The Book of Daniel was written during a time when the Jewish people were suffering greatly under the persecution and oppression of a pagan king. Upon reading Jeremiah’s writings foreseeing Jerusalem’s 70-year ruin (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10), Daniel prays and asks for God’s forgiveness of the people’s sins. His prayer follows two of his visions (described in chapters 7 and 8), and these visions show God’s control of historical events and provide hope for those who remain faithful in times of persecution. Today’s reading concludes with a reference to the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple under the leadership of Judah’s governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua (Haggai 1:1-14; Zechariah 6:9-14). There is also an apocalyptic reference to the “Awful Horror,” an altar to the Greek god Zeus that was set up in the Temple in 168 B.C. by a Syrian ruler named Antiochus IV Epiphanes (see also Matthew 24:15 in which Jesus refers to this prophecy).
Today’s Scripture Reading
Today’s Key Verse: Daniel 9:4b
“Lord God, you are great, and we honor you. You are faithful to your covenant and show constant love to those who love you and do what you command.”
What was the main purpose of Daniel’s prayer for his people? What are some of the reasons God allowed the people to endure suffering, such as the exile or later persecutions? How do you understand God’s relationship with human suffering today? In what ways have you experienced God’s presence during times of suffering?
Great and awesome God, forgive our society for the ways in which we have turned away from your love and justice for all. Let your face shine upon your people, that we may know your forgiveness and mercy, and that we may ultimately do your will. Amen.
Places throughout the world devastated by war and conflict
Nehemiah 8:1-18: Ezra the priest reads the Law to the people gathered in Jerusalem.
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