I’m going to invite you to, if you can take a moment, find the book of Daniel. If you don’t know where the book of Daniel is, if you find Psalms it’s kind of in the middle of your Bible, about six books past that. I didn’t really add it, but somewhere around six books, you should find the book of Daniel. Isaiah, Jeremiah Ezekiel, Daniel. That’s how it goes after the poetic books. We’re starting a new series together called Cultural Collision. Going through the book of Daniel to discuss for us as a people in pursuit of God, how do you follow God when you feel like you might be in a position where you don’t belong. Or you’ve ever been in a place where you don’t feel like you don’t fit in. Or you meet some challenges in certain circumstances in your life that might encourage you to compromise?
Well, what does that look like to follow after God? Daniel’s a beautiful book that really paints that picture for us. Daniel being the primary character of this book. We’re going to follow four individuals through the story of Daniel, but primarily Daniel. And being able to answer that question together. What does it look like when faith collides with culture? And so we’re in this series together called Cultural Collision and being able to answer that question in pursuit of God in our lives. When you come to a book like Daniel, I think one of the things that really helps us to understand why we would choose the book of Daniel to answer this question relating to Cultural Collision. Daniel, in the context around in this book, if you understand biblical history, you would know that Daniel is a very prominent place to be able to ask and answer that question.
God, how do I live for you in light of the adversity I might face in my faith? And so one of the things I want to do for us as we jump into the series together is kind of paint the picture of the Old Testament. If you’ve not had anyone ever explain that to you, understanding the way the Bible fits together helps us to better understand what’s being communicated in scripture. This may be the first time you’ve ever heard this, but when you open up the Old Testament, it’s 39 books and they’re not in chronological order. Genesis, when you see the book of Genesis, which really starts at the beginning of history. And that I think that’s important. I’m glad it’s at the beginning. It’s called Genesis means the beginning. But when you get to the end of the Bible, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, in the Old Testament, that’s not necessarily the chronological order of how things play out. Some of these books mixed together.
And in fact, when you look at the Old Testament, they’re categorized really in three primary labels that they fall under. The first 17 books of the Old Testament are historical books. And you have five poetic, proverbial books. And then you have the last 17 books, which are prophetic books. And those prophetic books can fit into those historical books in different places in different times. I’m going to show you a little chart on the screen to help put this book of Daniel into perspective for us, but I want you to know you don’t have to retain all of this information. You can look at it and I hope you do absorb it, but if you want, when you leave today, we have these on the table by the double doors when you walk out of here. So if you want one, if we run out, we can make more copies, but if you’d like to have one, we have those available you.
Like I was saying, the first 17 books of the Old Testament are historical books. And starting with Genesis, that’s the first five books that Moses wrote, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. I don’t know if you can make that out back in the back, but the first three books that are listed up there in that main line, Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, and then below that you have Leviticus and Deuteronomy because they fall into when these books were written. But Leviticus more contains the law for the Jews and it was written during the exodus. And Deuteronomy is more of Moses exhortation. It’s a sermon to those living during the time of Numbers. But these books kind of lay out for us historically. One of the interesting things about the first book listed under Genesis is the book of Job.
Job sort of makes a narrative of the life of the individual during the timeline of Genesis, but Job was also a poetic book. And so while it’s labeled there as a historical book, it’s also a poetic book, one of the poetic books in scripture that we talked about in the Old Testament. And so you follow this timeline, Israel’s history from Joshua who goes on the conquest and the promise land that God gave to Israel. Judges during that time, the promise land into 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 kings. This follows Israel as they become a people group under a king. And then 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, tell the same stories as 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings. It just, they share the story post exilic and the other stores are shared pre exilic. Now what is post exilic mean? I’ll tell you in a second, but you see sort of the timeline of how things unfold.
The place we’re going to find ourselves as this blank spot that sort of got a little triangle above it that says 70 years of exile. This is where Daniel was written and what happened in Israel’s history is that after Joshua and the judges, Israel decides that they wanted a king. And God appoints a king and King Saul becomes their king. And Israel really only had three kings under a united kingdom. They had Saul, they had David, they have Solomon. After Solomon’s death, there’s a civil war in Israel. And Jeroboam and Rehoboam split the people. And there’s 10 tribes that go to the north and two tribes go to the south through the civil civil war. So when you read the rest of the books of Kings, you’ll see Jeroboam, Rehoboam and all the in between there for the kings that they pursued. Depending on if you’re in the north or the south.
