One of the hardest things to observe is a Christian leader who fails. Sometimes it may be at the local level and observed by relatively few Christians, and yet each person who esteemed this leader suffers a crisis of faith. Sometimes the leader is well known at the national or international level and their fall affects millions of people. The easy response in those situations is to say, “We follow Christ, not any person,” but the truth is, we’re inspired by leaders. As followers of Christ we are called to be examples for others, though, and when Christians fall, it affects those around them, family and friends, believer and non-believer.
There are some who fall, and think there’s no hope and they continue in a downward spiral of sin. Some are convicted by their sin and turn back to God in repentance. They may lose positions of leadership in the church, they may lose trust from family and friends, but God’s grace draws them back into a relationship with Him. There is hope when people fail because of the grace of God. “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” (Daniel 11:35)
As Daniel continues the telling of his vision, he relates the story of the King of the North invading the King of the South. Those who are wise, God’s people, will resist this king. They will draw in people who are not sincere in their faith, but have a desire to fight against the King of the North. God’s people will fall, they will be captured, but they will remain His people for the battle at the end. They will be restored physically so that they can fight against the King of the North, and they will be made spotless, restored spiritually, so that they will be suited to fight as soldiers under God’s command. They will fight a king who would exalt himself over the one True God, as well as any other gods, beliefs, or traditions of the past. He, who would be god, will face the Army of God, and in the end, he will be destroyed with no one to help.
There are a lot of ways to understand this passage, as well as a lot of ways to misunderstand it. I see this passage as a message of hope for those who follow Christ. We cannot give up when we fail. We cannot let others give up when they fail. Our imperfections, our sins, are why Christ came to earth. He came to die for our sins. If we sin after committing to follow Him, it just shows that we suffer from that condition called “being human.” When we fail, if we submit ourselves to God, we will be refined and purified; we will be made spotless so that, having been cleansed by His grace, we can share this hope with others. No matter how bad our sin may be, when we submit to God in full faith, He will cleanse us and purify us to restore us to His service. Whatever you may have done that pulled you away from God, His grace is stronger to draw you back to Him.
Oh Lord, it’s so easy to look at my sin and give up. Remind me that You continue to mold me. Remind me that You have never given up on me. Help me to seek Your grace, and once restored, to proclaim the wonders of Your love.