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Sunday School Lesson

January 21

A Prayer for an Obedient Faith

 

Devotional Reading:Psalm 130

 

Background Scripture:Daniel 9:1-19

 

Daniel 9:4-8, 15-19

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Key Verse

 

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.—Daniel 9:19

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Summarize the content of Daniel’s prayer in today’s text.

 

2. Explain how this prayer can serve as a model for Christians today.

 

3. Write out a prayer of confession and repentance based on Daniel’s prayer and use it each day this week. (Report on its impact at the next gathering of the group.)

 

Introduction

 

A. When Direction Is Needed

 

We all go through crossroads moments—times we know that life will change because of decisions we have made or are making. Here are common bits of advice for those at crossroads moments.

 

To newlyweds: Never go to bed angry.

To parents of a newborn: Live to be the kind of person you will want your child to marry.

To first-time homeowners: Don’t ignore home maintenance.

To new drivers: The car you drive can be one of the deadliest machines ever invented.

To the teen leaving for college: Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.

These words of advice may seem trite, but they are important. At certain points of our lives, we must know who we are, what we have got ourselves into, and where to turn for help. We know what it is like to reach a crossroads moment. When such a moment comes, we know that life may change dramatically. Daniel’s decision at a crossroads moment has much to teach us.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

After the incident of the fiery furnace (last week’s lesson), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego no longer appear in the book of Daniel. The spotlight turns on Daniel himself to demonstrate unwavering faith and godly courage in pagan surroundings.

 

Much happens in the book of Daniel between last week’s lesson from chapter 3 and this week’s lesson from chapter 9. In Daniel 4, the book’s namesake interpreted a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar, one with an ominous, alarming message of coming judgment on that ruler. In chapter 5, Daniel interpreted the famous “handwriting on the wall” for the terrified King Belshazzar. That message too was one of pending doom; indeed, Daniel’s words came to pass that very night (5:30, 31).

 

Chapter 6 is the well-known account of Daniel in the lions’ den. Daniel 7-12 records a series of dreams and visions granted to Daniel about things to come. Daniel’s prayer of chapter 9, located among these, is the subject of today’s lesson.

 

I. People’s Sins

 

                                                                    (Daniel 9:4-8)

 

Daniel offered the prayer of today’s text “in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus” (Daniel 9:1; compare 5:31; 11:1). That was about 538 BC. Since Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605 BC (1:1), this means that he has been on foreign soil for nearly 70 years. He has become an old man.

 

While Daniel 9:1 tells us of the earthly ruler in power at the time, the verse that follows affirms that the heavenly ruler, the Lord, remains very much in control. That verse also records Daniel’s recognition that Jerusalem’s desolation was to last 70 years, according to Jeremiah 29:10. This means the captivity of Daniel’s people is nearing its end.

 

This awareness stirs the elderly man of God to offer the profound prayer of our lesson. The heartfelt sincerity of the prayer is seen in Daniel 9:3 with the mention of Daniel’s fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

 

A. Rebellion (vv. 4, 5)

 

4a. And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God.

 

Daniel’s address of the Lord as my God should not be bypassed too quickly. Consider how much Daniel had learned to trust the Lord during all the turmoil in his life and pressures to conform to the surrounding pagan culture. For nearly 70 years, the Lord had repeatedly shown himself faithful. Daniel can truly, genuinely call Him my God.

 

How to Say It

 

AbednegoUh-bed-nee-go.

 

AhasuerusUh-haz-you-ee-rus.

 

BabylonBab-uh-lun.

 

BabyloniansBab-ih-low-nee-unz.

 

BelshazzarBel-shazz-er.

 

CyrusSigh-russ.

 

DariusDuh-rye-us.

 

JudahJoo-duh.

 

LamentationsLam-en-tay-shunz.

 

MeshachMe-shack.

 

MoriahMo-rye-uh.

 

NebuchadnezzarNeb-yuh-kud-nez-er.

 

ShadrachShay-drack or Shad-rack.

