Daniel, who survived a night with lions, was a man determined to stay true to God and follow God, wherever that took him.
Daniel was also completely confident in God’s unwavering love for him and his people. Daniel knew that God loved him and his people, even when they had turned away from God.
That might be true of you and me. We make our best efforts to trust God and do everything that he wants us to do. We know that God loves us even when we don’t always do what is right.
So like Daniel we can pray: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4).
Daniel never took God’s love for granted. He kept it at the forefront of his mind, and so should we.
God’s covenant of love
Covenants are not something we are familiar with today, but they were popular in ancient times. The Bible is full of them. They are binding commitments and God chose to make covenants with his people.
One of those covenants is God’s steadfast love.
But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:8 emphasis mine).
God saved the Israelites from slavery because he loved them. Not only that, but God loved the foreigners living among them.
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10:18).
And in return, God asked the Israelites to follow him and love him back.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).
But, everything goes horribly wrong. The Israelites failed to show their love for God. They turn away from him so that God describes them as committing adultery.
Their turning away led to curses rather than blessings, as in the covenant they agreed to with God. One of those curses was the invasion of their land and people to be taken into exile.
And so we come to Daniel’s prayer, made when he was taken into exile. Even though Daniel followed God faithfully, he prayed:
…we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled. Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you (Daniel 9:5, 11).
What was happening to Daniel and the people was not indiscriminate judgment from God. It had been written in the Law of Moses and into the covenant.
If the people followed God, everything would be good. If they turned away from God, calamities they would come upon them. Deuteronomy 28 is a hard read. We can wonder how God, who is love, could do such things to his people. As hard as they are to understand, these were the terms of the covenant that the people signed up to.
And so Daniel could say:
Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame (Daneil 9:7).
All the people, including Daniel, were guilty. Yet, Daniel also knew that
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him (Daniel 9:9).
Repeatedly, the Bible tells that God’s love is greater than everything else. His love infuses everything he says and does.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
Daniel knew that he could appeal to God’s covenant of love for his people.
We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy (Daniel 9:18).
We too can always appeal to God’s love, especially when things go horribly wrong. We don’t have to pay the price for rebellion against God, Jesus has done that for us. With the birth of Jesus we are under a new covenant, the basis is of which is still love.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Use this prayer so you never take God’s love for granted: