Praying Through the Bible #99
TEXT: Daniel 9:11-16
We come once again to this passage in Daniel at a time when nations around the world have been met with disaster after disaster. Former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, put it succinctly when she said, “the world is a mess.” For Australia, the Netherlands, and Malaysia, a passenger plane was shot out of the sky and nearly 300 people died, most of them citizens of these 3 countries. For Israel and Gaza, these two nations have been locked once again in a devastating conflict, and we are told that over 1,000 civilians and over 40 soldiers have been killed. In China and the Philippines, these nations were hit by back-to-back typhoon this month, causing millions of dollars in devastation and taking over 150 lives. It seems as though every time we turn on the news or get on the internet, we are informed of yet another devastating occurrence which world leaders are scrambling to respond to.
For those of us who are committed to standing in the gap and to being intercessors for the people, places, and situations that God has placed on our hearts, we walk confidently to our prayer closets, for we may not be able to do anything about a war being fought halfway around the globe, but, as the song says, we can “still be in the battle in the secret place of prayer.”
Today, we want to look at Daniel’s intercession for his people in light of the disasters that are shaking our world. Because of the sins of the children of Israel, God judged them by sending the Assyrians and Babylonians to ravage their countries with war and then to carry them off into captivity in foreign lands — a true national disaster. In light of these events, I want us to look at the biblical perspective that we should take in times of national and world crisis and disaster…
1. We need to understand that God is in control no matter the crisis or disaster. Often, when we think of things that are negative or when we think of things that bring about loss of life and extreme destruction to property and livelihood, our first reaction is to blame it on the devil. We naturally attribute bad things to the devil and good things to God. However, this view is not biblical.
2. We must realize that every disaster brings a mix of God’s judgment and mercy. It is easy for us to try and pigeon-hole God’s purpose when he allows a disaster to occur. It is easy for us to say that God is judging a certain nation or a certain group of people. However, God’s purposes are not always as simple as we try to make them. In the midst of God’s judgment upon the children of Israel, Daniel prays, “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him…” Daniel recognizes God’s hand of mercy even while his nation is suffering under God’s hand of punishment.
3. We must realize that disasters are warnings that call us to prayer and repentance. In verse 13, Daniel prays, “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” Every tragedy is a merciful call from God for those who were spared to repent. The Bible encourages us to “weep with those who weep” — and it is the Christian thing to do to show compassion and mercy to those who are suffering. But not only should we weep for those who suffer and die, but we should also weep because of our own rebellion against God and take that opportunity to turn from our iniquities lest we suffer punishment ourselves.
Even though his people are not praying for themselves, Daniel intercedes for them and prays on their behalf. We all ought to strive to be like Daniel — people who see a need and step up to the plate, stand in the gap, and pray.
As we consider the disasters that have come upon the world in recent weeks, let us intercede for those who are directly affected by them. Let us understand that God is in control, and pray that those who are suffering would realize God’s mercy in the midst of their grief. And, for our own sakes, let us see these disasters as an impetus for us to pray and to repent of our own sins and get our hearts right with God.