 

SinaiSigh-nye or Sigh-nay-eye.

 

We may normally think of the word confession in terms of an admission of wrongdoing. But here at the very beginning of his prayer, Daniel does not confess sins. Rather, he acknowledges important truths about his God.

 

Today we associate the word dreadful with a negative meaning (a dreadful day or dreadful weather). But in this context the word speaks to a sense of reverence we should have toward God. Just because He is a personal God (my God) does not mean that He can be approached casually or flippantly. Daniel knows this.

 

4b. Keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments.

 

While Daniel has acknowledged the Lord as his God, he is also keenly aware that the Lord is close to many others as well—specifically those that love him and keep his commandments. Daniel’s language echoes that of Moses in Deuteronomy 7:9, 12. Much later, Solomon used this same language during his eloquent prayer at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:22, 23). That temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians, the same people who took Daniel and his friends into captivity. But the Lord’s faithfulness to covenant and mercy is not subject to such treatment.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How should remembering God’s character shape how we talk to God about our sins?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

With reference to His holiness

 

With reference to His love

 

With reference to His faithful consistency

 

5a. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled.

 

After exalting the Lord for His majesty and faithfulness, Daniel now begins to confess the brazen unfaithfulness of the people. He starts by piling up the four phrases we see here, actions that are similar in meaning. This is the only place in the Old Testament where all four occur (in Hebrew) in the same verse. (Coming close with three of the four are 1 Kings 8:47; 2 Chronicles 6:37; and Psalm 106:6.)

 

By the use of the first-person we, Daniel counts himself among the guilty. We may wonder why Daniel should include himself among the sinners or take part of the blame for what has happened. But those who know the Lord and His character most intimately, as Daniel clearly does, are painfully aware of their own unworthiness. Those most self-aware of their own spiritual poverty cannot help but pray the prayer of the publican: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

 

5b. Even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments.

 

Although technical distinctions can be made between precepts and judgments, Daniel uses them together in a whole-picture way. God had set His standards firmly in place, whether one is talking about precepts, judgments, statutes (2 Kings 17:37), or laws (Nehemiah 9:13). Those standards have not changed, and the people are guilty of departing from them due to all the actions just mentioned in the previous half-verse. That is why they are in exile.

 

A Difficult Admission

 

Marion Jones was a superstar track and field athlete who won five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics. But she was stripped of those medals after admitting to steroid use. In her public confession, she accepted full responsibility and blamed no one but herself. She spent six months in prison for lying to investigators.

 

Daniel did not mince words when it came to confessing the sins of God’s people. It’s interesting to note that he includes himself in the confession by using first-person we. His prayer of corporate confession pulls no punches regarding the people’s sins.

 

After her time in prison, Marion Jones established a nonprofit organization called Take a Break. It’s dedicated to getting young people to step back and think about the potential life-altering consequences of their decisions. Secular culture’s term for this is “reinventing” oneself. Christianity has a different description: producing “fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8).

 

—D. C. S.

 

What Do You Think?

 

In what ways would a Christian’s behavior change if he or she assumed personal responsibility for communal sins?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding private prayer

 

Regarding public prayer

 

Regarding Christian activism

 

Other

 

B. Deafness (v. 6)

 

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.

 

God had warned the people time and again of the judgment that awaited should they turn away from Him. To issue such warnings was the primary duty of the prophets. The prophet Ezekiel had been called specifically to be a “watchman” (Ezekiel 3:16-21; 33:1-9), sounding the alarm and warning of coming doom. But in one way or another, all the prophets were tasked to do so.

 

Yet who has listened? When the leaders of the people (the kings and the princes) have no desire to hear what the Lord has to say, judgment cannot be far behind. See 2 Chronicles 36:16 for a summary of how God’s messengers have been treated.

 

C. Shame (vv. 7, 8)

 

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.

