During the last post, Part One, I laid out some background as to a certain kind of prayer we find in Biblical text. We found God looking for individuals who would be willing to stand in the gap for the people of Israel; certain persons God could trust to communicate his will to the people in order to move them in that direction and away from the pagan practices of the nations that surrounded them; individuals who would also trust, follow and obey God (even blindly) as he led them.
God wants a relationship with us; he wishes to establish his reign through his people and with his people, in a covenant relationship much like that of a marriage. A “covenant” according to the dictionary is “ , so in the Old as well as the New Testaments, God makes some covenant promises with his creation. For more on what God actually promises, see this post.
In the OT, he spoke through prophets, as were the examples laid out last week of Abraham and Daniel. In the NT, the supreme and final revelation of God’s character and his plan, is through his Son, Jesus Christ.
In this post, I’ll lay out some background as to the Old and New Testament covenants that God endeavors to establish with his people, and how he tries through them to re-establish his loving reign and lead them forward toward complete redemption.
A Jesus Looking People
With Christ’s coming, his life lived, his death and resurrection, the Old Testament covenant is replaced with the New Testament covenant. Trying to reach the earth through the Jewish people to restore the created order for all peoples in the OT did not entirely work. Time and time again, God’s people thwarted his will as can be seen through the various prophets. God stooped to our level to reach us in the OT; he took on the ugliness of our own sin and he looked the part, as well. Mankind wanted to live by the sword. So he allowed the sword, and showed us how that will never work. Mankind wanted an earthly leader (1 Samuel 8, Israel demands a king). He gave us the kings we wanted, and that, too, did not work.
In the NT, God’s character is fully revealed, his plan comes to a climax, through the person of Jesus (Hebrews 1:3). He took our place as the first Adam, living the life that the first Adam was suppose to have lived. Jesus then was persecuted by his own people, died, rose again, took sin and death with him, and in rising was triumphant over Satan’s power, over death, over all that has separated us from the Father since the first Adam broke the first covenant with the Father.
As a result of his death and resurrection we have available to us today The Holy Spirit – power unsurpassed by any means previously under the old covenant through the new covenant that Christ established. When we invite him into our lives and rely upon him, individually and collectively, he will enable us to live triumphant over the powers and principalities who are at work in the world at this present time. Christ established the way for his kingdom to be manifested upon this earth, and those of us who pledge to follow him, are called to demonstrate this kingdom now. By aligning ourselves with the Father’s will for us and the earth, becoming baptized in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 – and a good read on baptism here), we submit to his Spirit. With our cooperation, the Spirit will transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:12). The Spirit Himself will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). We keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) who is our solid foundation.
This is the frame work in which we become Jesus looking people in a dark world that is hungry for the real love and real LIFE that only the Father can fill within each of us.
Our Prayer – Our Petitions, Our Requests, Aligned With His Will, Made Known to God
What does all this have to do with Daniel’s Prayer?
We are called to be a people today that pray – that stand in the gap, that petition God to establish his kingdom on earth now as it is in heaven. We are called to live in a manner that reflects Jesus’ character – toward the earth, toward his creation, toward each other. We will one day reign with Jesus, with him as Lord over all creation; but we are called to represent his Lordship now through the direction and power of the Spirit; we are to be a Jesus looking people to a dark world.
Jesus established his kingdom on earth; it is up to us to some degree to manifest it. What is God’s kingdom that we are establishing?
“For now we see through a glass, darkly.” (KJV 1 Corinthians 13:12) Ever look through a dark glass? Everything is distorted and dim. Or, as the NLT puts it, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete (emphasis mine), but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” This can bring us a lot of comfort, for it doesn’t matter that much how fully we see it, we can trust God that the reality of the new heavens and the new earth will be beyond anything we can imagine at this present time. Yet, it is good to try to imagine, in order to live into it as much as we can now.
