness of our petitions. Often do we pray and plead for some good, which seems to us a very consummation of blessing; but when we have gained it, we find that there are far larger possessions awaiting us. The desires of Daniel's soul were concentrated on Israel's return to Palestine; yet, at the best, this was only a temporal advantage. Change of place and resumption of worldly power would not in themselves secure nobleness of character or purification of soul. The best blessings of God can be enjoyed anywhere, and amid any outward conditions. But God is too wise and too beneficent to confine his gifts within the limits of human request. "His thoughts are not as our thoughts;" and from inferior restoration to outward privilege, as a starting-point, he leads our expectations onward to a nobler restoration of character and of life. The centre of the world's hope (whether the world so regards it or not) is Jesus the Messiah. Before Gabriel had satisfied Daniel with respect to Israel's earthly fortune, he poured into Daniel's ear what was uppermost in his own mind - the advent of the Son of God. The grandeur, the value, the triumphant issues of Messiah's work, - these were the tidings which he delighted to convey. The revelation which, in any age, man most needs is revelation respecting the removal of sin - knowledge how the great redemption can be accomplished. No tidings from heaven can ever be so joyous as these, viz. that sin shall meet with final destruction, and that reconciliation between God and man is made secure. Such a revelation embraces an enormous sweep of blessing, and comprises every possible interest of humanity. The possession of the earthly Canaan is a very short-lived benefit; the inheritance of heaven is an eternal good.

VI. THE LARGER REVELATION EMBRACES THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; For the present the outlook of Israel is flecked with light and shade. Like an April day, our present experience is an alternation of blustering storm and bright sunshine. The defences of Jerusalem, Daniel was assured, would be rebuilt, but would be rebuilt amid harassing trouble. Messiah the Prince should in due time appear; but Messiah should be cut off. The city and the sanctuary should rise from the reproach of present ruin, but they would again be destroyed - desolation, like a flood, would sweep over them. Sacrifice should be restored in the temple, but sacrifice and oblation should again cease. These were but temporary arrangements to prepare the world for a real atonement. But the final upshot shall be the destruction of abomination. Upon the desolater there shall be desolation. "All that defileth" shall be exterminated. Death shall die. "Captivity shall be led captive;" "God shall be all in all." - D

Even the man Gabriel.
Daniel's history is in every way profoundly interesting, and stands in connection with spiritual phenomena most startling and sublime. These verses are the words of an angel, whose name was Gabriel (the strength of God). Gabriel furnishes this intelligence in obedience to the command of another intelligence of the celestial order, one perhaps of a still higher rank in the angelic hierarchy. Daniel had seen this angel before (Daniel 8:15-27). The object of the present visit was to answer Daniel's prayer, and that answer we have in the words before us. The following thoughts are suggested by this angelic language in relation to human prayer.

I. THAT THAT GREAT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE IS ATTENTIVE TO THE GENUINE PRAYER OF GOOD MEN. We say genuine prayer, for such is the prayer before as. How intensely earnest it is! How profoundly humble! How thoroughly vicarious! God is never inattentive to such prayer; it always touches His great heart, He never fails to answer it.

II. GOD SOMETIMES ANSWERS TRUE PRAYER BY THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS. When Christ said to Peter, "Thinkest thou not that I could pray to my Father, and he would send me twelve legions of angels," the doctrine is implied that angels are employed to render Divine relief to the earnest suppliant. Note:

1. This angel dealt with promptitude to the suppliant.

2. This angel dealt with the mind of the suppliant. He assured him of the Divine regard; and he threw light on the subject that pressed on his heart. Three epochs are discovered by interpreters in this passage.(1) The return of the Jews to their own country.(2) The advent of Messiah. At the close of this period we are told two things would take place. The departure of the world's Deliverer; and the advent of the Jew's destroyer.(3) The establishment of Messiah's system upon earth, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Evidently, then, God answers prayer by acting on the mind of the suppliant. This is the true and effective answer to prayer.


"Some time ago I visited a furniture dealer's shop in West London. The man was a Jew, and, noticing my clerical dress, he began to talk on religious matters. We had an interesting conversation, and, as I mounted my bicycle and said 'Good-bye,' the man called out in Hebrew, 'Peace be unto thee,' using the pronoun in plural number. 'Why did you not use the singular?' I asked. Who was the other one to whom you were wishing peace?' 'Do you not know,' replied the Jew, 'I said, Peace be to you, and to the angel over your shoulder.' All poetry has not gone out of old London — no, not yet!"

(G. A. Johnston Ross.)

