Living in an Alien Culture
Daniel 9 (part one)
· Focus for tonight: Daniel 9.1-19
· Verses 1-3: Spiritual disciplines of scripture, prayer and fasting
o Textual indicators of Scripture
§ v 2: “the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet”
§ v 6: “your servants the prophets”
§ v 10: “the voice of the Lord our God,… his teachings which he set before us through his servants the prophets.”
§ v 11: “… your law… your voice… the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God…”
§ v 12: “his words which he had spoken…”
§ v 13: “As it is written in the law of Moses…”
o Daniel is immersed in Scripture
§ “[T]he Bible’s storyline is, in a sense, a tale of two cities—Jerusalem and Babylon. The issue is not so much what city we live inbut what city we live for. Daniel lived in Babylon; but, in an ultimate sense, he lived for Jerusalem and all that it stood for. Like Abraham before him, he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). While he served Babylon faithfully, the centre of gravity in his life was his faith in God, and all that he did was an expression of that trust and commitment.
“One of the evidences of this was Daniel’s interest in the books. The exiles had brought with them precious scrolls of Scripture that were a vital life support for Daniel. As we have already seen, he was a man of regular prayer. He was also a man of the books. Indeed, Daniel’s prayer in this chapter shows that he had immersed himself in what we call the Old Testament—as much as was so far written and available to him.”
§ This is what keeps Daniel faithfully balanced
· He had been immersed in the culture and writings of Babylon (Daniel 1.4-5, 17, 20)
§ We will not have the resources to resist and navigate our culture without a continual reading, meditation, memorization, and study of God’s Scriptures!
· “We should read the Bible for various reasons. It should be read for facts, and it should be read devotionally. But reading the Bible every day of one's life does something else--it gives one a different mentality. In the modern world we are surrounded by the mentality of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, but as we read the Bible it gives us a different mentality. Do not minimize the fact that in reading the Bible we are living in a mentality which is the right one, opposed to the great wall of this other mentality which is forced upon us on every side--in education, in literature, in the arts, and in the mass media”. He Is There and He Is Not Silent in Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy (Crossway, 1990), p. 334.
· Attributes and Actions of God in Daniel’s prayer (vv 4-19)
o Great and awesome (v 4)
o Keeps covenant and lovingkindness (v. 4)
o God gave commandments and ordinances (v 5)
o God has servants called prophets (v 6)
o “Righteousness belongs to you” (v 7)
o “You have driven them…” (v 7)
o Compassion and forgiveness (v 9)
o Law = God’s voice (v 11)
o Confirmed his words (v 12)
§ Faithful to promises; true
o “Bring on us this great calamity” (v 12)
§ Judgment and sovereignty
o “The favor of the Lord our God” (v 13)
o “Kept the calamity in store and brought it on us” (v 14)
§ Faithful to his holiness
o “Brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for yourself” (v 15)
§ Exodus event!
o Righteous acts (v 16)
o Anger and wrath (v 16)
o Your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain, your people (v 16)
§ Covenant-making and covenant-keeping
o “Great compassion” (v 18)
· Deep theology embedded in a wide covenantal framework of redemptive history is the foundation of prayer!
o Deep theology
§ Q: How deep theologically are your prayers? What attributes of God do you most often appeal to and mention in your prayers?
o Wide Redemptive history—the Bible’s narrative storyline
§ Abraham—not mentioned but Judah and Israel are mentioned
· Men of Judah… and all Israel” (v 7)
§ Moses and the Exodus (vv 11, 13, 15)
§ David and Solomon
· “your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain” (v 16)
· “the city which is called by your name” (v 18)
o 1 Kings 8. 44, 48
§ Prophets—including Jeremiah (vv 2, 6, 10)
· Sinfulness of people described in Daniel’s prayer
o v 5: sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, rebelled, turned aside from your commandments and ordinances
o v 6: we have not listened to your servants the prophets
§ Note: who was spoken to—everybody! “… our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land…”
o v 7: open shame—again, to everyone
o v 7: unfaithful deeds which they have committed against you
o v 8: open shame, we have sinned against you
o v 9: we have rebelled against him
§ cf. Psalm 51.4—“Against you, you only, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight…”
o v 10: nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in his teachings
o v 11: transgressed your law, turned aside, not obeying your voice, sinned against him
o v 13: “… yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to your truth.”
§ Even in the exile they are sinning and not seeking God!
o v 14: we have not obeyed his voice
o v 15: “we have sinned, we have been wicked”
§ Note: Judgments in the New Covenant are worse; rejecting Christ is the worst kind of idolatry—Hebrews 2.1-4; 10.26-31 (esp. vv 28-29)
o v 16: our sinsand the iniquities of our fathers
§ v 20: “… confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel…”
§ Both current sins and historical sins
§ Personal confession and corporate confession
§ Q: How might this apply to day? What corporate sins have we have as the church committed? What about our country’s corporate sins?
§ Q: How is this similar and different from Critical Theory?
· Similar: Recognizes that groups can sin and even institutionalize that sin.
· Different: Objective moral standard tied to God and his commandments by which to accurately judge a person’s or group’s sin.
· “[T]exts such as Ezra 9:6-15, Nehemiah 1:4-7, and Daniel 9:1-19 that indicate corporate repentance have to be understood in the light of texts like Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 12:20-21 c.f. 2 Kings 14:5-6, and Ezekiel 18:1-32 which explicitly deny that either wickedness or righteousness will be imputed from father to son, let alone from one person to another unrelated person… While we can sin through actively engaging in injustice or through passively neglecting our moral duties, we are not guilty of sins we didn’t actually commit, nor are we morally tainted by merely belonging to some demographic group.”
· Appealing to God’s glory and covenant in prayer (Daniel 9.15-19)
o “Your”: 18 x’s (“yourself”: 1 x’s)
§ See also Exodus 32.11-13 for a similar kind of praying from Moses
o Cf. Ezekiel 36.16-23; Isaiah 48.9-11
o Daniel 9.18 “for we are not presenting our supplications before you on account of any merits of our own, but on account of your great compassion.”
Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer, Engaging Critical Theory and the Social Justice Movement(Ratio Christi, 2019), 18-19—online: https://ratiochristi.org/engaging-critical-theory-and-the-social-justice-movement/.