Our Merciful God.
“O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.” – Daniel 9:18 NLT
By now we have established the fact that Daniel was a man of God. He lived his life for God – even in the midst of a pagan nation where the temptation to compromise was ever present. But Daniel remained faithful. And one of the reasons was that Daniel stayed in touch with his God. He was obviously a man of prayer. But he was also a man of the Word. We see in this chapter that Daniel is reading from the writings of Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah had prophesied that the people of Israel would remain in captivity for a period of 70 years then they would be restored to the land. At the time he is reading this, the people have been in captivity about 67 years. So Daniel knows that the time is short. But rather than sit back and wait for God to fulfill His promise, Daniel prays. He reads Gods Word, then he prays to God. What prompted this reaction was what he found written in Jeremiah’s prophesy:
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” – Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT
He probably read Jeremiah’s prayer where he appealed to God regarding the land God had commanded him to purchase. “O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field – paying good money for it before these witnesses – even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians” (Jeremiah 32:25 NLT). Jeremiah had done what the Lord commanded based on his understanding of God’s unfailing love and promise to restore them to the land one day. Jeremiah’s investment was based on the integrity of God. Daniel read the words of Jeremiah and his response was one of prayer and fasting. His prayer was full of repentance on behalf of the people, and he included himself in their guilt. He appealed to God’s mercy. He praised God for His unfailing love and unwavering commitment to keep His promises. He acknowledged that their restoration would have nothing to do with their own merit, but for God’s own sake and the honor of His name. In spite of their rebellion and sin, God would forgive and restore. It reminds me of the words of God spoken at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. He told them that if they failed to be faithful, He would bring punishment. But if they repented, He would restore them. “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).
As a result of Daniel’s prayer, God responded. He sent His angel, Gabriel, to provide Daniel with “insight and understanding.” Gabriel told Daniel, “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision” (Daniel 9:23 NLT). Then Gabriel proceeded to give Daniel an understanding of things to come. This passage is the central text for understanding the end times. It gives a chronological framework regarding the coming Messiah that runs from the time of Daniel all the way to the establishment of the kingdom on earth. Not only will God restore Israel to the land at the end of their 70 years of captivity, He will restore peace and righteousness to the world when His Son returns at the end of the age. The same God of mercy, grace, and forgiveness to whom Daniel prayed is the one who will fulfill all His promises regarding the end of the age and the coming of the kingdom of His Son. Our response should be that of Daniel’s – prayer, fasting, repentance and confession – calling out to God to honor His name by fulfilling what He said He would do. Our appeal should be based on the character and integrity of God. Our hope should be based on who He is, not who we are or what we can do to earn His favor. He is good to us, not because we are good to Him, but because He is good. As we read about His goodness and faithfulness, it should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving and recognition of our own sinfulness.
Father, You are a merciful, loving, compassionate and promise-keeping God. You will bring about all that You have said, not based on anything we have done or will ever do to deserve it, but simply because You have promised it. You are faithful. But never let me rest in the certainty of what will happen. May I turn to You in prayer and repentance BECAUSE You will do what You have promised. Your mercy and grace should cause me to confess, repent and return. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men