Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Prayer of Daniel, Part 3

Introduction
Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.” (Jeremiah 6:19)

Daniel 9:13-15

Context
-In Daniel 9, Daniel is studying Scripture while living in the period of Medo-Persian transition in the city of Babylon. Babylon has just recently fallen, just as the Lord had foretold in Daniel 5. King Darius is now reigning over the city, as this chapter takes place in the first year of his reign. Daniel, however, is most concerned with the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people and the people of God’s current spiritual state. Because of this, he is studying the prophet Jeremiah to discern when God would bring Israel back from the exile.
-Having discovered that the return from Babylonian captivity would soon take place, Daniel responds with sackcloth, ashes, and fasting. He makes heartfelt confession before the Lord God on behalf of the people of Israel. He constantly contrasts the goodness and righteousness of the Lord with the sinful rebellion of the people of Israel. God is the good, righteousness, covenant-keeping Lord of His people who is full of lovingkindness and forgiveness, but Israel is a wicked, stubborn, rebellious, and straying people that has constantly and willfully sinned against the Lord and repeatedly broken His covenant for almost 500 years.
-Daniel is concerned that his people the Jews would turn again to the Lord their God, and he is intensely hopeful for the promises of God to be fulfilled in the promised Messiah and Messianic kingdom. He is not caught up in the political chaos of his day or ultimately concerned about who sits on what human thrones. He is instead appealing to the King of Heaven to look down and forgive and restore the subjects in His kingdom. Likewise, our greatest needs are not earthly or material. Rather, our greatest needs are forgiveness, mercy, redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. We can only look to the Lord our God to forgive us of the sins that destroy us. We can only look to Yahweh to heal wounds we have inflicted upon ourselves because of our own sin—wounds that none other can bind up and make whole.
-In Daniel 9:13-15, Daniel declares God to be truly righteous and holy when He judges sin to the uttermost degree. The three questions from this text are, how do we know whether we have truly repented of our sins? How can God be good when God has brought disaster upon His people when they sin? Finally, will God be faithful to deliver us when we sin as He was in the past, or will He spurn us as we rightfully deserve?

Verse 13
As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.
-In verse 12, Daniel stated that the Lord confirmed the words He spoke against Israel through the Old Testament prophets. Nothing like what had been done in Jerusalem had hitherto been seen in history.
-Daniel says, “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us”
(
כַּאֲשֶׁר כָּתוּב בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל־הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת בָּאָה עָלֵינוּ).
-The phrase “It is written” (
כָּתוּב) reminds us that God Himself wrote what is in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
-Here, Daniel specifically refers to the “Law of Moses” (
בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה). This refers to the Torah, or the first five books of Moses that formed the foundation for the Old Testament canon.
-Daniel states that “all this calamity has come upon us”
(
כָּל־הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת בָּאָה עָלֵינוּ). Every extent of every covenant curse came upon the people of Israel.
-In Deuteronomy 28, Yahweh gave the covenant blessings for blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and covenant curses for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:15-69). Among the covenant curses, the Lord stated that they would experience the loss of health, the loss of crops, the loss of favorable climate conditions, the loss of their national freedom and security, the loss of their covenant land, and even the loss of their humanity and ultimately their very lives.
-As Israel’s apostasy became deeply entrenched in the people, the Lord brought loss of crops, famine, and drought to chastise his people (1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:1-2).
-The Lord continued to allow enemies to oppress His people. First the Midianites oppressed the people during the time of the judges (Judges 6:1-6).
-Later in Israel’s history, the Assyrians harassed the northern kingdom of Israel until they destroyed the northern kingdom and carried them off into exile in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:6-18).
-The southern kingdom of Judah fell three times to King Nebuchadnezzar: 605 B.C. (when Daniel was exiled), 597 B.C., and 586 B.C. The final time destroyed the southern kingdom of Judah and destroyed the temple of the Lord (Jeremiah 39:1-10).
-Astonishingly, Daniel says, “Yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God”
(
וְלֹא־חִלִּינוּ אֶת־פְּנֵי יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ) as the first of three great national failures of God’s people.
-To “entreat” (
חלה) God is to seek God earnestly in repentant prayer (KJV) in a time of desperation, illness, and weakness, and is here what Daniel is doing for Israel. However, they as a nation had not sought the Lord in repentant prayer over their sin.
-The “favor” (
פָּנֶה) literally is “face”. It means to seek God’s face in prayer, just as Daniel is doing in this passage (Daniel 9:3).
-For God to turn His face towards you means that you are in right relationship and fellowship with God and subsequently experiencing divine covenant blessings (Numbers 6:24-26).
-Yahweh their God had turned His face away from Israel because of their grievous sins (Isaiah 59:2-3).
-Yahweh promised that if His people sought His face and turned from their wickedness, He would heal them and their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
-When we know we have sinned against the Lord, we wound our own soul when we refuse to seek His face in humble, contrite prayers of repentance (1 John 1:9-10).
-Secondly, Israel had clearly not sought the Lord in repentant prayer as Daniel says that they hadn’t been “turning from our iniquities” (
לָשׁוּב מֵעֲוֹנֵנוּ).
-True repentance is “turning” (
שׁוב) from sin. This Hebrew verb means “to go back; to return; to bring back” and refers to reversing course in an opposite direction.
-True repentance is walking completely away from sin and walking completely towards Christ (Proverbs 4:18; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:5-6)
-The Lord called Israel back to the old paths that led back to Him and away from their sin, but they would not walk upon those old paths (Jeremiah 16:16).
-The longer we walk in unrepentant sin, the farther away we walk from the Lord in terms of fellowship with Christ.
-Finally, Israel had failed to demonstrate and evidence true repentance by “gaining insight from your truth” (
וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ).
-Throughout the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the objective is to gain wisdom and insight (Proverbs 4:7) through a fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 110:10).
-People seek many sources of information, advise, and counsel in the world, but many do not seek God’s truth. Where is God’s truth contained and revealed? In the written Scriptures (John 17:17) which point us to Christ, who is the source of all wisdom and truth (Colossians 2:3).
-Horrendously, one episode in the book of Jeremiah saw a king burning the word of the Lord as it was being read to him (Jeremiah 36:20-26). This was the same king that the Lord delivered into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands when Daniel was exiled in 605 B.C. (Daniel 1:1-2).
-When we do not look to Scripture as a source of truth, we have not demonstrated repentance. The temptation when we realize we have sinned is to shy away from Scripture, but on the contrary, that is when we must seek it above all else. (Psalm 19:7-11).
-What Israel failed to do, Daniel is doing here in this passage (Daniel 9:2).
-True repentance is demonstrated by seeking God in earnest, repentant prayer over our sins, walking away from our sins and walking back towards Christ, and looking to the written Scriptures as the only source of divine truth that can heal us. If we fail to do these things, we are not truly repentant.


Verse 14
Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice.
-Because Israel had not turned to the Lord in earnest prayer, humble obedience, and faithfulness to Scripture, “Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity”
(
וַיִּשְׁקֹד יהוה עַל־הָרָעָה).
-Daniel once again uses the name Yahweh (
יהוה) to remind the readers that this is the personal, covenant-keeping God who is keeping His covenant with His people Israel.
-Yahweh “has kept ready the calamity” (
וַיִּשְׁקֹד) literally means that “kept watch over this calamity” (NRSV).
-Scriptures declare that Yahweh’s eyes are upon the righteous and the wicked (Proverbs 15:3; 2 Chronicles 16:9).
-No one can deceive Christ—He knows what is in the hearts of men (John 2:24-25).
-Not only has Yahweh kept watch over His people to see if they are doing good or evil, He has also been vigilant to keep the terms of His covenant (Jeremiah 1:12).
-Scripture is absolutely clear that Yahweh brought this “calamity” (
רָעָה) upon His people because they violated the Mosaic Covenant (Jeremiah 32:23; Jeremiah 40:3), for Daniel says that He “has brought it upon us” (וַיְבִיאֶהָ עָלֵינוּ).
-Daniel then describes the character of Yahweh in bringing upon all the disaster, desolation, and death upon His own people in response to their law-breaking. He says, “for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done”
(
כִּי־צַדִּיק יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָׂיו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה).
-The Scriptures repeatedly testify to God’s absolute holiness (1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 99:9).
-Scripture also testifies to the blazing purity of God (Exodus 3:1-5; Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 4:24) and of Christ (Revelation 1:14; Revelation 12:12).
-The blazing holiness of God consumes sin, as seen previously in Daniel 7:9-12.
-Why can God not tolerate sin? He cannot even look upon evil, for He is utterly pure and holy (Habakkuk 1:13a).
-However, the holiness of God in this text is not an abstraction—Yahweh’s fiery purity consumed the sins of His own people “in all the works” of judgment that He brought upon Israel (
עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָׂיו).
-We have not fully repented until we acknowledge and comprehend that God is entirely “righteous” (
צַדִּיק) or just in all He does (Psalm 119:137), particularly when God divinely judges sin (Revelation 16:4-7).
-Those who repented after the exile acknowledged that God was entirely faithful and just to judge Israel so severely for their national sin (Ezra 9:15; Nehemiah 9:33).
-It is not a question as to whether God can judge sin—there is no question at all. God, being infinitely good and just, must punish every sin to the fullest extent required—otherwise, He would be an unjust God.
-Once more, Daniel contrasts Yahweh’s faithfulness to His covenant with the unfaithfulness of Israel, for he says “we have not obeyed his voice” (
אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּקֹלוֹ).

Verse 15

And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

-Before Daniel begins his petition in verses 16-19, he brings in biblical theology to provide redemptive precedent for God’s actions henceforth. “And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand”
(
וְעַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתָ אֶת־עַמְּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּיָד).
-Yahweh alone brought out His people from the land of Egypt (Exodus 6:6).
-Yahweh did not make Israel His people because of Israel’s holiness during the time of Egyptian enslavement (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).
-Even after the immediate exodus from Egypt, Israel continued to grumble against Yahweh (Exodus 16:2) and even fall into idolatry (Exodus 32-34).
-Yahweh brought His people out of Egypt because the same God who is faithful to fulfill covenant curses is also the same God who is faithful to fulfill covenant promises of redemption (Genesis 15:13-16).
-Yahweh “made a name” for himself in bringing Israel up out of Egypt
(
וַתַּעַשׂ־לְךָ שֵׁם)
-Scripture declares that God acted in the Exodus to be faithful to His covenant and to bring glory to His holy name (Exodus 9:16; Ezekiel 20:9-10).
-While the name of Israel was despised (Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalm 44:14), the name of the Lord will not be despised (Psalm 113:4; Psalm 148:13) “as at this day” (
כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה).
-Daniel once more freely confesses, “We have sinned, we have done wickedly”
(
חָטָאנוּ רָשָׁעְנוּ).
-Can sinners ever reach a point in which God will never forgive them? Can sinners, even if they realize their sin and deeply and sincerely repent, reach a point where God will not redeem them? No.
Daniel not only knew of God’s promises to judge His people, he also knew of God’s promises to redeem His people from their sin (Jeremiah 31:28).
-Daniel knew that the same book that prophesied the doom that overtook Israel in the exile were promises that God would once again act as He had in Egypt. He would bring Israel out of the land of slavery not because of any inherent worthiness of their part, but because He is faithful to His covenant and He will bring glory to His name (Ezekiel 36:19-28)
-When we sincerely approach God for forgiveness and redemption, we can know that God will never cast us away (John 6:37) and that God will forgive us because of His mighty name (Isaiah 43:25).
-The same hope of Israel is our same hope today: in the sin-bearing work of the Messiah on the cross and His resurrection from the dead (Psalm 130:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30).


Conclusion
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:19-21)

Handout
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLnbvsX8ZvgbkRzZG95NHFFMVk/view?usp=sharing

Recording
Download the Study Here

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Prayer of Daniel, Part 2

Introduction
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-29)

Daniel 9:9-12

Context

-In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses gave Israel the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one.” (
שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה אֶחָֽד) This was the defining theological statement for the covenant community of Israel—yet they consistently failed to hear the voice of Yahweh and to acknowledge Him alone.
-Not only had Israel walked in sin for 490 years before Yahweh cast them into multiple exiles, they failed to observe the Law of God as a nation. Thus, God cast them into a 70-year exile. As they had not observed the Sabbath years every seven years by allowing their land to lie fallow and to free slaves and release debts, God kept the terms of His covenant by punishing His people.
-The response of the faithful who lived during the exile period was great pain and sadness over what had befallen God’s chosen nation (Psalm 137:1). Not only did Daniel demonstrate immense grief and sadness and repentance over Israel’s 500 years of sin, but so did those of Daniel’s day (Lamentations 2:11) and those who followed Daniel in history (Nehemiah 1:4-7).

Verse 9
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him
-After declaring that righteousness belongs to Yahweh in verse 7 and open shame and disgrace to Israel in verse 8, Daniel then says that “to the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness” (
לַאדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ הָרַחֲמִים וְהַסְּלִחוֹת).
-Daniel has already referred to God as “Lord” (
אָדוֹן) four times in Daniel 9, but now for the first time he declares Adonai to be “our God” (אֱלֹהֵינוּ).
-From the moment that the Lord chose Abram of Ur to be the patriarch of his people, the Lord was Israel’s God (Genesis 12:1-3).
-451 times in the Old Testament, Yahweh is spoken to the people as the “Lord your God” and 101 times as the “Lord our God”.
-Scripture says that the “Lord our God” is unsurpassed in power and glory (Exodus 8:10; Psalm 99:5)
-Here, Daniel says that to the Lord our God “belong mercy and forgiveness”
(
הָרַחֲמִים וְהַסְּלִחוֹת).
-“Mercy” (
רַחֲמִים), or rahammim, is the loving compassion for God.
-Unlike sinful human beings who may have no love or no compassion, the Lord our God preserves His faithful people out of his loving compassion (Psalm 40:11). Daniel is certainly an example of this.
-In the midst of Israel’s sin, they could only turn to the Lord they had rejected for mercy (Psalm 25:6; Psalm 51:1).
-Our only hope in the realization of our great sin is to cry out to God for mercy (Psalm 69:16).
-Unlike an evil king in whom no good thing might reside, the Lord is full of loving compassion for repentant sinners (Psalm 103:4).
-Even in the midst of destruction and devastation in the aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah still declared that God is a God of loving, compassionate mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23)
-Loving compassion means that we are rescued from sin, but it does not mean that we are no longer guilty of sin. Hence Daniel says that the Lord our God is also a God of “forgiveness”
(
סְלִיחָה).
-This Hebrew word
סְלִיחָה (selihah) occurs only three times in Scripture, and it occurs in relationship to the sins of Israel (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 130:4; Daniel 9:9).
-To be forgiven of sins means that God pardons our sins and no longer counts them against us (Psalm 32:1-2).
-Because all sins are ultimately against God alone (Psalm 51:4), only God can forgive sins. Hence when Christ came in His earthly ministry forgiving sins, this was testifying that He is God incarnate (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 7:48; Luke 5:20).
-The only way that God can forgive sins (as He did for the people of Israel) is by making atonement for those sins through the shedding of blood and the giving of life (Leviticus 17:11).
-Christ is the atonement for our sins (1 John 2:2) through His shed blood (Ephesians 1:7) and hence is our means of God’s forgiveness (Colossians 1:14).

-Why does Daniel mention the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord? “For we have rebelled against him” (
כִּי מָרַדְנוּ בּוֹ).
-“Rebellion” (
מרד) was revolting against a monarch and was punishable by death.
-Repeatedly God’s prophets warned Israel that if they rebelled, they would face God’s righteous anger (Numbers 14:9; Joshua 22:18-19).
-The Lord repeatedly declared to Daniel’s contemporary Ezekiel that Israel was a nation of rebellion that had revolted against Him (Ezekiel 2:3; Ezekiel 12:2-3).


Verse 10
and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

-Not only had Israel revolted against the Lord, “they have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God” (
וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּקוֹל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ).
-Not only did Israel ignore what God said (v. 6), they also defied what God said.
-Moses warned the people of Israel in the Torah that if they did not obey the Lord, they would experience divine judgment (Deuteronomy 8:20).
-How then did Daniel know that Israel had disobeyed the voice of Yahweh? Because the nation for centuries had not been “walking in his laws” (
לָלֶכֶת בְּתוֹרֹתָיו).
-God does not call us to “follow our hearts” or to listen to the “still, small voice”, but to follow His revealed Word (James 1:22).
-God’s Law came to Moses upon Mount Sinai and was written by the very finger of God upon stone tablets (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). God’s Law was the defining feature of the Mosaic Covenant, so much so that it became known as the “Law of Moses” (John 1:17).
-What then were examples of laws that Israel violated? Daniel presumes his readers know the history of Israel’s sin and also presumes they know God’s Law.
-Because Yahweh was Israel’s covenant-keeping God, He commanded them that they were to worship Him only (Exodus 20:2-5). Yet Israel failed to do so (1 Kings 18:21).
-Yahweh commanded Israel not to oppress refugees from surrounding nations (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33).
-Yahweh commanded Israel not to commit social injustice against the weak and destitute in society (Exodus 22:22).
-However, Israel oppressed the foreigners within its lands and did not seek justice for the weak and lowly in society (Ezekiel 22:7).
-Yahweh commanded Israel that they were only to offer sacrifices in the city of Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 12:5-11). Hence why Christ could only be crucified in the city of Jerusalem and not in another city (Matthew 16:21).
-However, Israel frequently built altars and built high places to pagan idols throughout its history (1 Kings 14:23; Jeremiah 19:5).
-These laws were not obscure or hard to find. They were not unknown or esoteric. These laws were those “which he set before us by his servants the prophets”
(
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לְפָנֵינוּ בְּיַד עֲבָדָיו הַנְּבִיאִים).
-The Law came through Moses (Deuteronomy 30:11-15).
-The prophets who followed Israel reiterated the Law of Moses to the people, calling them back to adhere to the Lord’s commands and walk in His ways (2 Kings 17:13).
-
Here, again, Daniel shows how the Israelites provoked God’s anger against them by the wickedness of their conduct. He points out one special kind of sin and method of acting wickedly, namely, despising the teaching which proceeded from God as its author, and was expounded to them by his prophets. We must diligently notice this, as we have previously advised; for although no one is excusable before God by the pretext of ignorance, yet we perceive how our wickedness is aggravated when we knowingly and willfully make a point of rejecting what God commands and teaches. Daniel, therefore, enlarges upon the people’s crime by adding the circumstance, they would not hear the prophets.[1]

Verse 11

All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.
-Daniel indicts the entire nation of Jews, for “All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside” (
וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל עָבְרוּ אֶת־תּוֹרָתֶךָ וְסוֹר).
-Yahweh repeatedly called Israel a rebellious nation and a nation of sinners (Isaiah 1:4).
-To “transgress” means “to go one’s own way”.
-The Lord warns us in His Word that if we follow our own way than His way, the end thereof is death (Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25).
-Jeremiah stated that Israel did not walk in the ways of the Lord, but instead walked in the ways of the Baals and other false idols (Jeremiah 9:14).
-Israel, once he followed his own way, “turned aside” (
וְסוֹר).
-It is impossible to follow our own way and walk in God’s ways at the same time—we will always turn aside from God’s ways when we follow our own way (Jeremiah 6:16).
-Israel’s great temptation was the sin of idolatry, even back in the time of Moses (Exodus 32:8).
-Israel was commanded not to turn aside to any way other than the Law of the Lord (Joshua 23:6), but they did not heed these admonitions (Judges 2:17).
-Not only was Israel guilty of turning aside from God, all men are guilty of turning aside from God (Romans 3:12).

