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Captivity to Captivity...

From one to another form. Daniel 9.13-19

Return from Exile: Malachi 4 (6)

Pray Psalm 85.4-6.
Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?

Sing Psalm 85.4-6.
(Lyons: O Worship the King)
Restore us, O God, renew us in peace,
and cause all Your wrath against us to cease.
Will You evermore all Your wrath to us show?
Revive us that we may Your joy again know.

Read Daniel 9.13-19.

1. Why had God brought His people to the “disaster” of captivity in Babylon?

2. What did Daniel call on the Lord to do?

In this and the next installment, we’ll conclude our study of Israel’s post-exilic experience. Daniel’s prayer for forgiveness, deliverance, and a return to blessedness and the favor of the Lord came in response to his reading the book of Jeremiah (Dan. 9.1, 2; cf. Jer. 25.11, 12). Daniel quickly calculated the time he had been in Babylon—apparently, 70 years—and realized that the time for Israel to be returned from captivity had arrived.

But Daniel understood what release from captivity would require. Israel must seek the Lord in prayer, confessing and repenting of all sin and calling on the Lord to renew favor with them (v. 13). For God’s people to be truly free in Him, they must turn away from everything that had caused them to become captive. Foremost in this regard was their tendency to gratify their own lusts and to neglect and disobey the Law of God.

God heard Daniel’s prayer and kept the Word He had spoken through Jeremiah. The people returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the temple and the walls, and renewed their covenant with God.

But, while they were freed from their captivity to Babylon, they were not yet free in the Lord from their captivity to self and sin. As we have seen, the people made big promises to the Lord, but, except for a remnant of the faithful, they could not keep those promises because they would not deny their selfish ways. They would need a measure of grace from the Lord which exceeded even their being returned from captivity in Babylon.

Only God can open the eyes of His people to their true and deepest need, and He determined to wait another 400 years before the Liberator would come to free us from sin and self. When it comes to being free in the full and truest sense, good intentions and our best efforts are not enough. We need more grace. We must cry out, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!” Do not delay!” (Dan. 9.19)

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Daniel and Joseph. Two men pulled from their childhood homes and countries, forced to live in foreign and godless lands; and yet, they were not captives to the cultures they were sent into. They were heroes of the faith, men we can safely imitate for their trust and obedience to God, and their concern and care for others.

Daniel had his body taken captive, but not his heart and mind.
Joseph, too, was a captive, but his heart and mind continued to belong to God.

In many respects, our bodies are captives of a culture antithetical to God’s Laws; and yet our minds and hearts cannot be held captive against our will. We can always be followers of Jesus Christ, if that is what we have chosen in our hearts and minds to be. No one can take that from us. Ever.

And we, in the capacity of uncaptive captives, must pray for our fellow Christians held captive to the world:
“O Lord, hear!
O Lord, forgive!
O Lord, listen and act!
Do not delay for Your own sake, O my God,
for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Dan. 9.19).

God’s Church needs to be revived, and we must pray for His mercy now, through His Spirit, to this end:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8. 26, 27).

We must be revived ourselves by His Spirit to live according to His Law (Mal. 4.4).
And we must pray for the revival of God’s Church in our age.
Because He is coming again, and will judge all of us.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on the His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’” (Matt. 25.31-34).

Salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2.8, 9). But the working out of that salvation involves doing what God wants. And what He wants first, is for us to know Him, through His Word and His works. Then He wants us to keep His Laws (Ex. 20.1-17), which include loving Him first, and then our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22. 37-40). Because as Jesus goes on to say: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25.40) or conversely, “inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matt. 25.45).

Joseph turned his captivity into glorious service to God and others; Daniel did the same. We, too, can turn the time of our lives, living in a captive world, to God’s glory, and for the good of others.

With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a real possibility.
“For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1.37).

For reflection
1. What does it mean to be captive to Jesus Christ?

2. How can you know when you are becoming captive to something other than Jesus Christ?

3. In Jesus, we know the truth that sets us free. How does knowing this affect your daily life?

Here is an earnest request to God to restore the poor captive Jews to their former enjoyments. O Lord, hearken and do. Not hearken and speak only, but hearken and do; do that for us which none else can do; and defer not.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Daniel 9.4-19

Pray Psalm 85.7-13.
Pray for a renewed experience of the love and salvation of God. Pray for yourself, your church, and for believers everywhere, that God would break us free from captivity to anything other than Jesus, that we might begin to live more completely for Him.

Sing Psalm 85.7-13.
(Lyons: O Worship the King)
LORD, show us Your love; restore us, we pray!
And help us to hear the words that You say.
Speak peace to Your people; in truth let us stand.
We fear You; let glory and grace fill our land.

In Jesus God’s grace and truth are combined;
both goodness and peace in Him do we find.
Truth springs from the earth as He walks in our midst,
and righteousness flows from the heav’ns as a gift.

The LORD by His grace will give what is good;
our land will produce abundance of food.
And righteousness will go before the LORD’s face,
and make of His footsteps a way in this place.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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