There is a story told about the little girl who prayed for a little brother.
Every night she prayed, she prayed only for this. Her parents thought it was cute, and didn’t discourage it, but told her prayer would only be answered if it was God’s will.
So she started praying,“ Dear God, please give me a little brother named Will.Amen”
We often operate the same way when we pray, even when fresh insight or information is given, or new situations arise, we still seek the same answers to our prayers.
In our relationship with God, we come at it from an viewpoint of, “ Nice to meet you God. Now we are acquainted, let me tell you about all the wonderful plans I have for me, and how you can help.”
We are instructed to pray for God’s will to be done ( Matthew 6), for His kingdom to come.
When we pray, we don’t do it to change God’s mind or to manipulate anything out of him, but instead, we most times will find that prayer changes us.
It changes our selfish desires into Godly ones. It changes us from self dependence and being self reflective to reflecting only on God, and His Word.
We long for prophecy in this world, to know what is going to happen. We want insight.
That kind of insight can only come through much prayer, and having a heart seeking after God.
Daniel was a man or prayer, we know that from his willingness to even risk his life to keep praying ( ch6).
We see him in earnest prayer here. A prayer asking God for mercy, and seeking God to complete the promises of His Word.
- The timing v 1-2
Have you ever had a moment when you are reading a good book, and the words jump off the page at you? They just resonate so clearly, you can’t possibly continue reading, but you have to stop and mull it over. Read it again and wonder how the author managed to write words that would grab you attention so well when they’ve never met you?
Daniel had such a moment, reading the words of Jeremiah.
He called it more than the words of Jeremiah though, Daniel referred to them as the Word of the Lord.
The fact that he was studying the Word shows us that he still had a great concern to know what God had said to the prophets before, and the promises that He had made, so that he could properly discern the time he was in.
He was engaged in spiritual exercise, strengthening his knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.
He was most likely reading Jeremiah 25:11-12 , 29:10.
Studying God’s Word gives us a perception that comes through The Spirit, as we look into, feed on it, and find ourselves desiring God’s Will and purposes to be fulfilled in our times and lives.
Daniel sought to understand the Word of God, but like all of us, He longed to know when God’s promises would be fulfilled.
God had clearly promised that the exile of the Israelites would last for 70 years.
Many commentators put this at a time when Daniel was in his 80s, and the people had been in Babylon for about 68 years.
Daniel realized the time was approaching where God’s promise would be fulfilled.
How aware are you of your times and seasons in relation to the promises of God in His Word?
- The prayer… v.3-19
Daniel’s response to this knowledge drove him to prayer, and what a prayer!
It wasn’t a quick little arrow prayer, it was a descriptive and earnest appeal to God’s righteousness, justice and glory.
He didn’t just launch into it either, even his preparation for the prayer that he made was just as precise and logical as the prayer itself.
v.3 tells us his posture, his attitude, even his attire. His face was towards God, his heart was towards God, and his humility was shown in putting on sackcloth and ashes.
This attitude of prayer shows just how serious Daniel was to seeking God’s face on this issue.
“Preparing for prayer and worship is just as important as the prayer and worship themselves. Without hearts that are right before God, our prayers and worship will be empty, pious words.” – Wiersbe.
We may not put on sackcloth and ashes when we pray nowadays, but when was the last time you sought God’s face with this kind of earnestness?
The prayer itself is not only a great model, but includes again the inward resolve of Daniel’s heart. ( 1:8)
He launches into his prayer, not on a note of , “Hey God, remember how you told Jeremiah 70 years? Tick tock…”
His opening line is on the greatness, love and awesomeness of God.
We would want to know, am I going to see my homeland again? God, have you forgotten about me?
Daniel instead lays foundation of confession for his prayer, and not just for the sins of the nation, but he includes himself in the sins of the people.
Nearly a dozen times, Daniel uses “we” or “us” in referring to Israel’s disobedience and sin.
This again is a sign of his humility, but also of his honesty before God.
There is no point going before God to intercede for others when you yourself have unfinished business with Him. ( Matthew 5: 23-24)
Daniel also talks about the theme of ownership.
Righteousness, mercy and forgiveness belong to God.
Shame and the consequences of sins committed belong to those who willfully disobey His commands and break His covenant. v 7-10
Daniel knew beyond a doubt where the people of Israel stood before God. They were completely at His mercy.
They had failed. They had disobeyed. The had been blatant about it. They had ignored His warnings He had given them through the prophets.
God’s justice in His covenant demanded a price to be paid for their refusal to follow His Word. They had been warned of the consequences, but still went ahead and bought punishment on themselves.
Here is Daniel though, seeking God’s face on behalf of the people, looking for mercy.
Looking for God’s glory to be restored to Israel as nation, Jerusalem as His city, and the temple as His sanctuary. ( v 16-19)
We might ask Daniel, why do you even bother to ask? Is Israel even worth the trouble?
