Daniel was burdened for the glory of his God, and the God of his people. In our lives there are times when we are greatly burdened but do not really understand what to do about the matter that weighs on us so heavily. The apostle Paul writes that as believers serving the Lord, there are times and situations when we are “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair”. (2Cor 4:8) This is what Daniel was going through in his life serving YHVH his God in a foreign land, rising to power and influence with Gentile kings and their kingdoms. Daniel’s response to this was to humble himself with faith believing in the Most High God. (2Chr 7:14; Ja 1:5-8) Daniel is one of the great men of faith and wisdom in the Bible (Ezek 14:14,20; 28:3), and he set himself from his youth to be faithful to the God of Israel and to His covenants.
Daniel tells us the events of this chapter occur during the “first year of Darius.” This means that the Babylonian king Belshazzar has died in his punishment from God, the Babylonian empire has ended — both these events a time-marker by the Word of God to Jeremiah — and the Medo-Persian empire has now taken its place. (Dan 5:30; Jer 25:12-13; 29:10-14) Daniel was praying perhaps during the time of his prayers when his peers and rivals in the kingdom of Darius were scheming to catch him praying to any God other than to the King Darius, and so throw him into the lions’ den. (Dan 6) His burden was both personal and national. This prayer follows chronologically the vision that Daniel had in chapter 8.
In this prayer of confession and petition by Daniel the prophet recorded for us in ch 9, we learn that at least part of the Bible (Tanach/O.T.) was already available to the Jewish people, and that Daniel read what he had. From the Law of Moses, YHVH had given His covenant with its commandments, its promises, its blessings and its curses, its judgments; and based upon the covenant, the people were in captivity in Babylon as a chastising punishment, and that the desolation of Jerusalem and of the Temple were all in accord with the Law of Moses and the words of the Prophets whom the LORD sent to His people. (Lev 25:3-5; 26:27-35; Num 14:20-24; Pr 3:11-12; Jer 44:4; also Mt 22:18; Lk 13:34-35) From the Word of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel read and understood that God had sent His people into exile for a period of 70 years, and that now those years were completed. Daniel believed the Word of God, and sought God’s face and His righteousness. Daniel discerned the signs of his generation in which God was planning a great redemption.
God has always declared His historical actions and intentions before carrying them out. He knows the end from the beginning, and He includes His elect in His thinking and plans. What an amazing Father in Heaven we have! (Gen 18:17-19; Is 46:9-10; 62:6-7; Amos 3:7; Mt 16:1-3; Mt 24; Mk 13:23; Lk 19:44)
The beginning of Daniel’s prayer was to ascribe glory to God, and to praise God’s righteousness and covenant faithfulness. Daniel confessed both his and his people’s sins. This shows the genuine humility of Daniel’s heart and mind towards God and towards his own Jewish people: we read nothing of any sins in Daniel’s life, yet he identified with his sinful people before the Holy God. This is the same that the High Priest was to do on the Day of Atonements, and that Yeshua did for us in His baptism by John, and especially on the cross to bear the penalty for our sins in our place of guilt and shame.
While God acknowledged Daniel’s own righteousness before Him (v 23), yet God is still waiting upon Israel as a nation to confess her unfaithfulness and sins against Him and the covenant which He cut with them alone among all the nations of the Earth, in order that He can restore her and do for her all that He has purposed to do for the glory of His own name, and for the blessing to them when they acknowledge His righteousness in punishing the people for their sins, and that He alone is holy and righteous. Daniel and the people and the leaders of the people were shame-faced for all their sins and refusal to heed the Law and the words of the prophets whom God had sent them continually to call them to repentance. (Jer 44:4)
Notice here (vv 7,9) that Daniel is not only saying that the Lord is righteous, merciful, and forgiving, but these character attributes belong to Him. For us who believe in Yeshua and have received the Holy Spirit, these qualities become ours in Christ as we are conformed to the image of the Son of God, which is God’s will for us, often using persecution and tribulation to transform our character into more of His character for a testimony that we belong to Him.
