What a difference it makes when someone humbles himself before the Lord versus standing before Him and defiantly saying that he’ll continue on in life in his own way. The outcome for the person who bows his knee completely to God receives His blessings and favor. In contrast, the one who chooses the path of rebellion earns only trouble.
I know of a person who is in this position right now. God made a way for him to gain freedom from the bondage that he brought upon himself in his past. To realize what the Lord would have for him meant that he needed to totally surrender himself to certain disciplines, to be patient in the process, and to persist with a heart wholly committed toward God in obedience.
That’s a problem. This person has a rebellious streak. He continues to declare that he’s going to solve the issues in his life his own way. He had a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to God in an environment where he could learn, study, and grow, but he squandered it. For some reason he got the notion that his problems have a quick fix to them rather than requiring him to diligently work through them. Good luck with that.
In the book of Daniel, we see a man who is completely humbled before God. His heart is completely soft toward the things the Lord wishes to convey to him. Since his youth he has desired to live his life God’s way, and He has immensely favored him. Daniel chose to follow God rather than the ways of man. When challenged to turn from the Lord and worship idols, Daniel chose believing loyalty in Yahweh alone. This created the opportunity for God to pour out dreams and visions, and to use Daniel as a conduit for prophetic utterances that have had incredible influence upon believers. Someone who is committed to God creates such conditions. A person in rebellion never will.
One of the things that Daniel did was to take responsibility for the sins of his people. Of course, these transgressions came at the hands of a stiff-necked people who simply wouldn’t do what God required. It earned them severe consequences. Don’t we have to take responsibility for ourselves rather than play the victim? In a deeply profound prayer, Daniel spoke of the iniquities of Israel that he knew of which required repentance. However, first, he reiterated a great truth about Yahweh. We see this in Daniel 9:4:
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…”
He stated who God is: One who keeps His Word and pours out love and blessings on those who faithfully obey Him. This is our God, just as it was Daniel’s God. The Lord doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Daniel listed the sins of Israel that caused her to go into captivity. Here are several noted in Daniel 9:
- Did wrong (v5)
- Acted wickedly (v5)
- Rebelled (v5)
- Turned aside from God’s commands (v5)
- Didn’t listen (v6)
- Committed treachery (v7)
- Didn’t obey (v 10)
We learn in 1 Samuel 15:33:
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…
For all intents and purposes, when the person I spoke about above disobeyed what God graciously had for him and rebelled in that, he was practicing witchcraft. By elevating his own way over the way of God, he was worshiping himself and committing idolatry. This has opened demonic doors that God will not shut until this person learns obedience. The precedence from ancient Israel to today is clear. Daniel expressed this as he continued praying in Daniel 9:11:
All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.
These curses are laid out in Deuteronomy 28 and speak of the blessings and curses of God. When anyone attempts to defy the Lord, he walks in sin and is an open conduit for the demonic. A person’s or a nation’s disobedience removes God’s hand of protection, which allows the forces of darkness free reign in that situation.
What does it take to reverse course? Again, we learn from this incredible man of God what is necessary. It requires one to humbly – humbly – come before God in surrender and repentance, having a true and heartfelt desire to get right with the Lord. Look at what this prophet prayed in Daniel 9:17-18:
Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.
Look at the appeal for God’s mercy that is present simply because He is righteous (and we are not).
The astounding thing in this passage is how God answered Daniel’s prayer. Daniel had come before God entreating Him about restoring the Jews back to Israel after the prophesied seventy years of captivity in Babylon. In response, the Lord would certainly do that, but He also gave Daniel vision and insight into the far future of Israel. Israel would indeed be restored, but in that latter time she must endure terrible destruction in order for her transgressions to finally be atoned for. Surely this is not what Daniel wanted to hear, but it was what God had purposed.
The person that I discuss here may have to go through extremely challenging circumstances if he ever wants to get right with God. I don’t know how it will play out. Before any of that can occur, the Holy Spirit must convict him of his sin of rebellion, and he must rid himself of the disobedience that rules in his life. I can only pray that God will bring him to complete brokenness for this to happen. Until then, his life will have nothing but problems and frustration. This is the way it was and has been for Israel; the same principles apply today for that nation and in our personal lives.
Until we choose life in Christ through obedience to Him, what can we expect other than trouble?