Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Daily Reading: Daniel 9 'Coming before the king'

Chapter 9 of Daniel is in two parts, prayer and answer.  And what we learn in these chapters explains the man we see in 2-6.

1. Daniel on his Knees (1-19)

We know Daniel is a man of prayer from ch2 and 6 and now we get an example of his prayer.  It is a prayer that is prompted and permeated by the word of God (1-3), specifically Jeremiah 25:8-14.   Which foretells that the exile in Babylon will last for 70 years.  That time is now complete as the Babylonians have been defeated and (14) is fulfilled.  Jeremiah 29:10-14 – God will do what he has promised.

Daniel takes God’s sovereign purpose as an incentive to pray, asking God to do what he has said he will do.  But scripture permeates this prayer; (v11) Refers to the law (v13) to the law of Moses, it makes reference to the covenant of love – God’s righteousness is his faithfulness to that covenant.
And it is the covenant and God’s righteousness that prompts Daniel to pray that the words he has read will be fulfilled, it is the source of his hope and the fuel for his prayer.

But Daniel's prayer is also centred on a concern for the reputation of God.  God is honoured in this prayer, his name is hallowed.  The chapter is hot through with praise of God and his character: (1) “great and awesome”, “ keeps his covenant”, (7, 14, 16)“righteous”, (9, 18)“merciful and forgiving”, (12)fulfils his word, (15) Saviour, (15)mighty.  Daniel doesn’t charge God with wrong, in fact he exonerates God.  Daniel sees the events of exile in light of the scripture he has read and knows that God is revealing his justice and holiness, keeping his covenant.  The plea he makes isn’t for his sake but “For your sake, Lord…” because God’s people & city “bear your Name”.

Thirdly Daniel's prayer is driven by an awareness of sin.  Daniel is a righteous man, so what is surprising about this prayer is that it is confession, “we” and “our” appear 7 times. This isn’t about ‘their’ sin, but collective responsibility.  A concern for God’s glory seen in God’s people.  The contrast is made between a faithful God and a faithless people “we have been wicked, we have turned away, we have not listened” and is heightened by “but” (7) and “yet” (13).  For Daniel there is a clear cause and effect relationship between their sin and the exile (8, 12, 14).  There are no sense of rights in Daniel’s prayer, it is a cry based on God’s mercy, righteousness and covenant (18).

Lots to learn from this as we come to pray.

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