 

Again Daniel contrasts the Lord’s righteousness with the sin of His people. The phrase confusion of faces highlights the visible, public shame that they have brought upon themselves because of their trespass. Jeremiah notes that God’s people had lost their ability to blush in shame for their wrongdoing. The people have gladly, proudly flaunted their disobedience (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12).

 

Since they have not voluntarily exhibited shame associated with repentance, they now involuntarily exhibit shame associated with captivity. No one is exempt from divine judgment. People throughout the lands of Judah and Israel suffer their respective exiles. Although politically divided for about 400 years by the time noted in Daniel 9:1, the 12 tribes of Israel share a common rebellion against God. Thus they share a common fate.

 

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.

 

This repeat of leadership culpability and shame serves to emphasize the problem.

 

When Leaders Fail

 

In 2015, the leadership of a certain church determined that they had treated one of their members unbiblically. The member had decided to separate from her husband after he confessed involvement with illegal pornography. She felt she needed to separate to keep her children safe. But church leaders had insisted that she extend grace to her husband and keep living with him while the problem was addressed. Shortly thereafter, however, they realized their error and sought to rectify the situation through their own repentance and confession.

 

The distress of Daniel and his people was traceable, in large part, to their leaders. They had set the bad examples of idolatry and spiritual complacency (example: Jeremiah 44:16, 17). Therefore, Daniel confessed to the Lord the sins of such leaders.

 

The humble actions of the penitent church leaders removed obstacles along the woman’s path to healing. As Daniel confessed the sins of leaders, he “owned” those sins as his. Did those sinful leaders themselves ever do the same? Do ours?

 

—D. C. S.

 

II. God’s Holiness

 

                                                                  (Daniel 9:15, 16)

 

In Daniel 9:9-14 (not in today’s lesson text), Daniel continues to call attention to the wide chasm that exists between God’s faithfulness and the people’s rebellion. God has not pulled any surprises on the people in bringing judgment. To the contrary, He warned them through the Law of Moses (9:13) and later through the prophets (9:10). But the people disobeyed anyway (9:14).

 

A. Holy in Power (v. 15)

 

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.

 

Having spoken of “my God” at the outset of the prayer, Daniel now uses the inclusive our God. In so doing, Daniel turns the focus to God’s actions in history on behalf of His people, specifically the exodus from Egypt.

 

That event was foundational for Israel’s existence as a nation. The exodus had brought the Lord renown, or fame, far greater than it was possible for any other so-called god to obtain. The Israelites were to promote that renown by living in obedience to Him and thus being a witness to the pagan peoples around them (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). But repeated sinfulness had brought shame, not fame, to themselves and to the Lord’s name.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What steps can we take to ensure that we thank God regularly for past rescues?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In corporate worship

 

In private prayers and devotions

 

Other

 

B. Holy in Mercy (v. 16)

 

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.

 

Daniel now pleads with the Lord to continue to act in a manner consistent with His righteousness. God’s righteous character includes not only judgment against sin but also when that judgment has run its course, when “enough is enough.” In that regard, Daniel begs that the Lord’s anger and fury be turned away from . . . Jerusalem.

 

When Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, he voiced desire that “all people of the earth may know thy name . . . as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house . . . is called by thy name” (1 Kings 8:43). But the sins and iniquities of God’s people made them (and the temple) a reproach to the surrounding peoples. The Lord had warned Solomon of this after the temple was dedicated (9:6-9).

 

III. Daniel’s Request

 

                                                                    (Daniel 9:17-19)

 

Daniel is nearly three-quarters through his prayer before he starts making requests.

 

A. For Worship Renewal (v. 17)

 

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.

 

Daniel’s request echoes the blessing in Numbers 6:22-27 that was to be issued by the high priest Aaron and his sons. The time of the “desolations of Jerusalem” is nearing its end (Daniel 9:2). Renewal of the sanctuary that is desolate will mean worship renewal. As Daniel recognizes this, he prays for it for the Lord’s sake. The next two verses expand on this.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What positive changes might result if Christians started to appeal to God to act for the sake of His reputation? Why?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding interactions with fellow believers

 

Regarding interactions with unbelievers

 

B. For National Renewal (vv. 18, 19)

 

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.

