“O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness” — Daniel 9:15
The words of some of the prophets show that even when worship patterns engaged, they were often performed superficially. The prophets exposed perfunctory worship, showing that it perversely lacked the justice and the kindness which needed to have thrived behind every offering and prayer to God. Although God delayed the great shaking of Israel and Judah, he finally separated the people from the land which was to showcase the blessings of God.
Near the end of the time of exile, Daniel cried out for God to enact His promise to restore the temple and His people. Daniel was intensely aware of the entire saga, how God had brought His people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand. Daniel’s overriding concern was that the ruins of intended glory on the temple mountain in Jerusalem were a continuing reproach to God’s glory to those around them. He prayed that God would restore the people and the city so that the glory of His name would be restored. Daniel did not base his request on the supposed greatness of Israel, but —
“In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors. “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary. “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.” — Daniel 9:16-19
Ezekiel, a near contemporary to Daniel, breathed the same themes. God had restrained His wrath at several junctures from destroying Israel, but God’s restraint had been for the sake of His name. The dealings of God with Israel were not because of sickly favouritism, but solely for His glory among the nations.
“Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 36:22-23