Justice and Mercy

September 24, 2020 

Daniel 9:17–19

17Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.

18O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

19O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” 

As we looked at this prayer of Daniel we saw that there are two parts, a negative understanding of Israel’s sin and a positive understanding of God’s mercy and love. 

For those of us who have had children, we understand the need for discipline and the need for mercy. Both are done in love. The disciple comes as a result of disobedience, but its severity is determined by the amount of rebellion in the heart of the child. The disciple is directed to change the action of the child, but it is also used to turn the heart of the child back to the parent. 

We don’t spank our children for every misstep they make but only for open rebellion. When that cute little boy or girl looks at you in defiance and says, “you’re not the boss of me…” you know that look? Action is called for. Proverbs says, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Discipline is done in love, and after the disciple our children are given the opportunity to consider the sin and ask forgiveness. This is the goal of discipline…  restoration and restored fellowship. 

Israel was being disciplined by God, Daniel understood that. The discipline was severe because the rebellion was overwhelming as was determined by the prophet Jeremiah. Daniel confesses the nation’s sin and agrees with God that the punishment was just. It is his belief and his heartfelt desire that the time for mercy and restoration is at hand. 

But notice that Daniel does not ask for this mercy based on the performance of Israel? He doesn’t say, “look how much better we are doing… we deserve to be restored.” In fact, he agrees with God that Israel is not worthy of being restored to a place of mercy and fellowship. Instead, he uses another argument: 

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.” 

What is he saying? He is saying he understands the gospel. Salvation is based on God’s mercy, not on our having earned it somehow. Discipline is often necessary to reveal the severity of the sin, but the heart is changed when we see the mercy of God who not only keeps us from getting what we truly deserve (eternal punishment) but gives us what we don’t deserve, the righteousness of Christ. 

Daniel pleaded for the mercy of God, not the justice of God. God can not do one without the other. Justice and mercy come together on the cross of Jesus Christ. He was punished for our transgression (justice) and we are forgiven because of his great love towards us (mercy).



The Plea

September 23, 2020 

Daniel 9:1–8

1In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

3Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,

5we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

7To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 

Daniel 9:17–19

17Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.

18O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

19O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” 

As Daniel studied the book of Jerimiah, he understood that the time period God decreed for the desecration of the temple and the captivity of Israel was 70 years. He understood the reason for these events and confessed, not only his own sin but the sin of his people and their leaders. 

Daniel calls their sin a treachery. The word translated treachery from Hebrew is translated in a number of places in the Bible by many English words. It is translated unfaithfulness, infidelity, a breach of commitment, disloyalty and fraud. You get the picture. Israel had not simply sinned, they had defrauded God with their unfaithfulness. Daniel’s heart is broken as he reads Jerimiah.   

Jerimiah 13:25-27

25 This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the LORD, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies. 26 I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen. 27 I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will it be before you are made clean?” 

This description by God to the prophet Jerimiah could not be any clearer as to the way God looks at the sin of his people. They had gone after false Gods, like a woman who has made herself a harlot, like a donkey in heat who runs into the field searching for a mate. The nation was judged, and God had every right to bring justice upon them, he considered them to be in relationship to him like a wife to a husband, but they dealt treacherously with him. 

It is important for us today to see the way God views his people, people who are in covenant relationship with him. Does God view our attachment to the things of the world with any less emotion? Are we also responsible for breaking the heart of God? 

Before Daniel can plea to God for the positive things he wants for his people, he must own the negative.



A Foreshadow

September 22, 2020 

Daniel 8:9–14

9Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 

11It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.

12And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 

13Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” 

The four horns (kings) rose to power after the great horn (Alexander) was cut off. Since Alexander had no heirs to succeed him, the kingdom was divided several years later among his four generals, represented here by the four horns. 

But the divided kingdom of Greece never had the same power Greece had enjoyed under Alexander. To Ptolemy was given Egypt and parts of Asia Minor. Cassander was given the territory of Macedonia and Greece. Lysimachus was given Thrace and parts of Asia Minor. Seleucus was given the remainder of Alexander’s empire which included Syria, Israel, and Mesopotamia. 

Years later from among one of the four horns (kings) there would arise, Gabriel said, a severe (stern-faced) and cunning king (a master of intrigue and deceit. A powerful ruler, he would devastate property and destroy people in order to expand his kingdom. 

The holy people, the nation Israel, would be a special target of his oppression. In subjugating Israel, many would lose their lives just when they thought they were safe.

 His antagonism against Israel would also be against her God, the Prince of princes. Yet this mighty conqueror himself would be destroyed by supernatural power. Gabriel tells Daniel in verse 24, “His rise was not his own doing and his downfall was not by human means.” The death of this ruler was predicted, he died insane in Persia in 163 BC. 

The king referred to here is known as Antiochus IV Epiphanes. After murdering his brother, who had inherited the throne in the Seleucid dynasty, he came to power in 175 BC. He attacked and burned Jerusalem, killing multitudes. The Jews were forbidden to follow the Mosaic Law in observing the Sabbath, their annual feasts, and traditional sacrifices, and circumcision of children. Altars to idols were set up in Jerusalem and on December 16, 167 BC the Jews were ordered to offer unclean sacrifices and to eat swine’s flesh or be penalized by death. 

Epiphanes promised peace and safety to Israel, but then turned on the nation because of his hatred of God and his people. These events actually happened and are recorded in history, but they are also a foreshadowing of future events. At a future time, at the end of the age, another king will rise and promise peace to Israel. He will come into their land under false pretenses and then seek to destroy all of Israel. But God will overpower him and put an end to his plan. 

Why do we pay attention to world events? Because this person, the antichrist may very well be alive today. The events are unfolding, the pieces are all in place. Daniel gives us a warning, history tells us of the hatred and devastation, and we see every day on tv people who are willing to riot and kill to attain their purposes. We are living in the end times and we need to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ. 




Daily Devotions 2020