Daniel’s ResolveSeries: THRIVING IN BABYLON. James Dewhurst September 10, 2019
Thriving in Babylon
How should Christians respond when the biblical absolutes they have always believed in are no longer accepted by our culture? Should we surrender or should we stand? Should we believe or should we bow? Should we compromise or should we hold on to our convictions? Our answers to these questions will determine the future of our faith!
Over the next three weeks, we are going to take an in-depth look at what God’s Word says about a variety of sensitive subjects. Some of us are going to be stretched and challenged in our beliefs. Do our beliefs line up with what God’s Word really says? Should this matter? I am going to ask all of us to open up our hearts and minds to what God might be saying, and be mature enough to sit and listen until we finish!
At the time of Daniel, Babylon was much like the United States of America!It was not only the most powerful and successful empire in the world, but it also became the cultural center of the world. Strategically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Babylon became a very diverse trade route. Under the 43 year reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, the empire expanded by force, as Jerusalem was conquered and the Hebrew people were taken captive. Along with plundering the city and the Jewish temple, Nebuchadnezzar took 4 of Jerusalem’s finest young men and forced them to enter into a 3-year Babylonian school where they would be trained to serve in the Babylonian Kingdom. They were taught new languages, new religious and cultural practices, and even given a new diet. It was in the beginning days of this Babylonian indoctrination when a Hebrew named Daniel rose up:
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. (ESV)
Much like what’s happening in our world, everything changed around Daniel:
-In 605 B.C., after Daniel was taken captive to his new homeland, the values all around him immediately changed. The decrees of God of Israel that Daniel held so sacred were now treated as common, in this new Babylonian religious melting pot.
-Daniel’s political, cultural and social climate changed, as Nebuchadnezzar, a king with had no accountability to God, created an environment of idolatry and paganism.
-Daniel’s name was changed, along with 3 of his Hebrew friends, to strip them of their Hebrew identity, to re-name them as the property of Babylon.
-Daniel’s education changed, as he was forced into a university to learn a new language and a new world view that was contrary to that of the Scriptures.
-Daniel’s diet also changed, as he was commanded to eat food from the king’s table that had been sacrificed to idols, and according to Hebrew law, was unclean to eat.
You can’t live on the world’s diet and expect to bear heaven’s fruit!
Something incredible happened in this passage. Standing in the middle of the most powerful kingdom in the world, under a decree from the most powerful king on the planet, Daniel does the unthinkable in verse 8: “But Daniel resolved (Could you say that with me again?…But Daniel Resolved!) not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”
Although everything surrounding Daniel changed, the Bible says Daniel Resolved!
*Daniel refused to allow the world around him to change the world within him!*
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)
The world we currently live in is a modern day Babylon, where confusion reigns at every turn.
We live in a world with all authority and no accountability to God!
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)
So, how was Daniel able to stand up to this?
Where did his resolve come from?
Daniel was a man of Scripture!
You’ve got to read your Bible in Babylon!
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (ESV)
While in Babylon, Daniel consulted Mosaic law and read from the prophet Jeremiah, and God’s Word is what kept Daniel clear-headed and focused in a world of confusion.
We must also rely on the authority of Scripture, or we too will become confused!
God sent His Word to be the Christians guide in all Moral, Social and Theological areas!
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (ESV)
If God is the Word and the never changes, that means God’s Word never changes!
Regardless of what has changed culturally throughout time, God’s Word never changed!
2 Timothy 3:15-17
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (ESV)
We don’t look to our culture for answers, we go to God’s unchanging Word for truth!
Right now in our country, there are moral and social issues that are not only dividing our nation, they are also dividing the church. Why? The church has started consulting the world instead of the Word! The church has become political, instead of biblical!
An elephant or donkey should never carry more weight in a Christians life than the cross.
The question is not, what does the world say?
The question is, what does God say?
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)
There is no confusion in God’s Word regarding any moral issue we are facing today. God’s Word is settled! The question is, are we settled on God’s Word?
When culture disagrees with what the Bible says, which side should we choose?
Satan not only knows the power of God’s Word, but he also knows its intentions for good. Because of this, throughout history, he has worked overtime to attack its credibility and even remove it from circulation. His most recent move is to attack certain words or topics and attempt to edit or remove them from the Bible in culturally sensitive areas.
Did God really say?
(Sounds eerily similar to a serpent who tricked Adam and Eve!)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (ESV)
Maybe God’s biblical boundaries are not hatred, but love!
God is love! God loves sinners!
God has called the church to love every sinner!
But Christians cannot edit a book we didn’t write and start deciding for ourselves what sin is or isn’t. The church must stand, like Daniel, on God’s written Word!
We are called to fiercely love sinners by dignifying their person and identifying the truth!