How To Respond To The Uncertain Future
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans — in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments... — Daniel 9:1-4
So this is a bit of a rewind from the last couple of days of devotionals, but I cannot avoid making a few observations here.
Daniel was living in turbulent times when he wrote this. He dates this chapter shortly after Darius became emperor and the Medo-Persian empire had taken control. And for sure, Daniel is concerned about the immediate future because this new guy is running the country, and his political and legal approach is very different from what Daniel was used to in Babylon for the last 60+ years. So I would assume Daniel feels very uneasy and uncertain about the future. According to polls in our country, this is precisely how we feel — very uncertain of the future. But Daniel does three things in his uncertainty that are a model for us.
First, he went back to search God's Word. In his uneasiness, he turns to something certain — the unchanging truth of God's Word. He does not turn to complaining, blaming, or explaining. He is not listening to excessive quantities of the Persian Nightly News. Instead, he turns to God's Word and searches it because he wants to hear from a God who knows the future. And he finds a past prophecy about the present day written by a predecessor named Jeremiah. And this discovery anchored his soul through the uncertain transition.
I assume one of the texts he found was this one in Jeremiah 25:8-12
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. — Jeremiah 25:8-12
Second, we learn he clung to a promise in God's Word. He does not just go back to read God's Word casually. He searches for something his soul can cling to and says he found or "perceived" something. We might say he memorized it, which is a practice that is far underutilized by the believer. If the Word of God is our weapon, as the apostle Paul suggests, we need to pick it up and use it once in a while. Even Jesus modeled this in his trilogy of temptations in the desert. And we should do the same. In uncertain times we should go to God's Word and find a promise to cling to.
Third, we discover he responds to the promise in God's Word. What I mean is that when he finds the promise, he doesn't just pass it by. He responds to it. He discovers that the present circumstance is a judgment of God on the sin of Israel. And in this conviction, he responds to it. He is not just convicted. He responds to the conviction. He fights the apathetic response to do nothing, or to be angry about the past, or to be angry with God. Instead, his response is repentance by prayer and fasting. One man does what the nation failed to do — confess and repent for personal and national sin.
This is the kind of men we need today. Men who will do these three things with great repetition. Men who search God's Word. Men who cling to the promises in God's Word. And men who respond to God's Word. This is how we train for the times that come. So are you preparing, and are you preparing others?
ASK THIS: Are you preparing? Are you training others?
DO THIS: Don't just be convicted. Act with conviction.
PRAY THIS: God, I confess that this nation and I have been sinful. Together we repent!
PLAY THIS: The Heart of Worship.
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