 

Daniel asks for God’s full attention to the plight of His despondent people. The basis of Daniel’s plea cannot rest upon the righteousnesses of the people, since they have none. He knows full well that the only hope for God’s people rests in the Lord’s great mercies. The words of Lamentations 3:22, 23 acknowledge this profound truth: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” To reverse the desolations of the people and of the city which is called by [God’s] name will be consistent with God’s merciful character.

 

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.

 

Daniel concludes his fervent prayer with a staccato of impassioned appeals to the Lord. These appeals can have only one basis: God’s own sake and name. Having just spoken of the Lord’s “renown” (Daniel 9:15), achieved through deliverance of His people from bondage in Egypt, Daniel pleads, in effect, for a second exodus. When the Lord accomplishes this, the “great evil” that has befallen Jerusalem (9:12) will be reversed; everyone will know that such a reversal could happen only by the mercies of God.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What should we do when God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding something yet to happen

 

Regarding something that has already happened

 

One wonders what Daniel’s posture is as he utters this intense prayer. The Scripture does not tell us. It is not hard to picture the aged saint falling to his creaking knees as he pleads with the Lord on behalf of himself and his countrymen in captivity. As his prayer reaches the especially earnest conclusion in the verse before us, perhaps Daniel falls prostrate to acknowledge total submission to the Lord and complete dependence upon Him to answer the prayer.

 

Within the next year or so after Daniel offers this prayer (based on the date given in Daniel 9:1), the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great issued his decree allowing the Jews who desired to do so to return home (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23). We do not read of Daniel returning to his homeland; most likely both his age and his administrative responsibilities precluded him from doing so.

 

However, given the date cited in Daniel 10:1 (the third year of Cyrus, which would be 536 BC), Daniel lives to see the Lord answer the prayer and keep His word regarding the 70 years. We do not read of any prayer Daniel offers when the return of the captives happens, but we can be certain that he praises the Lord—with a prayer that is just as sincere and passionate as the one we have studied today.

 

Conclusion

 

A. Priorities in Prayer

 

Daniel’s prayer should prompt us to ask ourselves, “Do we pray like that today? Are our prayers that earnest, that sensitive to the sin and wrongdoing in our lives and to our dependence on the mercy of God?” We may be very keenly aware of the perversion in our culture, but Daniel’s prayer says absolutely nothing about what is going on in Persian society. His focus is on his people’s desperate need for the forgiveness that God alone can provide. But note carefully that Daniel spends much more time acknowledging than asking. Do we pray that way?

 

Much insight can also be gained by examining the prayer life of Paul. We are not given in Scripture the specific contents of his prayers, but we can sense what his priorities in prayer were by reading the references to prayer. As we do, we find a heavy emphasis on spiritual matters, very similar to the matters that comprised the prayer of Daniel. There was a fervent desire for the recipients of a given epistle to grow in their knowledge of Jesus and to be more aware of the spiritual blessings that accompany that knowledge.

 

Illustrations of this may be seen in Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-14; and 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12. There is really very little in these Scriptures about physical or material concerns, which usually make up the primary topic of prayer times or prayer lists in most churches.

 

This is not to say that praying for physical or material needs should not be encouraged (see James 5:14, 15). Certainly God cares about every aspect of our lives (compare Philippians 4:6). But if we are honest, we must admit our clear shortcomings in failing to address on a consistent basis the kinds of issues that formed the very core of passionate pray-ers like Daniel and Paul.

 

We have noted that Daniel was moved to prayer by reading and understanding the Word of God that had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2). May reading the Scriptures today, specifically a prayer such as Daniel’s, stir us to reexamine and revitalize our own priorities in prayer.

 

B. Prayer

 

Father, when we read a prayer such as Daniel’s, we recognize how our own prayer priorities are so mixed up. Help us remember that we are students continually enrolled in the school of prayer. Teach us to pray with the passion and priorities of Daniel! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

Take the first steps of important journeys on your knees.

