Daniel 9.4-13 – God’s Judgment
Posted: 5 July 2010 in Daniel

And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets…. O LORD, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day….. all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

The idea that God’s activity in history can include judgment, and the attendant punishment is not a terribly fashionable one today. It is certainly possible to see why. It is all too easy for somebody to see divine retribution at work when misfortune befalls somebody, or something, which they have taken a dislike to. So AIDS becomes God’s retribution upon the gay community; the events of 9/11 become God’s judgment upon American capitalism, and so on. (Although another reason might be that twentieth century theology manufactured a God who was too soft and cuddly.)

Nevertheless, it remains a fact that God’s judgment, as something active in history, is a concept far from being foreign to either the Bible or to Jesus. In the book of Proverbs it is often likened to a parent’s attempt to bring recalcitrant children into line:

“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction.” (Proverbs 3.11)

The last sentence in the passage quoted from Daniel suggests the same thing. So what we have here is not a bad tempered deity out to seek his revenge, but a merciful God whose purposes include the salvation of his people.

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