As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. – Daniel 9:13-16 ESV
The people of Judah had deserved just what they had gotten. God had been righteous in all of His actions. That was the stance of Daniel. He was not angry with God. He did not shake his fist in God’s face, demanding an explanation for the last 70 years of exile. He knew exactly why the people of Judah were living in Babylon instead of the land of promise. Moses had warned them of the consequences of living in disobedience to God. “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15 ESV). And he had been very specific. “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone” (Deuteronomy 28:36 ESV). The amazing thing to Daniel was not what had happened to them, but that they had learned to lessons from their experience. He openly confessed, “Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth” (Daniel 9:13 NLT). For seven decades the people of Judah had continued to live in stubborn and open rebellion against God. Their punishment had not produced any remorse or caused them to run to God in repentance. As God had predicted through Moses, they had simply acclimated themselves to their new surroundings and begun to “serve other gods of wood and stone.”
It is amazing how easily we can find ourselves under the loving discipline of God, but fail to see it for what it is. When we get into trouble, we tend to blame God, rather then consider what we might have done to deserve our fate. Sometimes we are suffering as a result of our own stupidity. We make decisions without consulting God. We live out from under the guiding and protecting influence of the Holy Spirit. And we end up reaping the negative consequences of our own sinful self-wills. It is at those times we need to humbly seek God and ask Him to reveal to us any sin that may have played a role in our suffering. We need to be willing to ask Him to use the circumstances of our lives to teach us more about ourselves and reveal to us more about Him. David prayed a prayer that should be a model for every believer who is serious about growing in his relationship with God. It is a dangerous and difficult prayer to pray. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT). David is asking God to shine His examination light into the deepest recesses of his life and show him what he cannot see. David realized that there were things in his own heart to which he was oblivious. There were sins lurking in his life to which he was blind. And he was asking God to point them all out to him.
Daniel was shocked that the people of Judah had not done the same thing. They had not run to God and asked Him to expose their sin so that they could repent of it. Instead, they had spent nearly 70 years learning to live with their sins and passively accepting the painful consequences. Most of them had long forgotten about the land of promise. Thousands of children had been born who knew nothing about Jerusalem or the great temple of Solomon. They had grown up worshiping false gods instead of the one true God. They saw no repentance in the lives of their parents. No one wanted to accept responsibility for their predicament. But Daniel knew better. He confessed. He entreated God’s favor. He knew that God had been righteous in all He had done regarding Israel. It wasn’t God who was in the wrong, but the people who had been set apart by Him as His chosen possession. Even in the midst of their punishment, they had remained stubborn and rebellious. In another one of his prayers to God, David had admitted, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin” (Psalm 19:12-13 NLT). Even on the good days, we should long for God to mercifully and lovingly reveal any hidden sins in our lives. We should want Him to expose those things to which we are blind. Knowing we have a problem is the first step toward healing. It is difficult to confess sins we can’t even see. And so many times our sins are hidden from view – even our own. They remain in the dark recesses of our lives, until we allow God to expose them to us, so that we might confess them and receive His forgiveness. The people of God in Daniel’s day had not learned their lesson. They had not seen their circumstances as having come from God’s loving hand. So rather than return and repent, they had continued to live under God’s discipline. But Daniel wanted God’s blessing. He was willing to humbly confess and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.