Thursday, April 12, 2018
“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. 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. You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem. Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet 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 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. 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 9:7-19(KJV)
Despite the miracles and majestic displays of God’s favor showered on Israel when God rescued the nation from Egyptian captivity, and despite the gift of Jerusalem as a home, the freed slaves went right back to business as usual in the human family; they forgot God and adopted the mantra of human independence: I’ll do it my way!
The bare fact is that no matter how much we repeat the phrases – believe in yourself, trust yourself, love yourself, dream big and it’s yours…all that self-esteem, self-confidence and basking in our own brilliance will ever get us is back in the pigpen.
And the reason is always the same – serving self, rather than serving God.
Daniel prayed this prayer from the pit – he, along with the rest of the descendants of Abraham, was in the midst of a 70 year Babylonian captivity, the latest woodshed experience for the people of God. And while Daniel worked daily on living a righteous life of obedience, he placed himself in the middle of this prayer of repentance.
Here is a message for the church – all the people who still gather on Sundays, pray, give, attempt a witness of the saving power of Jesus Christ:
It’s time to repent!
The normal response, perhaps because we’re so ingrained with our culture’s rugged individualism, and the reigning correctness of never accepting blame, is to say: Why? The answer is found in the knowledge that each of us has sinned, and we are no different than those who sin in the same ways, lesser ways, bigger ways, and public or private ways. Life in the 21st century is attempting to leave God a relic for the museums. If God does not change in his character and ways, the only conclusion one could possibly draw about the future for this country is that we are headed for a captivity to take us down a peg or two.
If a righteous man like Daniel placed himself in the middle of a prayer of national repentance, calling on God to save his people, not because they deserved it, but solely because of God’s mercy…perhaps his example shows there is hope yet…IF we will turn!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.