Followers

Sunday, May 31, 2020

NOT DESOLATE




     The bright sun of Babylon streamed through Daniel’s window as the aging prophet unrolled the scroll. Jeremiah, Jerusalem’s man of God, had sent it to Babylon years earlier. And when it first arrived, Daniel practically devoured this Word from the LORD.

     Captured by King Nebuchadnezzar as a teenager, Daniel had lived in this pagan culture for about 67 years. Kings came and went during his lifetime, and recently the Empire had changed hands.

     Yet Daniel’s God was in control. And this, God made evident sometime earlier when coworkers had plotted against Daniel.

     Supposedly he had broken the king’s bogus law by praying to Almighty God instead of the king. As a result, they threw Daniel into the lion’s den. But this Most High God, proving to all that He is God and there is no other,[1] shut the lion’s mouths.[2]

     Reminded of something in Jeremiah’s scroll, Daniel searched feverishly. There in the 25th section and again in the 29th, he found it. Three times the LORD said through Jeremiah that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.[3]

     Throwing up his hands, Daniel shouted, “Praise the Almighty! It’s almost over!”

     And it was. Nevertheless, in reading to find this good news, Daniel also found the sin that caused their captivity.

     Frustrated, that even after his deportation, Judah took their freedoms to worship the One True and Living God so lightly when Daniel had to fight for his. Refusing to worship the false gods of Babylon, Daniel and his co-captives, time and again, had risked their lives. But Judah rejected God, transgressed His Law, and chose to worship these idols.

     Heartbroken, Daniel donned sackcloth and ashes, fasted, and set his face toward the Lord God to make his requests, supplications, and confessions.[4] He repented for Judah’s corrupt leaders, false prophets, idolatry, apathetic mode of worship, and it’s blatant disregard for the prophesied consequences.[5] Daniel knew the mercy of God was their only hope, and he closed his prayer with this, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

     I found Daniel’s prayer of repentance painful to read, but sadly, it was all I could think of when the pandemic hit. And as I read and prayed, I saw how America fit the picture Daniel painted. Tears fell, and I believe God allowed me to feel His grief over our nation. Then after several days, I felt Him say, “Write it down.”

     My first prayer-paraphrase was harsh—just as harsh as Daniel’s recounting of Israel/Judah’s sin because of the similarities. Yet, in my second draft, God opened my eyes to the one major difference, and I softened.[6]

     Daniel prayed, “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant…cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is DESOLATE.”[7] My mind immediately went to the empty sanctuaries across this nation. “Desolate,” I cried as well.

     But the Holy Spirit quickened my heart. “No, not desolate,” He said. “The TEMPLE of God is NOT a building in this age.”

     “Of course!” I said. This side of the cross, WE are His Temple.[8] And in II Corinthians, Paul wrote, “…For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”[9]

     Aahh! I was so focused on America’s sin and obeying God’s II Chronicles 7:14[10] command, that our “new normal” kept me fixated on circumstances. God knew I needed this gentle reminder, and maybe you do too.

     Am I happy we could worship together last Sunday and today? Yes! Do I understand the whole agenda of the evil one in these last days? No!

     But this I do know; even though church buildings were empty, God’s church never was. Once we are His child,[11] saved by the blood of Jesus[12] and born again through the living and eternal Word of God,[13] NO person or VIRUS can take His Holy Spirit from us.[14] He will never leave us or forsake us,[15] and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.[16]



[1] Isaiah 45:22
[2] Daniel 6:20-22
[3] Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10
[4] Daniel 9:3-4
[5] Daniel 9:5-19; Deuteronomy 28:15, 49, 63-66
[7] Daniel 9:17
[8] I Corinthians 6:19
[9] II Corinthians 6:16
[10] “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
[11] John 1:12
[12] I John 1:7
[13] I Peter 1:23
[14] John 14:16-18
[15] Hebrews 13:5
[16] Romans 8:35-39

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