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April 21, 2018

April 21

Devotion

            This past Sunday, April 15, we were blessed to join together with St. James and Southside for the “Stand In The Gap” prayer rally. At the rally, Dr. Charles Lewis challenged us from Ezekiel 22, by demonstrating just how closely our current cultural dilemma matches that of the nation God was indicting in Ezekiel 22. But the one thing Dr. Lewis said, that left a strong impression on me was, “If you are going to stand in the gap, you must be prepared to stand alone and to stand for all”. That phrase continues to resonate in my heart, as I pray it has in yours.

            Now, some of you may be wondering what it means to stand in the gap. Fortunately, Daniel 9 provides us with a vivid demonstration of what it means to stand in the gap and I urge you to at least read Daniel 9:3-19 and give careful attention to Daniel's spiritual posture, his burden, and his plea. This, my friends, is what it looks like to stand alone and stand for all, and I simply want to encourage you to make the commitment each day to stand in the gap.


Daniel 8–10 (CSB)

Chaper 8

1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after the one that had appeared to me earlier. 2 I saw the vision, and as I watched, I was in the fortress city of Susa, in the province of Elam. I saw in the vision that I was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 I looked up, and there was a ram standing beside the canal. He had two horns. The two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging to the west, the north, and the south. No animal could stand against him, and there was no rescue from his power. He did whatever he wanted and became great. 5 As I was observing, a male goat appeared, coming from the west across the surface of the entire earth without touching the ground. The goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came toward the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and rushed at him with savage fury. 7 I saw him approaching the ram, and infuriated with him, he struck the ram, breaking his two horns, and the ram was not strong enough to stand against him. The goat threw him to the ground and trampled him, and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the male goat acted even more arrogantly, but when he became powerful, the large horn was broken. Four conspicuous horns came up in its place, pointing toward the four winds of heaven. 9 From one of them a little horn emerged and grew extensively toward the south and the east and toward the beautiful land. 10 It grew as high as the heavenly army, made some of the army and some of the stars fall to the earth, and trampled them. 11 It acted arrogantly even against the Prince of the heavenly army; it revoked his regular sacrifice and overthrew the place of his sanctuary. 12 In the rebellion, the army was given up, together with the regular sacrifice. The horn threw truth to the ground and was successful in what it did. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the speaker, “How long will the events of this vision last—the regular sacrifice, the rebellion that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and of the army to be trampled?” 14 He said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be restored.” 15 While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there stood before me someone who appeared to be a man. 16 I heard a human voice calling from the middle of the Ulai: “Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.” 17 So he approached where I was standing; when he came near, I was terrified and fell facedown. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision refers to the time of the end.” 18 While he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me, made me stand up, 19 and said, “I am here to tell you what will happen at the conclusion of the time of wrath, because it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy goat represents the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes represents the first king. 22 The four horns that took the place of the broken horn represent four kingdoms. They will rise from that nation, but without its power. 23 Near the end of their kingdoms, when the rebels have reached the full measure of their sin, a ruthless king, skilled in intrigue, will come to the throne. 24 His power will be great, but it will not be his own. He will cause outrageous destruction and succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the powerful along with the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper through his cunning and by his influence, and in his own mind he will exalt himself. He will destroy many in a time of peace; he will even stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be broken—not by human hands. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true. Now you are to seal up the vision because it refers to many days in the future.” 27 I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was greatly disturbed by the vision and could not understand it.

Chapter 9

1 In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, a Mede by birth, who was made king over the Chaldean kingdom—2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the books according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be seventy. 3 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands—5 we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land. 7 Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but this day public shame belongs to us: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel—those who are near and those who are far, in all the countries where you have banished them because of the disloyalty they have shown toward you. 8 Lord, public shame belongs to us, our kings, our leaders, and our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the Lord our God by following his instructions that he set before us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has broken your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. The promised curse written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, has been poured out on us because we have sinned against him. 12 He has carried out his words that he spoke against us and against our rulers by bringing on us a disaster that is so great that nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever been done under all of heaven. 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 iniquities and paying attention to your truth. 14 So the Lord kept the disaster in mind and brought it on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all he has done. But we have not obeyed him. 15 Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand and made your name renowned as it is this day, we have sinned, we have acted wickedly. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, may your anger and wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become an object of ridicule to all those around us. 17 Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of your servant. Make your face shine on your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. 18 Listen closely, my God, and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that bears your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts, but based on your abundant compassion. 19 Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name. 20 While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my petition before the Lord my God concerning the holy mountain of my God—21 while I was praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the first vision, reached me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me this explanation: “Daniel, I’ve come now to give you understanding. 23 At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God. So consider the message and understand the vision: 24 Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city— to bring the rebellion to an end, to put a stop to sin, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. 25 Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an Anointed One, the ruler, will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat, but in difficult times. 26 After those sixty-two weeks the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the coming ruler will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come with a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations are decreed. 27 He will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator.”

Chapter 10

1 In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The message was true and was about a great conflict. He understood the message and had understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. 3 I didn’t eat any rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I didn’t put any oil on my body until the three weeks were over. 4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up, and there was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the brilliance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7 Only I, Daniel, saw the vision. The men who were with me did not see it, but a great terror fell on them, and they ran and hid. 8 I was left alone, looking at this great vision. No strength was left in me; my face grew deathly pale, and I was powerless. 9 I heard the words he said, and when I heard them I fell into a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. 10 Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling. 12 “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days.” 15 While he was saying these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Suddenly one with human likeness touched my lips. I opened my mouth and said to the one standing in front of me, “My lord, because of the vision, anguish overwhelms me and I am powerless. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, speak with someone like you, my lord? Now I have no strength, and there is no breath in me.” 18 Then the one with a human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19 He said, “Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!” As he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 He said, “Do you know why I’ve come to you? I must return at once to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I leave, the prince of Greece will come. 21 However, I will tell you what is recorded in the book of truth. (No one has the courage to support me against those princes except Michael, your prince.


Revelation 8 (CSB)

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand. 5 The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. 7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled to the earth. So a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain ablaze with fire was hurled into the sea. So a third of the sea became blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from heaven. It fell on a third of the rivers and springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood. So, many of the people died from the waters, because they had been made bitter. 12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day was without light and also a third of the night. 13 I looked and heard an eagle flying high overhead, crying out in a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe to those who live on the earth, because of the remaining trumpet blasts that the three angels are about to sound!”