Daniel decides to study the Book of Isaiah to see how many years must pass before the desolation of Jerusalem will finally pass. He concludes it will be seventy years.
This was very bad news. What is Daniel’s first instinct?
“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, ‘O Lord…who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…” (9:3-4, ESV).
He seeks unity with God:
- Through prayer in true repentance;
- For restoration through fasting (where his attitude is more important to us than sackcloth and ashes); and
- By invoking the basis for our relationship with God – his covenant with us based on his never-ending love and his commandments.
Notice that the entry point for reestablishing unity with God is repentance. Why? Because we are tempted and disobedient far more often than we would like to admit; then we fall away from unity and wonder why bad things befall us! It is the Cycle of human nature.
How then does Daniel, who is far more innocent before God than I, proceed with this God-touched moment of repentance? Daniel repents of everything he can think of:
- His sin and the sinful nature of all Israel (9:5);
- Israel has not listened to the prophets of God (9:6);
- His people have committed treachery against God (9:7);
- Again how much Israel has sinned against God (9:8);
- Amidst open rebellion, mercy and forgiveness belong only to God (9:9);
- Israel has not obeyed the voice of God by walking in his laws (9:10);
- Israel has not only disobeyed but turned aside from following God (9:11);
- God’s judgment can befit the offense, and it has been terrible for Israel (9:12);
- God’s judgment was well known since Moses, yet Israel has not turned back to God (9:13);
- God’s prepared a fitting calamity, given that Israel has refused to listen to God’s voice of warning (9:14); and
- The God who brought Israel out of Egypt has seen enough of Israel’s sin and wickedness (9:15).
- Please, oh please, let your anger and wrath turn away, because the world is laughing at us as pathetic (9:16);
- Please listen to my prayer and pleas for mercy and make your face to shine upon us for your own sake (9:17);
- Incline your ear, open your eyes, see our desolation, for we are not righteous, but because of your great mercy (9:18); and finally;
- Oh Lord, forgive, pay attention, act now, because we who are called by your name have tarnished it greatly and we are very sorry (9:19).
Daniel shows that the more intense and honest our repentance on a daily basis, the greater the rush of the Spirit as we dynamite our personal dam of sin.
The result is rushing restoration that cleanses that soiled spot in our hearts and a return to unity with God.