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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART XVIII)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
12 November 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman
Preparation Verse: (Micah 4:2)
And many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Last week we saw that the messenger of God, the angel Gabriel, brought
answers to the petitions of Daniel and Zacharias; and by receiving their answers
in this manner, they were filled with fear.
Note what we are told in Exodus 19:16-17 –
16. So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
17. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
Now let's look at the result of this experience upon the people, and listen carefully to what they say; for their request was granted, and it affects us today.
Turn in your Bibles to Exodus 20:18-21.
18. And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.
19. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die."
20. And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."
21. So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
Perhaps our problem today is that this reverent fear has left us, and we fear neither God nor Satan, who is leading many astray and even to death.
In Micah 4:2 we saw that the people were to come God to learn His will, and here we see that Moses called the people forth for the same reason.
The greatest commandment that God gave us was Deuteronomy 6:5 -
5 "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
If we truly love God in this unconditional manner, we will also love the whole of His creation (our fellow human beings, the animals, and the environment in which we all live).
Unfortunately most people haven't done this: they lost their first love, and as they did, they also limited their love and compassion to only certain groups of human beings, which has resulted in the horrible suffering and death of millions of humans and billions of animals every year that we have today.
Returning to our Exodus passage, we see that God granted the people’s request and, by the grace of God, Moses is still telling us today all that God told him; for it is all written in the first five books of the Bible.
And if we don’t read these books, we are not fulfilling our part of the bargain.
But in the reading, we need to remember that all of these laws were handed down because we lost our first love and disobeyed God.
If we wholly love God unconditionally, we would naturally fulfill all of these laws.
God has further complied with His side of this request, for He has sent us many others to deliver His message, and much of this is also written in our Bibles; but again, we must be willing to read it and obey it.
This is exactly what we were talking about last week.
Our society today has been turning away from God, just as they were in
Daniel’s day and before that.
Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 9:1 and following, and let’s listen to Daniel as he seeks
the Lord, so that each and every one of us might learn to do the same:
1. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans –
2. in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
See, even Daniel read his Bible books so that he might learn what the Lord desired of him and His people.
And when he didn't completely understand something, he sought his answer from
Daniel knew that they were in captivity because of their sins, so observe
carefully how he prays to God:
3. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
4. And I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
5. we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances.
The hopefully convicting and tragic thing about Daniel's prayer, which was
offered up over 2,500 years ago, is that it is just as correct as if offered up
6. "Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.
7. "Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day – to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee.
8. "Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.
9. "To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;
10. nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.
Doesn’t this sound like the world situation today?
As we continue to listen to Daniel’s prayer, remember that the Israel of his prayer also refers to the Church today.
11. "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.
12. "Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem.
We will see in our future study of God's word that this same kind of destruction, and even worse, will befall the entire world in the not too distant future.
13. "As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth.
God's word is always true, and we should believe it.
It is our own false words and those of others that lead us astray.
14. "Therefore, the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.
And so that no one would have an excuse and say – “I have never heard the voice of the Lord. How could I then be responsible for obeying it?”
And remember that the only people who would say this are those who have also lost their unconditional love of God.
Furthermore, God’s voice has been transcribed into the pages of our Bibles, so that it would be freely accessible to everyone. Thus, today we are just as responsible as Israel was when Daniel spoke this prayer.
15. "And now, O Lord our God, who hast brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and hast made a name for Thyself, as it is this day – we have sinned, we have been wicked.
16. "O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us.
17. "So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary.
Our sanctuary is not desolate, and neither are the sanctuaries of most of the churches around us; but we are quite far from abundant overflowing.
18. "O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion.
Did you hear that?
We have no merit worthy of God’s blessing, except if we become God-like
We are given His blessings because He is compassionate; and if we, as a people, would only desire and learn to be truly compassionate as God is compassionate, then this church and our nation, and all it's human and animal inhabitants would be truly blessed.
So let it start here as an example to others.
19. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name."
God is always faithful to hear our prayers, if they are meant from our heart.
And God is faithful to answer this prayer of Daniel’s that we have just repeated, but He wants us to do our part as well.
1 Timothy 2:1-8, He tells us what He wants us to do as a start, and then He will
do the rest, as long as we are willing to participate.
1. First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
This is probably not the first place that most people would think they would have to start, but it is; for by praying for every person, and I will add every animal, whether or not we like them, our hearts will be conformed to that of God’s.
We are to pray for everyone.
2. for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
God does not want us to be a bad witness. If there is an evil in the world, He wants us to pray that it would be eliminated.
He wants us to pray for the people that cause the evilness so that they would understand what they are doing and come to repentance and even be saved, as we who believe are saved.
God does not want us to be outwardly militant and do something like breaking the law in order to correct another evil, for our witness would be bad and our efforts would often be met with a backlash, as we are now seeing with the abortion issue.
God wants us to be dignified but at the same time very visible. He does not want us to be lazy, but to work hard for what we know to be right and in the will of God.
He wants us to pray without ceasing and to always be thankful.
3. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4. who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. He wants all to be saved.
Daniel knew all the evils that people before him did and the evils that were going on in his day, but he never prayed for their destruction. He apologized for them; he repented for them and asked for God’s forgiveness.
This is what God wants us to do in the world today.
5. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6. who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.
All we have to do is reach out directly to God.
We don’t need anything or anyone else. Jesus has done all the preparation work for us already. All we have to do is bring our prayers and petitions, with thanksgiving, before the Lord our God directly. And He is faithful to hear them and answer them.
Then Paul speaks of himself and his calling, and encourages us to respond to
7. And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
All of humankind is to pray, not just in church or at home, but every place, and we are to pray in a holy manner.
We are to pray in love, and we are to be thankful.
We are not to wish evil on anyone, but to pray for their true understanding and their ultimate salvation.
And when we, as a community of faith, begin to pray in this manner, we will see God working many miracles.