-They all had been “refusing to obey your voice” (
לְבִלְתִּי שְׁמוֹעַ בְּקֹלֶךָ).
-God spoke to Israel from the midst of fiery Mount Sinai, and Israel heard Him (Deuteronomy 4:12, 33).
-Even though Israel audibly heard the voice of God, they instead sought the voices of other gods (1 Kings 18:26).
-We can hear God speak to us today by reading His inspired, inerrant Word (Matthew 22:31).
-As a result of Israel’s refusal to listen, refusal to obey, and a refusal to follow, “The curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.”
-What then was the “curse and the oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God”? (
הָאָלָה וְהַשְּׁבֻעָה אֲשֶׁר כְּתוּבָה בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד־הָאֱלֹהִים)
-The terms “curse” (
אָלָה) and “oath” (שְׁבוּעָה) are covenant formulas; this is an oath formula to bring curses upon those who violated the terms of the covenant. Ancient covenants would involve animals being cut in half and the two parties walking between the bloody pieces. If either if them broke the terms of the covenant, they would become like the butchered animals.
-This covenant curse formula came specifically from what was “written in the Law of Moses”
(
כְּתוּבָה בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה).
-The covenant blessings and curses are most clearly articulated in Deuteronomy 28.
-The list of covenant curses was vast and staggering. They would be cursed where they dwelt (v. 16), their food would be cursed (v. 17), their offspring and agriculture would be cursed (v. 19).
-If they did not adhere to the terms of the Law of Moses, Yahweh would not give them success (v. 20). They would experience plagues and deadly diseases (v. 21-22, 27-29, 35, 58-61). They would not experience rainfall or favorable climate conditions for growing crops (v. 23-24).
-Israel would experience the loss of freedom (v. 32-34) and the loss of military victory (v. 25).
-Israel would even be given over to cannibalism where they even lost their humanity (v. 53-57).
-If they continued to sin stubbornly against the Lord, God would give them over to their enemies and disperse them in national exiles (Deuteronomy 28:36-37, 64-68).
-The curses in the Mosaic Covenant “have been poured out upon us” (
וַתִּתַּךְ עָלֵינוּ).
-To “pour out” (נתך) means “to flood”, and Israel was indeed flooded with these covenant curses from Yahweh.
-Every single curse described in Deuteronomy 28 came to pass, exactly as Yahweh had warned them through Moses.
-Daniel states that these curses did not befall Israel by chance, but came about “because we have sinned against him”
(כִּי חָטָאנוּ לוֹ).
-Israel committed all the sins that Yahweh warned them that they would, and hence He kept His terms of the covenant and brought all these curses upon them, just as He had sworn.


Verse 12

He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem.

-Just as God swore by His prophets (such as Jeremiah), Daniel states that “He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us”
-Whatever God speaks, He also “confirms” (
קום), and Daniel says that the Lord has indeed “confirmed His words” (וַיָּקֶם).
(וַיָּקֶם אֶת־דְּבָרָיו ק̇ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר עָלֵינוּ וְעַל שֹׁפְטֵינוּ אֲשֶׁר שְׁפָטוּנוּ).
-Shockingly, God did not merely speak against the pagan nations around Israel. No, these words were
“spoke[n] against us and against our rulers who ruled us”. Yahweh spoke against His own people.
-The Lord’s prophets repeatedly spoke against God’s people and against the kings that ruled over God’s people. Not a single godly king ruled in the northern nation of Israel. Among all 19 kings that reigned over northern Israel, not one was a godly king. Over the southern kingdom, the majority of the 19 kings who reigned over Judah were evil kings. The few godly kings (such as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah) could not permanently turn the hearts of the Israelites back to the Lord.
-God was the One who brought “upon us a great calamity” (
לְהָבִיא עָלֵינוּ רָעָה גְדֹלָה). It was not ultimately Nebuchadnezzar or Babylon who brought it upon Judah, but Yahweh their God.
-A “great calamity” (
רָעָה גְדֹלָה) refers to a miserable, distressing, and evil disaster. While the human agencies were all the enemies that destroyed Israel, God was the sovereign and holy director of all that happened against Israel.
-The Lord’s great and righteous wrath and anger fell upon the city of Jerusalem and the people of Judah because of their great sin (Zechariah 7:12).
-Those who falsely identify as Christians but never evidence that they are Christians will fall into a fearful and horrible penalty (Hebrews 10:30-31).
-Daniel reflects in shock and grief that “under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem”
(
אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נֶעֶשְׂתָה תַּחַת כָּל־הַשָּׁמַיִם כַּאֲשֶׁר נֶעֶשְׂתָה בִּירוּשָׁלָםִ).
-“Under the whole heaven” (
תַּחַת כָּל־הַשָּׁמַיִם) (in all the world), God chose the nation of Israel alone out of all the nations of the earth, but they rejected Him (Amos 3:2).
-The prophets lamented that nothing like the destruction of Jerusalem happened in history. It was a time in which God destroyed His own people because they had sinned grievously against Him (Ezra 5:9)
-Yahweh told His people after these things were fulfilled why these desolations had befallen Jerusalem and Judah (Jeremiah 44:2-6).
-“
Daniel’s statement regarding the uniqueness of Jerusalem’s destruction strikes us as surprising. Certainly other nations had gone into captivity, and other cities and temples had been destroyed. Other nations had experienced defeat and deportation, but their gods were idols of lifeless wood, stone, and metal (cf. Ps 135:15–17; Isa 44:9ff.). Now the people of the true God were in exile, and his city and temple were in ruins. Truly nothing like this had ever happened in history.[2]

Conclusion
Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” (Psalm 79:9)

Handout
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Recording
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[1] Calvin, J., & Myers, T. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel (Vol. 2, p. 160). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[2] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, p. 247). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Prayer of Daniel, Part 1

Introduction
“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25-28)

Daniel 9:3-8

Context
-Daniel 9 brings the prophecy of the 70 weeks, which has prompted more scholarly debate and speculation than any other prophecy in Daniel. However, before the prophecy of the 70 weeks appears in Daniel 9, we see the prayer of Daniel that came from his study of Scripture.
-In 539 B.C., Babylonia fell to the Medes and Persians. King Belshazzar of Babylon was slain, and Daniel was given into the hands of King Darius. However, in God’s providential protection over Daniel’s life, the Medo-Persian Empire was more merciful towards its captives under King Cyrus than many other empires of that era. Therefore, Daniel not only survived, but he was well received by King Darius.
-In Daniel 9:1-2, Daniel pours over the words of Scripture, which he declares to be none other than the written voice of Yahweh as given through His prophets. Here, Daniel is studying the prophecies of Jeremiah (such as Jeremiah 29) in order to discern when the exile would end. Per the revelation from Scripture, God decreed the Jews to be exiled for 70 years. Since Daniel was captured in 605 B.C. in the first wave of exiles, that period of 70 years is rapidly drawing to a close and God’s people are about to be delivered.
-In all probably, the prayer of Daniel and the prophecy of the 70 weeks occurs before Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den in Daniel 6.