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

God’s Discipline Can Lead to Repenting

January 21, 2018

Daniel 9:4-19

 

 

Daniel 9:4-19

(Daniel 9:4) I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

Daniel lived a holy, righteous, wise, and God honoring life. Therefore, he was most fit to serve as a prophet of God and a great intercessor while in exile in Babylon. An intercessor in prayer puts himself in the place of the other person or people, and he prays to God as these people should pray to God, but probably do not. Daniel began his prayer by honoring God for His divine nature, God’s “great and awesome” nature. God is totally unlike the gods or idols of Babylon or elsewhere. God heard Daniel’s prayers, because God kept covenant (His promises) with Daniel and His people. Daniel loved God and kept His commandments. Daniel confessed that God’s people had not loved Him and kept His commandments, and Daniel identified himself with his people and their sins rather than pray as the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, 12 — “The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’”

(Daniel 9:5) we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.

Because God is almighty, loving, truthful, and always keeps His promises, He maintains a steadfast relationship with those who love Him and keep His commandments; therefore, Daniel knew he could go to God in prayer. As an intercessor or mediator, Daniel confessed the sins of the people he prayed for or interceded for by standing between God and God’s sinful people. He represented God’s people to God in their behalf. He had a humble confidence to pray to God because he had not “sinned,” “done wrong,” “acted wickedly,” or “rebelled” against God as God’s people had done, but he did not claim, as the Pharisee claimed, that he was better than others or sinless. Those he prayed for needed his prayers, because they had done many evil things and worse.

(Daniel 9:6) “Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.

Though Daniel did study and believe the prophets, the vast majority of the Judeans including their leaders in exile had not listened to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others and repented of their sins. They probably ignored Daniel. Daniel did listen to the prophets, particularly to Jeremiah, so he knew the crucial importance of listening to God’s prophets, reading their warnings, considering God’s timing, and turning back to God. Daniel’s prayer described to God the kind of people His people had become, a people who rebelled against God, a people with rulers who also rebelled against God (particularly in Jerusalem before God sent them into exile). All the people of the land stood guilty before God and deserved His punishment. In his prayer, Daniel would not let the people blame their leaders for their sins; however, their leaders often misled them into sin and rebellion against God. Most of their kings did little to lead God’s people back to God.

(Daniel 9:7) “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You.

All sin is treachery against God and others. In his prayer of intercession, Daniel confessed for the people that God had always done what was right and had judged them and warned them and punished them in righteousness. Daniel confessed what the people should have confessed themselves; that they lived in open shame, because they had abused God’s kind acts and had acted treacherously toward God. Daniel’s prayer included the Kingdom of Judah that had been taken into exile by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., and the Kingdom of Israel that had been dispersed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

(Daniel 9:8) “Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.

The whole world looked upon the Jews, the people of Judah, and upon the Israelites, the people of Israel, with total disgust. God’s people should have hung their heads in shame, and many did, because they had sinned against God, and the whole world was seeing the consequences of God’s just judgment upon them because of their sins. Moses wrote that if God’s people rebelled, “You shall become an object of horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you” (Deuteronomy 28:37). God expects sinners to feel ashamed of their behavior and return to Him with repentant hearts.

(Daniel 9:9) “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;

Because they had rebelled against God (as rebels who try to overthrow their ruler and his justly established government), Daniel confessed that the people deserved their shameful punishment. Their sins were their own fault; while God treated them with lovingkindness, mercy and forgave them time and time again when they repented. The people did not deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness, and they could not earn it. If God showed them mercy and forgiveness, He would do so because of His loving character. He would keep His covenant with them and His promises to them although they had broken their covenant with Him and had not kept their promises to Him.

(Daniel 9:10) nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.

The people had lived to please themselves and they did not believe any bad consequences would befall them as God’s punishment. Moses, a prophet, had given them the 10 Commandments and other laws. Other prophets had come to call the people to obey God’s laws, but the people rebelled and refused to obey God. They thought God would always forgive them, and never punish them.

