But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Every day I am going to write a little bit. There is nothing more magnificent than this promise.
A cold night in January
One very cold evening I went to the jail for my substance abuse group meeting with the ladies in the County Jail. They were restless, upset, a little angry. Finally one of them told me what was going on, a situation which is always among the worst, for a ladies’ jail filled with mothers longing for their children.
They brought in this woman last week who killed her baby a while ago. She was on some kind of parole but now they learned she had had another baby and they think she killed him too. So they brought her in. And last night they found a dead baby in a dumpster over in ______. It was a newborn baby just left to die there. She is in lockdown. She just sits there. No expression on her face at all. How could she do that to her baby? Two babies! What could she be thinking? I would take them! I would love to be with my babies and I can’t have them and here she throws hers away! She could give them to me.
A general consensus ensued, consisting of chatter, righteous anger, glowing eyes, even tears. All the sins of their generation met in this horrible, original betrayal of motherhood.
“Or to me!”
“Or to me!”
Most of these ladies had lost their rights to their children for one reason or another, although they never lost hope they would get them back.
“What’s her name?” I asked.
Nobody knew. That made me very sad, that someone would be in such pain to kill her children, and nobody knew her name.
“Forget her pain!” they told me. “Think about those babies!”
They were irate I would even care about her pain. But I still wanted to break through. “I understand about the babies. I am a mother too, and I know none of you would do anything like that. But what kind of pain would a mother have to be in to do something so terrible to her own children?”
“I’m sorry, but I have been here so long,” said one of the girls–we’ll call Hyphenated Name. She had been there the longest, almost a year, which is the maximum you can be in a county jail. She had actually come a long way in her time in the group. She had been spiritually dead when she arrived. Through prayer, reading the Bible and C. S. Lewis, her heart had begun to beat again. The Lord told her: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you [Ez. 36:26]. But still she protested: “I have seen too much. I just don’t care. Don’t ask me to care.”
“What do you mean you don’t care?” I asked. I explained to her, again, gently, about why she was still alive, how God had given her a ministry, to be His heart on the earth today to the people who cannot know Him any other way. “By next week you will care. You wait and see. You will pray for her. You will cry for her.”
“No, no,” she objected, “not me. I don’t care. I’ve seen it all.”
“I believe you will care,” I told her.
“You know what bothers me,” said one; we will call her Little Girl. “Everybody is in there talking about how terrible she is, how she killed her babies. And don’t get me wrong. That is the most terrible thing I can think of too. But some of them have had abortions. How is this any different? Some of them pumped drugs into their bodies the whole time they were pregnant—how is that so different? Yet they are up there all self-righteous and ready to judge.”
Everyone thought that was very insightful.
I told them I would work on this problem, that I could see something was going on in the heavenlies. I would let them know. But I wanted them to pray for their sister who was in so much bondage.
“Pray what?” They said this a little disdainfully. I didn’t really blame them. But prayer changes things.
Pray that she will find the Lord and let the Lord do the rest. That made sense to them. And I also wanted them to learn her name.
Trouble in the heavenlies
John Dawson, author of Taking our Cities for Jesus, tells us that it is not unusual to see the ebb and flow of evil, within countries, cities, or regions. “In a global sense,” he writes, “each generation faces Satan in the form of the spirit of antichrist or world domination.” Whether Napoleon, Hitler [or ISIS], this manifested evil “would usurp the place that belongs only to God.” Eventually the church of God catches on to the enormity of the threat and the force behind it. “A praying church should face this spirit and drive it off long before we find ourselves in a world at war.”17 Regrettably, the church is always slow to respond. War seems to have a way of calling attention to the situation first.
What does that mean for our current situation? I was reading Dawson to find out what to pray so that I could give the ladies in the jail the answers they were looking for. According to Dawson, evil thinks both globally and locally. Locally, the first thing we need to do is identify the territorial spirits we are in the grip of, by identifying the predominant sin over an area, for example “political intrigue in Miami” and “greed (mammon) in New York.”18 So far so good.
In the meantime, the DNA came back on the baby found in the dumpster. To everyone’s surprise, it did not belong to the young lady in our jail. Another woman had killed her baby at the same time. With the DNA, she was not hard to find. She delivered him in a home without heat—it was bitterly cold at the time–maybe even a garage, and put him out in the trash to freeze to death. She, too, was the perfect picture of rejection, but like the woman in our jail, nobody was feeling sorry for her either.