Verse 3
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

-After Daniel discerns from his study of Scripture the time when the Jews would be restored from their captivity, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God”
(
וָאֶתְּנָה אֶת־פָּנַי אֶל־אֲדֹנָי הָאֱלֹהִים)
-To turn your face towards the Lord means you are looking intently for the Lord to act (Psalm 105:4).
-Daniel is looking intently to the “Lord God” (
אֶל־אֲדֹנָי הָאֱלֹהִים). “Lord” is Adonai, or the supreme title for “God”, or Elohim. Yahweh is Elohim and He is Adonai.
-The supreme title Adonai appears 17 times in Daniel. To be Adonai means that Yahweh is our Lord, our Ruler, our Master, and our King (Deuteronomy 10:17; Isaiah 33:22).
-Throughout the book of Daniel, God has demonstrated Himself to be the only Elohim in contrast to all the false gods of Babylon, such as being the God who decrees the future rising and falling of kings and kingdoms (Daniel 2; Daniel 7; Daniel 8).
-Why is Daniel looking intently to the Lord God? Because he is “seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy” (
לְבַקֵּשׁ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּנִים).
-The Lord promises that He will hear those who earnestly and intently seek Him (Deuteronomy 7:29; Proverbs 8:17).
-Daniel is seeking the Lord with prayer and with pleas for mercy. To utter “pleas for mercy” (
וְתַחֲנוּנִים) means to “supplicate for favor” and is something a subject would do before a king.
-Throughout the Scriptures, the people of God earnestly sought Him and cried out to Him for mercy. Moses pled with the Lord on behalf of disobedient Israel (Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 3:23) and the Psalmists repeatedly cried out to the Lord for help in time of dire need (Psalm 28:2; Psalm 143:1)
-Daniel is not merely praying earnestly, he is praying in deep contrition and mourning,
“with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (בְּצוֹם וְשַׂק וָאֵפֶר).
-To put on sackcloth (similar to burlap) and cover oneself with ashes was either a sign of deep grieving (Genesis 37:34) or repentance over sin (Job 42:6) or both.
-The pain of the exile often brought people to bitterly lament in sackcloth and ashes (Isaiah 15:3; Jeremiah 49:3; Ezekiel 27:31).
-Abstaining from food and rest often accompanied mourning or repenting in sackcloth and ashes (Joel 1:13).

Verse 4
I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
-Why is Daniel fasting and putting on sackcloth and ashes? His prayer, beginning in verse 4, reveals why he does so. “I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession”
(
וָאֶתְפַּלְלָה לַיהוה אֱלֹהַי וָאֶתְוַדֶּה).
-Here, Daniel declares that Yahweh is “my God” (
אֱלֹהַי). God is not to be the God of the abstract or the God of Sunday morning, but the God of our very lives (Psalm 16:2). The same God who appeared to Moses and led Israel out of Egypt was the same God who was with Daniel throughout the decades of captivity—and He is the same God who is with us today.
-Daniel’s prayer is one of “confession” (
ידה).
-Later in history, Ezra (Ezra 10:1) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:6) would follow the same pattern as Daniel and earnestly confess Israel’s sin before the Lord.
-
He says, He prayed and confessed before God. The greater part of this prayer is an entreaty that God would pardon his people. Whenever we ask for pardon, the testimony of repentance ought to precede our request. For God announces that he will be propitious and easily entreated when men seriously and heartily repent. (Is. 58:9.) Thus confession of guilt is one method of obtaining pardon; and for this reason Daniel fills up the greater part of his prayer with the confession of his sinfulness. He reminds us of this, not for the sake of boasting, but to instruct us by his own example to pray as we ought.[1]
-Cyprian, elder over the church in Carthage in the third century A.D., wrote this regarding Daniel 9:4. “Daniel also, after the manifold grace of his faith and innocency, after the condescension of the Lord often repeated in respect of his virtues and praises, strives by fastings still further to deserve well of God, wraps himself in sackcloth and ashes, sorrowfully making confession[2]
-Daniel begins his confession on behalf of Israel by clearly acknowledging who God is. He is “Lord, the great and awesome God” (
אָנָּא אֲדֹנָי הָאֵל הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא שֹׁמֵר).
-For God to be “great and awesome” means that God is mighty and in fact frightening.
-The Torah describes God as “great and awesome (Deuteronomy 7:21) and Nehemiah acknowledges God to be “great and awesome” during the last return from exile (Nehemiah 1:5).
-This great and awesome God is the God “who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments”
(
שֹׁמֵר הַבְּרִית וְהַחֶסֶד לְאֹהֲבָיו וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָיו).
-A “covenant” (
בְּרִית) was far more solemn and serious than a modern-day contract. It was a binding agreement between two parties, often between a king and his subjects. Terms of the covenant would be drawn up, and then both parties were bound to keep the covenant upon pain of death.
-God had established many covenants with His people, such as the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15), the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19-Leviticus), and the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7). The Abrahamic Covenant promised land and descendants, the Mosaic Covenant promised blessings in abundance for obeying God’s Law, and the Davidic Covenant promised a covenant-keeping king over God’s people forever.
-Those whom God loves are those who love him (Proverbs 8:17; John 14:21).
-Those who love God are those who keep his commandments (John 14:15; John 14:23; 1 John 5:3).
-The promise in the Torah was that God steadfastly loves those who keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9) but hates those who disobey His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:10).


