Thriving Among Lions
Babylon Rising #2
April 25, 2021
I'm Tired of You Too
After 50 years of marriage, a husband and wife were sitting at the dinner table. And the husband said to his wife: “honey, after fifty years of marriage, I just want to tell you that you are tried and true.” “What,” she said. “Speak louder.” “Ok,” he said. “After all these 50 years of marriage, I just want to tell you that you are tried and true.” “I can’t hear you, honey. You are going to have to speak louder,” she said. “Ok,” he said for the last time. “After all these 50 years of marriage, I just want to tell you that you are tried and true.” To which his wife of 50 years responded: “Well, I’m tired of you too.”
Daniel: A Most Unique Prophet
I love the biblical character, Daniel. Here’s why: his entire ministry came during the biblical period that I call the Great Separation. It’s the period that tells us what can happen when the “tried” and “true” God of the Bible finally got “tired” of His people’s rebellion.
God gave them land flourishing with milk and honey. They rebelled. But he was patient. He gave them judges, prophets, priests and kings. They rebelled. But He was patient. He gave them warning and after warning. They still rebelled. So God ran out of patience. And the result was Babylonian exile.
Israel had no home. They had no temple. To matters worse, the people of the land in which they lived were hostile to God’s people, God’s book, and God’s mission in the world. And in this time, there is one prophet who rises from the ashes of ruin like a Phoenix. He lived not in the Promised Land among God’s people. He lived among Babylonian among lions. But here is why his story speaks directly to our current situation: He flourished in that environment.
What's Possible In Babylon
(1) It's Possible to Thrive In An Ungodly Environment (1-7)
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 delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. 6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
An Environment of Troubles (1:1-2)
(a) No more home
Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah in 587 B.C.
(b) No more patience
the text teaches us that God used Babylon to judge his people
(c) No conscientiousness
to the victor went the spoils. In this case, the temple treasures;
(c) No temple
the glory of God had departed along with His people
An Environment of Tests (1:3, 7)
(a) In the King’s Service
Young Israelites given a leg up on the other exiles so long as they rendered service to Nebuchadnezzar to do as ordered.
(b) Reeducation and Reformation
Changing of names reflect that. Daniel, for example, had his name changed to Belteshazzar. It means “may the Babylonian “g”od Baal protect Nebuchadnezzar.
An Environment for Triumphs (1:7) –
God is my judge;
Grace and mercy;
Who is like the Lord, our God;
God has helped me
(2) It's Possible to Draw a Line While Maintaining Manners (8, 12-16).
8 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…12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
Why Daniel Drew A Line
According to Jewish law, what splits the hoof and chews the cud, is permissible as a meat source. That means, the abominable pig, the main staple of the Babylonian diet, was out. Daniel “resolved” himself not to partake, regardless of the consequences.
What That Line Was
Though Daniel’s life was in jeopardy by making such a request, violating what God has spoken and his conscience were far more perilous.
What Was Necessary to Draw The Line
(1) Understanding of the Scriptures in a land that didn’t have them;
(2) Courage to put yourself out there;
(3) Expectation of God to honor those who have courage.
How He Drew the Line
(2) “If it pleases”
Manners can get lost in culture wars. We would be wise to remember we are dealing with lost people who don’t know any better.
(3) It's Possible the Tests of Today Will Bear Fruit Tomorrow (17)
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
A Direct Link Between Daniel’s Diet Request and This Verse
(1) The request was ordinarily reasonable for a child of God;
(2) Daniel knew not what was in the future. He just knew he needed to draw a line. And because he did, God blessed him.
Verses About God Rewarding Those Who Seek Him
(1) Psalm 84:11
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless;
(2) Hebrews 11:6
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Irony in the Book of Daniel is that for Israel, the exile was a curse. For Daniel and his friends, it’s a blessing.
What you do in the tests of today will determine your future.
(4) It's Possible to Stand Up and Not Stand Alone (18-20)
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
(1) Daniel and his friends are right beside him here;
(2) with him in comfort in chapter 2 when Nebuchadnezzar has his dream;
(3) with him in spirit in other circumstances
The three friends of Daniel go through a fiery furnace. Daniel goes in a lion’s den.
(1) In the fiery furnace;
(2) In the Lion’s Den;
(3) In dreams and visions;
(4) In exile in Babylon