Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 3) – Smite Me! Oh, Mighty Smiter! (Blaming God for Our Own Mistakes)

Posted: June 23, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 3)

Daniel’s Prayer for His People

In the movie, Bruce Almighty, the main character played by Jim Carrey, is angry at God or whatever his conception of God may have been at the time. He blames God for his lot in life, for his life not going the way that he wants it to go. “Smite me, oh, mighty Smiter!” was a classic line from the movie. He later comments that God is a bully of a kid with a magnifying glass and he is a little ant and God is concentrating the power of the sun upon him. He seems to think that God is out to get him and that God is sitting back and laughing at the puppet on a string that He is controlling. Many of us feel this way at times. We think God is some sadistic, remote god who toys with us and sees how much we can take. We blame God as this mean bully but rarely do we really examine ourselves and see what we have done to ourselves. We think that God can clear up our problems in 5 minutes just like God said to Bruce when He temporarily gave Bruce the power of God. We think that God can clean up our messes in 5 minutes but He chooses not to just to mess with us.

 

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been angry at God, as in your own thinking, for being mean to you? One thing in the movie that was pretty profound was the following lines:

 

Bruce: How do you make so many people love you without affecting Free Will?

God: [snorts] Heh, welcome to my world, son. If you come up with an answer to that one, let me know.

Of course, God knows the that answer to that question. He is God, but the point God was trying to make to Bruce was that free will is something granted to us by God and it has a mysterious interplay between it and God’s omnipotence. It is a mystery to us and something God will not reveal to us until we are in heaven. However, God acknowledges in this scene that He gives us free will. It is our free will that often gets us in trouble and then we blame God. Bruce in the movie, and many of us, fail to recognize the role we play in our own messes. Certainly, with free will be a part of every human existence, we are often hurt by the free will actions of others. However, many of our messes are the result of the selfish use of our own free will. Just as Bruce made the selfish decision “on air” to go off on his superiors for not giving him the news anchor position that he thought he deserved which resulted in his firing and then he blamed God for it, we often do the same. We make selfish decisions and we blame God for the outcome. We think that God wants what we want. We can’t understand it when our selfish decisions result in negative effects for us. We are like kids who disobey their parents and then get angry with their parents for punishing them or allowing the kids selfish decisions play themselves out without fixing it for them.

 

It was the same for Israel. In their free will, they chose to ignore God and pursue their selfish desires. God warned them through many prophets to change their ways or they would come to destruction. The selfish indulgence of Israel led to their downfall. They turned from God and pursued selfish desires and became so self-centered that they became weak as a nation. They were more interested in pursuing their lusts than being a self-disciplined people. In obeying God’s commands, they would have been a people that were strong and stayed away from things that turned their attention toward weakness and self-indulgence. God allowed circumstances to happen as a result of their not following Him. We are the same. We pursue our free will induced selfishness and then things happen and then we cry out to God as to why He is being mean to us. We fail to examine that we chose not to obey God’s commands for our lives that are intended to keep us from destroying ourselves.

That idea of blaming God for our circumstances is the opposite of what Daniel did here. He examines the life of Israel before its conquest by Babylon and sees that Israel deserved it. Let’s read through it together here again today with an eye toward examining our own lives and seeing where we disobeyed God and what it has led to:

 

9 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b] kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

 

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

 

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

 

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

 

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

 

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

 

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

 

Here in this passage, Daniel refers to the blessing and curses promised by God for obedience and disobedience, respectively, found in Deuteronomy 28. God gives us free will and we have to make a choice: obedience or disobedience. The curses of disobedience are meant to turn us back to God. Daniel speaks of how God continually tried to turn Israel back to Himself. Even after disaster struck them, they continued to disobey Him. Daniel recognizes in his prayer for his nation that they (and he includes himself with them) have sinned against God continually, refused to see their ways as sinful, and that they deserved the lot in life in which they found themselves – captives of another nation. Daniel, though begs for undeserved mercy. He knows that Israel does not deserve mercy but He begs for it because God is a loving God who wants to restore Israel. However, God uses circumstances to teach us what we need to learn from disobedience. Sure, God could have cleared things up in 5 minutes if He wanted to but what would Israel have learned. That Daddy would get them out of a jam no matter how many times they acted irresponsibly?

 

God still uses circumstances, other people, and His Word to bring His people back to Himself. When we face difficult circumstances, we should ask ourselves if God has a reason to send judgment upon us. If we think so, we should be like Daniel and beseech God to forgive us. We must turn away from those behaviors that have, in our free will, brought about the circumstances in which we find ourselves – in a state of judgment. God will not automatically fix the situation because He wants us to learn the consequences of disobedience so that we never revisit that place again in our free will. Sometimes, after we realize that we have disobeyed God and we seek forgiveness and change our ways, it may take a good long while before all the effects of our disobedience play themselves out. Just because we seek and receive God’s forgiveness does not mean that we erase the mistakes we have made.

 

God grants us mercy though we seek forgiveness for misusing our free will. He will draw us unto Himself and we will arise from our messes through seeking Him. On our own merit, God should smite us with his Almighty Smite. We deserve it. We have sinned against Him and deserve eternal judgment for disobedience after disobedience. We deserve the circumstances, the judgment, in which we find ourselves. We deserve to be separated from God. However, God is not a mean bully. God is a loving God. He does not desire for us to live eternally in a state of punishment. He wants to have relationship with us. He has provided a way for us to be made right and clean before His eyes. It is through Jesus Christ who covers our dirty stains of sins in his purity. When we make Him Lord of our lives instead of ourselves, we hand our will over to Him and God sees Jesus covering us and accepts us as perfect through Jesus not because of ourselves. We are still ugly in our sin but we are covered by the purity of Jesus.

 

Israel did not deserve restoration. Neither do we. But through repentance and accepting Christ as our Lord we are restored. Israel was restored as a nation not because they deserved it but because God loved them and gave them another chance. Through Jesus Christ, we have a second chance. If you are in need of a second chance, examine your life. Instead of blaming God for your selfish decisions that have led you to the bottom of the barrel where you find yourself, claiming that He is some mighty and capricious Smiter, seek his forgiveness. Repent of our sins and ask Jesus Christ to cover you in his purity and ask Him to come into your life and take it over. You will be restored. You won’t ever deserve it, but God is not a bully. He is a loving Father who wants you to be restored to His favor.

 

Amen and Amen.

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