Daniel 9: Daniel's Intercession, Part 2
Jul 03, 2015
The prophet continues his prayer of repentance in Daniel 9:9, 10, saying,
9 To the Lord our God belong compassion [racham] and forgiveness [seleekhaw], for we have rebelled against Him; 10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.
The Hebrew word translated “compassion” is racham. It is the root word (verb) for the noun, rechem, or “womb.” Such love and compassion is pictured as a motherly attribute of El Shaddai, “The Breasted One.’
In Isaiah 46:3, 4 God’s feminine side is pictured once again,
3 Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by Me from birth, and have been carried from the womb; 4 even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you; and I shall bear you, and I shall deliver [malat] you.
The Hebrew word malat, here translated “deliver,” has much the same range of meaning as in English, where it can mean to deliver or save from a dangerous situation or to give birth (“deliver”) a baby. Hence, God conjures up a word picture of a mother who carries a baby until its time of deliverance.
This is the “compassion” that God attributes to “our God.” God has all of the attributes of male and female, though He chose to separate mankind into male and female to make them incomplete without each other.
Daniel says also that God has “forgiveness” (seleekhaw). This is, perhaps, meant to express the male side of God’s nature, since forgiveness is more of a legal term. In Psalm 130:4 we read,
4 But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.
Where there is no forgiveness, there is also no “fear,” which in this case means respect. When we repent, we should expect forgiveness, but when none is given—or when the past sins are continually brought up and used against us after they should have been forgiven and forgotten—we lose respect for the one who should be forgiving us.
We see this in the case of children who are punished for bad behavior and then punished ever after with no hope of true forgiveness. The first sin is punished, and then again when the next sin is done. The first two sins are then added to the third, and so on. That type of parenting can only produce bitterness and anger, derived from a sense that forgiveness is not possible. The child is discouraged, gives up trying to behave properly, and then sets out to prove that his parents are right. Being told that he was a bad boy, he determines in himself to prove them right.
Many are under the impression that God is that kind of parent. Daniel knew God as being compassionate and forgiving, even as the psalmist had discovered.
A large part of the problem throughout history is that men have had a wrong idea of God’s character. God has been presented as a rather mean God that men should avoid in order not to offend Him. Any offense is punishable, not only by death, but by torture in a fire that never ends. They have been told that God’s forgiveness is restricted to the very few, and that there is no forgiveness for most of humanity. This has caused vast numbers of people to be bitter against God, saying, “I don’t want to serve a God like that.”
It is mostly because men do not really know God that they rebel against Him. Once they know who He really is, they will love Him and want to serve Him. In fact, this will actually be what happens in the future, as Revelation 15:4 prophesies,
4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; for all the nations will come and worship before Thee, for Thy righteous acts have been revealed.
In other words, once the nations learn that God is not like the one presented to them by their religious leaders, they will all want to know Him and to glorify His name. The problem has been the misunderstanding of His character, as set forth by the religious leaders of all religions, including the Christian religion. But once Christ is unveiled to the world, and men realize that there is forgiveness with Him, and that He has devised a plan by which He will save all mankind in the end, then the heart of God is truly manifested.
Once men realize that God has actually vowed to save all mankind through the New Covenant, then it becomes apparent that judgment, or punishment for sin, is not everlasting but olam and aionian, “pertaining to an age.” The law of Jubilee releases us from debt (sin) in the end, purely by the Law of Grace.
Many years ago a man in prison read my book, Creation’s Jubilee. When he finished, he said, “That is the kind of God that I want to serve!” He did not become a believer by having preachers threaten him with fiery torture if he did not submit to Christ with a statement of faith. He became a believer by learning of the love of God and seeing how God intended to save all humanity.
Daniel 9:11 continues,
11 Indeed, all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.
Daniel was referring to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, where God took an oath to bring judgment upon Israel if they continually broke their vow to be obedient to God’s law. The captivity of Judah was the manner in which God fulfilled that vow. Yet even then God gave them hope that His judgments would eventually come to an end, saying in Leviticus 26:44,
44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God.
If Israel had received only the Old Covenant, they might have been destroyed for their disobedience. But God also had instituted the New Covenant even before the time of Moses. This New Covenant was an oath that God made not only with Israel but with the whole earth (Genesis 9:17). God had made an oath to save all mankind, but He also made an oath to bring judgment for sin. The only way God could keep both of His oaths is if the judgment was temporary and if, in the end, mercy triumphs over judgment.
The temporary nature of divine judgment is seen everywhere in the law, but also in history. Judah’s judgment was for seventy years only. Israel’s judgment was for 2,520 years, or “seven times.” The earth’s judgment is for the duration of a Creation Jubilee, which I believe is 49,000 years. All judgment is temporary, because there is forgiveness with God. There is forgiveness, because compassion is inherent in His character, He was wise enough to build it into His plan for the earth, and He has the power to implement that plan.
Daniel 9:12-14 continues,
12 Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law off Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.
The Old Covenant was based on man’s vows to God, which the people could only keep in a limited way. For this reason, divine judgment came upon the nation, as Daniel recognized. He says also in verse 13 that the people had not sought God’s “favor” (i.e., grace) by “turning from our iniquity.” In other words, the people had not repented, even while in captivity. They had not repented to the extent that was needed to gain God’s grace. But they were about to be set free anyway. How? Why?
Their sentence was limited to seventy years. Divine judgment is always limited, and at the end of the sentence, they were to receive grace. Grace is primarily a legal term that refers to winning a case before a judge. In any dispute between two parties, the judge was to hear both sides, view the evidence, and then render a decision. The verdict “favored” one side and “condemned” the other. The one receiving “favor” was given grace.
Daniel said, however, that Israel and Judah were to seek God’s favor, or grace, by turning from their iniquity. Here again we must see this in the context of the two covenants. Under the Old Covenant, man exercises his own will and desire to repent. Under the New Covenant, God works within the hearts of men to cause them to repent. Hence, Paul says in Romans 2:4, “the kindness of God leads you to repentance.”
Threats of punishment lead men to cower before God and act in a repentant manner. But the lovingkindness of God leads us to repentance from the heart. Peter related this to the New Covenant as it was given to Abraham, saying in Acts 3:25, 26,
25 It is to you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
In other words, Abraham’s mandate was to bless all the families of the earth. How? What was the nature of this blessing? It is “by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” This is the New Covenant blessing of God, which is the Abrahamic mandate. God took the initiative by sending first Jesus and later the Holy Spirit to do a work in our hearts, so that the kindness of God could lead us to repentance and turn us from our wicked ways.
We see in this also that the effects of Abraham’s blessing would be seen upon “all the families of the earth.” It was not limited to Abraham’s physical seed, but was extended to all who have the faith of Abraham. Those who follow Abraham’s example of faith are His “children,” Paul says in Galatians 3:29. In the Hebrew way of thinking, a “son” was not just a biological offspring, but also one who did the deeds of his “father.” Thus we see children of wisdom, sons of thunder, sons of perdition, and children of light.
This is part 41 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Daniel." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones