Friday, March 8, 2013

Have Mercy!

After the September 11, 2011 tragic attack against the United States many prayers have been uttered to the Almighty God. There have been prayers seeking strength, peace, grace, and mercy on each anniversary to commemorate those who had died in the attack or were injured as first responders on that day. Many blessings, prayers, poems, lyrics, and quotes have been uttered or written to ease our grief. A national healing is necessary. It is time for sincere national prayer and acknowledgment of America’s role in creating the kind of world where excessive capitalism, greed, hate, fear, and injustice are seen as fueling terrorism. We need sincere corporate prayers of confession seeking divine forgiveness and reconciliation to God in the name of Jesus. Bishop T.D. Jakes prayed, in part, ‘…Watch over us with your omniscient eye granting us your continued protection. Our enemies remain unrelenting. In the true spirit of our faith, we also pray for our enemies. Let the message of your love and light extend not only to those who mourn but to those who hate, that they might realize that hate will not replace the better choice of debate nor will destruction reconstruct the common chord of our shared brotherhood as human beings. Have mercy on the pain and misguidance that would make them seek the horrific option of destruction. Guide them to the light of your love.’1 Today’s lesson is not a study of Daniel’s dreams or visions as in chapter 7 and 8, but a study of his prayer of confession to God on behalf of all of Israel for their sins. The lesson is the second of three lessons in Unit I, The Kingdom of God, and begins in the first year of King Darius. The text is recorded at Daniel 9:4b-14. The devotional reading is recorded at James 5:13-18.

What should we do when fear encroaches upon our lives? Daniel went to God in prayer. ‘…O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;’ Dan 9:4b Daniel was most humble in addressing the Lord in his prayer. As a devout Jew, he knew their history, customs, and traditions. He prayed on behalf of all the Jews in the belief that the children of Israel were suffering due to their disobedience to God’s law. His prayer of confession is patterned after the prayer recorded at Nehemiah 9:2-37. Daniel knew God to be great and he feared (worshipped) the Lord as all mankind should. He also knew this awesome God was compassionate and merciful. The Lord would keep His covenant for all that loved Him and were faithful to keep His commandments. Daniel recognized there was a remnant of Israel (at the time of his writing) for whom God would keep His promises and show mercy while the children of Israel were forced to suffer as a community while in exile.

‘We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.’ Dan 9:5-6 Daniel’s prayer expressed confessions of sins against God in order to seek mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation with Him. Israel was God’s chosen people and had preferred to sin against Him, whether termed civil or criminal, of intensity and hard-heartedness, simply missing the mark, or twisted and perverted. Some had chosen to be rebellious and disobey God’s commands and laws. Because of God’s mercy, He sent prophets to speak to the leaders of Israel. They were warned to turn away from their sins as that was the will of God. It was faithfully proclaimed by the prophets of God to the children of Israel they would come under judgment if they did not repent. God would allow them to be conquered and suffer in exile. Daniel prayed the Israelites saw clearly that all these calamities had come upon them because they had not heeded the Word of the Lord when it was spoken in His name to repent.

‘O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.’ Dan 9:7-8 God is seen as just in all that He has done. He is holy and merciful. In comparison, public shame had come to the large kingdom of Judah (which included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), the smaller kingdom of Ephraim (the remaining ten tribes which had been carried to Assyria), and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (capital of the kingdom of Judah). Their public shame was due to their sins against God. The shame was not limited to the kings and princes. It was a corporate shame that included all the people of Israel due to their disobedience.

‘To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.’ Dan 9:9-10 Daniel appeals to God’s mercy even though the children of Israel had rebelled against His will. He pleads to restore the nation to their former status of enjoyment. Repentance will be necessary. God has always been ready to pardon sin. ‘O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.’ Ps 62:12 Daniel knew of Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Israelites would suffer a seventy-year period in exile. Jer 25:1, 11-12; 29:10 The end of the seventy year period that had been prophesied was drawing near. Israel’s rebellion was worthy of a complete judgment. However, Daniel sought forgiveness from God on behalf of his fellow Jews despite the fact they had been disobedient to His laws.

‘Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.’ Dan 9:11 In Deuteronomy chapter 28, verses 1-14, is written some of the promised blessings to the Israelites in obedience to God’s word as written by Moses. Verses 15 through 68, however, are listed the promised curses for disobedience. The Israelites were forewarned of their destruction, shame, scattering, and captivity among other curses in this warning in the Mosaic writing of the Lord’s Word. Other prophets had been sent from God to warn of the punishment should they not repent of their sins.

‘And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.’ Dan 9:12 By bringing upon the Israelites all that He had threatened in case of their disobedience Daniel saw that there was a complete fulfillment of what God said He would do. ‘God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Num 23:19 God confirmed the words He spoke against His disobedient chosen children. No sinner can ever hope to escape His judgment! The fall of Jerusalem was one of complete desolation, ruination of its temple, and of either killing its inhabitants or taking them into captivity into Babylon. The desolation was a reproach to the saints; the fall was a grief to the Israelites.

‘As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.’ Dan 9:13-14 As the Word of the Lord was written by Moses, the curses had fallen upon them and the people had still failed to recognize their sins and repent unto God. Therefore God has continued to watch the evil as it is played against His chosen people. He is right in all that He is doing for they are disobedient to His voice and must be reprimanded.

In America there is an annual National Day of Prayer and festivities. ‘The 62nd annual National Day of Prayer will take place on Thursday, May 2, 2013. This year’s theme, “Pray for America”, is based on Matthew 12:21 which reminds us that “In His name the nations will put their hope.” The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.’2 Will you pray for your nation as well as your personal repentance and righteousness in the culture? We need America to recognize its sins and repent unto God in the name of Jesus. He is just and will forgive. What an awesome and merciful God we serve!


Written by Deborah C Davis

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