And the north never followed a godly king. So in 922, civil war breaks out the people split 10 tribes to the north, 2 the south. The tribes in north never follow a godly king. At 722 BC, God lets them be taken into captivity by the Assyrians. A vicious people group comes in, captures them, and all this left is the southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin. They sustain until about 586 and in 586 they’re conquered by Babylon. And that’s where Daniel writes his book. But in the midst of this historical timeline that you see, there’s also other books that are written. The poetry books are written predominantly during the time of the Kings. David wrote most of the Psalms, though he’s not the only author of the Psalms. He wrote about half the Psalms. Some of the Psalms date hundreds of years before David. And then Solomon writes the proverbial books, the book of Proverbs. He writes Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. So these happened during that time period. In the context of while these poetic books are being written, you also have the prophetic books.
The books, some of them are written to the north, some of the prophets are sent to the northern tribes. Some of the prophets are sent to the southern tribes. Some are sent into foreign nations. Some prophesy while in exile and some prophesy after the exile. But that’s where you find the book of Daniel.
It’s labeled as a prophetic book. And in fact you’ll see in the opening verses that we’ll look at together, that when Israel is conquered, it’s really conquered by Babylon in waves. It starts in 605. It concludes in 586. Three waves of conquering from Babylon comes in. When they go in with the first wave, they take the higher upper echelon of society. The leaders, the ones that are the movers and shakers that are making the decision for the nation. They come in and they conquer those individuals and they bring them to Babylon for the purpose of a retraining them to get them under Babylonian rule so that way they can better lead the country in which that they’ve come to conquer. So Daniel’s a part of this first wave of young leaders that are taken into Babylonian captivity. But these waves happen until 586. It kind of leaves these people with a question that I think all of us would ask.
If you think about Israel’s history to this point, Israel they were God’s promised people. If you read in Genesis the first 11 chapters of Genesis, you have a lot of history taking place very quickly because the point of the Old Testament is to really show us how God is working through one people group to bring about his plan in history. And so you kind of asked the question of where did this people group come from? Well, it brings you a fast track in Genesis chapter 1 to 11 to sort of show how God created everything and then brought it to this one people group that started with Abraham. And it tells him that through you all nations will be blessed. That the seed of the Messiah would come through Abraham. And so it shows this people group as they go into this exodus, a slaves and God miraculously shows up in exodus and he sets them free and he brings them into this promised land. And they live on the idea that Messiah is going to come. And through them all people would be blessed and all nations would be blessed. And so you see the story taking shape. And then this kingdom is established, in David, predominantly. And God highlights David.
And now all of a sudden, they’re conquered. They’ve been devastated. They saw the 10 northern tribes just demolished. And now they’re southern tribes into captivity. How would you feel? Depressed? Maybe that’d be a little light for the circumstance. Would you wonder where are the promises of God? Especially in the midst of adversity? God, do you love us? Have you given up on us? Where are you? is this it? The story of Daniel places heavy emphasis on the sovereignty of God. It shows us that God is in control and able to save in our moments of uncertainty.
I think it’s a broader picture really of the Gospel. In fact, when you watch Daniel’s life, I mean God owes no one here, nothing. But God, by His grace, while people continue to turn their back on him, he demonstrates through Daniel that God’s not finished yet. In fact, when you get to the end of Daniel, you’ll see these prophetic statements given to Daniel to deliver that statement. To the point that it demonstrates for us the time of Jesus’s arrival. And so you see this broadening display of the grace of God that’s ultimately communicated in the Gospel as it works its life out in the life of Daniel. But the communication that we start to see in this chapter as it unfolds as Daniel emphasizes the sovereignty of God, that God is in control, able to save in the midst of uncertainty. Daniel teaches us to walk by faith and adversity. Questions, no doubt all of us ask, depending on circumstances around God. How do we follow you?