Verse 5
we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.
-God repeatedly called Israel to holiness (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 20:26), but they repeatedly failed to be a holy nation.
-Daniel says, “We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled”
(
חָטָאנוּ וְעָוִינוּ וְהִרְשַׁעְנוּ וּמָרָדְנוּ).
-To sin (
חטא) means “to miss the mark”. So often in contemporary 21st century society, sin is rationalized away. Our conditions, habits, hang-ups, “bounced spiritual checks”, shortcomings, and “mistakes” are intentionally not identified for what they really are: they are sins.
-We must clearly understand that doing wrong is not a mistake, an accident, a hang-up, or a bad habit. It is in fact sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
-True repentance must begin by clearly acknowledging that we have sinned before the Lord God (Psalm 51:4).
-In the case of Israel, they often acted exceedingly wickedly by acting like the pagan cultures around them. For example, in the reign of King Manasseh of Judah, vile and filthy perversions and practices abounded in Judah and even in the temple of the Lord itself (2 Chronicles 33:1-9).
-Israel had in fact “rebelled” (
מרד). To “rebel” means “to rise up in revolt”.
-Joshua, when he had led Israel in the conquests of the Promised Land, strongly warned them not to rebel against the Lord (Joshua 22:18-19). And Israel in their self-confidence thought that they would never rebel against God (Joshua 22:29).
-Those who think they will never sin against the Lord are in grave danger of sinning gravely against the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:12).
-Israel repeatedly and tragically turned “aside from your commandments and rules”
(
וְסוֹר מִמִּצְוֹתֶךָ וּמִמִּשְׁפָּטֶיךָ).
-Even soon after the Exodus, Israel turned aside from the Lord (Exodus 32:8) when the Lord was in fact giving them His 10 Commandments written on stone tablets (Exodus 32:15-19).
-To turn aside from the way of the Lord is to turn to the way that leads to death and destruction (Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25).
-The apostle Paul informs us that all the wicked, pagan, and rebellious ways of sinful men always result in death (Romans 6:21). Sin will always bring pain. Sin will always bring deep sorrow. Sin will always bring severe damage. Ultimately, sin will always lead to death.
-Following the ways of the Lord is the way of life and great joy (Psalm 16:11). Not doing so brings death and deep sorrow and pain.


Verse 6
We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
-Daniel continues to describe the grievous sins of Israel. He says that “We have not listened to your servants the prophets” (
וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ אֶל־עֲבָדֶיךָ הַנְּבִיאִים).
-God first sent Elijah to the northern nation of Israel to call the nation to repentance, but they did not listen. Elisha followed after Elijah, but northern Israel rejected his message. Within the time of Elisha, God raised up the first two prophets for the southern kingdom of Judah: Joel and Obadiah. Yet Judah did not listen to the voices of Obadiah or Joel. Some time later, God raised up Amos in the north and Isaiah in the south, yet both nations rejected the message of these servants of the Lord. Following Amos and Isaiah came Hosea in Israel and Micah in Judah—they too were rejected by God’s people.
-God then carried away the northern kingdom of Israel under the reign of King Hoshea after he sent them their final prophet Hosea (2 Kings 15:29).
-Now that only the southern kingdom of Judah remained, God continued to send them prophet after prophet: Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. Daniel is particularly studying in Daniel 9 the words of Jeremiah, who prophesied in the city of Jerusalem. Yet Judah ignored the voice of Jeremiah and the voices of the other prophets, and hence God threw Judah into exile three times under King Nebuchadnezzar.
-During the period of the exile, Ezekiel in northern Babylon and Daniel in the capital city served as the two exilic prophets to God’s people, with Daniel’s influence being much greater. Yet men did not always listen to Ezekiel or Daniel either.
-If these servants of God spoke only their own words, then the penalty for deaf ears would not have been severe. Yet these men “spoke in your name”—they communicated the very voice of God to God’s people. 417 times in the ESV, the phrase “Thus says the Lord” is used. As Peter reminds us, they did not speak their own words, but the very words of God under inspiration from the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
-To not listen to God’s prophet is to ignore the God who speaks (Deuteronomy 5:24).
-Not only did Israel perpetuate the sins of the nations around them, they ignored the prophets whom God sent to them (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).
-Even after the exile, men of God still confessed the sin of Israel in not listening to the voice of God (Nehemiah 9:34).
-These men of God proclaimed the words of Yahweh to “our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and all the people of Israel” (
אֶל־מְלָכֵינוּ שָׂרֵינוּ וַאֲבֹתֵינוּ וְאֶל כָּל־עַם הָאָרֶץ).
-These prophets did not merely speak to small congregations of obscure Israelites. They prophesied before the kings of Israel and Judah and the leading figures in the nation.
-Throughout the 200-year history of the northern kingdom of Israel, not one king of Israel obeyed the Lord or reigned in fear of the Lord. For two hundred years, God sent the northern nation of Israel prophets—but each king rejected Yahweh and His Word. The northern kingdom of Israel was filled with idolatry, paganism, corruption, and struggles for the throne. Many kings of Israel would be assassinated by rivals to the throne.
-The southern kingdom of Judah lasted approximately 125 years longer than the northern kingdom of Israel. Some godly kings did endeavor to lead Judah back to the Lord, such as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, the majority of kings in Judah did not reign in the fear of the Lord. Hence in 605 B.C., 597 B.C., and finally in 586 B.C., God gave them over into exile.
-It was not merely the fault of the leaders of Israel and Judah. The general populace did not walk in the ways of the Lord or fear Him (1 Kings 3:2).
-Israel’s first priority was to hear Yahweh and to acknowledge Him alone (Deuteronomy 6:4), but this is what they failed to do.
-Our priority as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to hear the voice of God as revealed in His written Word and to acknowledge Christ alone as Lord (1 Corinthians 8:6).  


