“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9).
Daniel is often honored as one of the greatest warriors of the faith in the Old Testament, and for good reason. He faithfully served and honored God even under pagan rulers who were hostile to believers. He turned the hearts of some of the most powerful leaders on earth toward God and paved the way for the Gospel to be spread quickly and received with faith even in foreign lands – think of the magi from the east and many, many others who would remember the God of Israel when the apostles spread the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection abroad. He endured extreme tests of faith, even being cast into a den of ravenous lions, and was honored by God and angels as “one high esteemed.”
But more than anything else, Daniel deserves to be called a hero of the faith because of his keen understanding of the duty of spiritual warriors – to call sinners to repentance and salvation. Daniel’s prayer in chapter nine is perhaps one of the most beautiful passages in the whole Bible. Feeling the weight of sin under which God’s people are suffering, Daniel falls before God and pleads for mercy:
“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name…[we] are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him…Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant…We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay…” (excerpts from Daniel 9:4-19; read the whole passage there!)
Daniel’s wonderful prayer echoes in our churches today. In keeping with the true line of faith heroes, our pastors and leaders turn our hearts to God – not only for temporal relief, but especially for forgiveness and cleansing. Daniel knew that earthly and eternal salvation rested with God alone, and that the merciful Lord will not ignore the pleas of those who fall before Him. In fact, Gabriel even tells Daniel, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given” (Daniel 9:23).
Like Daniel, we serve God best when we cry out to Him with contrition and repentance for ourselves and on behalf of our people. The greatest leadership we can provide is the act of ultimate humility; to confess our sins and iniquities and place ourselves in God’s merciful hands. When we hear the promise of forgiveness and salvation through God’s Word, we can be at peace with God. We are strengthened in faith and enabled to rise and glorify Him through works of love:
“Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. ‘Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,’ he said. ‘Peace! Be strong now; be strong.’” (Daniel 10:18-19)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your unending mercy and love for sinners like me! Bend the hearts of all mankind to turn to You in repentance, that they may receive strength through faith unto life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.