Surviving and Thriving in Babylon (Daniel 1)

PLAY AUDIO


surviving and thriving in babylon_logo

MOTIVATE

  • Vacation: precious time with family. priceless sight-seeing.
  • VBS – Study of Daniel’s life
  • In God’s providence, today we’re starting 2-week series on Daniel: Surviving & Thriving In Babylon[1].

– Babylon was a symbol of human decadence but eventually of God’s judgment.

– King Nebuchadnezzar is notorious for his power as well as nauseating for his pride.[2]

– – Military conquests
– – Economic & City development: schools, literacy, mathematics, craftsmanship all flourished
– – City had 11 mile long outer wall that enclosed suburbs, multiple city gates, walls were wide enough for 2 chariot races atop

– – Spacious throne room
– – Huge temple to city’s patron god with 7 stories, towering 300 feet above city
– – Ruthless & Prideful demanding worship; Saddam Hussein viewed self as King Neb reincarnate

– Babylon sought to diminish Israel’s culture and destroy Israel’s God; often viewed as God’s enemy.
(cf Jer 20:4-6; Rev 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 18:10, 18:21).

Most of us would barely survive, much more thrive in ancient Babylon. So, how should we respond to today’s Babylon? Let’s look at the life of Daniel.

Note: Sometimes elderly generation longs for “the good old days” (cf. Eccl 7:10) because of today’s immoral culture, incompetent government leaders, irresponsible youth, inaccurate media, and ignorant minds. Yet, each generation often overlooks their own faults: the 50’s & 60’s may have had good family values but they had poor freedoms for the black race and females of society; sexual immorality was quite rampant with “free love”, not to mention the drug and hippie culture; and nationally World Wars & Vietnam is similar to today’s Iraq & Middle East issues.

EXAMINE           Daniel 1                      Surviving & Thriving In Babylon

Many people look at the book of Daniel as God’s promise to protect us from harm (fiery furnace, lions den). Others understand the book as God’s prophetic calendar with symbolic figures and numbers equating to specific events in history and coming in the future. Based on history, it seems that Christians should trade their spot on Jesus’ second coming programming committee to the welcoming committee. There may be much speculation regarding dates, details, and deadlines but most of all we must be more prepared for actual day. This is not to say we should not study the book of Daniel for understanding faith and urgency about the end times. Indeed, the book of Daniel includes both God’s promises and prophecies; however, Daniel is most of all a book teaching about how to trust God and live when we are placed in an ungodly culture.

Qualities for Surviving & Thriving in Babylon:

A redeemed perspective

Daniel notes King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Israel in 586BC. Daniel points out that the Babylonian invasion was not the strength of an evil king but rather the sovereignty of a holy God – “the Lord gave Judah into his hand” (Daniel 1:2). Babylon is not its own power but God’s pawn. God had a plan to punish Israel as well as to prepare His people for the coming Messiah. Ultimately, we must remember that God is in control of who is in control.

Illus ex.:

– A teacher may cancel a reward for entire classroom because of only a couple students’ behavior

– An athlete may not sign autographs for a crowd because of only 1 individual’s threats

– God’s punishment of Israel was righteous.

à A redeemed perspective accepts God’s discipline

Daniel and friends were godly but they still received God’s judgment of Israel because of the entire nation’s sinful behaviors. Some times our suffering is a result of other’s, and other times it is a result of our own wrong choices; and still other times suffering happens simply because we live in a fallen world which each person contributes toward its fallenness.

à A redeemed perspective affirms its future generations

King Neb commanded the youth of Israel to appear before him that he might ‘re-train’ them for his own purposes.
Note: Every leader recognizes the value of reaching the young. May the church have a greater purpose and passion for its most important resource – children – than the world’s aim.
King Neb’s purpose

– to teach them literature and language of Chaldeans
– to train them physically and educationally for three years to then stand before the king as a faithful servant

Some youth named

Daniel (God is my Judge) would be re-named Belteshazzar (Bel will protect)

Hananiah (God has been gracious) would be re-named Shadrach  (The Command of Akku)

Mishael (Who is what God is?) would be re-named Meshach (Who is what Akku is?)

Azariah (The Lord has helped) would be re-named Abednego (Servant of Nebo)

Further, these youth were under supervision of Babylon’s chief eunuch… likely indicating that these men faced the same fate.

à Perspective helps you to prioritize problems. Daniel and friends’ names were changed but there is no recorded resistance. Daniel and friends were charged with learning Babylonian culture and pagan education, yet they never request to opt out. They understood the difference between learning and living a culture’s  practices. There’s no law regarding learning; in fact, doing so gave Daniel and friends the credibility and context to speak God’s truth (Daniel 2:16 ff; 4:18 ff; 5:13 ff;).

à Perspective helps you to endure life’s challenges. Endurance is the ability to persevere in tension, tests, and trials. Endurance produces courage to face every circumstance with confidence in God’s providence and provision.

à Perspective keeps you from expanding your circumstances or events out of proportion to God’s control. When we evaluate life without a redeemed perspective it means we are neglecting to factor God into our equation.

James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

1Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings”
A resolved obedience

Daniel had the proper perspective of King Nebuchadnezzar and of King God. Daniel’s redeemed perspective helped him to have a resolved obedience toward God; “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself…” (1:8)

Daniel’s obedience was related to not eating the King’s food. He could have been treated with worldly privilege but instead chose to honor his faith perspective (cf. Lev 11; 17:13-14; Deut 14; Acts 15:29; 1Cor 8; 10:31; etc.).

à Obedience is learned through crisis. Daniel and his friends were captives of Babylon – lost family & heritage but they gained a stronger faith.

à Obedience is not optional to God. Some may choose the path of least resistance but Christians who want not just to survive but thrive in Babylon but have maximum resolve. (cf Lk 9:23-27; Acts 4:19-20).

Obedience = counting the cost (personal concerns, comfort, confusion, security)

Our culture will criticize. Our world system will mock. Will our faith have resolved obedience? 

à Obedience to God does not have to be obstinate toward others. Daniel “asked the chief eunuch to allow him not to defile himself” (1:8). Daniel asked permission to alter the diet prescription from unclean meat to vegetables (1:8-16). Daniel did not assume action but instead submitted to the proper chain of authority. Daniel understood the chief eunuch was submissive to the King and could not make decisions on his own. So, Daniel cared about the eunuch’s concerns as much as his own convictions. When faith gives you a redeemed perspective, you can obey God and love people simultaneously, regardless if they believe as you do or not. You cannot hate those who you seek to help. Christians must learn to love and give grace while transferring truth.

Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

APPLY/THINK

God gave Daniel favor (1:9, 17-21)

  • The chief was agreeable and after ten days they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than those who ate the kings food.
  • Daniel and friends were teachable as they were educated and God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams…. King Nebuchadnezzar found them 10x better than all those in his kingdom.

Babylon’s reign will cause you to either

  • à Compromise
    Luke 9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Compromise does not mean avoid sinners. Christianity can have no impact without contact with sinners. Christianity needs more believers like Daniel than those like Jonah. Jonah hated the Ninevites and sought to isolate. God revealed that isolation from sinners doesn’t remove sin because sin lives inside of all of us.

  • à Complain
    Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Complaining and pessimism is not a quality of one who trusts in a sovereign God, much more is one of His ambassadors as salt and light.

  • à Confidence in God

Philippians 2:15 “hold fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ [we may not run or labor in vain]

Confidence honors God. God’s favor is given to those who have confidence in His sovereignty.

[1] Series inspired by Larry Osborne, Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter In A Godless Culture.

[2] source: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “Babylon” Daniel C. Browning Jr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s