Verse 7
To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.
-Daniel now contrasts Adonai and Israel in light of the exile. “To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness” (
לְךָ אֲדֹנָי הַצְּדָקָה).
-The Scriptures testify to the perfect righteousness of Yahweh (Psalm 71:15, 16, 19, 24).
-The Lord demonstrates Himself righteous before the nations (Psalm 98:2).
-The righteousness of the Lord should have been Israel’s only refuge and source of hope as the covenant people of God (Psalm 5:8; Psalm 31:1; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 143:11).
-The Lord, being righteous, loves those who seek after Him and His righteousness (Psalm 11:7).
-Israel, however, had not walked in the ways of the Lord and had not sought after His righteousness despite God’s words to them (Psalm 81:13).
-Hence Daniel says, “but to us [belongs] open shame” (
וְלָנוּ בֹּשֶׁת הַפָּנִים).
-“Open shame” (
בֹּשֶׁת הַפָּנִים) is the public dishonor and disgrace in the eyes of the nations. When God’s people try to win the favor of the world by becoming like the world, they do not win the favor of the world. Rather, they are openly shamed.
-Repeatedly throughout Israel’s history, God warned them not to become like the unbelieving nations around them (Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:30-31; Jeremiah 10:2). However, Israel did become like the nations around them because they did not honor God (2 Kings 17:15). The result? Open shame.
-Daniel says that this open shame did not only fall Israel momentarily at the time of the exile. He says that it continues “as at this day” (
כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה). Daniel, while himself a godly man, bore the shame of being an exile in the land of Babylon throughout his life (Daniel 5:13).
-This shame did not escape anyone in the nation. It fell upon “the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel”
(
לְאִישׁ יְהוּדָה וּלְיוֹשְׁבֵי יְרוּשָׁלַםִ וּלְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל).
-Further, the shame that befall all of God’s people was not contained to their own area, for it befell “those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands in which you have driven them” (
הַקְּרֹבִים וְהָרְחֹקִים בְּכָל־הָאֲרָצוֹת אֲשֶׁר הִדַּחְתָּם).
-In 722 B.C., the king of Assyria exiled the northern kingdom of Israel to foreign lands. In 605-586 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar deported Judah to Babylon. Never had Israel been displaced from their Promised Land in all their history. The Promised Land was given to Israel through the covenant with Abraham. Yet God drove the nation out of it as He had driven out the pagan nations when Israel entered the land. He did so
because of the treachery that they have committed against you” (שָׁם בְּמַעֲלָם אֲשֶׁר מָעֲלוּ־בָךְ׃).
-“Treachery” (
מַ֫עַל), or ma’al, is the violation of covenant obligations. Adultery in marriage is one definition of this Hebrew word, and Israel had indeed committed spiritual adultery with Yahweh as expressed over and over in the Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah 3:10. .

Verse 8
To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.
-Hence, Daniel says that “To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers (
יהוה לָנוּ בֹּשֶׁת הַפָּנִים לִמְלָכֵינוּ לְשָׂרֵינוּ וְלַאֲבֹתֵינוּ).
-The nation that was to be a light to the world (Isaiah 42:6) and a holy nation (Leviticus 20:26) was now nothing other than an object of contempt, scorn, and shame in the eyes of the world.
-When the church of the Lord Jesus Christ abandons hearing the Word of God being faithfully proclaimed, when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ abandons looking solely to the righteousness of Christ for the source of eternal comfort and hope, when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ fails to be a light to the nations by being a holy nation, when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ fails to acknowledge Christ Jesus as Lord at every level of government, and when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ seeks to become attractive to the world by becoming like the world, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has committed treachery against Yahweh. Our only right response is the same as Daniel’s:
“We have sinned against you” (אֲשֶׁר חָטָאנוּ לָךְ).
-True, right repentance is to acknowledge that we have nothing to commend ourselves against God but to declare that we are sinners before Him (Ezra 9:6; Luke 18:13).
-Our only hope for forgiveness of sins is for God to take them away through the redemption He has provided in the cross of Christ (Ephesians 1:7).

Conclusion
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.’ (Psalm 19:12-14)

Handout
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Recording
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[1] Calvin, J., & Myers, T. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel (Vol. 2, pp. 142–143). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[2] Cyprian of Carthage. (1886). On the Lapsed. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), R. E. Wallis (Trans.), Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Novatian, Appendix (Vol. 5, p. 446). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.