Focus: Daniel 9:17-19, “So now, our God, accept the prayer and requests of your servant, and show favor to your devastated sanctuary for your own sake. Listen attentively, my God, and hear! Open your eyes and look on our desolated ruins and the city called by your name. For it is not because of our own righteous deeds that we are praying to you, but because your compassion is abundant. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, pay attention, and act! Don’t delay, for your own sake, O my God! For your city and your people are called by your name.”
My wife and I have recently started attending a Celebrate Recovery program at Watermark Church here in Dallas. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. So far I have learned that there are others out there who are as screwed up as me. There are many who are struggling with far more difficult things than I am, but one thing is true of everyone. We have all hurt people, and we have all been hurt by people. Celebrate Recovery is about making amends and finding healing from all the junk that hurts and hinders us in this broken world.
The reason I mention all this is because as I have been reading through Daniel, I have come to realize that this brokenness has extended throughout the ages, and so has the amends process. Daniel gives us a great taste of what part of the reconciliation process looks like.
In this passage Daniel is petitioning the Lord to answer his prayer. Daniel’s prayer focuses on the current broken state of the sanctuary (the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 722 B.C.) and the massive destruction to Jerusalem and its walls. Israel’s hurts and hang-ups were severe. Her sin of rebellion against God and committing idolatry and adultery with pagan gods were a breach of Covenant. The consequence was removal from the land, loss of blessing, and forfeiture of protection that was provided in the Covenant.
Just like in step 1 of the 12 steps of CR, Daniel was admitting on Israel’s behalf their inability to control their addictions and compulsions. Their lives had become unmanageable and desperately wicked. Romans 7:18 says, “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!” Israel’s sins were too much for her to handle and they are what got her into trouble.
Like step 2 in CR, Daniel was recognizing Yahweh as the power greater than himself that could restore Israel. Philippians 2:13 says, “for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.” Even while the Covenant brought cursing and discipline for disobedience, it also brought the opportunity for reconciliation. Deuteronomy 30:1-6 teaches us that God would be the one who would cleanse his people’s hearts and would himself restore them back to their land. Thus Daniel prays pleading on account of God’s compassion and not according to any righteous deeds.
In recognizing his own inabilities and those of Israel, Daniel was also making a decision to turn his life and will over to the care of God. (This is step 3 of CR, which is based off of Romans 12:1). His prayer was directed to Yahweh. Consequently, Daniel humbled himself (step 6 based off of James 4:10) and made a searching and fearless moral inventory (Daniel 9:15, 16 & 17) (step 4, based off of Lamentations 3:40), and he confessed them before God and publically before others in his writing. Step 5 of CR is to admit to God, to yourself, and to others the exact nature of your wrongs! James 5:16 says to confess your sins one to another so that you may be healed.”
There are 6 more steps in the Celebrate Recovery process, and each one of them can be highlighted in some way by Daniel’s prayer. Reconciliation is a process that is necessary because we live in a depraved world that is full of sin and deceit. We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt people. In Daniel’s case, just like all of us, his offense was against God. Daniel appealed to God knowing that there was opportunity for reconciliation built into the Covenant. We too have the opportunity to be reconciled with each other and with the Lord through Christ’s work on the Cross. I have to ask, where do I need to make amends with others in my life? How about you? Who do you need to reconcile with today?