It’s 2018! Most of the decorations are snug in their boxes and the last of the Christmas goodies have been polished off. I pray that everyone has a heart full of the miracle of Christmas that will last all the year through.
The kids have headed back to work and school, and I have exchanged my “Christmas” hat for the “Bible Study” one. As I begin to prepare a study of the Book of Daniel, I ask for the wisdom and the words to share the story of God in young Daniel’s life in a way that will bring us face to face with the heart of God, and show us the Lord’s great faithfulness in keeping His promises.
In 605 BC, when Babylon conquered Judah, the king of Babylon took captives including Daniel and some of his friends, back to Babylon to serve in the royal palace. Surely Daniel was broken-hearted by these events, but being well schooled in scripture, he recognized the prophesy of these events.
8 “Because you have not obeyed my words,9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land [Judah] and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. Jeremiah 25:8-9
So Daniel finds himself exiled in Babylon, present day Iraq, which had become an extravagant and excessive culture. It was not unlike the self-centered, excessive “Babylon” world of today that we struggle to survive in. But judging from Daniel’s story, he also remembered the Lord’s command in Jeremiah 29:7,
[S]eek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Daniel had unwavering faith that his God was the sovereign Lord over every detail of creation from rulers and nations to the wheat of the fields. Daniel believed with all his heart that his God would never forsake him, but would turn the darkness into light and smooth out the rough places into level ground (Isaiah 46). Daniel resolved to embrace just enough of the world around him to satisfy the Babylonian culture, and at the same time, he resisted the decaying morals and standards of the time to preserve his mind, heart and soul. Daniel strove daily to be IN the world, but not OF the world.
[Jesus said], “I have given them your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:14-16
Friends, today we face many of the very challenges that Daniel faced all those centuries ago. It is our turn to resolve to resist the decaying morals and standards of our day and to preserve our mind, heart and soul. True resolve is not something we gather up at the Sundays service to get us through the week. True resolve is something we are challenged to practice every day. Like Daniel, we are tested and tempted every day. But we can only stand our ground if we have unwavering faith in God to guide us in all we do, and deliver us from the repercussions of not fully embracing the present culture.
Proverbs 3:5-6 gives the best definition of ‘resolve,’
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Pray unceasingly, repent quickly and grow closer to the Lord! We aren’t all called to be a “Daniel,” but we are all called to put our trust in Daniel’s God.