Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 22

Chapter 22: Daniel’s Prayer ~ Daniel 9:1-19

Q1 – Daniel witnessed firsthand the power shift which God had foretold earlier through His prophet, Jeremiah. The hand writing on the wall signaled the end of King Belshazzar and of Babylonian rule. Now, with Darius the Mede as king, Daniel knew it was time for those 70 years of punishment to be over. Why did Daniel feel compelled to pray this fervent prayer?

A1 – When you examine the content of Daniel’s prayer, almost all of it is devoted to confessing the sins of the Jewish people. He states how they have sinned—they have been wicked, rebelled, turned away from God’s commands and laws, and refused to listen to God’s prophets. As a result, they have been punished, just as God declared they would be if they turned from Him and worshipped other gods.

In the last few chapters of Deuteronomy, right before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River to take possession of the Promised Land, Moses gave his final words of admonishment to the people. He told them to carefully follow the terms of the covenant God made with them so that they might prosper in everything they did (Deuteronomy 29:9). If they didn’t, God’s wrath would come upon them (Deut. 29:20-21), and He would uproot them from their land and thrust them into other lands (Deut. 29:28). This is exactly what happened to them, which is why they are now in Babylonian exile.

Yet, God promised the Israelites wherever they may be dispersed among the nations, “when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you (Deut. 30:2-3, NIV).”

Daniel desperately wants the time of their exile to be over, and He knows that God has promised to restore them to their land. He also knows that God wants them  to acknowledge their sins and truly repent, as He had urged them to do (see Jeremiah 3:13 and Proverbs 28:13). So Daniel, in his special prayer, fervently confesses the sins of his people and seeks God’s forgiveness so that this time of punishment will come to an end.

Today, we are also urged to repent, to turn away from our sins and to confess them. You might want to discuss Acts 2:37-38, NIV:

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’”

Also, this scripture in I John 1:7-10, NIV:

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Q2 – What insight does this prayer give you as to the depth of Daniel’s character?

A2 – Daniel had spent almost his entire life living as an exile in Babylon. He had remained faithful to God in spite of everything that was thrown at him. He was not among those who had sinned and caused this exile to occur. Yet, he and the Israelites currently alive were paying the price for the sins of others, many of whom were long dead.

You might expect him to be bitter about having to live in this predicament, but he never lost his sense of identity as an Israelite or lost his commitment to his God and his people. It shows a great deal of humility that he felt compelled to pray this prayer of confession on behalf of his people and, in essence, share in the blame for their collective sin. It also shows the deep love he felt for his people, his heritage, Jerusalem and his country.

Q3 – Was Daniel personally ever able to leave Babylon? (see Daniel 6:28)

A3 – From historical accounts, we know the Battle of Carchemish occurred about 605 B.C. Daniel was presumably a teenager or maybe a preteen at this time. From that happening, he was carried off into Babylonian exile, which would mean that he was born around 620 B.C., give or take a few years.

This scripture is about all we are told concerning the last days of Daniel’s life: “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Daniel 6:28, NIV). If he remained in Babylonia until the reign of Cyrus, which began around 538 B.C., he would have been an old man by then, presumably in his 80s. So it’s highly unlikely that he made the long trek back to Jerusalem at such an advanced age.

A tomb has been erected for Daniel in Susa, Iran, and can be viewed by visitors. It’s unlikely his remains are actually there, as his body was evidently moved multiple times over the centuries. However, if Daniel had left Babylon and lived out his last days in Jerusalem, it’s not likely that such a grand monument would have been erected to him in Susa. [View a picture of Daniel’s Tomb here and read more about it.]