One of the things I love about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, which we’ll look at it, is they were all young men. All young men in the midst of of their young age, they still walked with incredible wisdom, which even speaks volumes, I think to younger generations to say young people take your faith seriously. You think of the life of Daniel and what it means, maybe to even be a parent. You know, as your child starts to mature and they start to let go, that kite string goes out a little bit and they start to leave the house. There’s a piece of you maybe as a parent you kind of take a deep breath. You’re like, oooh. Did I give them the tools to walk by faith? Or maybe even just yourself, like when circumstances arise that aren’t ideal, how do you stand in light of Christ? With regret? Or do you sleep easy at night? Have you’ve given your life to pursue Christ?
What do you do when the faith and culture collide? When we look at this book, I think it’s also important to understand what’s being written in the book of Daniel as a literary unit. What I mean is, here at ABC we don’t follow one set way of teaching through scripture. Though there are some ways I prefer more than others. Sometimes we do expository teaching. Sometimes we do just scriptural teaching. Sometimes we do topical teaching. Let me just explain why we do that and what all that means. My preference in studying God’s Word, teaching God’s Word is expository teaching. That’s where you go verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and thought by thought, communicating what God’s word is. One of the advantages is we all get to look at it together. If I say anything heretical, you can take me out with pitchfork and torch and so long, right? So we all get to examine that together. On top of that, one of the things that helps us, as we see how to study God’s word, learn God’s word, it gives all of us confidence that wherever, we are, we can see what God’s words communicating to us.
So you’re not dependent on someone to try to explain it to you, but when you learn the tools to study God’s word and you can do that expositorily, it helps the church read. And so I think it’s important. That’s one of the ways that we’re going to approach Daniel. We’re going to look at this verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Another way is to look at just scripturally, in context the literary unit. And what I mean is, Daniel is written this way. In fact, when you look at chapter one, Daniel starts off dating for us where this is taking place. Third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, which is the king of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. So he’s dating this for us. And so when you look at the end of chapter one, verse 21, you see that there’s another king mentioned.
So he’s sort of sandwiching this event. He’s telling us this narrative story and he’s sandwiching what’s taking place here to say, okay, this is one thought I want you to see from chapter one, verse one to verse 21, of which we’re trying to paint a picture of Daniel and how he led in a cultural collision in his life to encourage you and how you lead in your faith in Christ in this world to make a difference. In fact, when you get to chapter two verse one, it then starts in the second year of King Nebuchadnezzar. And so it’s explained to us this is a different literary unit. And so when you study, especially the first 17 books in the Old Testament, they’re narrative stories. And what’s important to recognize about narrative stories is that the intentions of the author isn’t always word for word going through the point that he’s trying to create.
Let me, let me tell you why I say that. I don’t want to throw a bunch of red flags out here. When Jesus taught, for example, he taught in parables. The point of a parable isn’t the precision of each word. Like we’re not supposed to draw a conclusion about each thought within a parable because you can lead into heresy because of that. Parables, when they’re taught, the point of a parable is to create one main idea, one concept for you to grab ahold of and to live in your life. An understanding of who God is and how to live in line of that, right? And so sometimes when a narrative is told, the point of the narrative is to get a point across. And so we’re going to look at this a expositorily and sort of tie this in scripturally to make sure that we grab the big theme of Scripture. And the other way we’ll often teach is, is we’ll teach topically. Topically you have the opportunity to jump into way more heresy that way because you can just pull a verse out of context and make it mean something that it’s never intended to mean. But I think it’s important not to just throw out topical teaching because that’s how your New Testament was written.
Like would you read the epistles in the New Testament? The authors of the New Testament are typically answering questions to problems that the church faced. And I’m going to tell you something about being an adult. When you’re a kid, the world is your playground. The wonder of the world just captivates you and you just experience it, right? But as you start to adult in life, you start learning your brain sometimes can only fit so much, right? And there’s only so much someone can bear. And at some point someone tells you something and at that particular point of your life, you’re not really interested in what they’re talking about because it has no context with the world that you’re living in. And so what you say to yourself is, you know, I’m going to shelf that. God gave us Google and YouTube. And next time I need to know that I’m going to look it up.
