This is the third installment in a series on the subject of Daniel’s 70th week. In the last post, we talked about how the prophet Jeremiah prophesied the Jews would be in Babylon for 70 years. Through Jeremiah, the Lord told the Jewish people who had been exiled in Babylon to settle down and build houses because they were going to be there for a while. We also looked at the significance of the number 70 and how it turns up over and over in the scriptures. This week, we’re going to examine Daniel’s prayer of repentance.
By Karen Thompson
Third in a Four-Part Series
Daniel’s Prayer of Repentance
When 70 years had come and gone for the exiles, Daniel began to lift up to God Jeremiah’s prophetic word. In verses 3–19, Daniel recorded the prayer he prayed on behalf of all the Jewish people. The content of Daniel’s prayer reveals his spiritual wisdom and understanding. He knew the one thing that hinders God’s Word from coming to pass is disobedience. And the only way to remove the hindrance of disobedience is through repentance. Throughout the Word of God, we often see that repentance from sin and disobedience is the difference between life and death.
I heard a Jewish speaker say he believed that repentance was the one element that determined the two different outcomes of Haman’s Jewish annihilation and Hitler’s final solution. (Haman is the evil Hitler-like character in the book of Esther.) When Haman’s evil plot was discovered, Mordecai sent word to all the Jews living in Shushan to fast and pray for three days. In unity, the Jewish people humbled themselves and repented. As a result, their lives were spared. During Hitler’s annihilation, however, there was no Jewish national call to repentance. His opinion was that had the Jews called for a time of unified prayer and repentance, calling upon the name of the Lord, there never would have been a holocaust.
Daniel’s Prayer Begins
Dan. 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Daniel knew that returning to God through faith and repentance was the key to the survival of his people; therefore, he prayed a prayer of repentance. Throughout the prayer, you will see Daniel repeatedly use the plural pronoun of “we,” as he is praying this prayer on behalf of all the Jews. His first usage of the pronoun “we” is in verse five: “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity….” He continues in this vein all throughout the prayer.
In verse three, Daniel says he prayed with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. In numerous places in the Bible, you will find that when people were in mourning, they fasted and put on sackcloth. Sackcloth is a shirt made out of some kind of hair, usually goat’s hair. It’s uncomfortable and was worn to denote a state of mourning and humility. Ashes were either thrown on top of the head or one could sit or “wallow” in a pile of ashes. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes were an outward demonstration of what a person was feeling on the inside, which was humility, mourning, and repentance. Daniel began his prayer by fasting and wearing sackcloth, and then in verses five and six, he made a confession; he acknowledged that as a people, they had sinned and acted wickedly, rebelled against Him, and ignored the words of the prophets.
Daniel Included the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel in His Prayer
Dan. 9:7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
Acting as a spokesman for all the children of Israel, Daniel included in his prayer of repentance both the northern and southern kingdoms, describing them as the men of Judah, and Jerusalem, all Israel, all those scattered into the countries near and far off. Daniel was including every living child of Abraham that existed on the earth wherever they were. What is interesting is that the northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered and scattered by Assyria well over 100 years earlier. The northern ten tribes of Israel were lost, yet Daniel included them in his prayer of repentance.
The Curse Came Upon Them
Dan. 9:8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; 10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Next, in verses 8–11, Daniel acknowledged that it was because of their many sins and failure to walk according to His laws that brought this disaster upon them. He said all Israel had transgressed His law; therefore, the curse was poured out upon them. What Daniel is referring to is the covenant the Israelites entered into with God; the Israelites agreed to be obedient to all His laws and commandments. If they obeyed His commands, there would be blessings; however, if they disobeyed His commands, there would be curses. Deuteronomy chapter 28 contains the list of blessings and the list of curses that would befall them.
Deuteronomy 28 begins by stating the blessings: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (vv. 1–2). But if they failed to obey His commandments, the list of curses that would befall them began in verse 15: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee….” That is the curse Daniel is referring to when he said “the curse is poured upon us.”
Daniel Acknowledged God Was Righteous in His Judgment
Dan. 9:12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. 14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
In verses 12–14, Daniel acknowledged that the great evil that befell them was due to their own actions, their sin of disobedience. The Lord was faithful to His word to bring upon them the curses that He said would come as a result of their disobedience. Daniel said, “yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities.” Even though the curse came, they didn’t repent. Daniel acknowledged that the Lord was righteous in His judgment upon Jerusalem and the Israelites.
Acknowledgement That Israel Had Become a Reproach to Go
Dan. 9:15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
In verses 15–17, Daniel acknowledged that when the Lord delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, His name became renown throughout the nations. But because of their sin against Him, they brought reproach to His name before all the nations. In spite of all this, Daniel is asking the Lord to turn away His anger and fury from Jerusalem. Daniel is asking the Lord to shine His face upon His sanctuary for His sake. The expression of “shining His face” upon them is an idiom that expresses God’s favor. In spite of their sins of disobedience, Daniel is asking the Lord to shine His face upon His sanctuary, for “the Lord’s sake.”
Grant Forgiveness Not for Their Sake, but for His
Dan. 9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
In verse 18, Daniel asked the Lord not to grant forgiveness for their “righteous deeds” but to do it because He Himself is merciful. Daniel entreated the Lord not to delay because His city (Jerusalem) and His people are called by His name! Daniel asked the Lord to hear, to forgive, to hearken and do, and to defer not. He asked the Lord to do this all for His sake, because the city of Jerusalem and His people are called by His name. Daniel recognizes that he cannot ask the Lord to forgive them and bless them for their own righteousness, for they had none. But Daniel was asking the Lord to forgive them for His sake, His reputation.
Then right in the midst of his prayer, Daniel received an angelic visitation from the angel Gabriel. His message was interesting and quite ironic. While Daniel was praying about a judgment that was supposed to end after 70 years, Gabriel told Daniel that another judgment involving the number 70 was decreed upon his people! It was a decree of 70 weeks!
That’s for next time!
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