Scripture: I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. Daniel 9:4-5 ESV
Observation: Modeling a confessional heart for us, Daniel first gives us a timeline: the first year of King Darius (539 BC, verse 1). Why is this important? Because Daniel studied the prophetic words of Jeremiah (verse 2) that stated that God’s people would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10). Most likely aware that Nebuchadnezzar’s first incursion against Judah happened in 605 BC, Daniel deduced that Israel’s return from exile was imminent. Even though subjugation under Nebuchadnezzar to the rise of Darius spanned 66 years, Daniel likely was unconcerned about the four-year discrepancy because the number “70” symbolized certain completion (7 x 10, of which both numbers are signs of completion).
What is important to note is that Daniel begins with the study of God’s Word. Having reflected on Scripture, Daniel then fasts and offers a confessional prayer that starts with praise to God and follows with corporate confession (verses 3-15). He then transitions to a petition on behalf of the people of God for the Lord’s forgiveness—not based on any supposed righteous acts on their part but solely on Yahweh’s mercy (verses 16-18). Finally, he concludes his prayer with a plea for the Lord to act swiftly, restoring Israel to their homeland for his name’s sake (verse 19).
Takeaway: Confession starts with knowing the Word. Aware of where Israel strayed from Yahweh’s laws, Daniel explicitly confessed the sins of his people (including himself). Indeed, the Torah served to instruct Israel on how to maintain good standing with the Lord. But over time, they turned away from his law and sought the fleeting pleasures of an indulgent lifestyle. The way back to his blessings started with first understanding where they had made a wrong turn—had strayed from the Lord’s path of righteousness.
For us, we also would do well to reflect on Scripture: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). By regularly reading and listening to the Word, the Holy Spirit imprints it on our minds and brings it to the fore of our thoughts as he prepares us to confess our sins. And the fruit of our sincere confession is repentance that leads to restoration.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Word that leads us to confession and paths of righteousness. Would you please help us live by your excellent and life-giving commands revealed in Scripture, that we might be quick to confess our sins and receive your forgiveness? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling