While preaching from Daniel 9, I was struck by this fact: Daniel’s prayer in this passage was answered as he was “praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel”. Verse 5 tells us “we have sinned and have committed iniquity”. Daniel was confessing and seeking forgiveness for the nation of Israel.
Let’s recap the history here: Israel rejected following God and ignored the pleas of the prophets that preached repentance. Due to Israel’s sin and rejection of God, God allowed both the Northern and Southern kingdoms to be taken into captivity. Daniel was a young man who was taken back to Babylon due to his intelligence and potential. There, in captivity in a foreign land, Daniel remained faithful to God. We see from the beginning as he and his three Hebrew friends set themselves apart with their standards on what food they would or would not eat. Daniel showed his faith in the Almighty by interpreting the dream for Nebuchadnezzar.
Now, in chapter 9 we find Daniel working under King Darius which is an entirely different empire. Daniel has remained, throughout his life, a faithful ambassador of God. He has little to no support group: no church, no synagogue, no Bible study. We find him praying by himself each day in his home (where his enemies find him praying leading to his being thrown in the Lion’s den). Daniel has lived a faithful life and is living and working in Babylon under various kings and rulers all while suffering the wages of his country’s debt of sin.
In spite of all of this, we find Daniel taking the responsibility upon himself to pray for the sins of his people. Daniel is not a political leader or spiritual leader of his country, yet he takes it upon himself to confess and beg forgiveness for the sins of Israel. Why? He did not commit these sins. In fact, many of these sins happened long before he was even alive.
Why? Because Daniel was the one that had a relationship with God. Daniel was one of just a handful that knew God, prayed to God, walked with God and understood what God was doing. Daniel took that great burden upon himself. What an example to us. We so often want to see our country repent of their sin and turn to God. Daniel knew the people of Israel weren’t going to turn to God, they didn’t even realize they were away from Him. Likewise, we, who know Him, must take it upon ourselves to pray on behalf of our country. We must be confessing the sin of our country. We are the only ones that know and understand how essential this is. We cannot expect the lost to do the right thing.
Let me emphasize the point here once again: It is one thing to pray that those in sin and committing sin will turn from their sin and repent, calling out to God. In this example of Daniel, he is taking the sin upon himself and is confessing FOR them. That is spiritual leadership!!