(Daniel 9:11) “Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.

By the time Daniel wrote and prayed this prayer, the divided kingdoms of Israel (Israel and Judah) had been destroyed and God’s people put in exile and scattered for refusing to obey God. Moses had told them the blessings that would flow from obeying God and the curses God would send upon them if they disobeyed or persisted in disobeying God. They were now suffering the curses they had chosen as a consequence of their transgressions. Moses warned them, “All these curses shall come upon you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God, by observing the commandments and the decrees that he commanded you” (Deuteronomy 28:45). Through His prophet, Moses, God gives people a choice, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

(Daniel 9:12) “Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem.

When God fulfills His promises and blesses His obedient children, He confirms His words and promises. At other times, God confirms His Word by bringing His punishment upon the disobedient as He promised. The great calamity was the desecration and destruction of God’s beautiful house, the Temple in Jerusalem. When Solomon prayed, God filled the temple. When the people refused to turn back to obeying God, God departed and sent the Babylonians to destroy the Temple.

(Daniel 9:13) “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.

Daniel needed to intercede for God’s people because God’s people still had not entreated or prayed to God, the true God, to favor them with His blessings. Even in exile, they preferred the pleasures of their sins. Because they refused to reflect upon the fact that God would always be true to His words and His laws, they refused to turn from their evil practices and thus they deserved God’s punishment. Moses foretold extensively in many ways about the calamity that would befall God’s people if they persisted in their rebellion against God, telling God’s people: “The LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. Among those nations you shall find no ease, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a languishing spirit. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; night and day you shall be in dread, with no assurance of your life” (Deuteronomy 28:64-66).

(Daniel 9:14) “Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

When God punishes His people, we learn from Daniel that God also watches over His people while they are approaching punishment and being punished. For example, God watched over His people when God set apart Daniel and Ezekiel to pray for His people and prophecy to His people while they lived in exile. Daniel confessed that God’s people rightly deserved God’s punishment.

(Daniel 9:15) “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked.

Through their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, accompanied by signs and wonders worked by God through Moses, God became renowned and was still renowned in Daniel’s day. Despite how great and loving God had been to them, His people still sinned and acted wickedly in rebelling against God. Despite all God had done for them, they dishonored God by their sins.

(Daniel 9:16) “O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us.

God always acts in righteous ways. God was righteous when He warned the Judeans to repent or be punished and when He finally punished them for their unrepentant hearts. He was righteous when angry and righteous when He judged the Judeans for their iniquities. He would be righteous when He freed them from exile. After confessing the sins of God’s people, in behalf of God’s people Daniel interceded for them by requesting that God bring their deserved punishment to an end. He admitted to God that His people had become a disgrace among their neighbors. Daniel knew from Jeremiah’s prophecy that the punishment of the kingdom of Judah would be 70 years and the completion of their 70 years of punishment drew near. Daniel became emboldened by the Scriptures, by the Word of God, by the righteousness of God, and by the Spirit of God to intercede in prayer for God’s people, for God to free them from exile (see Daniel 9:2, 9:24).

(Daniel 9:17) “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary.

Daniel did not make his request to God for his own sake personally or solely for the sake of God’s people. Though Daniel prayed for the sake of sinners when he interceded for God’s people, he prayed primarily for God’s sake, for God’s honor, reputation, and glory to be restored before the world. He prayed for God to be honored by His people and he prayed for God to restore His house, the devastated Temple in Jerusalem, so God’s people could worship Him there once again. By God delivering His people from exile, their neighbors would see that God was true to all His promises and He had the power to do whatever He said. God was true to His promises when He punished His people after they sinned and refused to repent, and Daniel knew God would also be true to His promises when He brought their punishment to an end and returned them to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. God still keeps all of His promises, for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (and as the Son of God so is Jesus Christ; see Hebrews 13:8 — “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”).

(Daniel 9:18) “O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.