Envision the earth as it would have been in the Garden in the beginning, before the first Adam brought all of creation and mankind under Satan’s rule. An earth free of tyranny, violence, war, deceit and deception; free of greed, wrath, sloth, gluttony, pride, lust, envy; where people serve each other, take care of the earth and the animal kingdom instead of exploiting or destroying them in any way; where all life lives at peace with one another; all life experiences unity, completeness; creation does not want for anything, is content with the significance it has been given to it by God and it’s place in creation and lives in the fullness of God’s presence. “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
Act upon it; play it out in everyday life and in all circumstances of day to day living. Everything. At work, at home, how we talk, shop, what entertains us, what we eat and wear – find entertainment that does not exploit the animals or the earth; eat food and wear clothing that doesn’t destroy someone to become our food or clothes. Imagine in every minute of every day Christ is walking with us – walk with him in prayer. Take every thought captive to him. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Envision who God says he really is through Christ. Envision yourself in Christ – we are a new creation in Christ! Any picture of God that falls short of the selfless character of the Father shown to us through Jesus is not from God. Remember, every bit as much as God is love, Satan is the deceiver. God says who he is plainly in 1 Corinthians 13. Any picture of God interpreted from scripture that does not reflect the character of God found in Christ, means we need to find another interpretation that renders it coherent with Christ’s character; we read all of scripture through the lens of the cross.
We know that all creation does not yet reflect his perfect will or emulate perfectly the character of Christ
The earth and creation is being destroyed by mankind’s way of life and we desperately need the Lord to unify us in the face of how we are living; we desperately need leaders to take a stand in our churches on behalf of the WHOLE of creation. When they talk about love and Christ likeness, we need to also hear them include animals and the earth, to bring them in from the fringes and the margins, make God’s people aware of our duties to creation, as our faith informs us is our responsibility.
As we talked about last week, ever since the industrial revolution, the age of technology and science, the earth has been undergoing complete transformation. Never before has mankind held so much power in his hands as he does today to either do good, or to do evil; to submit his knowledge to God for discernment of it’s use, or to use it in his own best interests. We need our leaders to step up like never before. Leaders need to take the time to develop the theological framework in which to teach their congregations what it means and looks like to practice Christ-like stewardship. The power we wield today over creation comes with grave obligations and calls for restraint, wisdom, prudence. In the words of Matthew Scully from his book “Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy”:
“Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”
“They all stand unequal and powerless before us” like never before. Their powerlessness and the need for Godly leadership can plainly be seen when looking inside our factory farms, vivisection labs, slaughterhouses, fur/leather/skin trades, hunting for sport or trophies, in entertainment where animals are held captive against their will, often beaten into submission, as we fashion them into tools for our entertainment; as commodities, experiments, and utilities – much of it a horrific reflection of what Satanic dominion looks like when tyranny rules.
What God did in the NT when he sent Jesus is unmistakably the most significant and the most powerful revelation of his love for us, of his desire that all creation should live on the earth free from harm and Satan’s power. He died to “set the captives free.” (Luke 4:18) Everything under Satanic rule was set free from that rule. This includes creation. The whole creation groans in pain and suffering….waiting for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:19-23) To some extent all creation is waiting to be redeemed, we are all waiting and longing for our Lord to return, when “in the blink of an eye we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52), trading our mortal flesh for everlasting spiritual bodies.
But notice the passage in Romans, the creation is waiting for the sons and daughters. Christ’s work on the cross restored the created order; his Spirit is available to help us change our characters into the eternal Christ-like character we were all meant to have from the beginning and shall once again portray perfectly in eternity, but right now, we are to work for it, with the Spirit’s help. Right now we change our thoughts/attitudes, we change our behavior (taking both captive to Christ), and we release the creation from the tyranny of Satan’s rule – we take back our rightful loving dominion over them by setting them free from our own Satanically influenced domination of them. Christ dying to save us from our own sin wasn’t meant to be, and isn’t, magic. As for the wild animals predatory nature, God will restore their peaceful natures when he restores all creation in full. He says in Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain.”
He has provided his Spirit to give us the power to repent or turn from all in our lifestyles that does not reflect Christ or the peaceable kingdom he died to establish and eventually restore in full. His Spirit enables us to encompass the Father’s plan for complete Shalom on the earth for all creation. It is, up to us however, to act in accordance with the Father’s will.
I had originally thought it would be a two part post; however, it has encompassed more than I had imagined! Stay tuned for next weeks post, Part Three of Daniel’s Prayer.
Blessings upon your week; thank you for following our blog; sign up to follow us if this is your first time here, and receive a notification in your email each time we publish! Thank you, and we pray all who read our blog are blessed by it! ~Kathy
My calling as a Child of the Creator is to take the Gospel, as it relates to the WHOLE creation, to the world; and to remind the Church of its Biblical responsibilities to animals.
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