Summary: Is it your desire to live a life wholly committed to Christ? To live a life of conviction requires commitment. We can learn much from Daniel.
Captives of Our Faith
I never tire of reading and preaching from the “Book of Daniel.” Not only is it one of the best of the Bible’s literary works, but it also appeals to both the historian and the theologian within me. It’s accurate and loaded with countless insights into the way the characters were thinking; their aspirations, trials, disappointments, and successes. It’s the story of an empire builder full of pride and a slave that lived a life without compromise; a willing captive to his God and to his faith.
As we just heard, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had captured Jerusalem and taken Jehoiakim captive along with many of Israel’s prominent nobles. The captives included the finest and brightest young men of Judah. These were taken back to Babylon as slaves. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Each was from a royal family and merely teenagers at the time.
Nebuchadnezzar was a shrewd political leader. By carrying off the children of nobles, he reduced the chances of future rebellions among the nations he conquered. At the same time, he also increased his own resources of knowledgeable servants.
Among the first things Nebuchadnezzar did was to change his servants’ names. The Hebrew name “Daniel” means “God Is My Judge.” His Babylonian name became Belteshazzar which means, “Lady Protect the King.” This refers to the goddess Sarpanitu, the goddess wife of Marduk. The name Hananiah means “The Lord Is Gracious.” Hananiah’s Babylonian name Shadrach means, “I Am Fearful of the god.” The name Azariah means “The Lord Has Helped Me,” and he was called,
“Abed-Nego” which means, “Servant of (the god) Nebo.” Lastly, the name Mishael means “Who is what god is.” His Babylonian name was “Meshach.” It means “I Am of Little Account.” Wouldn’t you just love to know what Meshach did to deserve that title?
In Daniel 1:3-7, we’re told that Nebuchadnezzar issued explicit orders how these captives were to be treated . . . even to their diets. They were to eat from the King’s own table which meant they were served the very best food. But it also meant that the food had been dedicated to the Babylonian gods. We’re told that Daniel refused to “. . . defile himself with the food and wine” because it was dedicated to false gods. It’s strongly implied, however, that he did this in a most respectful manner. He may have been stubborn, but he wasn’t stupid. He asked permission to eat only kosher foods, and it was begrudgingly granted.
Which brings me to the point of this sermon. Is it your desire to live a life wholly committed to Christ? To live a life of conviction requires commitment:
I. You must examine your convictions by the light of God’s Word.
David Hume was an 18th century British philosopher who rejected historic Christianity. It’s been said that he once met a friend hurrying along a London street and asked where he was going. The friend said he was off to hear George Whitfield preach. "But surely you don’t believe what Whitfield preaches do you?" asked Hume. "No, I don’t,” the friend replied. “But he does."