Summary: Looking at Daniel and his 3 friends, we have a blueprint for how to live in today’s soceity.
When God gave the Ten Commandments to those people just out of bondage in Egypt, He was telling free people what they must do to remain free.
He was telling them there were many forms of bondage other than slavery in Egypt, and we all know that.
The Word of God tells us other truths also.
One is that while the Ten Commandments tell us what we must do to keep free, none of us have the inclination or strength to keep those commandments ...
And God knew that, too.
The Bible says those commandments are school teachers.
They show us the truth of what God’s Word says when it says,
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Rom. 3:23).
So Jesus Christ came.
He kept those commandments and lived a perfect life.
He died for you and me, and He is our hope.
He is the only one who can give us the life we need, and that’s constantly and consistently the message of God’s Holy Word.
We start out in life wanting and dreaming about so much.
We have dreams of a good life and achievements.
We have dreams of making something of ourselves, living life with integrity, and working hard.
Then something happens.
It seems in this world there is some evil, dream-busting ambition-shattering, life-killing force that takes all our dreams from us and leaves us empty in meaninglessness.
What is the answer to that?
How does that happen, and what can we do about it?
I think some of the answers are found in Daniel 1 where the Word speaks about a war and young people caught up in that war, about attempts to make them different than they were, and about how they kept the dream and the glory and became great people.
They would settle for no less.
That Was Then
It begins with war.
King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the great Babylonian Empire, decided it was time to take control of little Judah.
So he attacked Judah and captured Jerusalem and King Jehoiakim, ending his reign of three years.
Now King Nebuchadnezzar was a very bright and sharp man.
For more than forty years, he was one of the most powerful kings in all of history, and he knew something.
He knew he had to have force to get what he wanted, but he could not keep what he wanted with force alone.
He knew he had to have an army, and his army was large and well-trained and well-equipped.
They knew how to do what armies do.
They knew how to win battles and scare people.
So they won the battle and took Judah, and they kept the people so terrified that they weren’t able to resist.
However, King Nebuchadnezzar knew people, especially God’s people, are not going to stay scared too long.
He knew strong hearts and spirits will overcome any army in the long run, so he knew he had to do something else if he was to keep control of Judah.
"What do I do to keep this people under my control?"
The idea came, and he called Ashpenaz, his number one guy, and he said,
"Ash, I want you to find the best young people in that nation.
Let’s bring them to Babylon and change the people of God into Babylonians.
Let’s change these people who think they know the power and presence of God in their lives.
Let’s reduce them to Babylonian citizens.
Bring them to Babylon, and let’s begin the process of changing the leaders of the next generation."
Well, four people in those young people were named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Daniel is a word that meant "God is my judge."
Hananiah is a word that means "God is mercy."
Mishael is a name that means "God is my help."
And Azariah is a name that means "God is my strength."
These four young men, among many others, were brought to Babylon.
What an impressive place Babylon was ... The capital of the Babylonian Empire, right on the Euphrates River.
It had a beautiful skyline, much more impressive than even San Francisco, yet with many similarities.
It’s forty-nine miles around the city of San Francisco.
It was forty miles around Babylon, and that forty miles was surrounded by a sixty to seventy-foot wall that was thirty-feet wide, completely protecting that beautiful Babylonian city.
The skyline included the restored Tower of Babel and the beautiful kings palace, more luxurious than you could ever imagine.
Also, you could see the Tower of Ziggurat dominating all of it.
It was two hundred feet by two hundred feet at the base.
It reached higher into the sky than the Washington Monument.
There was a giant recreational reservoir in Babylon for the people’s pleasure and joy.