Sack Cloth and Ashes

I started a post a couple of years ago and didn’t finish it.  The draft has been hiding there all this time.  It has come to mind now and then but I just couldn’t make myself finish it.  I did finish it in the last few days but I’m not at all happy with it.  So I rewrote it.  And I’m still not happy with it.  But here goes anyway.

Before I get into the meat of it let me be clear that I don’t have a position that gives me the authority say what I’m about to say.  It’s just that I’ve got this in my head and I can’t let go of it till I at least write it down.  So here goes.

Daniel Chapter Nine.  Daniel reads from Jerimiah that God said He would bring Israel back from captivity after seventy years and Daniel knew that the time was drawing near.  So Daniel prayed.  He didn’t demand that God come through on His promise.  Instead he got on his knees and with fasting, in sack cloth and ashes he repented and begged God to bring them back from captivity.

Daniel was a righteous man.  I have heard it said that he is the only one in the Bible (besides Jesus) who has no sin recorded against him.  Yet when he prays he does not pray for forgiveness for those people.  He does not say ‘They have sinned’.  He says ‘We have sinned.’  And I don’t think Daniel was engaging in rhetoric.  I don’t think he was just identifying with his people.  I think he recognized his own sin, his own failure.  He didn’t bow to idols.  He didn’t eat the king’s food.  He didn’t party with the king’s posse. But maybe Daniel had gotten complacent.  Maybe he had gotten comfortable with living in captivity.

‘Ah so that’s where you’re heading with this.  We have gotten comfortable with sin.  We should be standing on street corners preaching against all the sin around us.  We should stand up and be counted.  Make some noise.’

I don’t think so.  There are lots of people who are making noise and sometimes I wish they would just sit down and be quiet.

No, I don’t think this is the time for action.  I think this is the time for fasting, for sack cloth and ashes.  I think this is the time for drawing near to God.  Maybe that’s been the trouble all along.  We have been satisfied with just hanging around God rather that seeking to be as close as we can get to Him.  Why have I been satisfied with just a little of God?  Why have I not been thirsting for Him?  Why have I not had a passion for all of God’s presence that He can give to me?

I see now why I’ve had a problem with this post.  I could say ‘we‘ but I had trouble saying ‘I‘.  That’s what happens when I draw close to God.  The source of the problem goes from ‘they‘ to ‘we‘ to ‘I‘.

About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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One Response to Sack Cloth and Ashes

  1. Too much noise. Too much “see how good I am” and “I’m gooder that you, see what I’m doing?” Too little reflection. Too little realization. In the face of vast heavens, oceans, reality, insignificance trumps the desperate “me’s”

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