Daniel’s Confession of Sin – Daniel 9:1-19

 
On Wednesday nights, for a couple of months now, we have been looking at lessons which come from David’s terrible sins of adultery and murder. If it was nothing but the sin itself, it would be a very sad and painful study – yet still it would be important. But fortunately for us, we have progressed from the sin, to God’s conviction, to David’s repentance, and then on to the Lord’s forgiveness. Sadly however, following the forgiveness, there was still the necessity for severe chastisement – David and Bathsheba were punished when the Lord stuck down the baby with some sort of illness. Now, after looking at David’s confession of sin, we come to Daniel’s confession. There are similarities between the two, but there are some interesting differences as well.

In the light of these two confessions, do you believe in coincidences? Do you believe in serendipity? Fortunate accidental discoveries? Is there an antonym for “serendipity?” The accidental discovery of evil things? If we believe that Jehovah is in absolute control of the events in our lives and around us, then even when events may appear to be coincidental, we should realize that they really aren’t. And here we are serendipitously (?) confronted with two Godly men’s confessions of sin. Should we ask ourselves if the Lord doesn’t have a special message for one or more of us here?

Is there sin which you need to confess and forsake for the glory of the Lord? Would you like to know some Biblical pattern to follow in your confession? Then don’t listen to the lessons of heretical Christian priests. Don’t listen to the foolishness of modern day pluralists like Oprah and Dr. Phil. Listen to David or listen to Daniel – men known to be children of the Lord.

First we recognize the SOURCE of the conviction which fell upon Daniel.
Once again, I remind you that God deals with each of His children individually, despite some similarities. For example, in thinking about David, remember that he had been casting aside the Lord’s conviction for months, but then, shortly after the birth of Bathsheba’s baby, Nathan the prophet came for a visit. David was crushed by guilt and conviction in a single moment, when Nathan said, THOU art the man.” Someone may be casually on his way to Damascus, unconsciously bothered by things, but not crushed by them until a blinding light beams down from Heaven and drives him to the ground and onto his knees. On other occasions, the conviction of the Lord may grow upon us like a slowly progressing headache. Such may have been the case with Daniel.

But there was an obvious similarity with David. Nathan, the prophet, came to King David under the direct command of God, and he carried with him the unmistakable Word of the Lord. And in Daniel’s case, he had simply been reading the written word. “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” I am of the opinion that Daniel had read Jeremiah 25 before the first year of Darius. As I’ve said before, I think that Daniel had made sure that Belshazzar had been given that revelation. I think that in was in this first year of Darius that Daniel uttered this prayer and was given the later revelation.

The point I am making is that both Daniel and David were brought under conviction through the Word of God. And this might be laid down as a general principle about Biblical conviction. An adulterer may be caught and exposed – someone like the golfer Tiger Woods. His heart may become broken because his wife is angry and applying for a divorce. But his brokenness, regret, sorrow and grief, which bear some similar characteristics to conviction for sin, may in fact not even be remotely related to Biblical conviction. In that man’s case, Tiger Woods is a Buddhist; he knows nothing about sin from a Biblical perspective.

True conviction for sin has a Biblical foundation, because sin is sin only as it relates to Jehovah God. A child may be taught that it is wrong to lie or to steal, and he may know that he will be punished, but it may take some time before he realizes that it is sin. When he is caught in a lie, he may be upset, but it’s not the same as conviction. Despite what David did to Bathsheba and Uriah, he was absolutely correct when he said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest,” because the aspects of David’s crimes which we call “sin” were all against God. As Daniel was reading his Bible his heart became overwhelmed by the sinfulness of Israel. And based upon what he had learned through the Word of God he made this confession of sin.

Until such time as you look at your wicked deeds through the eyes of God – that is, as it is described in the Bible – you will never truly repent of your sin or properly confess your sin.

The second thing that we recognize in this confession is DANIEL’S ATTITUDE.