Well, God thought so.
Israel are His chosen people, there wasn’t going to be a change to that, because even though the had been unfaithful, it was impossible for God to be unfaithful to His promises or His covenant.
Daniel knew this.
He knew the justice of God demanded punishment for sins.
He knew the righteousness of God demanded cleansing.
He knew Israel was still in sin, still in need of complete cleansing.
He knew that God’s mercy would only be withheld from them for so long, because God had promised not only that this punishment would be for an appointed time. There would be a time when they would be brought back to the land.
He appeals not to them having learnt their lesson.
That would imply they had achieved righteousness without God’s mercy.
Daniel’s strongest and most challenging appeal is to God’s mercy, that God would impart to Israel the righteousness they could not produce not matter how much they labored in the cost of sin. v 18
Daniel knew a lot about the character of God, the covenant, the plans and some of the purposes of God, but he didn’t have the resource that we do in the Cross, where God’s righteousness, mercy, and love all met perfectly, for all time, and for all sins. When all people would be brought back.
This is such a wonderful picture of the Cross and Christ’s atoning death and victorious rising again.
We must avoid the dangers of being so caught up in trying to interpret the Word of God to fit our agendas or platforms, that we miss that God’s Word and promises will be fulfilled, not on our schedule, but on in His perfect time.
We need to avoid the trap of getting wrapped up in prophetic studies so much that we have little concern for the practical outworking of God’s Will. All we sometimes want to do is satisfy our curiosity and proudly share our “insights” with others who are less “enlightened”. When Daniel learned God’s truth, the experience humbled him and moved him to worship and pray. – Wiersbe
The burdens we have for ourselves, and for the furthering of our understanding or knowledge of something are put in the right perspective when we actually see God’s grand design and plan behind all things.
Daniel’s prayer is a lesson in God’s faithfulness and mankind’s tendency to justify his failures of unfaithfulness, and that God’s justice will always be done, even if justification comes at the expense of His own Son to pay the ultimate price for all sin.
- The answer….v.20-23
Daniel’s pleas did not go unnoticed, because Gabriel turns up to give him an answer to his request for mercy.
The reasons given for Gabriel’s special visit were that he came to give insight and understanding, and that was because Daniel was greatly loved, something repeated several times in ch 10.
What a compliment to receive.
To know you are loved by God, not because you are righteous in and of yourself, but because God is merciful.
Daniel’s study of the Word, and earnest seeking after God, trusting in God, confession of sin, and pleas for mercy and for God’s glory to be revealed to him were answered all by that statement, ‘ You are greatly loved’.
God’s love is humbling in itself, but what God’s love reveals to us can be overwhelming at times.
God longs to give us insight to His Will and purpose for our lives, what our lives could be if we would only call out to Him for His mercy and righteousness to be imparted to us. If only we would long to immerse ourselves in Himself, and His Word, and promises, longing to understand Him and His love for us.
- The vision….v.24-27
Gabriel’s “so-called” answer to Daniel’s plea for mercy seems to very cryptic at first glance.
Even on the 1,000th glance, it still seems a little ambiguous!!
The 70 weeks, or 70 sevens is a vision, or instruction given in scripture that has been the source of much contention for many debating eschatology through the years.
But we must remember when reading this that it was given to Daniel, and God chose him to receive this instruction as an answer to his prayer for mercy.
What was it all about? How was the vision an answer to prayer?
It details Israel’s history from the time of their restoration to Jerusalem, to the coming of the Messiah, to the Messiah’s cutting off, and another prince who comes and makes a covenant with Israel for a time, then breaks it, then after a great time of war and desolations, until again God’s time is fulfilled and His plan of redemption is complete.
The 70 sevens seem to echo the 70 years of exile for Israel in Babylon. It was another 70 for Daniel to consider.
For 70 years Daniel had longed for the restoration of the city and the temple of God ( v16-19). Now that it was about to take place his attention was directed to a more distant and loftier peak in the history of redemption. Even a new temple in a rebuilt city made by human hands could be destroyed; Daniel’s eyes were placed instead on a final temple, one that was beyond desolation. ( John 2:19) ( Revelation 21:22-27). – (ivp commentary)
Daniel’s answer to pleas for God to reveal His mercy was for him to have an understanding that God was working towards to the redemption of the whole world, not just one city or nation or one building.
Daniel’s intercessory worship lead him to see with great God-given insight, that even though we do not understand all of what God is doing, He has a grander purpose in mind, an eternal purpose in all of our personal situations that somehow reflect and echo His grand eternal plan for the whole human race.
No story of truth should seem foreign to us when we read it with God’s eternal plan in mind, it echoes of His love, mercy, righteousness, and perfect justice.
Our response to all these things that threaten to overwhelm us when we don’t understand it to plea for mercy, but most of all to pray, “Thy kingdom come!”