How the Visions and Incidents Found in Daniel Would Encourage the Jews to Remain Steadfast in Following the Covenant
The Hebrew words used to describe him, the internal evidence of chapter 1, and the length of his ministry, seem to make this clear. He continued in office as a public servant at least until 538 B.C. (1:21), and as a prophet at least until 536 B.C. (10:1). Thus the record of his ministry spans 70 years, the entire duration of the Babylonian Captivity. He probably lived to be at least 85 years old and perhaps older. A second major revelation of the Book of Daniel is God's sovereignty in the future. He has shown us that He is sovereign over the past in history, and now He asks us to believe that He is sovereign over the future in prophecy. The major subjects of prophecy in this book are three. The first general subject of prophecy in Daniel is humanity in general. He told us how He would direct the affairs of Gentile world powers in the future. He did this by comparing nations to the parts of a man's statue, and to various beasts. What He showed Daniel about Gentile world powers under the man's statue (ch. 2) revealed their external manifestations primarily: their relative power and glory. What He showed Daniel about them under the figures of wild animals (chs. 7 and 8) revealed their internal character primarily: their haughtiness, brutality, aggressiveness, vileness, etc. Note that these were all wild animals and birds of prey, symbolizing their hostility toward one another. The second general subject of prophecy in Daniel is the Israelites. This is a particular element within humanity, namely: Israel. God also told us how He would direct the affairs of His chosen people in the future. Essentially He will do this in two stages, both of which were future from Daniel's perspective in history, but only one of which is future from our perspective. The first stage, or near future, involved Israel's affairs culminating in a great persecution under a Greek ruler: Antiochus Epiphanes (9:23-26; 11:2-35). This persecution happened in the second century B.C. The second stage, or far future, involved Israel's affairs culminating in a greater persecution under a Roman (Roman-like?) ruler: the Antichrist (9:27; 11:36-45). This would happen in the far future. Daniel struggled to understand this revelation because these two antagonists were both future from his perspective. God did not specify that they would be separate individuals. We can understand this revelation more easily than Daniel could, because one antagonist has appeared and the other has not yet appeared. Similarly, the Old Testament prophets struggled to understand God's revelation about the two advents of Christ (Isa. 61:1-2). From our perspective, we now understand that He had always predicted two advents of Messiah, and that we live between them. The third general subject of prophecy in Daniel is God Himself. It is God's sovereign control over time and space that He stressed in the Book of Daniel. However, two sub-revelations help us appreciate Yahweh's sovereignty, namely: His wisdom, and His power.
The tendency to speak in general terms, to accentuate the adversaries' negative side, and to pass over the positive in silence, failure to consider their motivations and their ultimate good faith, these are characteristics of all polemical language throughout antiquity, and are no less evident in Judaism and primitive Christianity against all kinds of dissidents (Damascus Document 6:19; 19:33-34).
But the one that strikes me especially from this passage is that, as an intercessor, I cannot just pray for another. When praying for my own nation, people, or church, I must identify with their sins and confess them as mine. Taking on the sins of another as a mediator -- that is the role of an intercessor, and of Christ our Lord.The new Persian rulers wanted the prayers of their conquered peoples, and so cooperated with the return and rebuilding process. You may find that a chronology of this period will help you make sense out of some unfamiliar history.
Sabbath: Gn 2:1-3
Damascus Document 6:19; 19:33-34
Discourse of John Paul II in the synagogue of Rome, 13-4-1986: AAS 78 (1986) 1120