Daniel spoke person to Person with the LORD when he prayed for God to hear his prayers and open His eyes to their situation and the city that bore God’s Name. As Daniel concluded his prayer, He acknowledged that the LORD is “our God.” He is the God of the Judeans. The pagan gods of Babylon will no longer their gods. God’s people will increasingly recognize the fact that the LORD is their God as God begins to work and restore their freedoms in answer to Daniel’s prayers. After emphasizing the righteousness of God, Daniel confessed again that they were not righteous, and they deserved God’s punishment. They were undeserving of God’s great mercy and it would only be by God’s righteousness and mercy that God would end their punishment and restore the city that bore His name. 

(Daniel 9:19) “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

After giving the LORD his reasons for God to answer his prayer, in a burst of short exclamations, Daniel summed up his prayer request. God will hear the prayers of a righteous person, but Daniel did not take that fact or his righteous life for granted, for he prayed “Lord, listen!” — “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Daniel did not take God’s forgiveness for granted, even though he knew God would keep all His promises, for after confessing their sins he exclaimed to the LORD “Lord, forgive!” — “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Daniel knew God would hear his prayers, but he also wanted God’s people to see that God would hear their prayers and act in their behalf for His Name’s sake, for the fact that God’s people represented Him and His city represented Him before the surrounding nations (and they had been disgraceful representatives and their city was a disgraceful representative of the Name of the LORD). With their restoration, the LORD would glorify His Name.

 

 

God’s Discipline Can Lead to Repenting

January 21, 2018

Daniel 9:4-19

 

“Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth” (Daniel 9:13).

When Paul wrote to the Church in Rome, he explained one of the benefits of Old Testament study, writing, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). For example, we can apply Daniel’s situation and prayer to our lives and say, “If believers do not seek the favor of the Lord, turn from sinning, and give attention to the truth that God has revealed in the Scriptures, they will eventually suffer the discipline of the Lord.” When Daniel prayed his prayer, the Jews had been suffering exile in Babylon for almost 70 years. Today, those who call themselves Christians, and nations that were once considered a part of Christendom, can suffer the consequences of turning away from the truth of the Lord and the behavior God’s truth demands. What they or their nation are suffering may be God’s discipline to turn them back to faith in the Lord and obedience to the Scriptures. During a time of suffering God’s discipline, believers can also be encouraged to pray and remember this: “The Lord, the great and awesome God, keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). Not all personal suffering is God’s discipline, but during a time of local, national, or international suffering, believers can do as Paul wrote: pray, persevere, and turn to the Scriptures for encouragement that they might have hope.

 

Thinking Further

God’s Discipline Can Lead to Repenting

January 21, 2018

Daniel 9:4-19

Name __________________________

 

1. Why did Daniel feel confident that God would hear his prayers when he prayed to God?

 

 

2. Do people today, both inside and outside the church, think of sinning against God as acting wrong, acting wickedly, acting rebelliously, and acting treacherously? Why or why not?

 

 

3. What can happen when people stop studying the Bible and listening to God’s Word?

 

 

4. What does the word “shame” mean? Why does sin bring shame upon God and God’s people as well as the sinner?

 

 

5. Why do you think God thought it important to state clearly in the Bible the consequences if His people rebelled against Him as an individual and as a group?

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. Why did Daniel feel confident that God would hear his prayers when he prayed to God?Daniel knew the character and power of God. He knew that God was loving, just, and merciful. He knew that he listened to God and obeyed God with his whole heart. He did not live in rebellion against God; for example, when he first went to Babylon he refused to eat the king’s food in disobedience to God. He trusted God’s word; he listened to the prophets, and he knew from the prophet Jeremiah that God’s promised punishment of His people was nearing the end.

 

2. Do people today, both inside and outside the church, think of sinning against God as acting wrong, acting wickedly, acting rebelliously, and acting treacherously? Why or why not? Most do not, not really. Perhaps too many people focus only on the facts that God loves them and forgives them and Jesus died for them. They seldom consider how awful sin is in their own lives, and of how Jesus wants to save them from practicing sin. Sin always seems worse in the other person.