Weeping for our babies
Yet as I was searching the internet for the story of our mystery woman, whose baby, dead or alive, is still missing, I was horrified to see how many more young lives, besides this poor frozen baby, had been lost in our immediate area during just the 4-month period coming up on google:
- A 17-year old high school kid, an honor student, suffocated her newborn because she feared her parents’ reaction to her pregnancy;
- A boyfriend suffocated his girlfriend’s 15-month old baby, by leaving a condom in her mouth!
- A 65-year old grandmother slit the wrist of her sleeping, heavily medicated son, who was epileptic, and bludgeoned his infant baby to death during their weekend visit, “for their own good”;
- A 13-year old accidently shot himself in the head with the gun left lying around by mom’s live-in, ex-offender, drug-dealer boyfriend;
- At least four young people were shot by the police, most of them during routine traffic stops, most in one county;
- At least six young people, one as young as 3 years of age, were killed by stray gunshots.
- A 23-year old girl and her boyfriend (not the father) who had tortured and murdered her 2-month old infant 6 months ago were finally being arrested, I saw on the evening news, as I searched google.
- Oh, and one more, a few days after that, an even more horrendous story on the news: a mother in D____ was charged with the murder of her two young children, who were found wrapped in plastic in her freezer. The distraught teacher of the little girl was telling the reporter how he had begged authorities to check on her; had they, her precious life might have been saved.
So the following week I asked my class: “What is going on here? What is the sin, the crime, that stands out the most in our area, the Mid-West, say Detroit to Chicago?”
They answered without hesitation: “Murder.”
“And who is getting murdered?”
Molech: The Child Devourer
Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the LORD. [Lev.18:21 NLT]
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. [Psalm 106:37-38 KJV]
Over the week, in my research into territorial spirits, one powerful demon from Old Testament days leaped out—you could hardly miss it, a very large idol in the shape of a man with the head of a bull, a god worshiped by many of Israel’s neighbors. He was a very angry sort of demon, requiring a propitiatory child sacrifice. That means, to keep his anger in check, he needed fat babies and lots of them. He devoured them, preferably crispy. Could he be the demon over our territory right now? And why? How did he get here?
How the demon arrived in Israel is no secret. King Solomon brought him in, erecting the idol in the Valley called Torphet, the “place of burning.” He did this for one of his wives, who worshipped the ancient religion. Throughout the Old Testament, the people of the Twelve Tribes are warned not to worship Molech and not to sacrifice their children to him. God warned them not once but many times. “You shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech” [Lev. 18:21]. Yet there the idol stood. Did any of Solomon’s children go into the fire? The giant iron statue, in the shape of a bull, stood with outstretched arms:
The ancients would heat this idol up with fire until it was glowing, then they would take their newborn babies, place them on the arms of the idol, and watch them burn to death.19
The picture of the idol showed vents that could be opened after the sacrifice, to dispose of the ashes. Apparently the blood Psalm 106 referred to was symbolic—or perhaps the parents mercifully killed the children first, letting the blood flow into the ground.
The place of sacrifice later came to be called Gehenna. With some captivity or other, the association with ritual killing disappeared, but the name did not. It is now the Greek word used symbolically for hell. Why not? No point in wasting a hell.
My ladies could hardly believe it when I told them: a higher power that demanded the children of its territory as a sacrifice. For some reason, the community leaders in Old Testament times mistakenly felt that sacrificing their children to Molech, apparently by passing them through the fire, burning them to death, was necessary for personal and community good.
But why? I couldn’t answer that, and I was as surprised as the ladies were that Molech’s name appeared so many times. This is not something we are taught! In the parking lot before class I had done a search, using my phone. No less than 32 times were the people of God warned against sacrificing to this Baal–a Hebrew word meaning lord, the generic name applied throughout the Bible to any false god, an idol fashioned of wood, metal, stone, even gold, and imbued with demonic properties through worship. Molech the devourer was real. Since I couldn’t take my phone into the jail, I wrote down enough verses for us to look up, to prove the point.
But the question continued to plague me. Why would the ancient Israelites, despite the 32-some odd warnings against it, which generations of leaders apparently missed or chose to ignore, go on and choose to sacrifice their children, not just one time or at one period, but for generations. The valley became so filled with children’s burnt bones that the landfill overflowed.
