SS Lesson for 03/10/2013
Devotional Scripture: James 5:13-18
The lesson examines a confessional Prayer of Daniel.† The study's aim is to teach that someday Jesus will rule forever and ever. The study's application is to show that as Christians we can rejoice because soon our Lord Jesus will bring all things under His control.
9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
†[To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses] Not only does righteousness belong to him in the sense that he has done right, and that he cannot be blamed for what he has done, but mercy and forgiveness belong to him in the sense that he only can pardon, and that these are attributes of his nature.
[Though we have rebelled against him] The word used here and rendered "though" may mean either "though" or "for." That is, the passage may mean that mercy belongs to God, and we may hope that he will show it, "although" we have been so evil and rebellious; or it may mean that it belongs to him, and he only can show it, "for" we have rebelled against him; that is, our only hope now is in his mercy, "for" we have sinned, and forfeited all claims to his favor. Either of these interpretations makes good sense, but the latter would seem to be most in accordance with the general strain of this part of the prayer, which is to make humble and penitent confession. In the same way, the passage in Ps 25:11 is rendered, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great" - though this passage will admit of the other interpretation, "although it is great."
The concept of the major outlines came from NIV Standard Lesson Commentary and was determined by reviewing the Scriptural Text.
And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession
Prayer Starts with Confession
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness
Prayer for God's Forgiveness
For the Lord's sake
Prayer Seeks God's Glory
Danielís prayer in todayís text is best understood when viewed through a wide-angle lens. The national identity of the Israelites had its roots in Godís promise to Abraham (who, ironically, was originally from Babylon) that he would become a great nation and that through him all nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). An important element of this promise was Godís deliverance of Abrahamís descendants from slavery in Egypt (about 1440 BC), bringing them into the promised land. The peopleís well-being depended on their keeping Godís law. Should the Israelites fail in that, God vowed to deliver them into their enemiesí hands (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). By Danielís time many centuries later, that is exactly what had happened. The Israelites had forsaken Godís ways, and God had kept his Word to judge them. Judgment was not, however, Godís last word. He also foretold that should the Israelites return to him wholeheartedly, then he would restore their fortunes (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). This is the most important background to Danielís prayer in todayís text. Daniel offered his prayer in ďthe first year of DariusÖ who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdomĒ (Daniel 9:1). We date this to about 522 BC. Thus Danielís prayer in todayís text took place some 64 years after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the temple was started in 538 BC as the first wave of the Jews returned from exile (Ezra 1:1-4:5), but subsequently halted (4:24). The work on the temple resumed in 529 BC and was completed in 515 BC (5:1-6:15). Thus Daniel offered his prayer during a time of transition for his people.
In the ninth chapter of Daniel, Daniel concludes that the 70-year period of Israelís captivity is virtually over, and that return of Jews to their own land is imminent. With this hope, Daniel begins to pray for himself and his people. His prayer of confession and petition is answered, but certainly not in a way Daniel would have expected. God sent Gabriel, His angel, to give Daniel understanding and insight into the vision he had received, enabling him to see the near future in perspective. God wanted Daniel to understand the relationship between Israelís soon return to the land and the rebuilding of the templeóin the light of Godís promise to restore His people and establish His kingdom on the earth. God wanted Daniel to know that Israelís imminent return to the land was not the coming of the kingdom of God. Chapter 9 is a truly rich portion of Scripture. Danielís prayer is a model worthy of our study, our meditation, and our imitation. Gabrielís appearance and announcement provides Daniel and his reader with an increasing level of understanding of the vision God had previously revealed. Verses 24-27 begin to spell out future events in detail rather than with vague, mysterious symbols. While all may not agree on the meaning of these verses, all Christians would agree they provide very specific information concerning the last times. For the first time in Danielís prophecy, the suffering and death of Messiah is introduced. These inspired words of prophecy speak of the days to come. They also speak of the coming Messiah, through whom God will provide the forgiveness of sins and bring to earth the kingdom of God. They speak of the hope which lies ahead for every believer. They speak of those future certainties which put present events in perspective.
After the death of King Solomon, Israel split into two separate nations. The ten northern tribes are usually referred to as "Israel," while the two southern tribes are designated "Judah." The northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Most of those who survived the Assyrian invasion were carried away as captives, never to return to their homeland. Over a century later, the southern kingdom fell to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Prior to the actual destruction of Jerusalem, however, captives were taken in 605 and in 597. Daniel was among the best and the brightest of the Jews taken in the first deportation (Dan. 1:3-4). Uncompromising in his religious convictions, Daniel rose to prominence under several rulers. Even when the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians, Daniel continued to work for the government. While Daniel was not personally responsible for the fall of Judah, he nonetheless felt some accountability for the plight of his people. Consequently, he confessed the sins of the nation to Yahweh.
4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
5 "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
6 "Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 "O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day-- to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them ó the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.
3 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?
29 "You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
6 Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
9 These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."†
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator ó who is forever praised. Amen.
10 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.
9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: 42 "We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience .
27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
15 Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.†
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful†
19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
24 "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'† 26 "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.† 28 "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
8 "O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.
11 An evil man is bent only on rebellion; a merciless official will be sent against him.
43 Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king."
10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains,† 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.† 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
8 They would not be like their forefathers ó a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious,† 22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,
6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunishedó 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
17 "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
10 You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
10 Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness.
4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds ó his name is the Lord ó and rejoice before him.
9 Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Danielís prayer provides a marvelous model for all who would repent and turn to God for salvation. His prayer begins with a recognition of the perfections and holiness of God and a recognition of our own sinfulness. It recognizes God is just in punishing us for our sins. It comes to God not on the basis of our own deeds or righteousness, but on the basis of His character and His covenant. He is merciful and compassionate, so we may come to Him for mercy and grace. He is also the One who has instituted a new covenant through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. All who come to Him for mercy, grace, and salvation through Christ He will not turn away or cast out. There is no other way to come to God and enter into His kingdom. Even the godly man Daniel knew this to be the way. Just as our Lord suffered in order to enter into His glory, we are called to suffer for His sake before we enter into the glory of His kingdom. There will be persecution and opposition and difficult days ahead. We should not only expect these times, but we should stand firm and endure them. One of the reasons the last days are recorded in Scripture is to let the saints know what to expect so that we might look to Him for the ability to endure. May God give us the grace we need to be faithful in the difficult days ahead.
Danielís prayer is a model in teaching us what it means to confess sins with integrity. We do not simply apologize to God. We must reorient our lives around Godís mission. We must be honest about our past and deliberate about our future. Danielís prayer is also a wonderful example of corporate solidarity. In a world where leaders may not even own up to personal failings, it is remarkable to see someone who identifies with the sins of his people, both in his own generation and in generations past. Daniel makes no distinction between his behavior and that of Israel as a whole. Yet we know Daniel was a moral exemplar among his people. He took bold steps to honor God when his own life was on the line (Daniel 1 and 6). But Danielís life did not revolve around himself. If his people were not right with God, then Godís mission was at stake. When Godís mission is in jeopardy, Godís people have to join together, confess together, and turn to God together.
1. God's faithfulness and holiness put our sin and rebellion in their true, ugly light (Dan. 9:4-5)
2. Our sin is repugnant, and no one can escape its shame (vs. 6-8)
3. The Lord's merciful forgiveness is our only hope, but it is a glorious hope that we can joyfully embrace (vs. 9)
4. All have sinned, and the consequences are deservedly grim (vs. 10-11)
5. We have suffered no punishments we did not deserve; God is wholly just in everything He does (vs. 12-