Two weeks ago, we were studying from the book of Daniel, chapter 9, discussing his famous prayer and how we might apply it in today’s circumstances surrounding animal welfare.
In Part One, we ended with Daniel asking the Lord:
O Lord, in keeping with all your righteousness, let your anger and your wrath be turned away from your city, Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, have caused Jerusalem and your people to become an object of scorn to all those around us. (17) Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayers of your servant, listen to his petitions; for the Lord’s sake, cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that now lies desolate. (18) O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes and look upon our desolations—the city that bears your name! We do not present our petitions to you on the basis of our righteousness, but on the basis of your great mercies. (Daniel 9:16-18)
Using the Bible Study Courses Guide from last week, lets take a deeper look at these passages.
The keys here are “in keeping with your righteousness”; “because our sins.” Daniel is acknowledging to the Lord that because of our own sins (sin=that which separates us from God) he knows the Lord is angry and that he has turned away from his people and from their city Jerusalem. He knows because of their own actions, they have become subject to the nations that surround them and are scattered and persecuted.
Daniel also is pleading with Yahweh, that because of Who God is, for the sake of his own character, not any rightness on our own part for God sees that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5),” to turn and look on the desolation that has beset Jerusalem (Daniel 9:5-7). He asks God to hear, to open his eyes and see – to have mercy and compassion on the city that bears his name, the people that are supposed to display Yahweh’s character – precisely because of who Yahweh is.
As was seen in Part One, “(5)…we have sinned, we have gone astray, we have done wicked things, and we have rebelled; we have turned away from your commandments and your ordinances.“ Daniel recognizes that his people are where they are because of their own willfulness, that God also is their only hope for redemption; his prayer focuses on the kingdom of God and he is praying for the preservation, the restoration, the building up again of God’s kingdom for Jerusalem.
Not one of us can claim immunity, even if we do not do so directly, we all partake in the systems that bring us the atrocities that happen to animals whether we want to or not. We are in the same boat as those who commit the most heinous of crimes. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Rom 3:23).” When we think about the suffering of animals at mankind’s own hands as they are exploited for our own benefits – for food, clothing, medicine, entertainment, sport, and more – we apply Daniel’s method and determination to appeal to God.
We humble ourselves and recognize the sin of our own day, that where we find ourselves at is our own fault. We rape the earth of it’s beauty and resources. “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land (Isa 5:8).” We bend and shape the natural world and animal kingdom and call it commerce, all for our own comforts, personal physical beauty, ease and convenience in living. We look to our own welfare only, to provide longevity for our lives through medical science which they tell us requires testing on animals. We create anti-aging cosmetics tested on animals to provide ourselves with physical beauty. Our clothing is designed for personal attractiveness instead of utility, and we ignore the methods used in bringing us the material, especially that of animal skins. Today, modern science brings us GMO’s for ease in farming, ever trying to modify what God created to enhance man’s lifestyle.
These are some of the sins of our day. What bothers me most is that one is hard pressed to find people who are willing to stand up to the powers that rule over our lives and shape our world. Even doctors today won’t stand up to the medical industry, for example. Industry with their money and power is ruling over our lives. Politicians, those who are supposed to look out for and serve the people, are bought and sold to the highest bidder at election time and throughout their tenure. The church has married the culture and in many cases, has drawn the sword alongside our governments, partnering with them instead of standing apart; they’ve pledged allegiance to the world instead of steadfast devotion to wear the character of Jesus Christ and stand for the kingdom of God.
In the spirit of Daniel, we acknowledge our sin, plead with the Lord, not because we can claim any righteousness, but in spite of us. We ask him to hear us, have mercy, and act.
Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayers of your servant, listen to his petitions; for the Lord’s sake, cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that now lies desolate. (18) O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes and look upon our desolations—the city that bears your name! We do not present our petitions to you on the basis of our righteousness, but on the basis of your great mercies. (19) O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name. (Daniel 9:17-19)
There is so much to be said about prayer, and not enough space to do so here. For an in depth study of Daniel’s prayer, encourage you to go to this link. As you study these passages in Daniel, bear in mind our mission as Jesus followers devoted to bringing about his kingdom by standing up for the animal kingdom and advocating for them. Read the texts and study guide with this in mind. Ask the Lord to give you new awareness and means for advocating for them, for praying for them, for moving mountains of indifference, tearing down the walls of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Each is a form of Idolatry-of-Self wherein the subjective reigns over the objective.
From the study guide linked above:
- Be God-Centered in Your Prayers (Dan 9:20):“I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my petitions before Jehovah my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God.” Daniel’s prayer has a focus, an objective. He is specific in his requests, such as asking the Lord to turn away his anger and wrath (v16). His prayer centers on the kingdom of God, as in Jesus’ prayer in Matthew, “ Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”(Matt. 6:9‐10). Daniel’s prayer expresses why the Lord should act – for his name’s sake – his righteousness or character’s sake, his divine honor.
- Be Serious With God in Your Prayers (Dan 9:3): Daniel set his face towards God and determined to seek and gain his (God’s) perspective by prayer and supplication. Verse 3 also makes reference to fasting, the denial of one’s bodily needs for a designated period of time in order to devote one’s self to concentrated service to God. There is a need for spiritual involvement and spiritual intensity in prayer, the kind you sense on those occasions when you bring a pressing personal need before God. Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord in Genesis 32:24-26. Then there is Abraham, who pleaded with the Lord several times asking God if he would save Sodom and Gomorrah if he (Abraham) could find what started off as 50 righteous people, and by the end of their conversation together, the number was 10 (Genesis 18). And, let’s remember the counsel of Jesus when, in Luke 18:1 he exhorted His disciples, “always pray and not give up” or “do not become discouraged” or “lose heart”.
Be Honest With God in Your Prayers (Dan 9:4-6): Daniel is honest with God about the condition of Israel, his own condition before God, and confesses the sinfulness of both (v5-6). Daniel also acknowledges the righteousness of God (v7). Having confessed his sinfulness and having acknowledged the righteousness of God, Daniel appeals to the Lord for His mercy.
Thank you for reading and following our blog, we hope you are blessed by it! Comments always are welcome. ~Kathy