Once Daniel realizes that the seventy years of Israel's captivity is nearing its end, he spends a good amount of time confessing his own sins as well as his nation's sins and pleading with God for forgiveness. His words are very poignant in 9:18b, "For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy." Daniel's attitude of humility is challenging. Certainly if there was any person from the Israelite captives who lived a righteous life, it would be Daniel (after all, he was found by Darius' minions making his illegal prayers God as he had done since before they were illegal – see Daniel 6:10). But Daniel didn't claim his righteousness because he knew that his righteousness wasn't enough to win over God's approval. Instead, he pleaded for God's mercy. The same is true with us. It doesn't matter how "good" of a person you are, how many little old ladies you walk across the street, or how many doors you hold open. It's only by God's mercy and grace that we can be welcomed into His Kingdom.
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Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.