And so what it says as an adult, as you get older, you learn on a needs to know basis, right? And when you have kids screaming at you and relationships are falling apart, there are some certain things you need to know. And so when you approach certain contexts topically, it can help with that. For example, as a church, traditionally in the early parts of the spring, later in winter, we often teach a series on marriage or parenting, something related to relational context in life. Because we live in an area where people tend to be married and there tends to be lots of kids, right? And so topically we might be asking some questions. Am I messing my kids up? How do I do this? My neighbor’s kids are driving me crazy. What can I say to encourage them in Jesus? You know, something along those lines. So topically, there are some things in your life that become essential. So I think all of them have their place. But what we want to do is walk with proper discipline and understanding.
Now all that being said, take a breath, right? Daniel for us is presented as a literary unit. Chapter one. He wants us to get this concept of who Daniel is in order to encourage the people in the pursuit of God in the context of which they live. And so when you look at the book, chapter one has this unit of thought that matches to the entire book. It sort of lays the foundation. And then when you get to chapter two to chapter seven, something interesting happens. They switched from Hebrew to Aramaic. And when you look at it, chapter two aligns with chapter seven. And chapter three aligns with chapter six. And chapter four aligns with chapter five. And when you go back and look at chapter seven, you see chapter seven is really the explanation springboard to the rest of the book. Eight through 12 and eight through 12, they explained to us in Hebrew again.
And so there’s this literary unit of thought that when you grab the bigger picture, it helps us to understand the context as you expositate what’s taking place in this passage. When you look at how Daniel is written for us and the way and the backdrop, it sets itself up for understanding. Daniel is being written at a place where Daniel, his friends, feel like they had their back against the wall. God, you love us. God, where are you? God, how do we stand for you? In the midst of this cultural collision. Babylon has conquered us.
Now sometimes as people willing to go through difficult things, I find we have a peculiar tendency to rationalize adversity in some strange ways. One of the things that I always have, I don’t want to say it’s difficult, but I just kind of irks me inside or maybe rubs me awkwardly, is when I attend a funeral. And sometimes as people we don’t like death. We weren’t created for death. We were created for life. Death was the consequence of sin. And when we try to rationalize that with people, we want to say something and encourage someone and we don’t want to say, I can tell you some of the worst things I have ever heard people say.
When you encounter those circumstances in trying to encourage someone else going through that challenge. I think Daniel was in a similar spot here. He’s been conquered. People have died. And we can look at this and try to take the positive road and I think the Lord wants us to be optimistic in Him in this, but not to ignore the pain we’ve gone through in the story of Daniel here. What Daniel was experienced. Because we could look at chapter one and say, Hey, it’s being conquered by a more powerful wealthy people group. Maybe this won’t be bad for him. But then it gets it verse two and it sort of wipes that clean. In case you’re asking that question, because it says this, the Lord gave Jehoiakim, King of Judah into his hand along with some of the vessels, the house of God. And he brought them talking about Nebuchadnezzar. He brought them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god. And he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.
So you see Nebuchadnezzar, if you’re wondering what God is talking about, it’s not the god of the Bible, right? And he tells us something specific about where he brought him. Which in the Hebrew mind would immediately perked up their ears. Because he says, this is the land of Shinar. And the land of Shinara is where the Tower of Babel was. And the Tower of Babel is where people that live in disobedience to God. And when you read the Old Testament, something interesting about what takes place is if you ever read about people traveling east? It’s never good. I don’t know what it is about the east, but if you travel west, God tends to honor that. And so here in this story there in the west, in the Promised Land God gave them. And then they’re getting ripped out and now they are traveling east. So if you’re asking the question, well maybe this won’t be all bad. It’s like saying in verse two. Yeah, no, it’s bad. How do you deal with that?
Well, on top of this, it then begins to unfold the story of what Daniel’s experiencing. Then the king ordered Ashkenaz, the chief of his officials to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the noble. So that’s where the saying, they went into Israel and they took nobility. They took the leaders. They want to teach them and ingrain them in Babylonian culture. And it says, including some of the royal family and of the nobles youth in whom was no defect, who were good looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom. Every time I read the verse, I’m like, it’s talking about me. No, I’m just kidding. I’m not that arrogant. Endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge and who had ability for serving in the kings court.