Why? Why did they sacrifice their children? The Jewish Encyclopedia says the answer is “simple”:
It is given in Micah 6:7: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” In the midst of the disasters which were befalling the nation, men felt that if the favor of [Yaweh] could be regained, it was worth any price they could pay. Their Semitic kindred worshiped their gods with offerings of their children, and in their desperation, the Israelites did the same.20
Yeah, right. “Everybody was doing it.” They were your children! Give me a break! To those of us knowing the grip of demon bondage, it’s extreme–but how different, really, from any means of choosing death over life for future generations?
God didn’t buy it either. His response was outrage. In Jeremiah 19 we read what He said to the Prophet to relay to the people of Jerusalem:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods. . . and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents, therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet . . . but the Valley of Slaughter. [Jer. 19:3,4,6 NKJV]
“I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its plagues. . . .I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury.” [Jer. 19:8, 10,11 NKJV]
How could they have been so deluded? Yet, here we are today and our children are clearly being sacrificed to some angry god. What is deluding us?
Our own territorial spirits
Principalities and powers may be under Satan’s control, but their power would be as nothing if the nation today lived under God’s blessing. When a nation throws over God’s laws, the nation draws in evil.
Dawson writes, “The problem is not the presence of the enemy but the absence of the glory. When our sin causes God’s revealed presence to depart, the demonic swarm fills the vacuum.”21 We blame political issues when we should look to the absence of the Church at the times when the Church should be present.
In the case of Molech the destroyer, as in Israel, we would look for the unrighteous behavior of our leaders who have sacrificed the children of our nation. We would look also for the absence of the Church. If we are scanning the horizon for the mass sacrifices that could possibly outrage the Lord at the blood of innocents, it is hard to avoid the legalization of abortion. No matter how you feel about “reproductive rights,” this is a bloody industry, with millions of the unborn slaughtered, their blood flushed down the commercial drains, by a multimillion dollar industry. And how about the blood of the innocent children and youth killed on city streets, in homes, and even in schools by guns originally made and sold legally, the manufacture and sale not only justified but applauded by politicians of both parties, to stay in office?
Abortions are our reproductive rights. Guns are our Second Amendment rights. We are really big on rights around here. It’s right and wrong we have lost. God feels strongly those who shed innocent blood. Who carries the guilt? Society pushes it downhill to the victims, the abandoned women without choices, the mentally ill and fatherless children, the powerless, who fire guns for power.
Yet, we know these issues have engendered heated political debates, over which “the Church” was itself divided. Heated political debates are themselves demonic, referred to as party spirit, factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies [Gal 5:20 Amp]. Arguing them to death is also evil. So we get these government sanctioned, wholly avoidable sacrifices of innocent blood we are all responsible for. Unhappily, we are all condemned for letting it continue to flow. Molech devours and we weep for our babies.
God is not looking for politics. He is looking for righteousness. In an interesting exchange between God and the prophet Habakkuk, at a time when things were bad and getting worse, the prophet pleads to the Lord: O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? [Hab. 1:1 NJKV]
The Lord replies that no matter how bad things get—and we too can expect things, sometimes, to be bad and get worse–one thing remains true: “The righteous shall live by their faith” [Hab. 2:4 NRSV]. His Word is as true today as it was then.
If God was once again a part of people’s lives, the biggest and best part, things might be different. Molech is not a spirit belonging to one region so much as one territorial entity waging war amidst a bevy of other entities who apparently have divided our nation among themselves. We see the evils of the land wherein we dwell. The darkness is spreading, and the Church, what is the Church doing to confront these evils? Oops, that’s us. We are the Church. Then what are we doing? Good question.
Non-Presumptuous Strategic Spiritual Warfare
“So what do we do?” the ladies asked. “Can we cast it out? Do we come against Molech?”
“That is not recommended,” I said.
“Then what can we do?”
“Well, you’re right that prayer is the answer. But first of all, you remember how we said you can never go against any kind of satanic manifestation if there is sin in your life.”
“Oh, no! Everybody has sin.”
“True,” I said, “But that is why we have 1 John 1:9. “ I told them. “Let’s look at what that says.” They read it to me as though it was the first time they had seen it:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 NKJV]
“And now do we go against Molech?”
“No, no, no. Molech is here because of the sins of the nation. Territorial spirits come in because there is a vacuum. God is missing. Righteousness is gone. God has been removed from our culture. Therefore, in order to get rid of what is evil, we must repent for our nation, like Daniel did. You might think that is impossible. But go to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Somebody read that.” So they did.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. [2 Chron. 7:14 NKJV]
“What are we called?”
