discovered the decreed time of the desolation of Jerusalem is 70 years. Interest- ingly, since Daniel is praying in the “first year of Darius” (9:1), he has already witnessed the partial fulfillment of God’s word to Jeremiah in the downfall of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:12, Daniel 5:30) (Davis, 114). But understanding some- thing more of the revealed will of God doesn’t lead Daniel to sit back compla- cently and idly wait, but rather spurs him on to pray for that will to be accom- plished. God’s word, and specifically his promise in his word to do something for his people moves Daniel to prayer. Sinclair Ferguson says that “the basis for all prayer is what God has promised to do” and that God’s sovereign purposes, including his promises, are always revealed to us in order to stir us to action, to stir us to prayer (Ferguson, 177, 173). Do you allow the reading of God’s word to move you directly into prayer? In

prayer, are you responding to God’s revelation of Himself in scripture? Do you review the ways God has acted in history for the good of his people in prayer? Do you pray according to what God has promised to do?

Confession of Sin

Daniel responds to the knowledge of God in his prayer and he will end with specific petitions to God, but the bulk of his prayer is spent in the acknowledg- ment of sin. He confesses the sins of the people of Israel, and includes him- self, through many and various phrases: “we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments” (v.5), “we have not listened to… the prophets” (v.6), “ [committed] treachery” (v.7), “not obeyed” (v.10), “transgressed… and turned aside, refusing to obey” (v.11). Daniel took sin seriously, he did not sugar coat it. Israel did not just ‘struggle a bit’ or ‘stumble’ occasionally; they were rebels, they had committed treachery, and they are characterized by unfaithfulness. Compounding the issue regarding the need for confession is that Daniel is

not just praying about the sins that led up to the covenant curse of exile, he is also mourning and repenting of what Dr. Ralph Davis calls “the great omission” (Davis, 118). In verse 13, Daniel refers to the calamity of exile and the destruc- tion of Jerusalem that has come upon Israel and to the fact that still they “have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.” They have suffered under God’s judgment for their sin and yet they still have not bowed in repentance and submission. They have not yet mourned over their sin. It is this mourning that Jesus spoke of when he said, “Blessed are those who

mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:3-4). In the context of his teach- ing in the beatitudes, we understand that Jesus isn’t talking about mourning over circumstances in life that make us sad but rather mourning as a spiritual quality, like being poor in spirit, meek, and hungering and for righteousness. Jesus is pronouncing blessing on those who mourn over their sin, those who recognize their lack of living for the glory and honor of God (Mark Ross, Let’s Study Matthew, 41). Here is Daniel, in sackcloth and ashes, fasting and praying, interceding for

his people and mourning over their corporate sin. Dr. Davis says that one of the distinguishing marks of a Christian is that he or she continually mourns over her sins. This is actually part of the promise of the new covenant! In Ezekiel 36, God promises his people removal of a heart of stone and granting of a heart of flesh and says “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules… Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations” (vs. 27, 31) (Davis, 119). Do you mourn over your sin? Do you set aside time to confess your sins

January/February 2020

in prayer? Though we are perhaps more likely

to skip confession altogether than to get stuck in our mourning, it is help- ful to remember the hope we have in the gospel for “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Jesus promised that those who mourned would be comforted and Isaiah saw that glorious day: “comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her in- iquity is pardoned…” (Isaiah 40: 1-2).

Supplication The amount of Daniel’s prayer

spent on confession points us to the true matter that the people of God are facing. They are dispersed, they are in exile in Babylon, Jerusalem is in ruins, and yet the primary issue for the people is their sin. Their foremost need is for the mercy of God in the forgiveness of their sins. Daniel rec- ognizes this in v. 8-9: “to us… belongs open shame… To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness.” And when Daniel finally begins to offer supplication (v. 16-19), this need for forgiveness and mercy is the main idea. “O Lord… let your anger and your wrath turn away…” (v.16), “lis- ten to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy…” (v.17), “O Lord hear; O Lord, forgive” (v.19). The other aspects of Daniel’s sup- plications are for the restoration that was promised in God’s word to Jer- emiah. Daniel longed that the people of God would be restored to their land and able once again to wor- ship God in his sanctuary. With that would come the evidence that God’s promises concerning his people, their land, the line of David, the Messiah, etc., had not been lost. In God’s sovereign plan, the an-

swers to Daniel’s prayers for forgive- ness and restoration are intertwined. God will restore his people to Jerusa- lem and the city and the temple will


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32