So, if I’m doing the math right and Daniel was in his mid to late teens when we was scooped up and relocated to Babylon (Dan. 1:3-6, 605 BC) then, when he has the vision recorded in Daniel 9 in the first year of Darius the Mede (Dan. 9:1, 539 BC), Daniel’s probably in his early 80’s. And he’s still doing devo’s! He still reading and learning from “the books” (9:2).
And after 65+ years in exile, he sees in “the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet” that the desolation of Jerusalem was prophesied to be seventy years (Jer. 29:10). The end of exile is near. And it intrigues me that this man, who gets the sovereignty of God and believes that God will do what God says He’ll do, instead of selling his house, packing his bags, and getting in line for the first camel-train outta Babylon, instead is moved to prayer — deep prayer.
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 . . .
(Daniel 9:3-4a ESV)
A reminder that God prepares His people when fulfilling His promises. He readies the heart in order to revive the soul.
And hovering over Daniel’s pray to “the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love” as he confesses the sin, rebellion, and open shame of an exiled people (9:4-8), I’m struck by one sentence in particular which seems to hold some keys for preparing the heart in anticipation of seeing the promises of God fulfilled — an apparent triad for revival.
As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by Your truth.
(Daniel 9:13 ESV)
Prayer, Penitence, and Pondering would seem to be some keys for preparing to see God move according to His promises.
Seeking God’s favor, even though He’s promised His favor, would seem to be integral to realizing God’s favor. Daniel confessed that after six decades in exile their prayers may have become more focused on asking for comfort in a foreign land than for a return to God’s promised land. That their temporary time-out had taken on a permanence that had caused their yearning for home to fade. Thus, they no longer sought God’s ultimate favor. They had fallen from the needful habit of truly humbling themselves and praying, “Thy kingdom come.” Prayer is a key for realizing God’s promises.
What’s more, in preparation for the restoration he saw in Jeremiah’s revelation, Daniel saw the need for a clean heart. To not only confess their sin but turn from their sin. Daniel’s list is long: we have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly, we have rebelled, we have not listened, we have not obeyed. And Daniel’s pleas for forgiveness were founded solely on God’s mercy and grace.
Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for Your own sake, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon Your sanctuary, which is desolate. . . . For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act.
(Daniel 9:17, 18b, 19a ESV)
Penitence, it would seem, is vital for knowing God’s promises.
And finally, Daniel confesses that they needed to seek to “gain insight from Your truth.” Comfortable and wrapped up in their present pursuits, they failed to unroll the scrolls and be reminded of God’s future plans — failed to discern the significance of the signs of the time. They weren’t living in anticipation of God’s next great move because of their inattention to God’s revealed word. Forgetting their future for failure of meditating on God’s faithfulness. God prepares His people for the fulfillment of promise as they read and ponder and gain insight from His holy word.
Prayer. Penitence. Pondering. Would seem to be at least one triad worth considering for those who would seek revival.
Not according to our righteousness, but according to His grace.
Not just for our good, but ultimately for His glory.