“And are we called by His Name?”
They agreed that we were.
“So, is this passage for you, for us?” They looked somewhat stunned, but they agreed it was.
“It is a promise from God,” I said, “and it can start with you.”
And so I told them what they can do, if they want to see a change. They, each and every one of them, called by His Name, now, free from sin, had to take on the sins of the country and repent for our nation. They should spend time each day praying to God for forgiveness, just as the scripture reads: humble themselves, pray, seek His face, turn from their wicked ways, and pray that the country will turn from its wicked ways. Make a list of every sin the country is guilty of and pray for forgiveness for it. That is what they should come against, the wicked ways of the cities, the towns, the leaders, the men and women who make up the proud, materialistic population of this country, the underworld without morals or knowledge of God, the rebellious youth with satanic games and erotic music and drugs, everyone caught up in sin.
We should fall on their faces and beg God to heal our land. Instead of coming against Molech, we can tell God that we know that Molech, the child eater, has been consuming the children of our land, and that our own wicked ways have caused this.
What else? Repent of the sins that caused the devourer to have this permission. Ask God to rebuke the devourer for our sake and to let our children live. Rebuke the spirit of abortion and the spirit of war on our city streets that the politicians of our land have allowed to consume our young for their own selfish gain. Ask, no, beg our Lord to heal our land.
“And will that do it?” they asked.
“What do you think?” I asked them.
“I think we should try and see,” said Little Girl.
Everyone agreed. They wrote down the scripture. They promised to pray.
A broken and contrite heart
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.[Psalm 51:17 NKJV]
“And by the way,” said Hyphenated Name, “thanks a lot. I have been feeling such compassion for this woman, you know, the one who killed her baby. I can hardly stand it. I have been crying whenever I think of her. Me, crying. I only cry for myself. And I saw her name on the news, right after our last class. I have been praying for her every day. So I hope you are happy. I am ruined for my old life. Completely.”
“I can’t wait to hear what God is going to do with you,” I said to her, because she was getting out soon, to go somewhere, whether to another jail or prison or out on parole somewhere, no one knew.
“I am happy,” she said. We all were happy for her, and we prayed for her. The righteous shall live by their faith [Hab. 2:4]. So we knew she would live and thrive.
 Wikipedia shows an 18th-century German illustration of Moloch at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch.
 Personal beliefs contrast with gun rights as determined by NRA ratings of politicians. Few are elected without NRA endorsements. See “How the N.R.A. Rates Lawmakers” (New York Times, 19 Dec. 2012), accessed http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/19/us/politics/nra.html.
In Proverbs 29:25 it is written: The fear of man brings a snare [AMPC].
A snare. The Hebrew word is mowqesh, a noose, a trap, the cause of evil or bondage.
The fear of man brings bondage—what a great picture of rejection.
There’s no captive on earth who doesn’t know what rejection is. Maybe this is you. Your very life has oozed rejection. You’ve seen it on every face. You’ve tasted it from every tongue. Every laugh you’ve heard on the edge of a crowd – it was meant for you. You’ve met rejection where you expected it; you’ve encountered it where you least expected it. When you thought you were home, they pulled out the carpet. When you thought you’d found freedom, they threw you in jail. And as for true love – well, we all have stories we could tell.
But I have good news for you. Rejection is not you. Rejection is a spirit. All your life, this spirit has twisted your perceptions to make you feel, on a conscious or an unconscious level, not only that you were rejected, but also that you deserved to be. Rejection used the package life gave you and tied it up around you so that no matter how it came at you the results were always the same. But this package—it was lies. And it came to you from the father of lies, in order to hold you captive. Did it work?
Rejection causes you to fear what man will do to you. Even more, you fear what man will think of you. This fear has held you captive.
But there is good news.The fear of man might bring bondage but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.[Proverbs 29:25 AMPC]
How so, you may ask? Life without Rejection, available through amazon.com, can help you understand both the problem–ah, but there are many ways into bondage, aren’t there?– and the solution. The way out. You will see that what you thought was you was a spiritual lie and what you thought there was no cure for, the Lord Jesus is willing and able to fix for you—if you will let Him.
Questions? Write me at email@example.com. Just read the book.
