Year 3 Day 32
Read - Daniel 9v1-19
Message - Scott Woodburn
Every Sunday school child knows that Daniel was a man of prayer, daily he prayed three times. But Daniel was also a man of the Word. He was in "the books" (specifically the book of Jeremiah) and had read there of God's promise that after seventy years He would bring His people back from their Babylonian exile (v2).
How do you respond when you read the marvellous promises of God in Holy Scripture? Daniel's response was to pray. He wore sackcloth, sat in ashes, abstained from food and called upon the Lord (v3). Daniel's prayer is a humble rebuke to us when we rush straight to the Lord and recite our list of demands.
Daniel wanted God's people to return home but he also realised the scale of their sin and betrayal. Daniel's prayer therefore was full of repentance. What is repentance? Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
A repentant sinner knows his sin and hates it. He runs from his sin to God seeking His mercy and forgiveness in Christ and leaves the place of prayer endeavouring to walk in a new obedience. This is true repentance and sadly most of us aren't very well practiced in it.
Daniel knew the depravity of sin and repented before the Lord. Our God is good, keeping His covenant and His love towards those who fear Him (v4). But we are not good. We have sinned against the Lord and failed to keep His commandments (v5). Like the people of God in Daniel's day we have refused to heed the Word of God. We don't read it or listen to it (v6). The Lord is righteous but we are shameful. It was this attitude that had caused the inhabitants of Judah to be carried off to Babylon (v7).
We are often hearers but not doers of the Word of God. We refuse to obey His voice and to walk in His laws (v10). We seek loopholes to enable us to bypass the plain meaning of Scripture. In the Law of Moses there were blessings for obedience but also curses for disobedience. Daniel understood this and remembered that nothing that had happened to Israel was undeserved. They had transgressed the law of God and the curses in the Law of Moses had now been poured out upon them (v11).
God's punishment of His rebellious people had served to confirm His Word. He did not and does not make idle threats. The wise individual heeds the Word of God lest they are overcome by calamity (v12). Yet even in the midst of trouble, unrepentant sinners still do not turn back to the Lord and seek His favour (v13). Daniel's prayer was humble. He offered no excuses for there were none. Instead he fell before the Lord and admitted "we have sinned, we have done wickedly." (v15).
Yet just as repentance hates sin and flees to God for forgiveness, true repentance also has an understanding of God's mercy in Christ. Daniel knew this too and asked that the Lord would turn His anger away from His people (v16). He entreated the Lord to listen to his plea for mercy and to make His face shine again upon Jerusalem's temple (v17). He begged the Lord to see all the destruction that had been brought upon Jerusalem (v18). He did not plead because of his own righteousness but because he knew God's mercy (v18) and so Daniel prayed and called upon the Lord to forgive His people and to act on their behalf (v19).
Brothers and sisters, we must remember daily that we are not good people. We are "simul justus et peccator" - at the same time just yet sinful. With that in mind may the Lord stir our cold hearts again to the fire of repentance. May we have eyes that are quick to see our sin and knees that are quick to fall before the Lord in repentance and by the Holy Spirit may the Lord make us as holy as pardoned sinners can be. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Q36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification? The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.