Also notice (v 14) that Daniel knows that God’s Word stands, and even though hundreds or thousands of years may have passed, God would keep His Word to bring the disaster upon His people that the covenant demands. This is of great importance to us today, as God has spoken of the end-times and great tribulation that will come upon Israel and the nations, and upon the saints. (Dan 7:23-27; 8:18-26; Mt 5:17-18; Rev 12:13-17; 13:1-10) Time does not nullify God’s Word or His standard or His ways to accomplish His goal.
Having confessed his and his peoples sins, Daniel then goes on in his prayer to plead (supplicate) the Lord to turn away from His anger and fury from His city Jerusalem and His people and to act for the sake of His holy name to restore His people to their land which He promised to give them when He brought them out of Egypt. Daniel is asking God to extend mercy now, since the 70 years have ended, not because they deserve it for any righteous deeds they have done, but because of His great mercies. (Rom 11:28-36) Daniel is energized by the need for the Jews to get out of a foreign land and back to the land of their fathers, all for the sake of the holy name of YHVH, God of Israel, because His people and city are called by His name. Daniel knew that God’s Kingdom was connected with Israel back in the Land, with the Temple rebuilt, and that the honor of the Name of the one true God was at stake among the nations round-about.
What is striking about this Holy Spirit-led prayer (Jude 20-21) is that Daniel says not one word in his prayer against the people or the government where he is living and serving. He prays as a man of God concerning the righteousness of YHVH for the present suffering which he and the [chosen] people of God have been experiencing, and for God to act for His own holy name’s sake in mercy for His people and city and land.
As Daniel was still speaking, praying, petitioning the Lord, the ‘man’ Gabriel was sent to him to give him understanding about something beyond what Daniel had realized. It is written here that Daniel was greatly beloved. Gabriel revealed that God’s plan of redemption would span the rest of “this world’s” history, and that the present return to Judah and Jerusalem would not be the restoration of the Kingdom of God to Israel, but that it would be at a set future time, and would be connected with the death of the Messiah, with wars to come until the end, the antichrist, the suffering of God’s people, and a final set of years. For those reading and studying Daniel, the vision of ch 8 that Daniel did not fully understand regarding the antichrist kingdom (Dan 8:22-27), Gabriel is now giving Daniel the ability to comprehend it better by telling Daniel that those events of the time of the end are connected with this prophecy in Dan 9:24-27. Daniel was blessed by God to hear the decree by Cyrus the King of Persia, which set in motion the first week of seven years.
While Daniel was primarily concerned with God keeping His promise to return the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, despite all her sins, but in accord with God’s righteousness and mercies, the answer he received went way beyond that “small matter” and heavy burden he was carrying. The prosperity connected with the return to the land would not mean that further chastising and judgments would not come. The whole issue of putting away sin, transgression, and iniquity is God’s purpose, not merely that we should confess that we do sin.
If we have a real interest in God’s interests, in our Father’s business, and how that is connected with Israel, and also for every individual person, and for the churches and the nations, we will actively read the Scriptures as being what they are – the Word of the Living God – and pray in accordance with what is written, and with the sanctification of the Name of our Father in Heaven a top priority as to why He should fulfill His promises and intentions. (Mt 6:9-13)
As Daniel also understood the character of God that He had not forgotten the necessary judgments for breaking the covenant, so that is still true today. We can learn from Daniel the relevance and importance of praying and supplicating with understanding what God’s plan and will are, and that there is an appointed time, and that all is to be in accord with God’s righteousness, His mercies, and His holy Name. God is looking for individual persons to accept responsibility, as Daniel did, to show His favor upon, even while a nation remains under judgment and wrath of the holy God. There is a holy remnant within every nation and people group of those who serve the only true God and Savior.
Are we as awake to God’s Word as Daniel was? Do we recognize the signs of the times that we are living in, and knowing what the Body of Messiah should do? Are our prayers and affairs consistent with God’s revealed plan and purpose? Are we humbling ourselves and seeking God’s face, identifying with our brethren and our fathers in the sins against our great and awesome God, so that our Father in Heaven will hear our prayers in Yeshua’s name?