Summary: If we want to honour God, and make a difference in our world today, we must make a good decision, refuse to compromise, and put God first.
DANIEL IN EXILE: PUT GOD FIRST
INTRO TO THE STORY:
For the past six weeks, we have looked at the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their steady spiral down a slippery slope of sin, until they finally found themselves exiled to Babylon. That’s where we find ourselves at the beginning of this new series: The Journey Home.
OPENING TEXT: GOD’S PROMISE
“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:10-12, NKJV).
This is a wonderful promise from God! You may be in a dark and difficult season right now. But if you’re walking through a valley, keep walking! Never give up. (PREACH!)
BACKGROUND TO DANIEL’S STORY:
“1 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 gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.” (Daniel 1:1-7).
Because of their sin, God’s people were sent into exile in Babylon.
These four young teenagers were strangers in a foreign land.
1. DANIEL MAKES A GOOD DECISION:
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8).
Even as a young person with no parents around, he chose to put God first.
QUOTE: “Daniel is teaching us as we walk on foreign soil; we must resolve ourselves not to become addicted to our culture.” (Randy Frazee, The Story Video Curriculum).
In a similar way, we are strangers passing through life on the Earth. This is not our home! The result of Daniel honouring God? “Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.” (Daniel 1:9).
Daniel and his three friends were healthier, stronger and wiser than the others.
PREACH IT! “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
How are we not conformed to the world? Refuse gossip, unforgiveness, selfishness.
How are we transformed? Into the image of Jesus: The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
2. THE SQUAD REFUSES TO COMPROMISE:
ILLUSTRATION: Do you know what ‘the squad’ is? It’s a close-knit group of friends. Before Caleb went off to Bible College, he had a squad: Martin, Phil, Brandon, Harrison, Austin. Close good friends! Caleb’s moved to BC, but the squad still comes over to our house to hang out!
Daniel’s three friends were the original ‘squad.’ In chapter two, when the King decrees that all of the wise men will be put to death if they don’t interpret his dream, the four of them get together and pray and God gives them the answer!
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:1).