One of the most misunderstood emotions is “love”. To use the Hollywood or Hallmark illustrations of people falling into love after a few hours or days leading to marriage is inadequate because we all know what movies are like. On the other hand, some marry because of attraction (beauty, handsome, physical), because of peer or family pressure or because of limited “options” … and these marriages work and last. Yet … even though the marriage works and lasts, they are not completely satisfactory. The cracks might not be visible to all family and friends, but to those very close, words, expressions, answers and body language are identified as people living together but lacking sacrificial love as required by God. The starting place of love is creation. God created everything and was very pleased with it … and this included man. The bond between God and man was one of absolute intimacy between God who is Spirit and man who was spiritually alive. They enjoyed fellowship in the Garden of Eden as God, in Theophany, walked and talked with them. This was true love but then man sinned, lost his innocence, lost his spirituality, lost his integrity, was banished from the garden … and destined to die. (Read Genesis 1-3 for the full picture). Then trace the Bible’s story from Genesis 3 all the way through to Matthew and you will see the many times God promised to send a Messiah … and He honored His Word and came Himself. This is love … and we read that:
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Love is giving … and giving is sacrifice. Sacrificial love is better, described in:
1 Jn 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
It’s this love that we as humans don’t have and battle to understand. This is the reason our love and our relationships lack. In Daniel’s Prayer we see a demonstration of God’s love.
1) Because God is love and loving, He is merciful and forgiving.
Da 9:9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.
As a people, they rebelled against God by disobeying God and refusing to keep His laws … yet because He loves His people He is both merciful and forgiving. A great lesson for us to learn is that we must not presume that we will receive mercy and forgiveness should we persist in rebellious disobedience. This amounts to abuse and this is the reason Israel (Judah) found herself in exile. A proof of understanding God’s love and responding to that love is found in
1 Jn 4:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands.
Israel failed … for you to fail means you are alienated from God.
2) God never goes back on His Word. What He says He does. What He promises He fulfills.
Da 9:11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.
(1) All Israel sinned. Once again we are reminded that even though they were a nation and some were righteous, all are treated the same.
(2) All experienced punishment. Because all were considered sinners, as a nation they experienced God’s wrath (great disaster).
(3) They felt this great disaster because they rejected God’s Word. They knew this would happen. The prophets spoke for God. It was God’s Word they spoke. They warned, but their words fell on deaf ears.
(4) All nations were witness to Israel’s punishment. Every nation of the known world saw what happened to them. How shameful because they used to hold the banner of the people of the True God … to the point of boosting … almost … “We are Jews, God’s people. You are Gentiles, strangers to God.” Yet when Nebuchadnezzar took them into exile, the nations saw. Now almost seventy years later they are still in exile. Where is their God? Why are they still under wrath?
Remember this is a prayer and Daniel is addressing all the reasons for their suffering. As we have mentioned before, God deals with sin, even believers’ sin. Just because Jesus’ blood cleanses you from all sin does not mean sin is acceptable. Persistent sin confronts you with a serious question … “If I sin and rebel continually, am I a child of God?” As God’s people we need to sin less as time passes. We might however be presumptuous and abuse God’s love and pardon. This does not go unnoticed by God! We need to listen to God’s Word and grow in His Word because we, like Israel are being watched, not by nations but by people. Christian living and behavior needs to demonstrate a love for God, His Word and His people.
3) Obedience diverts wrath. I am not suggesting salvation by works. These are God’s people. If they had listen and obeyed God’s Word they would not have had to experience wrath like they did.
Da 9:13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
What God did was justified. He is right in all He does and they deserved what they received. What did they receive?
(1) Their capital city was flattened.
(2) Their temple, God’s dwelling place, was raised to the ground.
(3) Their sacrificial system that sought God’s face for pardon ceased.
(4) They lost their leaders (king, royalty, priesthood) and were taken into exile to live amongst pagan people.
(5) From being God’s special people they became a people of slaves. Not only were they slaves to sin, they were slaves of the hated Gentile nations.
Beloved, we must never assume because we are blood covered and born again we can live in sin and not having to be accountable to God. Sin is deceitful … and always has consequences.
Father, mercifully help us not to fall in Israel’s trap of assuming as Your people, they would get away with their sin. Please help us to be godly. Amen.