Last Sunday night I gleaned from these verses, those things which Daniel said about the Lord. What Daniel said about God were worthy of a message all by itself, and I won’t repeat that sermon this morning, but if you’re interested you can review it on our website. Suffice it to say that Daniel spoke of the Lord in absolute reverence – and with Biblical accuracy. He used several of the names of the Lord, giving God the honor and majesty which He deserves. He praised Jehovah for past mercies and praised Him for some of His miraculous kindnesses – things like Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and her miraculous preservation in the wilderness for so long.

But in Daniel’s day the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, and what few impoverished residents remained there were packing their baggage, getting ready to flee to the forbidden country of Egypt. God had hired the razors of Assyria and then Babylon to shave the heads of Israel bald. The temple of the Lord had been desecrated and destroyed. Israel’s kings had been slaughtered and the rest of her finest citizens were living in captivity.

I hope that you noticed throughout our second reading of this prayer, that despite the dismal condition of Israel, despite Daniel’s grief, and despite that man’s acceptance of God’s absolute sovereignty, that he made no silly charges against the Lord. He didn’t accuse God of any sin or wrong-doing in chastising or judging Judah. The Lord cannot sin, and He certain couldn’t sin in afflicting sinners for their transgressions against Him. Daniel maintained a perfect heart towards God as he considered what He had done to bring Israel to her knees

And as a result we aren’t surprised that Daniel had a proper attitude about himself and his neighbors as well. These two things don’t always go together, but they should when the heart is right. “I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made MY confession.” “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled.” “O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, we have rebelled against him.” Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.” Over and over again Daniel prostrates himself before God in genuine humility. He speaks of the sins of others, but he includes himself in them.

One of the things which heightens our respect for this saint as he pleads with the Lord for mercy and forgiveness, is that we recognize that he was not personally responsible for the sins which brought down God’s judgment. He was but a child when Nebuchadnezzar swept into Judah and carried him away captive. He was not the wicked king who defied the Lord and defied God’s judgment. We can’t be sure if Daniel was directly related to the throne or any of the other rebels. And even though he refers to the sins of his fathers and his kings, he doesn’t merely point fingers at them. He acknowledges himself to be a citizen of that wicked nation of Judah. The sins of Israel were his sins – he has the proper attitude.

Before they are fully trained in the arts of sin, the hearts of children can be so refreshing and so educational. Through the first two months those hearts can be so tender and responsive to rebuke and correction. But it’s only a matter of weeks after their births that we begin to see the tiny points of their depravity. They inherit that sinful depravity and propensity to rebel – from us – their parents. Even in those early months, before they utter their first lie, or steal or cheat their sibling, they are sinners. Daniel teaches us that even though we may have not sinned in the way that Jehoiachin or Jehoiakim sinned, we are nevertheless guilty by association and blood.

We can use Daniel to learn many of THE IMPORTANT WORDS OF CONFESSION and sin.
“We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets.” We have sinned – that is we have missed; we have not been on the mark that you have established, Lord. We have committed iniquity – we have bent, twisted, contorted ourselves, your precepts, and our efforts to cover up our sins. We have rebelled – we have revolted against your authority, refusing your grace and your blessings. We have departed from your precepts – we casually, but more often deliberately chose to disregard the commandments that you have given to us. We chose to eat the fruit which you commanded us not to eat. And we deliberately chose to ignore those things which you commanded us to do. Furthermore we departed from your judgments. “Judgment” might be taken several different ways, including as a synonym for “commandment.” But it signifies a “sentence.” After God had given His laws to Israel, there were honest questions about some of the specifics. What about the daughters of Zelophehad, who had no brothers to inherit their father’s property? In such cases the Lord rendered His judgments. Daniel confessed that his nation hadn’t kept God’s judgments either. Then when the Lord sent His prophets with admonitions and sometimes clarifications, Israel disregarded them as well. In fact, since those prophets were human like themselves – kept alive by the blood in their veins – many times those prophets had their veins ripped open by wrath-filled sinners. As the Lord Jesus later testified, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.” Stephen later added, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?”

