October 27th, 2010 by Kristi Stephens
Missed any of our Revelation series? You can catch up here!
Last week we spent some time considering Revelation chapter 8 and the lessons it holds for us regarding the potent force of prayer. Today I wanted to share with you a bit of a tangential post. :) It’s not exactly part of our Revelation series, but it relates well to that discussion.
In my personal devotion time I’ve been reading through the book of Daniel. It has been years since I really studied this book and I forgot how much I love it! Daniel is one of those rare individuals that I would truly consider a hero of the faith – this man is a faithful follower of God, even when thrown into a den of lions or put into a position of great power under multiple kings (a situation that would probably destroy most of us much faster than facing hungry lions!)
Yesterday and today I’ve been reading Daniel chapter 9. The chapter opens for us with Daniel studying “the books” – the portion of Scripture that was written down at the time. He’s not just casually reading, he is studying, and God reveals something important to him through the text.
I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. (9:2)
Daniel is diligently studying the text. He believes that the Scriptures are literally true and expects that prophecy will come to pass. He realizes that the Scriptures indicate that Jerusalem would be desolate for 70 years… and he also realizes that the time is almost up. His response?
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (9:3-6)
Daniel falls before the Lord with humility and passion, entreating God for mercy on the basis of His character and promises – fully acknowledging that they deserved punishment.
“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Dan. 9:17-19)
Now, the kicker of this passage for me is what happens next. Talk about answered prayer!
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill- while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. (Dan. 9:20-23a)
Oh, that is so rich! I just keep coming back to these verses and turning them over in my mind. Questions I’m pondering:
- Do we study the Scriptures with this type of intensity and faith? As we continue on through the prophetic visions in Revelation, do we believe that these things will actually happen? I know that there are many Christians who would say that I go a little too far in my literal interpretation of Scripture – that’s fine with me. I’m not going to be dogmatic about things that aren’t clear… but so, so many things ARE clear. Like Daniel, I want to read the Bible with eyes of faith, expecting God’s Word to be fulfilled exactly as He said it would be!
- If I really believe these things will happen, what will be my response? How should it change my prayer life? How should I intercede on behalf of so many who have fallen away from truth or rejected it altogether? Notice when Daniel realizes where they are on the prophetic timeline that he doesn’t immediately head out to the street corner to yell at people to repent or arrogantly flaunt his Biblical knowledge. He humbles himself, repents personally, and prays with intensity on behalf of God’s people.
- Do I expect God to answer my prayers? I love the wording of Verse 23 in the ESV – “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” Have I built the kind of relationship with God where I am praying so in tune with His will (and I could only be that in tune with His will if I know His Word this well!) that I expect Him to respond to my prayers with this type of answer?
I pray that as we continue on through this Revelation study that this will not be an academic or mental exercise for you or for me. If God’s Word says these things are so… do we believe it? And if so, what will we do? How will we pray? How might God respond?