It was the first year that Darius was king of Babylonia. He was from Media and was the son of Xerxes.
In that year I learned from the Scriptures that Jerusalem would remain destroyed for 70 years. That was what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah.
So I prayed to the Lord God. I begged him. I made many appeals to him. I didn't eat anything. I put on black clothes. And I sat down in ashes.
I prayed to the LORD my God. I admitted that we had sinned. I said, "Lord, you are a great and wonderful God. You keep the covenant you made with all those who love you and obey your commands. You show them your love.
"We have sinned and done what is wrong. We have been evil. We have refused to obey you. We have turned away from your commands and laws.
We haven't listened to your servants the prophets. They spoke in your name to our kings and princes. They also brought your message to all of our people in the land.
"Lord, you always do what is right. But we are covered with shame today. We are the people of Judah and Jerusalem. All of us are Israelites, no matter where we live. We are now living in many countries. You scattered us among the nations because we weren't faithful to you.
Lord, we and our kings and princes and people are covered with shame. We have sinned against you.
"You are the Lord our God. You show us your tender love. You forgive us. But we have turned against you.
You are the LORD our God. But we haven't obeyed you. We haven't kept the laws you gave us through your servants the prophets.
All of the people of Israel have broken your law and turned away from it. They have refused to obey you. "Curses and warnings are written down in the Law of Moses. He was your servant. Those curses have been poured out on us. That's because we have sinned against you.
The warnings you gave us and our rulers have come true. You have brought great trouble on us. Nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever happened anywhere else on earth.
"The curses that are written in the Law of Moses have fallen on us. We have received nothing but trouble. You are the LORD our God. But we haven't asked for your favor. We haven't turned away from our sins. We've refused to pay attention to the laws you gave us.
Lord, you didn't hold back from bringing this trouble on us. You always do what is right. But we haven't obeyed you.
"Lord our God, you used your mighty hand to bring your people out of Egypt. You made a name for yourself. It is still great to this very day. But we have sinned. We've done what is wrong.
Lord, you saved your people before. So turn your burning anger away from Jerusalem again. After all, it is your city. It's your holy mountain. All those who live around us laugh at Jerusalem and your people. That's because we have sinned. Our people before us did evil things too.
"Our God, hear my prayers. Pay attention to the appeals I make to you. Look with favor on your temple that has been destroyed. Do it for your own honor.
Our God, please listen to us. The city that belongs to you has been destroyed. Open your eyes and see it. We aren't asking you to answer our prayers because we are godly. Instead, we're asking you to do it because you love us so much.
"Lord, please listen! Lord, please forgive us! Lord, hear our prayers! Take action for your own honor. Our God, please don't wait. Your city and your people belong to you."
I was speaking and praying. I was admitting that I and my people Israel had sinned. I was making my appeal to the LORD my God concerning his holy mountain of Zion.
While I was still praying, Gabriel came to me. I had seen him in my earlier vision. He flew over to me very quickly. It was about the time when the evening sacrifice is offered.
He helped me understand. He said, "Daniel, I have come now to give you a good knowledge and understanding of these things.
You are highly respected. So as soon as you began to pray, the LORD gave you an answer. I have come to tell you what it is. Here is how you must understand the vision.
"The LORD has appointed 70 'weeks' for your people and your holy city. During that time, acts against God's law will be stopped. Sin will come to an end. And the evil things people do will be paid for. Then everyone will always do what is right. Everything that has been made known in visions and prophecies will come true. And the Most Holy Room in the temple will be anointed.
"Here is what I want you to know and understand. There will be seven 'weeks.' Then there will be 62 'weeks.' The seven 'weeks' will begin when an order is given to rebuild Jerusalem and make it like new again. "At the end of the 62 'weeks,' the Anointed King will come. Jerusalem will have streets and a water system when it is rebuilt. But that will be done in times of trouble.
After the 62 'weeks,' the Anointed King will be cut off. His followers will desert him. And everything he has will be taken away from him. The army of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the temple. The end will come like a flood. War will continue until the end. The LORD has ordered that many places be destroyed.
"A covenant will be put into effect with many people for one 'week.' In the middle of the 'week' sacrifices and offerings will come to an end. In one part of the temple a hated thing that destroys will be set up. It will remain until the LORD brings the end he has ordered."
It was the third year that Cyrus, the king of Persia, ruled over Babylonia. At that time I was living in Babylon. There the people called me Belteshazzar. A message came to me from God. It was true. It was about a great war. I had a vision that showed me what it meant.
At that time I was very sad for three weeks.
I didn't eat any rich food. No meat or wine touched my lips. I didn't use any lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River. It was the 24th day of the first month.
I looked up and saw a man who was dressed in linen clothes. A belt that was made out of the finest gold was around his waist.
His body gleamed like chrysolite. His face shone like lightning. His eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and legs were as bright as polished bronze. And his voice was like the sound of a large crowd.
I was the only one who saw the vision. The men who were there with me didn't see it. But they were so terrified that they ran and hid.
So I was left alone as I was watching that great vision. I felt very weak. My face turned as pale as death. And I was helpless.
Then I heard the man speak. As I listened to him, I fell sound asleep. My face was toward the ground.
A hand touched me. It pulled me up on my hands and knees. I began to tremble with fear.
The man said, "Daniel, you are highly respected. Think carefully about what I am going to say to you. And stand up. God has sent me to you." When he said that, I trembled as I stood up.
He continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. You decided to get more understanding. You went without food as you worshiped your God. Since the first day you did those things, your words were heard. I have come to give you an answer.
But the prince of Persia opposed me for 21 days. Then Michael came to help me. He is one of the leaders of the angels. He helped me win the battle over the king of Persia.
"Now I have come to explain the vision to you. I will tell you what will happen to your people. The vision shows what will take place in days to come."
While he was telling me those things, I bowed with my face toward the ground. I wasn't able to speak.
Then someone who looked like a man touched my lips. I opened my mouth. I began to speak to the one who was standing in front of me. I said, "My master, I'm greatly troubled because of the vision I've seen. And I'm helpless.
How can I talk with you? I feel very weak. In fact, I can hardly breathe."
The one who looked like a man touched me again. He gave me strength.
"Do not be afraid," he said. "You are highly respected. May peace be with you! Be strong now. Be strong." When he spoke to me, I became stronger. I said, "Speak, my master. You have given me strength."
So he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia. When I go, the prince of Greece will come.
But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one gives me any help against those princes except Michael. He is your leader.