First I want to apologize for the long period of time between postings. The holidays came and my sweet daughter returned home from the Dominican Republic for a long awaited visit. I opened my Bible on 2 separate occasions to study chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel, but only made a few notes before Cara Jane came into my room wanting to plan our daily activities. I cherished the entire time she was home. I wanted to make sure I devoted my whole self to this Bible study, so I knew God excused my absence...because the blessings I received with Cara Jane was His gift during this Christmas season to me. For that I am forever thankful to my Savior.
Here we go with Chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel...
Our online study reminds us that Daniel is now 90 years old and the chapter begins with Daniel reading from the Book of Jeremiah 24:1-14. The Lord causes Daniel to see that his people would be in Babylon 70 years. Babylon invaded Palestine and began its siege in 606 B.C, and Daniel understood the prophecies in the year 539-538 B.C; so there were but 2 years left in the 70 years promised by the prophet Jeremiah. Most of this chapter is a prayer that Daniel prayed for his people. It is called a Penitent Prayer.
The Cause Of The Prayer
It must have been an overwhelming realization to Daniel that after 68 years of Babylonian captivity Israel had not changed very much. His Prayer seems to-reflect a great concern for what might happen to Israel if there was no dramatic change in the two years to come. Daniel's attitude is revealed to us in verse 3.
"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes."
How strange it must have been for Israel to see the Prime Minister wearing sackcloth and ashes.
The Nature Of The Prayer
Things for us to learn and know about Daniel's prayer in this chapter is its a prayer of confession. It is one of the longest prayers in the Bible and would be a good one for a Christian, church or nation to-pray. Daniel identifies himself with the sins of the people - notice: verse 4 says,
"I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed;" This is Daniels confession to the Lord.
In verse 5 Daniel says, We have sinned", "We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws."
Verse 6 Daniel says, "We have heard you but have not listened to the commands God gave to the prophet if we didn't stop sinning."
"We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land." (Daniel 9:6)
We need to look deeper to some of the things Daniel confesses through verse 5. One is departing from God's precepts or His Laws and what happens to us when we do.
The precepts of God is the final authority of His Word. Christians, I myself included, are no different today - how many of us are really willing to submit our lives to the authority-of God's Word.
God commands us to:
1. Keep His precepts (Psalm 119:4) "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed."
2. To understand His precepts (Psalm 119:27) "How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life."
3. To long after His precepts (Psalm 119:40) "How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life"
4. To seek God's precepts (Psalm 119:45) "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts."
5. To meditate in them (Psalm 119:78) "May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts."
6. Not forget them (Psalm 119:93) "I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life."
7. To choose them (Psalm 119:173) "May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts."
Keep in mind that Daniel had been studying Jeremiah who had Personally preached to three different Jewish kings, none of which heeded the messages of the prophet of God (Jeremiah 21,25,36, & 38). God's people have always had trouble accepting the message of God's prophets.
Luke 13:33-34, "In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
The Results Of Sin
Confusion - God is not the author of confusion "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people" (1 Corinthians 14:33), so we must conclude that man brings it upon himself and it snowballs.
Verses 7-8 in Daniel 9 say, "Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you."
"I live in disgrace all day long, and my face is covered with shame" (Psalm 44:15).
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice"(James 3:16).
These are just a few verses reminding us that sin causes disorder and confusion. We loose focus on God and find ourselves living in a place of disgrace.
Scattering and the Curse
Verse 7 Daniel tells us of the scattering of his people:
“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you."
Verse 11 Daniels speaks of the curse as a result of the sin. “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you."
This scattering was first prophesied in Deuteronomy 28. It was a direct result of disobedience. Jerusalem had been a city of great privileges. At one time it was the religious, economic, educational and political capital of the world. Jeremiah 52 gives us a brief picture of the overthrow of Jerusalem and the desperate condition it was left in.
The Plea For Mercy - (9:16-19)
Verse 18 makes it very clear that there is no basis of personal righteousness upon which Israel can approach God. If we as Christians today, will ever turn to God we will have to forsake an attitude of self-righteousness that controls us today. Daniel knew there was nothing left to appeal to except the mercies of God. God help us!
Daniel is about to receive some of the greatest information that has ever been revealed to mankind. He is to receive the timetable of prophecy. In verses 20-27 of this chapter God sent the answer to Daniel's prayer which was to understand the numbering of God's Word, which he does in verse 2, and then Gabriel comes to Daniel in verse 23 and tells him, "As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision."
The picture being presented in chapters 9 & 10 in this book that there are forces in the universe that battle against the messengers of God. Of course God could overrule at any time, but God informs us in Ephesians 6, "that we wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places." The only piece of armour that is not listed in Ephesians 6 is shin guards, which makes it obvious God intends the warfare to be conducted on our knees in prayer.
SO all this being said...how can we take this information and use it in our daily lives today. How can we worship Him in prayer? By first reflecting upon who God is and thanking Him for the things He has revealed about Himself. To worship in prayer is to allow our spirits to feast upon what God has reveled concerning His acts in the distant and recent past, and what He has told us about Himself.
Slowly, as I review these things in a spirit of thanksgiving and recognition, I can sense my spirit beginning to expand, to take in the broader reality of God's presence and being. Slowly I am able to accept the fact that the universe about me is not closed or limited, but is in fact as expansive as the Creator meant for it to be. Then as I enter into worship I am reminded of how GREAT He is!!
In the light of God's majesty, we are called to an honesty about ourselves: what are we by contrast. This is the second aspect of our prayer: confession. Spiritual discipline calls for a regular acknowledgment of our true nature and the specific acts and attitudes of the recent past that have not been pleasurable to God as He has sought our fellowship and our obedience.
"God be merciful to me as a sinner" is an abbreviated version of the prayer of confession. We need a daily humbling experience of being broken before God as we face up to our imperfection, our propensity to seek evil ways.
If we apply Daniel's methods to our lives, fasting and prayer done in humbleness to God can remind us that we are dependent on Him. When you need guidance, fast and pray. Whether you fast for part of a day or an entire day, spend the time in prayer and meditate on God's Holy Word.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Daniel knew after studying God's Holy Word, that there was just 2 years until the end of the exile. I ask, "How ready are you?" Don't wait until you find yourself in exile. Begin your relationship with the One who Saved us today!!