Verse 10 – “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing.” One of the sins that we and our fathers have committed against the Lord, is to deny that the voice of God is to be found in the Word of God. Because we are such rebels, we don’t want to admit that the Bible has any authority over us. As a race, we have been trying our best for two thousand years to deny the authority of the scriptures. And for the last hundred and fifty years especially, we have been systematically tearing apart the Bible so that we don’t really have to listen to the voice of God. And what we couldn’t deny, we simply transgressed by departing from it. We’ve been playing hop-scotch with the Word of the Lord ever since the Lord first scratched the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone. No wonder the Lord is so angry with us. “All this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” Not only have we disregarded the Lord and His Word in the days of our prosperity, but as Daniel points out, even when God applies the rod of correction to the backside of our stubbornness, that stubbornness refuses to be bruised or broken.

This confession of the man of God is sufficiently thorough to prove its sincerity. Daniel means business. He yearns for the blessing of the Lord and honestly acknowledges the root of the problem. The problem is with us who are sinners – certainly not with the Lord who has chosen to judge us.

If you ever seek forgiveness from God for your sins, you must begin at the beginning. You must be as complete and thorough as possible. I’m not saying that it is essential that you remember every sin and the details of every sin. Look at Daniel’s confession, not even that wise man could be that thorough. But honesty demands a diligent search of the heart.

When the background has been sufficiently covered, Daniel makes his PLEA.
Verse 15 – “And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”

Without using the specific words, Daniel pleads for mercy and grace. It’s not that he is unfamiliar with these words, it’s just that he uses their thought rather than the word. But earlier, in reference to God Himself, he used two separate words which were translated “mercy.” “And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments.” “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” The second word, found in verse 9, is especially wonderful – it is pregnant with expression, if I might be so bold as to use that word. “Racham” (rakh’- am) refers to “compassion” and it is even translated “womb.”

Daniel was reaching out to the Lord, as a humble child, or as a new-born might reach out to its mother. But in this case the child was a sinner, who had been experiencing the punishment of the father. And Israel well-deserved those judgments. So there was a plea for mercy – that the Lord would pull back His hand of wrath. “God be merciful to us, a nation of sinners.” Those words of the penitent man mean nothing at all, until he understands what it is to be a “sinner.” And there was also a plea for grace. “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not.” “Lord, without your positive blessings, not only the withholding of your wrath, but until there is the positive blessing of your kindness, we are doomed. Forgive us Lord, accept us as your own; Lord save us.”

Here is the proper cry of the sinner, when uttered in faith, believing that God will save us. This may still be your need. Have you ever cried out with a broken heart – “God be merciful to me a sinner”? Even wayward Christians need to blurt out this cry from time to time.

Briefly, the final thing that I’d like to bring to your attention is THE KEY to Daniel’s MOTIVE.
Isn’t it interesting that he doesn’t ask anything for himself in this prayer? Even though he acknowledges some indirect responsibility, the sins confessed were not his own. Even though the judgment of God fell upon him as much as it did the former king of Judah, only generally does he ask for God’s blessings for himself. He pleads with the Lord for Jerusalem, and even more particularly, for the temple which was there.

And then to cap it all off, it was not for his sake, for Israel’s sake, or even for the sake of the temple that he made this confession or this plea. His ultimate desire was for the sake and the glory of the Lord Himself. “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”

It may be difficult, in fact it may be impossible to convince a lost man to plead with God to save his soul for Jesus’ sake – or for the glory of God. But if that man is eventually saved, it is the Lord who is ultimately glorified. On the other hand, for the Christian, who has sinned, like King David, when the conviction of God comes down upon his head, perhaps he should be encouraged to consider how the Lord is glorified in his repentance and restoration to fellowship.

Do you need to praise the Lord for the chastisement under which you have been suffering? Do you need to bring glory to God this morning by confessing and forsaking your sins? Do you still need to be saved? Repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.