Summary: This sermon illustrates how to live a faith life when we “leave home” or encounter new situations
We are living in a multicultural context in a globalized world. Even then different countries have different cultural norms, and what is appropriate in one culture may be offensive in another culture. For example, you should never touch a person’s head in Thailand; the head is considered sacred. In Portugal you should never write anything in red ink; it is very offensive. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and can result in a large fine. In our message today Daniel illustrates for us how to live when we “leave home” or encounter new situations. Anytime something changes in our lives (a new job, a new house, a new school, a new stage of life), we face challenges to our faith. Daniel illustrates how to live when we leave what is familiar to us and encounter new situations.
Sometimes our faith can become an inconvenience; It will place us in inconvenient situations.
When you are in the midst of people who cracks filthy jokes, When your superiors demand you to take unjust decisions, such circumstances come in life where your faith will be a sort of inconvenience to you. Daniel and his companions are great reminders of how we can remain holy, even in times of distress, pain, and suffering. Let's see how we can learn from their example as we examine Daniel 1:1-17.
During the reign of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, in 605 BC Nebukadnezar the Babylonian king attacked Judah and took some smart boys as slaves. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were among them. These boys had to face certain challenges that put their faith in test.
1. V. 1-2 They were Taken to a New Home
These boys had been brought up in and around Jerusalem. There they were constantly reminded of their God and of his importance in life. The Jerusalem Temple with its rituals was there. The priests and the scribes were there to teach them. The prophets were preaching the message of Jehovah.
Now, they are slaves and have been taken to Babylon. Here, they are surrounded by heathen worship, heathen images and heathen people. It would have been easy for them to conform just to fit in. For the Christian, the danger is just as real. It is easy to be spiritual in church. It is easy to be godly around godly people. However, when we separate from the godly influences around us, we are placing ourselves in a dangerous position. We are opening up our lives to the possibility of compromise.
2. V. 3-4 They were Given New Knowledge
These young men were taught a new language and new ways of looking at life. All their lives, they had been exposed to Jewish wisdom. Now, they are being taught the wisdom of Babylon. They are being exposed to things they have never been exposed to before. It is a dangerous time for them.
In ancient Babylon three languages were prominent.
a) The aramic language or Syrian language which was used by business people
b) Assyrian language- This was historic and legal document language
c) The language of literature and language of ritual- Chaldeans language or Accadean language. Daniel and friends were taught this language.
We as Christians face the same challenges in this world today. We are constantly being exposed to new ways of thinking and are being told that our way of looking at the world, through the eyes of God in the Bible, is outdated, ancient and intolerant. There is much pressure being placed on the Christian community to conform to the world's way of thinking. We are told to accept new languages of homosexuality, social drinking, trolling, promiscuous sexual activity, etc.
3. V. 5 They were Given Orientation into a New Diet
All their lives, these four young men had lived by the dietary laws handed down by the Lord. Now, they are forced to take new food. Most likely, this food was unclean, by Jewish standards, and most of the meat had probably been sacrificed to idols. Therefore, it would have defiled these men and made them unclean before the Lord.
As Christians, we too are faced with choices that run contrary to what God has purposed for us. There are decisions about our choice of entertainment, choices in our personal relationships etc We are confronted daily by choices to either do or not do certain things. The choices I make in life can either build me up, or tear me down. Therefore, it is extremely important that we constantly guard ourselves in this matter of what we take into our lives.
4. V. 6-7 They were Given New Names
When these young men arrived in Babylon, they came carrying wonderful names. Each name carried with it a testimony to the person of God.
a. Daniel - God is my judge