Daniel's Intercession

by Kenneth J Price

" ... I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD, given through Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face towards the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, 'O LORD, great and awesome God ... we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and your judgments. Neither have we heeded your servants the prophets ... we have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets ...

'Yes, all Israel has transgressed your law, and has departed so as not to obey your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against him.

'As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand your truth'" (Daniel 9:2-6,10,11,13).

Daniel bewailed the indifference of Israel. He himself was a man of prayer and a man who desired the blessing of God upon His people, so that God's testimony of this man was "a man greatly beloved" (10:11). Now in his eighties, he had begun as a teenager to call upon God; he was a man who had ever been on the watchtower; he was always comforted in God's word; as he read he was thrilled and moved to pray.

He realized that prayer would move the heart of God, would direct the wills of kings, and speak to the hearts and minds of the remnant of his nation.

We notice firstly that Daniel's prayer to God was an intelligent prayer. Daniel's appreciation of the word of God is evident as we read: "I, Daniel, understood by the BOOKS" . He was familiar with the prophecy of Jeremiah: "And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it shall come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon ... For thus says the LORD: 'After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word towards you, and cause you to return to this place'" (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10).

No doubt through these prophecies he was able to calculate the time in which he lived as being in the seventy year period, and that that period was now ending.

Secondly, Daniel's praying was costly praying. "Then I set my face towards the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." It was sincere praying. It was praying with intensity, yet with humility. It was praying with determination, with sacrifice, with penitence. Daniel felt so unworthy, and yet he was depending upon the wonderful grace of his God.

Thirdly, it was intercessory prayer. It was not personal. It was prayer for his people and for others. Daniel began his prayer with the indescribable greatness of the Almighty God: "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant and mercy with those who love him, and with those who keep his commandments" (9:4). He came before God in adoration, in reverence, and his encouragement came at the realization that he was coming to a God who was able to keep His covenant.

He identified with his people as he felt their sin as his own sin; he revealed in his confession that the essence of sin is to disregard God's word and God's messenger. He then dwelt on the inflexible righteousness of God: "O Lord, righteousness belongs to you ... to the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him" (9:7,9), and in these Scriptures we are forced to the realization that God does not condone sin, but, because of His righteousness, and because of who He is, and what He is, condemnation comes to those who rebel. And this is what brought Daniel to bewail the indifference of his people.

This is what brought Daniel to a place of urgency in his prayer. It drove him to make confession on behalf of the nation, and of course, identify himself with the nation. He pleaded for the hand of God in mercy: "I pray, let your anger and your fury be turned away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and your people have become a reproach to all who are around us" (9:16).

Daniel pleaded also for the face of God to shine: "Now, therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary which is desolate" (9:17); he sought the ear of God to hear: "O my God, incline your ear and hear; open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name; for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies" (9:18); he sought the heart of God by making his appeal and then presenting his argument: "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord listen and act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people are called by your name" (9:19).

Daniel reminded the Lord that the city of Jerusalem was His; because the city was a reproach His honour was at stake. He therefore pleaded God's name in his supplication; he claimed the relationship he had with God, and the relationship God had with His people and with His enduring, unbreakable word.

We too have the promises of God on which to stand. One that must be bathed in intercessory prayer is: "'Therefore behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'that it shall no more be said, "The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt", 'but, "The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where he had driven them." 'For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers'" (Jeremiah 16:14,15).

We too have the name of the Messiah, Yeshua, who is the LIFE, the TRUTH, and the WAY through which we may come to God in prayer, a path He Himself has trodden. So we would pray: "Lord, teach us to pray."

As we praise the Lord for the wonderful opportunities we have had in assisting Jewish people from areas where they need to be released; as we thank Him for opening ways to supply them on their way to Israel with material help as well as with bi-lingual Bibles and other literature; as we thank the Lord for the many letters of appreciation from these same dear people in their release and introduction to their own God-given land and Scriptures again, nevertheless we realize that unless all our 'good works' are saturated with intercessory prayer such as uttered by the prophet Daniel so long ago, God's blessing will not rest upon us or upon His people, His nation, with a view to their ultimate redemption.