Setting Our Hearts To Seek God
By James N. Jidov
"And I set my face unto the Lord God" (Daniel 9:3).
Daniel wrote the above during the Babylonian captivity. When he and his people went into captivity he was 17 years old and neither he nor any of the Jews knew how long the captivity was to last. However, when Daniel saw the shift of power from Belshazzar to Darius the Mede, in order to get some understanding as to what the changes that were taking place were all about, Daniel searched the Scriptures that were available to him in that day. When he read the writing of the prophet Jeremiah he discovered that Jeremiah said the Jewish captivity in Babylon would last 70 years. At the time Daniel was writing the words we find in chapter 9 of Daniel, the 70 years were fast coming to a close.
Daniel was a man who lived in close, intimate fellowship with his God. Since he now knew that freedom for his people and himself was near, I believe he was concerned lest he and his people might come to the time of their departure from Babylon still in a weakened spiritual condition. The captivity had been God's way of chastisement of His people for grievously sinning against Him. Daniel wanted them to approach the time of their emancipation with sins forgiven. I believe he wanted his people to be in fellowship with their God...thus his fervency in coming to the throne of God on behalf of his people and himself.
Daniel said, "I set my face unto the Lord God" (Daniel 9:3).
I believe there are few of us Christians who know what it really means to "set our face unto the Lord God." I submit to you that for most of us this experience of Daniel's in setting his face unto the Lord God, this determination, this intensity of heart, this deep-seated desire, this driving, persistent resolve to set our face, to seek God's face, as this man Daniel, is something the average Christian knows little or nothing about!
And O, this is so sad! It is sad because it speaks of our lack of enthusiasm toward our Lord God! It speaks of our shallow love toward a God who loves us unspeakably. It is sad because it suggests an attitude which is so contrary to what God desires and expects of us. It suggests an attitude of, at best, considerable disinterest in the things of God. It suggests that we harbor an attitude of disinterest in "things above"..an attitude that says, "There's just too much on this earth that attracts me. I don't have time. I'm much too occupied with other things to set my face unto the Lord God."
Dear Brother Paul wrote, "If ye then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). We are told, "He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). And again, "Come, ye children, hearken unto me" (Psalm 34:11). "Thou saidst, seek ye My face" (Psalm 27:8).
James said, "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8). The desire to draw nigh to God is a most precious possession. For the saint who would walk pleasingly before his God in this life, nothing could be of more value than this bent, this inclination toward God. We often read in the Psalms of men who were hungry after God, thirsty after Him and after righteousness and holiness--men who did indeed draw nigh to God.
"O, God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee," (Psalm 63:1). How glorious! O, how glorious! O, for more and more of what the writer possesses in that Psalm...more and more of that holy desire to draw near to God and to know Him! Nothing could be more valuable to the believer, to you and to me, than to have this hunger of heart and this thirst of soul after God, this pursuit of God within our very being!
A. W. Tozer writes: "We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit." (The Pursuit of God, page 11).
The man Daniel possessed this urge in great degree. What a precious thing it is to draw nigh to God. What a glorious thing to pursue God! If this day we belong to the Lord Jesus how we ought to pray to God, how we ought to beg Him to increase more and more our desire after Him.
The Prayer God Regards
We are dealing now only with Daniel's attitude as he approached the Lord in prayer. We are dealing with one short phrase, "And I set my face unto the Lord God." We are not going to move off of it and into the actual prayer. Do you know why? Because it is so important to come before God in the proper frame of "heart"! We desperately need to see this. "And I set my face unto the Lord God."
The blessed Word of God teaches an approach to God's Throne of intensity and solemnity--an approach to His Throne of a serious attitude. How casual and flippant and shallow we often are when we come to prayer! "Brother so and so, would you lead us in prayer?" "Harry, will you say grace?" We pop off a few sentences that we think will sound good to those who are listening.
Do you know God rejects insincere prayer? God closes His ear to the prayer of the insincere. He doesn't hear it. Did you know that God despises certain kinds of prayers?
Do you know the kind of prayer God doesn't despise--the kind of prayer He regards? The Word says He regards the prayer of the destitute. Psalm 102:17 says: "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer."
The word "destitute" means deprived, lacking. A synonym for destitute is needy, poor. That is precious! God is pleased when I approach Him needy--with open, empty hands confessing openly and unashamedly to Him my great need. God loves needy children--needy children who know it. God loves the child who comes to Him fully aware of His great need, aware of his own poverty.
In our nation today, we Christians have difficulty seeing that we are always in spiritual need. We have difficulty acknowledging the need; we have difficulty "setting our face unto the Lord God," and pursuing Him with all our being.
O, that we Christians would always set our faces unto the Lord God! What joy and gladness we miss because there's no time, or too many other things simply more attractive to do, more entertaining and less demanding on our mental effort, easier to concentrate on, like TV or trips or hobbies or visiting with friends or making a little more money or attending those special meetings at this church or that church or serving in the church!
I am not trying to tell you that church meetings and serving in the church are not good things. But God never asks for a man's service until He first has the man's heart. God never asks me to serve Him before He asks me to know Him. We first know God in order to be given the privilege to serve Him.
Our goal in life is God! Someone has said, "My goal is God, not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing" (And may I add here, nor even service)--but Himself, my God!"
How often we see "service" in the church used as a guise to hide the fact that we really don't know God--a cover-up of our great lack of a true, intimate knowledge of Him, to give the appearance of a knowledge of God, a smoke screen to hide a glaring absence of fellowship with the Lord and of an intimate knowledge of Him.
Our pursuit in this life is of Him. When we really have Him, then we are available to Him to use us whenever and wherever and however for whatever reason His great heart desires for us. It is then that the priority is what it should be--knowing God first and foremost--then serving Him as He directs.
"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). Recall with me Jesus' gentle rebuke to Martha who the Bible says, was cumbered about much serving. "And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).
Of those whom the Father gave to Jesus, that is, regarding all of us who have been given eternal life, Jesus prayed to the Father that they, that is, we might know Him, "the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." The first priority of those who have been given life eternal is to know the Father. "And this is life eternal: that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
Daniel said, "And I set my face unto the Lord God." Will we, too, do it?