You can find the trailer at:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph. 6:12 NKJV]
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places. [Eph. 6:12, 1599 Geneva Bible]
Strategic level spiritual warfare is the big leagues of prayer ministry, dedicated to bringing down principalities and world powers, those higher level demonic entities who claim sin-ridden territories of the earth as their own. These are the beings that accompany–if in fact they don’t cause!–collective evil. So this is not a ministry for the weak of heart.
This kind of ministry used to get a lot of respect. Today it has deteriorated to amost, you know, a niche. Indeed, some well respected clergy are even warning against it. Let’s see how this happened. In the early days, for example, G. Peter Wagner compiled handbooks like Breaking Strongholds in Your City (1997) and Warfare Prayer (1997) to teach prayer warriors how to intercede against these powerful spiritual enemies holding sway above various dark beleaguered cities. Wagner has some impressive stories to tell. He is still alive, a giant in the field, and at one time I read his books hungrily.
I think many people did, back in the day–but of late I do not think people do as much reading as they do attacking, launching out unprepared. And that is part of the problem today. People do not study up. What did Paul say, after all: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”[2 Tim. 2:15 KJV]. Nor do they pray the way Wagner directs and models, if they are going to imitate his ministry and his successes. Fasting and prayer are essential in any encounter with the devil. Jesus told us so.
However, until recently I would have said that stuff is way out of my league. It is not altar ministry stuff. Not my ministry, not at all. Then something happened that drew me into it. If you know the way I write, read on (and on), and sooner or later we might get to that event… It’s the point of the story and well worth it.
But first, a little more essential background: what are these principalities and worldly governors, these so called territorial demons that have supposedly carved up the earth amongst themselves? Ephesians 6:12 has always been a very important scripture for me. Hearing it for the first time, at a Women’s Retreat the first year I became a Christian, the battle I was fighting came to make sense to me. Out of it grew my husband’s deliverance and then my ministry. But my ministry as I said is altar level, where personal deliverance happens. Strategic level spiritual warfare I considered to be for greater warriors than I, men like Wagner, who had the anointing and perseverance to walk around dangerous cities all hours of the day and night interceding for the people.
If we are going to understand it, let’s go to the source. But what is this source? Look at the scriptures above.
Let’s compare the New King James Version (circa. 1611) [where we war against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age] with the passage from the 1599 Geneva Bible [against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world]. That is a startling change, is it not? Thus, in the brief passage of years between the Geneva translation and the King James Bible, the view of territorial spirits changed. Imputation rather than spiritual certainty led to lack of awareness of a world divided by governing malevolent entities. As a result, the battle against these dark princes has been confusing.
Daniel and Territorial Rulers
Without knowing about territorial rulers, how else can we understand the story of what happened to the answer to Daniel’s prayer, one of the first Biblical lessons on these warring entities? Daniel, beloved of God, had fasted and prayed for three weeks. Though his prayers had reached heaven immediately, the answer was blocked. The angel appointed to carry God’s reply was held up by demon princes intent on preventing the important vision from getting through. This angel told Daniel:
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come. . . And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.” [Dan. 10:13, 20]
You know that you are getting a pretty important message from God when a war in heaven tries to keep it from you. Without a doubt, the visions themselves, when they did get through (found in the books of Daniel 9-12), were definitely worth the battle. They are among the Bible’s most colorful, complex, and also debatable. Until the day of their fulfillment, preachers, scholars, end-time profiteers, and even video game-makers will continue to dispute their meanings. So we will stay tuned…
“Archangel Michael” by Guido Reni (1575–1642)
Understandably, this ongoing battle over symbolic meaning overshadows the complexity of the historical context. But as a history teacher, how can I ignore the history? History is essential to understanding why Daniel was where he was and why he prayed the way he did. Also, for the point we are making here, we should not be ignorant of lesson it teaches about Strategic Spiritual Warfare.
First and most important, why doesn’t anybody notice that Daniel 9 and 10 are backwards in chronology? Daniel 9 (which begins In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes [Daniel 9:1]) should be read after Daniel 10 (which begins In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia [Dan 10:1]), because King Cyrus came before King Darius.
Let’s look at the story of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon (present day Iraq) conquered Judah and sent the ruling families of Jews into exile around 609 BC, among them Daniel. Through his righteous behavior and the miracle of the fiery furnace, Daniel rose to prominence in captivity, and, long story short, led the king to the worship of the Most High God. Another important miracle occurred that made him equally valuable to that king’s son. Meanwhile Jerusalem was completely destroyed, and the last of the Hebrew exiles arrived in Babylon around 586 BC.
