See What Great Love the Father has Lavished on Us!

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DANIEL 9:1-11:1 | I JOHN 2:18-3:6 | PSALM 121:1-8 | PROVERBS 28:27-28

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Daniel’s dreams continue.  And oh, how amazingly detailed these dreams are! 

They’re of course prophecies to unfold in the next six hundred years — prophecies of the times and tales of the people and those who rule them in the areas spreading across Judea and its neighbors — to the east, north, and south in the Middle East, in vast parts of North Africa, and the Greek and Roman Empires spreading out across the Mediterranean and into Central Asia. 

It would surely take a scholar to examine each verse carefully to understand the meanings and interpretations of the things fulfilled, and for those yet to come, but since I am no scholar, I would defer to those that have already done the work of carefully documenting the fulfilling of these prophecies.

One section of Daniel’s prayer that is worthy of record and rumination: 

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.” 

Note the humility that Daniel reflects here: “not because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

May it be that we emulate just such a frame of mind when we approach God with our petitions.

And what does Daniel gain from such a humble stance?  God himself appears to him in his vision, to say to him: 

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.  

Continuing our reading in I John, we find John making a clear point about the importance of recognizing both Father and Son.  Jesus Christ is God incarnate, and if this fact is denied, the truth is not spoken.  John puts it like this: 

21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 

This passage in I John is yet another exhortation to continue in love with one another.  John cannot say it enough times, and in enough ways.  It bears repeating, and rightfully so. 

“Love one another, as I have loved you” was the greatest commandment that Jesus left with his disciples, and John being one of them, most likely took it to heart more than any one else. 

It would likewise do us well to be reminded of this great command because we are all a work in progress.  Our transformation in the image of Christ does not happen overnight — it happens over an entire lifetime.  It is in this recognition that we must endeavor to live each day.

This calls to mind the popular catch-phrase from the nineties “What Would Jesus Do?”  If we can answer this with a clear conscience to the best of our abilities and under the given circumstances, I do believe it would serve as not-too-bad of a moral compass.  And for all those times that we are unable to be guided by that compass due to our own shortcomings and failings, I also believe that we will find comfort in the knowledge that despite our sorry states of body and mind, the love of the Father and his Son Jesus Christ is so strong and great a love, that we will not be turned away when we seek forgiveness with a contrite heart. 

This is the indescribable and unexplainable type of divine love that we are told by John to emulate as best that we can.

John explains it like this: 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 

Turning next to our reading from the book of Psalms, we find ourselves in an oft-quoted and much-beloved one that I shall reproduce in its entirety since I have had it committed to memory as a child, thanks to my mother.  The King James Version (KJV) in which I learned it, goes like this:

1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

 2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

 3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

 6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

 7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

 8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, states certain truths:

 27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
   but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

 28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
   but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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