Summary: What do we do when God works differently than we expect or understand? Find out in this sermon from the book of Daniel.
Intro: What do we do when God works differently than we expect or understand? Everything that we see in the book of Daniel is Daniel trusting God when life doesn’t make sense. Being carried off to captivity 900 miles from where he was born and raised. Placed in a foreign country and culture. He was placed in the Lion’s den for his faithfulness to God. His friends were placed in a furnace because they refused to bow down to a golden image of an earthly king.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are under extreme pressure to be devoured by the culture or detached from it. If they were devoured by the culture they would no longer be distinct and represent Yahweh in the self-absorbed culture in Babylon. If they are detached they in no way impact the lives of the people close to them with their relationship to the living God.
How on earth can they face all this pressure? God’s favor, His grace and mercy makes it possible for them to daily know what to say yes to and what to say no to. We have to learn to be connected to the culture but not consumed by it. Jesus said that we should be in the world but not of the world. Remember as we go through this study look for Jesus.
I. The pressures they faced
A) Changed location
Uprooted from their homes, their temple, and their families. Can you imagine how you would feel at 15 to 18 years old? You must imagine the shock they were going through. Before Daniel chapter one they had security and familiarity. Now they have fear and anxiety. Their understanding of God’s favor and blessing was based on them continuing to stay in the temple and in Jerusalem. They were going to be in the land and the temple until Messiah came. Have you based you’re faith on the wrong thing? Have you based you’re faith on who allowing things you understand? What happens when the boots of an invading army change everything? The boots could be Isis, divorce, disease, disaster. Remember before anything comes to us it always passes through the hands of God.
B) Changed names
Daniel – God is judge or God has judged
Hananiah – Yahweh has been gracious
Mishael – Who is like God
Azariah – Yahweh has helped
Daniel – Belteshazzar – Keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel, Bel’s prince -- Supreme God of Babylon known to the Hebrew people as Baal.
Hananiah – Shardrach – “illumined by the moon God.”
Mishael – Meshach – “Who is like Venus”
Azariah – Abednego – “The servant of Nego”
The world will always try to rename or relabel us. Ultra-conservative, hypocrite, intolerant, extremist. What we must understand is that it doesn’t matter the label that people put on us it matters the name God gives to us. God looks beyond the labels that people put on you. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the tax collectors, the sinners Jesus never labeled.
Principle: Don’t live by the label the world gives you. Live by the name God gives you! Christian, child of God, overcomer, faithful, walk through the halls of the Bible and see the names He calls you!! Live out those names!
C) Changed culture
II. The promises that favored them
God gave Daniel favor. We have so much tied up in this word today we have to take all that baggage off so we can understand what the Bible is saying.
Isaiah 66:2b “I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word.”
1 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His.”
Here in Daniel the word favor comes from the Hebrew khesed. It means His loving kindness, His covenant faithfulness to His promises.
God’s favor was given to Joseph, Caleb, Samuel,
A) God gives grace for any place
Daniel was in a foreign place and decided in His heart not to take the easy or the comfortable route. What Daniel found was that God’s favor was not limited to a location. God’s favor is not based on birth place, worship location or nationality. As made clear throughout the Bible God shows kindness and covenant faithfulness to those that seek to love and serve Him. This is God’s grace for living.
I saw this advertisement on the side of a pulmber's van in South Africa: There is no place too deep, too dark or too dirty for us to handle. What a wonderful explanation of the Gospel! (Daniel was in a dark, deep and dirty culture and God was there giving Him favor to live far from home but close to God.)