2018-01-17 / Religion

A prayer for an obedient faith

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Daniel 9:1-19

Some people seem to think that prayer is some sort of mystical communication with a celestial deity that is available to only a limited number of individuals. This false picture has clouded the minds of many humans through the centuries. Simply stated, prayer is communion with God. There is no special language pattern that reaches our Heavenly Father — the creator of the universe — more quickly than another. Talking with God becomes a personal matter, using thoughts and expressions that come from the individual heart.

The nation of Judah had turned its back upon God — Jehovah. Their rebellion had resulted in their capture by the Babylonians. The prophet, Jeremiah, had told them that there would be 70 years of this captivity. Many of the Israelite slaves became trained to serve in the government of their captors.

The prophet, Daniel, served in the Babylonian kingdom, the Median kingdom, and the Persian kingdom. Not only did God use this man in the area of government, but as one who could interpret visions for these leaders.

He was given visions of future events, which have yet to come to pass.

The record tells us that “Darius…was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans (Babylonians).” Daniel 9:1. We know that Daniel made a personal study of the writings of the prophet, Jeremiah — “In the first year of his reign 1 Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2.

This student of the revealed Word of God saw the necessity of turning his personal thoughts to the unfolding of the devine plan — “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession…” Daniel 9:3, 4a.

The thought of “confession” paints different pictures, as scenes unfold. The word that was used by Daniel draws the attention to one who is extending the hands toward the one who is able to understand, and is in a position to give forgiveness and pardon. From this physical position of supplication, the prophet of old said, “O Lord, the great and dreadful (revered) God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments…” Daniel 9:4b, 5.

It is interesting to read that Daniel is showing personal identity with the wickedness of the nation. There is no record that this man, personally, committed the sins, but he identified with them, as he spoke to God. Daniel continued to paint a word picture of the rebellion of his nation — “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.” Daniel 9:6.

As one approaches the throne of God with requests for mercy and grace, the thought must be clear that, personally, one has no “right” to approach God. Daniel willingly expressed this fact — “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces this, 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 trespasses that they have trespassed against thee.” Daniel 9:7.

All levels of society were touched by the rebellion that was led by the king. “O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of faces, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.” Daniel 9:8. Daniel recognized the attitude of God, as a direct contrast to the attitude of the rebellious nation — “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” Daniel 9:9.

Even though many voices had been heard in the land of Israel, these had been ignored — “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.” Daniel 9:10.

Even though God knows all things, sinful mankind needs to acknowledge that which has been done. Daniel declared, “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse (oath) 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.” Daniel 9:11; See Deuteronomy 27:15-26.

The word of God will be accomplished. The prophet declared, “And he hath confirmed (established) 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.” Daniel 9:12.

The great evil that was experienced by the children of Israel did not come to them as some kind of “cosmic surprise.” The Law of Moses had described judgment upon those who rebelled against God. “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.” Daniel 9:13, 14; See Deuteronomy 28:15-20.

As the prophet of old closed his prayer, he presented a request. “O Lord, according to thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from the city of Jerusalem…O Lord, hear, O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” Daniel 9:16, 19.

As God heard in the past, He hears, today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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