 

3. What can happen when people stop studying the Bible and listening to God’s Word?They can forget what God requires of His children. They can forget what they have previously known and memorized. They can become confused about what God considers right and wrong. They can forget about the consequences of rebelling against God.

 

4. What does the word “shame” mean? Why does sin bring shame upon God and God’s people as well as the sinner? Shame involves feeling embarrassment and true guilt. Shame often involves wanting to cover up what one has done and wanting to hide. Adam and Eve felt shame when God called out for them in the garden after they had sinned against God. Sin brings shame upon God because some people draw false conclusions about God when His children practice sin, and God wants to hide his face from looking upon sinners practicing sin. God’s people feel embarrassed when another child of God commits sins, and sometimes they feel guilty for n0t doing more to help keep someone from practicing sin.

 

5. Why do you think God thought it important to state clearly in the Bible the consequences if His people rebelled against Him as an individual and as a group?So the people He created could choose how to live knowing the consequences of obeying God and disobeying God. So God could show that He was faithful, and whatever He said could be trusted, even if that meant punishing a sinner that He loves. God does what He said He would do, and if a sinner repents the situation changes and God has other options to deal with a repentant sinner. God is love; He is merciful and forgiving when His children turn back to Him to obey His laws and listen to His word. God demonstrated His love supremely when He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins; so He could be both just and merciful in forgiving repentant sinners for their sins.

 

 

Word Search

God’s Discipline Can Lead to Repenting

January 21, 2018

Daniel 9:4-19

Name __________________________

 

X L G L T Z U H C C Q R N L E

F U M D Q P L O A O S I S H M

Y E S E W U N B G V U G D R O

P F L P R F P E A E S H N E S

C R X F E C R Y H N E T A B E

F L A S I Z I Z R A J E M E W

W O S Y X Q N F E N Z O M L A

S E R A E Y C I U T M U O L U

D O P G X D E Q A L G S C E X

S E Y S I B S O W X J T J D Y

G R K D K V S T E H P O R P L

N M I C W L I L A D C H Q O H

I A T Y I G V N S J L X V G Z

K R M U L W C O G A B E L Q Y

T H B I D E N N I S U A B E L

 

Prayed

Confessed

Awesome

Covenant

Love

Commands

Sinned

Wicked

Rebelled

Merciful

Forgiving

Prophets

Kings

Princes

Righteous

 

 

 

 

 

True and False Test

God’s Discipline Can Lead to Repenting

January 21, 2018

Daniel 9:4-19

Name __________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. Daniel confessed the sins of the Judeans to the LORD, because he was the worst sinner of them all. True or False

 

2. Daniel reasoned with the LORD that He should forgive them of their sins, because after all their sins were not all that bad. True or False

 

3. Daniel prayed that God would make the people feel ashamed for their sins. True or False

 

4. Daniel told God that they had been wicked and had rebelled and had turned away from God’s laws. True or False

 

5. People who are church members no longer do wicked things or disobey God’s commands. True or False

 

6. Daniel said that the Lord their God was righteous, merciful, and forgiving. True or False

 

7. God keeps His covenant of love with those who love him and keep His commandments. True or False

 

8. Because all Israel had transgressed against God, they were suffering the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses. True or False

 

9. The Lord told Daniel that He would answer His prayers after 20 more years of punishment. True or False

 

10. For the Lord’s sake, and because He is righteous and merciful, Daniel prayed to God. True or False

 

True and False Test Answers

Daniel 9:4-19

 

1.   False

2.   False

3.   False

4.   True

5.   False

6.   True

7.   True

8.   True

9.   False

10. True

 

Prayer

Father, when we read a prayer such as Daniel’s, we recognize how our own prayer priorities are so mixed up. Help us remember that we are students continually enrolled in the school of prayer. Teach us to pray with the passion and priorities of Daniel! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.