- Lesson 10 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Faith Under Fire” focuses on Daniel 9:1-23.
Knowing that Daniel had been reading Jeremiah and discovered that the exile is about to end, we might expect a psalm or a prayer of celebration to follow. To the contrary, we find Daniel prayed a pleading prayer, symbolized by his fasting, sackcloth and ashes (sackcloth and ashes represent mourning). Daniel, therefore, understood both the seriousness of sin and the grace and mercy of God that restores.
Adoration (Daniel 9:4)
Daniel began his prayer by describing God as “great and awesome.” At the Hebrew root for awesome, we find the meaning “to fear.” God’s character produced within our prophet a sense of awe, wonder and, yes, even fear at the majesty of the God to whom he prayed. While mentioning God’s greatness, Daniel highlighted the covenant relationship that exists between God and his people. Daniel was also, perhaps, reminding God of God’s promises to Israel, promises Daniel was about to ask God to keep.
Daniel himself had seen firsthand (see Daniel 1-6) that God exceedingly blessed those who both loved him and kept his commandments. Whether it was his friends in a fiery furnace or himself before hungry lions, Daniel had experienced God’s lovingkindness
Confession (Daniel 9:5-14)
Much like David baring his soul (Psalm 51), Daniel did not deny Israel’s sin. In fact, Daniel used five different verbs to expose Israel’s failure: sinning, committing iniquity, acting wickedly, rebelling, and turning aside (v. 5-6).
Examining Daniel’s confessional prayer, we observe several tenets of truth:
- Daniel was quite candid about the open rebellion of God’s people against God’s law. Using every verb available, Daniel declared that God’s people have rebelled against their God, so much so that “open shame belongs to us…” (v. 8), and “we have been wicked” (v. 15).
- Everyone was guilty before God. Notice, the kings, the princes, the forefathers and all the people of the land (we) were guilty (cf. v. 8). By piling category upon category, Daniel was trying to declare that all segments of society had fallen short—from the rulers to the ones wearing rags. In fact, by verse 11, he declares, “All Israel has transgressed” (cf. v. 7).
- Israel continually had ignored the warnings of God’s prophets. In verse 6, we read, “We have not listened to Thy servants the prophets… .” In verse 10, once again, he acknowledges that the Jews have rejected God’s teaching which God delivered through his servants the prophets. Among those prophets was Jeremiah, whose ministry was characterized by rejection.
- Sin has its consequences. In verse 11, “the curse” and “the oath…written in the law of Moses” is a reference to Deuteronomy 28:15-68, which elaborates on the “curses” for disobedience, even predicting exile to a foreign land (Deuteronomy 28:47-52, 63-65). Verse 12 is a reminder that God had promised judgment upon all Israel because of their iniquity (cf. Jeremiah 25:1-10). In Daniel’s very midst, the judgment of God had been fulfilled, and the exile had taken place. Jerusalem had faced defeat, deportation, and both the city and the temple were left in ruins. If Israel had taken their covenant relationship with Yahweh as a license to sin, they had miscalculated both the nature of the covenant and the consequences of breaking it.
Petition (Daniel 9:15-19)
In his petition to God, Daniel called upon the very one who brought his people out of the land of Egypt and who, in doing so, made a name for himself amongst all the nations. Daniel is reminding himself, and perhaps even God, that God is a covenant-keeping God who would keep his promises to Abraham and re-establish his people in their land. In his pleading with God, Daniel reminded God that Jerusalem was, in fact, God’s city, even the holy hill, that is Mount Zion. In verse 17, at last, Daniel reached the pinnacle of his petition. His deepest desire was that God fulfill his promise and restore Jerusalem, even to the point of rebuilding the temple.
Based on commentary written by Howard Batson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Amarillo, as condensed by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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