Friday, April 1, 2011

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed

Daniel Chapter 9 NLT (excerpted)
Dan. 9:1 It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, . . .2  . . .I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. . . . 
   4  I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: 5   . . . we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.  . . . 11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice. So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin.  . . . .
   20 I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the LORD my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. 21 As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. 23 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. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision. 
   24 A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. 
   26 After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. 27 The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”

God gave Daniel visions of things that would take place in decades, in centuries, and in millenia after the time he saw them. He tells Daniel about the restoration of Jerusalem, for a time, and the coming of Messiah the King. He tells Daniel about the sacrifice and rejection of Messiah, and the victory over sin by faith in Messiah that would benefit all who would believe from every tribe and nation. Daniel is made to understand both his visions and the scripture he had been reading from earlier prophecies by others of God's servants. From Gabriel's lesson to Daniel we understand the second coming. We understand the period of time known as "the end" or the 'church age' as others describe it. We understand that God has extended the boundaries of His people from beyond descendants of the ancient Jews, to include anyone and everyone willing to trust in Christ alone for salvation. We understand that the a giant leap over thousands of years during that 'end time' will culminate in one last desperate hopeless struggle by Satan and the forces of evil to overcome God but it will not happen. As Daniel has been shown in many visions, the people of God win in the end and for eternity.

It was precisely 69 sets of seven years (483 years) from the time the people were sent back to Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt until the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. So we understand that another period of seven years involving Israel is to take place, just seven years prior to Christ's return and earthly rule (the 70th week). Matthew 24:15 suggests this time comes under a figure termed "Antichrist" and leads to the final judgment.

More important to me, in reading Chapter nine is Daniel's prayer. He confesses sins, not his own but those of his ancestors and his nation. He takes responsibility for failure to obey God even though he, himself, had meticulously obeyed God most of his life. When I think how we in the church should be praying about others in the church, it occurs to me that we ought to be praying for forgiveness for sin-- if not our own then the sins of others who should know better. We ought to be seeking God's mercy upon our local congregations where leaders are not listening to God. We ought to be asking for wisdom to be poured out upon other Christians who are not now showing they hear the wisdom of Christ. We ought to be apologizing for the sins of others, even when they do not.  How have you prayed today? Was it anything like how Daniel prayed in chapter 9 vv 5-19? Check that out as a model of prayer and ask God what you might do with that model.

Your servant in Christ

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