So what it’s saying in this passage is Nebuchadnezzar is coming in these waves and he’s starting with the upper echelon because he wants them to be ingrained. He’s picking the younger generation because they’re more impressionable. And he really wants to impress them, in that impressionable age, to show why Babylon is so much better. And why they should be leading for the Babylonians instead of the people group that’s just been conquered. They’re no good. They’d been conquered. And so these are brought in this court for this purpose, the story goes on and says he ordered him to teach them the literature and the language of the Chaldeans. The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drained. By the way, this is where modern day Iraq is. This is where all this was taking place. And he appointed that they should be educated three years and at the end of that, of which they were to enter into the king’s personal service. Now among them, from the sons of Judah where Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, which you know as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
So you think about, parent letting your young man enter into this world. Or young maturing adult. It’s saying in these verses the things that Daniel had as a temptation embracing Babylonian culture. As you look at this story, what’s unfolding here is Daniel’s being conquered. He’s not a slave. He’s actually given a position of prominence. Oh, and he’s given best education, best food. He’s living in the castle, he’s got clothing, he’s got servants.This is as good as it gets.
And so all of this is thrown at Daniel and then it tells us just one, the one verse further what exactly the King is intending to do. And it says then like the commander or the officials assigned new names to them. Names for Israel are a big deal. Like I think sometimes in our culture we’re like, what sounds cool. That’s cool, let’s do that. Right? But in Israel, name was a part of identity. Where did you come from? Where do you about? What do you pursue in life? For Daniel and his friends, their name represented their identity as God’s people. Daniel’s name is, “God is my judge.” Hananiah, “God has favored us.” Mishael, “who can compare to God” Azariah, “God is our helper.”
And so what the king does in bringing them in, he only temps them with a life that maybe more plush and fulfilling then what they had before in worldly circumstances. But he also wants to erase their past. Because Dale’s named now becomes Belteshazzar which just rolls off the tongue. But Belteshazzar means, “in praise to the god of Bale.” The prince of god, Bell favors, it says. And Hananiah’s new name is Shadrach, is “the great scribe.” And Mishael, his new name Meshach, “guests to the king.” And Azariah, who is now Abednego, is “servant of Nebo,” which is the god of vegetation. Which turns out in agricultural society is very important for living.
But then their names, their identities become one of praise to false gods in a foreign land. Cultural collision. It takes these young men in order to conform them. Impressionable minds, right? And Paul even warns us about that. Romans 12:2, Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed. This idea of conforming sort of shapes what the world’s perspective is. It’s as if it’s saying the world is shaped in this box and what it wants you to do: it wants to take you and wants to stuff you in this box, to get your new shape to become conformed to exactly what it desires for you to praise in your life. But God, rather than conforming you from the outside, pressuring you in to this mold, God wants to transform you by the renewing of your mind from the inside out. God wants to change your life.
The Bible tells us in Jeremiah, Jeremiah was told by God prophetically to share with the people how they are to behave into this new land. While while God wants you to be transformed, this world’s going to want you to conform. But here’s my desire as you’re transforming. Going into this land, God tells Jeremiah, thus said the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands that they may bear sons and daughters, and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city, which I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare, you will have welfare.
Before Daniel arrives in the circumstances, if God’s already speaking to his people and how he wants them to behave. And it’s kind of saying this to us. God doesn’t work in spite of adversity. Rather he works through it. What God’s saying to the people of Jeremiah’s day is, bad things are happening. And so we’re praying that the bad things stop that we don’t enjoy. And so once you get us past the bad things back to the good things, then we can start serving you again. But what God is saying through Jeremiah and leading in Daniel’s life is that God is big enough to work in every circumstance.
In fact, sometimes when we face adversity, that is the very place that God desires to work. Because in the midst of darkness his light shines brightest. You know, one of the cool things as you see scripture unfold, especially into the New Testament, when Peter starts encouraging the church that’s facing persecution. This happens in 1 Peter. One of the things that Peter does to the church for us today is to get us to recognize that, as Daniel was taken a captive into a foreign land, as an alien in a place where he didn’t feel like he belonged. Peter uses that for God’s people to help us understand that we are all in a foreign land, that we are all aliens.
In fact, in 1 Peter 2:11 that’s how he describes us. Because your citizenship is not in this world. And he even tells the church when he writes this letter, to pray for those that feel as if they’re in Babylon. That Babylon becomes a picture for all of God’s people because this world is not where we were created to belong. That God’s created us for life. And so the exhortation in 1 Peter 2:11, is though you may be maligned against, to still walk with God. That in walking with God, while people come against you, they may still see how you live in light of the Lord and glorify God because of it.
