Monday, January 7, 2019

Lead Repentance

Lead Repentance
January 7, 2018
Daniel 9:4 "I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed."

Daniel was an impressive man of God. He remained dedicated to the Lord despite the persecution, despite being tossed into a den of lions, despite being forced into servitude by wicked kings. He lived as an exile, possibly a very lonely life, with no record of him marrying or having a family. Despite all that Daniel had against him, he remained true to the Lord and was truly a righteous man. He was so honored for his righteousness that at one point in his life, the angel Gabriel appeared to give him a message and before Gabriel gave him the message he told Daniel that Daniel was well respected as per the conversations of the hosts in heaven. In other words, even the Lord and the angels discussed and were pleased and were impressed with Daniel's righteousness. 

Despite Daniel being an impressive man of righteous living, he still repented on behalf of his people, as if he committed the sins directly. In Daniel 9, he lead a magnificent prayer, in solitude, on behalf of himself and the nation of Israel. This prayer was in response to Daniel studying scripture, specifically Jeremiah chapter 29, following the orders that read, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, then I will hear their prayer and heal their land." Daniel humbled himself to pray, with fasting and sackcloth, even though he did not do anything wrong, per se. Daniel led the way in repentance. It is right after this that the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Daniel and told him that his reputation as a man of God preceded him in heaven. It leads you to wonder if Daniel had a good reputation in heaven because of his consistent lifestyle of righteousness or because he humbled himself in repentance on behalf of others. Either way, Daniel did the right thing.

Leaders today, specifically spiritual leaders of the Christian church, do they preach sermons about repentance or do they lead the way in repentance? This is not in reference to a pastor's personal repentance, but weeping and fasting out of true sorrow for the state of the people, the sin of even those who call themselves Christians. Remember that Daniel was repenting on behalf of those who were called by the Lord's name, the Jews specifically, not for the sins of those around them who served foreign gods, but the church alone. We often weep and wail over the sins committed by the non-Christian nation where we live, but do we weep and wail and repent over the sins within the church. Following Daniel's example, it is up to the church leaders to lead in this repentance. 

Most pastors find it much easier to stand at the pulpit and preach against the sins of the church, or the church-goers, but when was the last time a pastor took the sins personally, and wept aloud as if the sins were his alone? Not a pastor and think you are exempt, when was the last time you repented for someone else's sins? If you read Job, Job repented constantly on behalf of his children. Let's start there. Let's start by repenting on behalf of our physical and spiritual children, not because their sin is our personal responsibility, but because maybe we could have lead them away from that sin if we had lead differently, or better. Maybe a pastor should repent on behalf of his church because maybe it is his responsibility to raise up a flock that lives more righteously than they do? My own personal children will be responsible for their sins someday before the Lord, but as small children, do I not have a responsibility to lead them correctly? If I lack as a spiritual leader for my children and they do not succeed because of my failure, am I to partake in some of that fault? Daniel took 100 percent responsibility, even though he wasn't even their spiritual leader? How much more you and I, and our pastors, should be leading the way in repentance for others. Start by confessing the known sins of the Christians around you; it may be an act of righteousness, even if their sin is not your direct fault.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Jer 29, Daniel 9

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