Read Daniel 9:4-15. Daniel prays an intercessory prayer for the remnant of Judah. Judah’s years of judgment and exile were nearing an end. There was hope that the people would soon be given the opportunity to return home and rebuild their lives. In anticipation of this dramatic change, Daniel prays for his people.
The prayer is part confession and part petition. Today, we look at the confession portion of the prayer. There are several things that we may highlight from this:
(1) Daniel repents for and confesses sin, for himself and his fellow-Jews. Daniel doesn’t minimize Judah’s collective sin. He uses a variety of expressions to describe their sin—“sinned…committed iniquity…acted wickedly… rebelled…turned aside from God’s commandments and ordinances…we have not listened to the prophets… unfaithful deeds.” Daniel makes it clear that Judah’s exile was the consequence of Israel’s sin. For confession to be effective, it must always begin with honest introspection.
(2) The standard by which Daniel identifies their shortcomings is the Word of God. Just as many terms were used to describe Israel’s sins, many terms were also used to refer to divine revelation. God gave Israel His “commandments…ordinances …He spoke through the prophets, His teachings and His Law…God’s revelation was His truth.” Sin is determined not by personal feelings, social morès or political values. In the New Testament, the standard is agapè—love that is without limit or restriction. We sin when we fail to employ that that standard.
(3) Daniel understands Judah’s exile as the result of a broken covenant with God. It reminds us that there are consequences for sin. Though judgment may be withheld for a time, it will not be withheld forever.
According to Galatians 4:1-4, we are no longer bound to sin, and therefore, we are no longer subject to divine judgment. However, when we do sin, either by grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) or quenching the Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19), we lose fellowship with God. That fellowship is immediately recoverable (I John 1:9), though the consequences may carry us to through various changes.
(4) Daniel contrasts Judah’s sin with the character of God. Daniel’s consciousness of his own sins, and those of his fellow-Israelites, was the result of his deep sense of the majesty of God as seen by His divine attributes. Daniel says, “righteousness, compassion and forgiveness belong to God.” This implies ownership, which means they can only be obtained from God; these qualities are under His control. It is only when we rightly see God that we can rightly see ourselves.
(5) Daniel’s intercessory confession is precisely what was needed by Judah to be forgiven and restored. What was true of them, is also true of us: “But God is faithful and fair. If we admit that we have sinned, He will forgive us our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure (I John 1:9).”