Seek to bless the city. Be not conformed, but be transformed. The tendency of our culture when it collides with our faith is that culture tends to make words that are good like Daniel and his friends. And take words that have good godly definitions and make them bad. And take words that are bad and dishonoring God and make them good. But be not confirmed, be transformed.
And sometimes in our lives, in the midst of living out like versus three to six, you see all the temptation that’s coming Daniel’s way. Daniel can very easily justify this, “Hey God wanted us to be held captive. Therefore he probably doesn’t want us to follow all the things that he told us to and the other land. And you know, God wants me to just get along with everybody all the time. So I’m gonna to just keep where I’m at. I’m not going to go against the grain at all. I’ve got servants, I’ve got stuff, I’m good. You know the people that don’t have as much to lose as I do, let them live in light of God and I’m just going to stand here in case God might need me for something big a little bit later cause I’m so close to King.”
You can rationalize that. I think, sometimes in our lives we get so good at living with our idols that we can’t always see them. Okay.
One of my favorite stories is about this lady who lived in this foreign land who came to America. She switched places with this guy who left America to go to that foreign land and when the guy got into this foreign land he walked into the home of this family. And as he got into the living room he shared with his wife when he returned, just how strange it was for him. He said, you walk into the living room and it’s so odd. All of the furniture in the living room is sort of spread in this circle. And all of it faces, this idol built to this god that they shaped out of wood. And in his hand is this incense burning. It’s just, just so bizarre how you walk in the living room and everything’s just pointing to that.
His wife was amazed and then the lady from the foreign country, she went returned back home and she said, you know, it’s so weird being America. You walk in their living room and then when you get inside, all their furniture’s gathered around the circle and the thing that they’re gathered around you come in is this box that plays this screen. So bizarre. They mindlessly just watch it for hours.
Our idols are often hidden to us. It’s easy to justify circumstances, but Daniel has help in overcoming.m Because one of the things that we learned in this verse, verse seven is he already had an identity. The people which he belonged to gave him a name that recognized who his God was. He had three friends that joined him in the resistance. Daniel, it tells us in verse eight, made a very bold decision.
I think in the context of, of chapter one, verse eight is sort of the pinnacle verse, but it says this, Daniel made up in his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which we drink. So Daniel recognizes that as a Jew pursuing God, there are certain restrictions in the diet in which I eat. And the king has just said to us that he wants us to deny the faith in which we live out in the practice of our dietary laws in order to eat his choice food.
And so rather than bend to the will of the king in pursuit of his god it says, but Daniel made up his mind, he would not defile himself. This word is literally resolved. And I love what Daniel does here. Because he’s walking with an understanding of his culture. He’s not ignorant to it or the new culture he’s a part of. And he understands as a young man, he’s about to be faced with a temptation. And before he gets into that room where that sweet, savoring medium cooked steak will be put in front of his face, he’s already determined when he’s going to do. That’s honorable.
I think even this time of year, no matter how much I tell myself, no chocolate, Nathaniel, no chocolate. I know as soon as my kids walk through the door, if there is a Reese’s peanut butter cup anywhere to be found. I have not truly resolved in my heart. What am I going to honor? And there’s a fee to live under my roof. So it’s candy money, boys. Same in this story is Daniel makes this decision before he faces the temptation that what he’s choosing to live his life and align with, and that’s God.
You know, in your own culture, what will you face? How will you respond? What can you resolve before you encounter? What kind of person you want to be? And I love, not just the beginning of this verse, but the second half of this first because it shares Daniel’s attitude in the midst of this, it says this, so we sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
This idea of seeking permission, he doesn’t immediately clashed with the people. The Bible tells us, seek peace with all men. We are to pursue peace as much as it permits us in life. And so Daniel’s saying in this chapter that he’s seeking out this word for permission is to seek out or discover.
How can I walk in line with my God in the midst of this culture? Like what window do they give me to honor Jesus and how far do I have to press this? And Christians have the tendency sometimes, at when someone disagrees with us, we become very off-putting in the demeanor in which we carry with them. Maybe we can often get mad at people because they disagree with us. That should not shock us. It should not surprise us that someone who does not want to follow Jesus does not look like they’re following Jesus.
