Thursday, December 09, 2004

Our Main Concern

If there is one thing I love about reading the Bible, it is how the holy
Spirit keeps the words and stories alive and fresh time after time. A text can
be read several times, and still upon another reading, the Holy Spirit illuminates
something in that passage you never saw before. I recently experienced this
while reading Psalm 17. In this psalm, as with many other psalms, David pleads
to God for deliverance from evil. It is evident that he perceives God as the only source of help, the only means of defense against those who persecute him. In verse 14, David identifies his persecutors and contrasts them with himself in verse 15. Let's look at verse 14 and 15.

Ps. 17:14 From men which are Thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasure: They are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.
Ps. 17:15 As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.

Those whose major concerns are the affairs of this world are David’s enemies. Their life is centered on having children, working hard, amassing material wealth, running their household, and leaving an inheritance to their children. These things by themselves are not wrong, if viewed from the right perspective,-- as that of a servant-manager. After all, David himself left an inheritance to his son, Solomon. However, a large part of that inheritance was to be used to build the " temple," to worship the Lord. David was not satisfied with mundane things; verse 15 lets us know what mattered most to David: "the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness, for everything else is added" (Matthew 6:33).

Daniel 9 shows that Daniel had the same attitude. Upon reading this chapter we find that his main concern is to please God. All other things are subjected to this desire. He wanted his people to know God as he knew Him. He wanted them to understand His promises. Daniel wanted God’s sanctuary to be filled with God’s glory as well as with those who would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Daniel desired God to fulfill His promises by restoring Jerusalem and its temple. Daniel desired for His people to return to Judah triumphant in their forgiveness received, and lessons learned. Daniel desired for God’s character to be evident in His people and among all nations. Daniel Knew these promises were conditional upon the humbling and repentance of Israel. If Israel would allow God to change their minds and hearts, the tenor of their thoughts to faithfulness and obedience toward Him, then God would restore their nation to its former glory. If Israel would turn their faces from worldly pursuits, and turn their eyes upon Jesus instead, He would exalt their status.

Daniel is an example to us. His prayer is a model prayer. He prayed for the forgiveness for the iniquities and transgressions of the law they as a people had committed. He prayed for repentance. He humbled himself by including himself among those who had sinned against God. He prayed for others. He claimed God’s promises, not because Israel had earned any favors from God, but because God is merciful and never fails to keep His word. Ellen White says,

If we as a people would pray as Daniel prayed, and wrestle as he wrestled, humbling our souls before God, we should realize as marked answers to our petitions as were granted to Daniel (E. G. White Notes, page 73).

Our prayers will show what our main concern is. Luke 6:45 says,

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

If our heart is concerned with the issues of the world, then our prayer life, if any, will determine that. If our heart is concerned with God's Kingdom, and His righteousness, then our prayers will follow. Sister White says,

Those who claim to be sanctified, while they have no desire to search the Scriptures, or to wrestle with God in prayer for a clearer understanding of Bible truth, know not what true sanctification is (E. G. White Notes, page 74).

What is our main concern? I pray it is the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.
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