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7

Don’t Be Shy!

Key References: Daniel 9:1-19; Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10-14; Prophets and Kings, chap. 45, pp. 555, 556; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 66-70; Our Beliefs, nos. 10, 14, 11

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“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

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We can come to God confidently, for He answers our prayers.

Think about a time you were away from home and were eager to get back. Maybe it was a week at summer camp or just a couple nights staying with a friend. Imagine what it would be like to be away from home for 70 years.

Babylon must have been beautiful with its world-famous “hanging gardens” that King Nebuchadnezzar had built for his wife. In fact, Babylon might have been the most beautiful city in the entire world at that time. But it was a city dedicated to idols. Evil was everywhere.

Daniel lived in Babylon, but he was not at home there. Daniel knelt by his window to pray. How many years now had he knelt at this same window? It had been nearly 70 years since he had been taken away as captive from his homeland. Seventy bittersweet years. It had to be a terrible experience for him to be taken from his home and his family and led away in chains as a captive to the court of a heathen king! But once he had accepted the fact that this was God’s will for his life, there had been sweetness, too.

Daniel was becoming an old man and longed to be home. There had been no place on earth like Jerusalem, the holy city of God’s people! God’s Temple was there. Daniel’s heart had never left it, and he longed to be back there again.

Daniel replayed the words he had read the previous night—words written by the prophet Jeremiah. “ For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive’ ” (Jeremiah 29:10, 14, NKJV).

Daniel’s heart probably leaped for joy at the thought. Seventy years of captivity were almost over. It was almost time for God to take them home! Yet he was reminded of the grave consequences of worshipping idols. How long would God have to extend His patience until His people would return to Him and obey His law faithfully?

Daniel set his face toward the Lord, to intercede on behalf of his people, by prayer and supplication, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. Mourners and captives wore sackcloth. That’s probably what Daniel felt like. He might have been an honored member of the king’s court, but he was a captive in a foreign land.

“O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.”

“Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:4-6; 17-19, NKJV).

While Daniel was still speaking, praying, and confessing his sins and the sins of his people Israel, the angel Gabriel, whom he had seen in vision at the beginning, appeared to him in the evening. After Daniel ended his prayer, the angel Gabriel said, “At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision” (verse 23). Daniel was overwhelmed with gratitude as he worshipped the awesome God who heard his humble prayer. He recognized once again that God is full of grace and mercy, keeping His promises to His children.