And therefore it makes no sense to then react in a way that just shows your rear end because you want to demonstrate to them why you should be justified in your action. Rather than that, what Daniel is seeking to do here is just to provide a window. Is there a place for me to walk with my God faithfully and through that opportunity to demonstrate to the people around me how good God is? Because I’m gonna tell you, God doesn’t call you to be the Holy Spirit. That job’s already taken.
And when you go around and you tell people the way that they should be living their lives because of the God that you follow, I can tell you how people are gonna respond to that. In fact, if you’ve ever made that mistake in your life, you probably said this didn’t happen. This not good that well. But Daniel is seeking peace and pursuit of his God, I’ve resolved this in my heart. Oh, is there, is there this place for me to demonstrate the goodness of God and give him freedom to work? Which I would just say, maybe consider that when you log on Facebook. God, how can you use me to be a light?
Not necessarily just maligned because I feel like I’ve been lived in, in this unjustice rather than rather than just Stanford himself. Daniel chooses to stand for God in the midst of the circumstance. And in case you read the story and you think, well, no, it wasn’t that hard for Daniel, right? Daniel, you’re in the king’s court, you’ve got it made man. You don’t know what I have to face in my life and the kind of adversity that I’m experiencing. So Daniel, you got it easy. And in case that temptation starts to rear up in you and trying to justify interaction in this world, this the story, the narrative that’s unfold here sort of puts the brakes on. And in verse 10 to 14 in putting the brakes on it, it kind of gives us a further backdrop of what’s happening in the life of Daniel. And this is what it says. And the commander of official said to Daniel, I’m afraid of my Lord the king, Who has appointed your food and your drink.
He’s like, Daniel, let me tell you something. I’ve worked with this guy for years, right? And I’ve seen the last guy that tried this and I can take you to his grave, right? This is not good. And so he said, Daniel, I’m afraid of this. Why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age. I think if the king thinks that you’re something and you turn out to not be that, and he finds out he doesn’t really need you, he’s got no problem in getting rid of you. And so he goes on, then then you would make me forfeit my head to the king. So he’s saying, Daniel, this is not even just a risk for you. It’s a risk for me and the responsibility I’ve given. But Daniel said to the overseer, who the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, please test your servants for 10 days. Let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youth who are eating the king’s choice food and deal with your servants according to what you see.
Daniel had adversity. And you look in the life of Daniel, what he reveres in his life is the Lord. And what this individual reveres in coming to Daniel, he fears the king. You know sometimes fear has a lot to do with how we live our lives, what do you revere more in life? Sometimes if it’s circumstances, we can build up that circumstance so much that the mountain of the circumstance looks much bigger than our God. Or sometimes we give into people pleasing or peer pressure so much that we choose to pursue that rather than honoring God. And so you see the servant in his position against Daniel, how in this moment, even that Daniel’s life being conflicted, he’s now got another individual trying to tempt him from where he feels God has led him in this world.
I like verse 12. Parents, I’m going to tell you this is your memory verse for today. If you take this home and you got some problem with your kids eating the right kind of food. Because it tells us, Daniel’s request was vegetables. This is the first time in history this has ever happened. You think about this for a minute. Daniels like, okay, I live with the king. I can have Coke whenever I went, candy whenever I want, steak whenever I want. Give me some vegetables. That would not happen in our house! Well maybe for one of them, but not on a regular basis. Daniels like, “Give me vegetables.” So if you think about this later for your kids and the challenging, say them. Look at cerse 12 Daniel loved his vegetables and he defeated the lions, right?
If you want be strong and defeat some lions, verse 12 is where you go. But when you look at the context of this verse, Daniel is still pursuing and honoring God. And so it says, if you watch the story unfold, I just pick some verses out as it relates to this, but it says this, verse 15, “At the end of 10 days, their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youth who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drinking and kept giving them vegetables. At the end of the days which the king had specified, the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar and the king talk with him and out of them all, not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So they entered the king’s personal service. As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found him 10 times better than all of the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.”
