Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 9:3

“So, I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel 9:3  

Starting with verse one of chapter nine we read, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans, 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.” Daniel 9:1-2.  Darius the Mede became the ruler of Babylon after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great of Persia. “So, Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.” Daniel 5:31. This is the first year of Darius the Mede, which means it was around 537 B.C. Daniel understood by the prophet Jeremiah that there would be 70 years.  They were taken into captivity in 607 B.C. When we subtract 537 from 607, we get 70, the number of years in captivity. And as clarification, ‘the books’ refer to the sacred Hebrew writings available in Daniel’s day of which the prophecy of Jeremiah was a part; the term does not here designate a closed canon.

Now, note our focus verse. “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel’s prayer did not consist of a few insincere words uttered before falling asleep at night. He prayed fervently to the Lord with a determined heart. He put his whole self into this prayer for Daniel determined to look to God in prayer until the Lord gave him an answer. The Greek word translated ‘Lord’ is Adonai meaning master, owner, or sovereign ruler; generally denotes the authority and exalted position of God. Sackcloth was a coarse kind of cloth, usually made of hair, and employed for the purpose of making sacks, bags, etc. As it was dark, and coarse, and rough, it was regarded as a proper badge of mourning and humiliation and was worn as such usually by passing or girding it around the loins.  It was customary to cast ashes on the head in a time of great grief and sorrow. The principles on which this was done seem to have been that the external appearance should correspond with the state of the mind and the heart, and that such external circumstances would tend to produce a state of heart corresponding to them – or would produce true humiliation and repentance for sin..

Then in the next few verses he calls out to God, confessing the sins of Israel. “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, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. 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.” Daniel 9:4-6.  God had mercifully sent His prophets to encourage the people of Israel and their leaders to repent however, they refused to listen. Not everyone turned their backs on God. The prophets were faithful, and others like Daniel and his friends remained true to the covenant. Nevertheless, Israel as a whole, it’s kings, our princes, and their ancestors as well as all  the people of Israel had turned its back upon God.

The majority of the Israelites turned from God and started focusing on other things rather than God and His ways. And this was why He allowed Babylon to take it. “Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.” 2 Chronicles 36:17-21.

What is sad is that we are seeing this also in some of our churches. I have heard of many who are minimizing sin, and also minimizing what God has called us to do. It is essential that we see sin for what it is and eliminate it from our lives as well as making what God has called us to do a priority. And one thing that will help us do both is to pray, not simple little prayers but going to God and opening our hearts to Him, asking for help to remain true to Him, and also to help others be true to Him as well. This is our calling, and this is how we can be totally pleasing to God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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