Today’s Reading: Daniel 9
Have you ever read a portion in Scripture or a Bible story that you’ve heard since you were a child yet now, as an adult, you have an increased understanding of what the Scripture is saying? God’s word is familiar but it comes to life in a new way, as if you were hearing it for the first time.
Daniel was a young man when he was brought into the royal service, but he would have heard from his parents and grandparents the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He might have celebrated Passover and heard how the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites when they sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. He would have heard the stories of how Moses led them out of captivity in Egypt into the Promised Land and he would have most likely had the Ten Commandments memorized. Yet now, at this stage in his life, he is coming to a new understanding of what God has done for His people and their continued unfaithfulness generation after generation.
During the first year of King Darius’ reign, Daniel is studying the word of the Lord as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet. He reads that this exile to Babylon is to last seventy years. It must be apparent to him that the seventy years is coming close to completion. He sees the need for his countrymen and his people to fully repent and turn to God so that their captivity can come to an end and they can return home again – home to Jerusalem.
Daniel put his spiritual concerns ahead of his physical needs and began fasting, turning to the Lord God in prayer – pleading for his people. He went into mourning by dressing in burlap and sprinkling himself with ashes. He took it upon himself to fall before the Lord and confess on behalf of the Israelites.
Wow! Do we pray like that? Are we so concerned with the sins of our society that we fall on our knees and confess on behalf of our country? What would happen if we did pray like Daniel prayed, with fervency and desperation? What if we wept as Jesus did when he looked out over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41)? What if we prayed this prayer:
“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets…
“Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the Lord our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets…
“…we have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him…
“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 9:4-19
I love this next part! What happens next reminds us that God hears our prayers, sees our hearts and responds from His heart. Consider what the angel Gabriel said to Daniel in response to his prayer and hear God’s words to you this morning as you pour out your heart to Him.
“Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God…” – Daniel 9:22-23
Something happened immediately – the moment Daniel began praying. Do we want to see God do something incredible for our nation in 2016? I think it is time to start praying for just that.
Dear Lord, this morning we come before you in repentance – repenting for our own sins and for the sins of our nation. Heavenly Father, You have poured out Your blessings upon us and we have rebelled against You. As a nation, we have not obeyed you. O merciful God, lean down and listen to us this morning. We plea for your mercy on behalf of our country, even though we do not deserve it. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! Please give us new insight and understanding. Like Daniel, may we hear from You today – may we hear the words from Your heart, “You are very precious to God.” Amen.