Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sunday School Lesson for March 10, 2013

                               “Daniel's Prayer”
International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson for March 10, 2013

Scripture Text: Daniel 9: 4b-14

Purpose: To understand that sometimes our only plea is for God's mercy

Daniel 9: 4b-14 (CEB)
Please, my Lord—you are the great and awesome God, the one who keeps the covenant, and truly faithful to all who love him and keep his commands: 5 We have sinned and done wrong. We have brought guilt on ourselves and rebelled, ignoring your commands and your laws.6 We haven’t listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our parents, and to all the land’s people. 7 Righteousness belongs to you, my Lord! But we are ashamed this day—we, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all Israel whether near or far, in whatever country where you’ve driven them because of their unfaithfulness when they broke faith with you. 8 Lord, we are ashamed—we, our kings, our leaders, and our parents who sinned against you. 9 Compassion and deep forgiveness belong to my Lord, our God, because we rebelled against him. 10 We didn’t listen to the voice of the Lord our God by following the teachings he gave us through his servants, the prophets. 11 All Israel broke your Instruction and turned away, ignoring your voice. Then the curse that was sworn long ago—the one written in the Instruction from Moses, God’s servant—swept over us because we sinned against God. 12 God confirmed the words he spoke against us and against our rulers, bringing great trouble on us. What happened in Jerusalem hasn’t happened anywhere else in the entire world! 13 All this trouble came upon us, exactly as it was written in the Instruction of Moses, but we didn’t try to reconcile with the Lord our God by turning from our wrongdoing or by finding wisdom in your faithfulness. 14 So the Lord oversaw the great trouble and brought it on us, because the Lord our God has been right in every move he’s made, but we haven’t listened to his voice.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Our lesson contains one of the great prayers in the bible. It reads similar to a couple of other prayers, such as the prayer in Ezra 9:5-15 and Nehemiah 9:5-37. It also sounds much like the the prayer of confession used in some communion services, which is based on Solomon's prayer found in I Kings 8:47 and Psalm 106:6-7.

The reason for the prayer is explained in verse 2 “I, Daniel, pondered the scrolls, specifically the number of years that it would take to complete Jerusalem’s desolation according to the Lord’s word to the prophet Jeremiah. It was seventy years.” What Jeremiah wrote in 29:10 of his prophecy was 10”The Lord proclaims: When Babylon’s seventy years are up, I will come and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” 

A lot of ink has been spilled by modern day theologians trying to discredit the timing of Daniels writings, and I don't think my thoughts will persuade you one way or the other, but I will share my view on the very question ask by Daniel.

The captivity of the Jews from Judah lasted for seventy years as predicted by Jerimiah. The reason can be found by going back to the law that had been ignored as found in Leviticus 25:4 “But in the seventh year the land will have a special sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord: You must not plant your fields or prune your vineyards.” And again in 26:33-35  33 “I will scatter you among the nations. I will unsheathe my sword against you. Your land will be devastated and your cities will be ruins.
34 At that time, while it is devastated and you are in enemy territory, the land will enjoy its sabbaths. At that time, the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 During the whole time it is devastated, it will have the rest it didn’t have during the sabbaths you lived in it.”

At the time of Jeremiah’s writing the land given to the tribes of Israel had a united kingdom under king Saul from 1095, Nebuchadnezzar came on the scene in 605, approximately 490 years after Saul was first anointed king. Per the Law of Moses that would mean 70 sabbath years had been ignored, per Jeremiah’s prophecy the exile would last 70 years. God's words can never be ignored.

The prayer of Daniel is a corporate prayer for forgiveness given on behalf of a nation that would not listen or obey. For me the question is how long will a holy God put up with our disobeying as we continue ignoring  God's law of love given to us by the Messiah. For over 2000 years we have not been an obedient church, we have not heard the cry of the needy and we have not loved our neighbors.

When I was younger, my uncle Lew Walter, told me a story about Daniel's prayer that has stuck with me for many years. Imagine if you will Daniel praying and an ever eager Gabriel standing at God's side jumping from one foot to the other in anticipation of God releasing him to go and answer this prayer by Daniel, I can imagine Gabriel saying, “can I go now?” Can I go now? The prayer last about 2-3 minutes and he must have exceeded the speed of light, because he came from glory to Daniels side in a flash, while Daniel was still praying Gabriel showed up, not to give the answer Daniel wanted but out of love and concern to comfort him with the truth of the situation. There is a price to pay when we ignore God's commandments. God's answer does not always align with our desires, but it does not deter God from being a comforter and showing us his love. God hears our cries for mercy. God has sent us a comforter and a savior, still we disobey.

The world may never come to recognize God's supremacy, but what about the church?

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