Many books of the Old Testament relate to this Captivity: warnings against it, the brutal destruction of the two kingdoms, lamentations over the loss, and finally, upon the joyous release of the captives, well, are the lessons learned? We could only hope.
Daniel mostly did ok in Babylon–apart from a little serious testing, fire, lions, etc. But faith works wonders–which is why we remember Daniel at all. Oh, yes, and the mysterious End Time Prophecies, but needless to say, he couldn’t have died young and left us those.
Anyway, Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered Babylon in 539 BC; the next year Cyrus issued a proclamation ending the Babylonian Captivity, proclaiming also that the Temple should be rebuilt. Many Jews began returning to their country at this time, but Daniel did not go with them. Was it that he liked his position at the court? Was it that he was 90 years of age and feeling it? Or was his ministry in Babylon as yet unfulfilled? Read the book yourself to get the rest.
According to the book of Ezra, the returned exiles, with support from their Babylonian relatives, would begin the construction of the Second Temple in the period 521–516 BC (remember how in BC, time appears to be going backwards, although apparently people of the time do not know this).
Daniel began to pray and fast when a dread settled on him about the rebuilding of the temple [Ezra 4]. Certain valuable items, plundered from the Temple when the Jerusalem fell, were stored in the Babylonian treasury and had not yet been returned. Cyrus’s son was ruling in his absence of his father, while Cyrus, who made war in Asia Minor, needed money. However, the prayer worked amazingly well: not only was Cyrus killed in battle in 530 BC, but both his sons were killed in 522 BC. The new king of Persia, Darius, was a whole different type of ruler, and (also, long story short) work on the Temple continued [Zech. 4:6-10; 6:9-14]. So that was some prayer. Daniel was indeed a prayer warrior.
Repenting for the Nation
Nevertheless, Daniel’s most fervent prayer began in the first year of the reign of King Darius, after the death of Cyrus. It showed that Daniel, since his earlier visions, had read the Scripture of Truth with new eyes [Dan.10:21]. He was overcome with conviction for his people, in the realization that the destruction of their land was no random conquest of a heathen king. Nebuchadnezzar was an instrument in the Hand of God, whose people had betrayed Him, filling His land and His Holy temple with abominations. Read the book of Ezekiel to get some of the flavor of that anger.
Daniel realized they had disobeyed the Lord and has deserved their fate, the destruction of their land, exile, the whole nine yards and then some. He realized the people needed God like never before. His prayer should be a model of intercession for the nation:
- He began by magnifying the Lord, recounting His righteousness and His blessings.
- Next, in fasting, sackcloth, and ashes, he listed the nation’s sins and his own sins. In this way, he acknowledged to the Lord that His punishment upon His chosen people was righteous and true.
- At the end, Daniel cried out for mercy, begging for forgiveness for the people whom the Lord had called by His Name [Dan . 9:1-19].
Days and nights Daniel spent in intercession, repenting of his own and his country’s sins. Unbelievably, this righteous servant of the Lord took his nation’s sins upon himself and repented—heart and soul–on their behalf.
We cannot imagine such a thing, repenting for our nation, although sometimes we call upon our leaders to repent. But here is Daniel, no stranger to prophecies or angelic visits, making it his appointed mission to fall upon his knees, day after day, night after night, in sackcloth and ashes, to cry out, to intercede for his nation. Wow. At the end, another angelic breakthrough came. The substance of this is another story.
However, this passage of scripture is of vital importance right now for us in our time for just one reason:
If we want God’s emissaries to get through principalities and powers and worldly governors to provide assistance to us today, we, God’s servants on this earth, must learn to pray. We need specific prayer, on a strategic level. We need to pray as Daniel prayed.
Teach us, Oh Lord of heaven and earth, to pray as Daniel prayed. Oh Mighty and Merciful God, too long have we strayed, wrapped in the bondages of self and useless idolatry. We throw off all distractions, now, and the sins that so easily beset. Oh Lord, we turn our hearts to you. Forgive us, Lord for our waywardness, pettiness, and idiocy. In the fire of Your spirit, cleanse us. Teach us to honor You again, Most Holy Lord, and to keep Your commandments. Give us strength to endure. Point us in the way that we should go, to care for the poor, the fatherless, the widows, the strangers upon our shores. And heal our broken, ravaged land. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.