So it’s like a “Take that Harry Potter” kind of statement, right? Daniel’s better, hashtag better than potter. But it says 10 times better. And this idea of 10 times is not literally, they’re like, okay, this is what a human being is. Times that by 10 and Daniels that. It’s speaking in hyperbole. Just saying there’s Daniel and his friends excel above everyone else. Now, I’m gonna throw out a statement of some of the abuse that’s happened with this text here. Daniel chose to eat vegetables. He ate vegetables and now his life is better for it. Now the point of this story is not become a vegetarian, right? I have actually watched people read these verses and use it to become a vegetarian and then not only use it to become a vegetarian, but then use this passage to then make vegetarian converts.
You know, fine. If you’re a vegetarian man, good. If you’re just pursuing being a healthier life and Lord leads you here, we are behind you and pursuing a healthier life in whatever capacity. But I want you to know the main point of this passage and this story is not for all of us to walk away and be vegetarians. That’s not what he’s saying here. Now, some of you are like, well, I don’t believe you and others of you are like, thank God! Thank God that’s not what he’s say right? I’ve heard it said like this that someone’s asked the question, what’s the difference between you and a vegetarian? And the answer was nothing. Really we all die in the end. Only difference is a vegetarian has to die with a bad taste in their mouth. If you’re a vegetarian, please don’t email me. That’s a joke. I know that’s not true.
But here’s the point. Verses 9 and 17, as the story starts to unfold, it shares with us what takes place. And it says this. Remember, verse eight, Daniel resolved right to follow God? And in verse nine, it says this, now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials. And then verse 17, it says this, as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. And Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.
The point is this, Daniel honored God. And in turn God blessed Daniel. See, the encouragement in the midst of opposition is to say God’s not finished. But rather do encourage you to live the kind of life God can bless. Does God work through you or does he have to work around you? Do you give into compromise or do you shine? This is the story of Daniel. Daniel starts as a narrative, as an encouragement to all people in pursuit of God. How do you live your life? Do you live your life to honor God that he may bless through you? Does he have to work around you?
As Daniel lived for God, God honored Daniel. Now, I’m not proposing this as some kind of magic trick. What I’m not saying to you is if you follow God, you’re going to become a part of the king in his castle. But what I am encouraging understand in is the way that God can work through the circumstance in which he has blessed you in.
In fact they want to paint this picture so well that at the very end of the chapter, the last verses this is what it said. And Daniel continued to the first year of Cyrus the king. That is profound. I mean, you get it right? So what? Daniel continued until Cyrus the king. What does that mean? You see in the beginning, King Nebuchadnezzar and you see at the end king Cyrus. But here’s the point that the narrative is trying to paint for us. Between king Nebuchadnezzar and King Cyrus, there are handful of kings. In fact, there’s such a degree of kings that King Cyrus isn’t even a Babylonian King. King Cyrus is a Persian king.
And so what it’s saying about Daniel on the midst of the circumstances that he went into Babylon with his back against the wall and he stood up before a king to honor his God, not in a way that insulted people but still walked with integrity, to love his Lord before others, that the light of God made shine in his life. And God honored that so much that Daniel outlived an entire empire. A youth, making that kind of a difference. How do you handle cultural conflict?
One of the things I want to do in this series is just expand our understanding of what it means to fear God and love him in the light of this world around us. But just the narrative of this story encourages us through Daniel’s life, to be the kind of person that makes a difference. That through the duration of our life, the beauty of the Lord rings forth. And it all started as a young man. How do you handle cultural conflict and cultural collision? Is it a way God works through you or in spite of you?
One of the things I like to remind myself with this story when it starts to unfold and it tells us about Daniel and his four friends, is that Daniel and his friends, they weren’t the only Jews carried in the Babylon. But as far as we know, they were the only ones that chose to stand for their faith and care for them around them.
Daniel was not the only one taken to Babylon, but he was the only one not willing to eat food that defiled him and therefore he was the one that God used. Temptations for the rest of the Jews, as far as we know, was something they gave into. But Daniel was the one the Lord chose to work through. So just because you may find yourself in a hard place, doesn’t that mean you have to get out before God can use you. But rather he might have you where he wants you.
And for us to live our lives in a way that God works through us rather than around us. To live in honor of God, that God may bless you. Because I don’t think it’s any mistake that when you read into the New Testament, you see Peter continuing to reflect back to this story of Babylon to describe you as a Christian.
Believers, you live in Babylon. You face different aspects of it every day of your life. The question is, do you want God to use you? Resolve in your hearts and watch what God can do.