“16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”” Daniel 9:16-19
Pastor Chris emphatically highlighted the central message of Daniel as he reached this late stage of his life – namely, to obey the Lord. If we fall, we are to humbly repent, both individually and corporately, to find freedom from captivity to sin. In obedience we find joy, hope, and deep love. Daniel was assured by the angelic messenger Gabriel in verse 23, “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” This is a message for all of us!
2 Steps that Every Christian Must take to Prepare for Our Heavenly Home
- Study the Word of the Lord – our first step of obedience and understanding is to spend time in scripture; this activity will keep us from straying from a godly life, whether by intent or apathy.
“1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” Daniel 9:1–2 (ESV)
Obeying God’s Word bring promise of hope and bright future – Jeremiah prophesied nearly 140 years before the release of the Jews and the promised rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem:
Jeremiah 29:10–14 (ESV)
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Disobeying God’s Word brings correction and captivity; darkness that fills people with fear – Jeremiah prophesied 68 years before the Jews were sent into Babylonian exile:
“Jeremiah 25:8–12 (ESV)
8 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste.”
- Pray the Word of the Lord – humbleprayer and repentance mark this chapter in Daniel’s walk, as he realizes that the exiled Jews, according to prophecy, will be released in about 12 years and they still have not repented for their communal disobedience – he prays on behalf of the nation of Judah:
“3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.” Daniel 9:3-9
Daniel’s Prayer Life:
- Daniel’s prayers released what God intended to do.
- Daniel made himself available to God to work through.
- Daniel humbled himself and prayed regularly.
- Daniel’s prayer influenced God greatly.
Honesty goes hand-in-glove with humility – to find healing we must avoid the tendency to deny, hide, excuse, and normalize our sin. We must be open with God in our repentance, then we will be free.
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)
25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Receive the Word: You Are Greatly Loved
Daniel 9:20–23 (ESV)
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
- God’s plan to restore Israel includes six great blessings:
24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Daniel 9:24 (ESV)
- Jerusalem was restored, and then Messiah came to Jerusalem:
“25Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one (Messiah), a prince, there shall be seven weeks (49 years). Then for sixty-two weeks (434 years) it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.” Daniel 9:25 (ESV)
- Jerusalem was destroyed after Messiah was killed in Jerusalem:
“26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off (killed) and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come (Antichrist) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war (70 AD). Desolations are decreed.” Daniel 9:26 (ESV)
- Gabriel described events occurring during the 70th week, the final 7 years of this age:
27 And he (Antichrist) shall make a strong covenant with many for one week (7 years), and for half of the week (3 ½ years) he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator (Antichrist).” Daniel 9:27 (ESV)
What does that mean for us?
John 14:1–4 (ESV)
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
John 14:23 (ESV)
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
- How did you first learn about obedience to God? Do you happen to remember a time when you added a new activity of obedience to your walk with God? What was it?
- Why do you suppose Daniel was compelled to pray a repentance prayer on behalf of all of the Jewish exiles?
- What are a few differences between a personal prayer of repentance and one for a church, people, or nation?
- What do you suppose most believers think about God’s attitude toward them when they sin and then repent? What assurances do you recall Daniel giving the people about God’s attitude toward them, even after years and generations of disobedience?
- Study the Word. Pray the Word. These are the tenets of Daniel’s faithful walk with God.
What could you do this week to add more of the Word into your life? Commit to this effort and share or journal your experience!
3 Questions to Ponder for the Entire Series in Daniel
- Who or what is supreme in your life?
- Does your life portray this?
- What spirit are you following?