We are taken into a world of visions, and trances, and mystical imagery. The East has touched, us with its brooding dreams, with its vast symbolism. We move amid exaltations and hear strange voices. There is a world within a world; there is a life beyond life, and with this we hold communion. It is sketched in shadowy outlines, and peopled by figures that can be known and named. It is not simply gathered up into the all-sufficient name of the Eternal God, but there are mediating presences. There is organisation and rule, there are levels and degrees. This mysterious realm half discloses itself in glimpses that come and go. There is effort and patient purpose slowly worked out to ordained conclusions. There are activities, and principalities, and dominions. It is a host. It is a kingdom. It moves according to law. It has issues far away out of our reach: "The Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me one-and-twenty days, but lo! Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there with the Kings of Persia." What are we talking about? Who can say? Who can tell what is symbolic and what is real? But in the Book of Daniel these rare presences pass under the control of the sole directive will of the Most High. They are not multiplied indefinitely. They do not fasten the imagination and interest and curiosity upon themselves. They are absorbed in moral acts. They are bent and treated as solemn instruments of spiritual destiny. And it is noticeable how close these presences are kept to man. They are no formless genii, but like unto a son of man. That is the shape that the vision receives. All excess, all exuberance is pruned. There is no fantastic fancy at work letting itself loose in airy and arbitrary imagination. They are not even winged. "One like unto a man touched me," so runs the text. All through the book we have the insistence on human nature as the typical organ of the Divine manifestation. Man supplies the form through which God can he revealed. So, on this eve of St. Michael and All Angels, we may well reassure ourselves by noting how in our own later days this environing and mysterious life of mediating spirit, into which, the Books of Daniel and Ezekiel introduce us, has once again been brought near to us. We are being made aware again how little conscious and reflective knowledge has covered of the possibilities within which we move. We know how we have tried so hard and so long to isolate the field of known experience, to cut it absolutely off from disturbing elements that have been unexamined. We had set ourselves to secure complete and certain control over that which we have made our own, and to purge thoroughly out of it anything that traversed or perplexed our certified scheme of things. We were to be positive about whatever we did know, however much might be outside which we did not know. That was our old agnostic programme. What we did not know was to be left out of account in dealing with what we did know. And that is the programme which has been broken down. The facts have been too much for it. No such isolation is conceivable. In and out of the life that we can cover with our rationalised experience, there are influences, forces, powers, which are for ever playing and passing, which belong to a world beyond our scientific methods. We float in a mysterious ether to which no physical limitations apply. Sounds, motions transmit themselves through this medium, under conditions which transform our whole idea of what space or time may mean. Again and again through and beyond this semi-physical mystery, a world of spiritual activity opens upon us. It has capacities of which we have never dreamed; it allows of apparent contact of spirit with spirit, in spite of material distance and physical obstruction. Communications pass between those who are separated, without visible or tangible mediation. There are modes of communion which are utterly unintelligible to our ordinary scientific assumptions, yet which actual experience tends more and more to verify. If we would see the vision of the prophet we must be able to pray the prophet's prayer. And what a prayer it is! It is one of the greatest of those prayers which gave the final form to the Jewish ideal of Supplication, and which has passed for ever in type into the Christian liturgy. As in some of the Psalms, as in the great prayer attributed to Solomon at the opening of the temple, so here it would seem as if it was impossible for man's outpourings to take a finer or purer form. The whole secret of the Jew speaks in that prayer; his constant sense that God's good purpose for him never fails, even when the darkest evil falls upon him, for still it is that judgment, a judgment that leads on to forgiveness and to restoration. Nothing will break his belief in the faithful fatherhood which smites only in order that men may seek Him afresh. "Therefore," he cries, "hath the Lord watched over the evil and brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works." Yet may it be not our prayer unto Him that we might turn from our iniquities and understand the truth? So he confesses. And still, he says, the old covenant stands, the pledge given to the fathers. Back to that, as to an unfailing assurance. He turns to appeal. "And now, O Lord our God Thou hast brought Thy people forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and has gotten them renown, as at this day. We have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness I beseech Thee let Thy anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, from Thy holy mountain. O my God, incline Thine ear and hear. Open Thine eyes and behold our desolation, and the city which is called by Thy name, for we do not present out supplications before Thee for our own righteousness, but out of Thy great mercy. O Lord hear; O Lord forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God, for Thy city and Thy people that are called by Thy name." There is the prayer, a prayer in which there is highest and purest intensity, and to such a prayer as, that in its passionate pleading the vision comes, the Presence is felt, the mystery discloses itself. The man Gabriel flies swiftly and touches him at the hour of the evening oblation. I repeat, in order to know what those visions meant, we must be first found so praying. And you will note that it is not for himself, but for his people, the prophet raised that prayer. He had understood, he tells us what was meant by the old prophecy of Jeremiah over the desolations of Jerusalem. It is the public sin for which he sets himself, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes, to pray unto his God. It is the national restoration of the Holy Mount for which he lifts his supplications. In view of that terrible desolation he can but turn to prayer. Can we look out over our Jerusalem as he looked out over it of old, and not turn with something of his poignant grief, with something of his burning shame, to do as he did when he set his face unto the Lord God and made his confession, saying, "O my God, incline Thy ear and hear; open Thine eyes and behold our desolation; O Lord hear, O Lord forgive, O Lord hearken and do; defer not for Thine own sake, O my God, for Thy city and for Thy people who are called by Thy name." Pray as he prayed, Pray as he did, in the spirit of contrition and patience, for the indignities which are brought upon the Church of God. Pray in the heart of a great hope, as he did in the prophetic fashion of a victory which shall yet be won. Pray long, and hard, and humbly; it is our power of intercession and supplication that is now so weak.

(H. S. Holland.)

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