Summary: How did Daniel survive and thrive while living in the most godless of all cultures?

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When one thinks about Daniel from the Bible certain images come to mind. For many Daniel is the one who was thrown into the lion’s den. When king Darius appointed Daniel as second in command over Babylon he found himself facing 120 very angry rulers who immediately plot to have him killed. These satraps convinced the king to sign an edict stating for the next 30 days everyone in Babylon was only allowed to pray to Darius and not to another other human being or god. Of course they knew Daniel prayed three times a day to God and was forbidden to pray to a person or to another god. When Darius was told Daniel still prayed to his God, the king was forced to throw Daniel into the lion’s den. In the morning they pulled out Daniel from the den and he did not have a single scratch!

For many other people the mention of Daniel brings about images of detailed prophecies. Daniel had some really bizarre visions and dreams. The complexity and accuracy of the book of Daniel is mind boggling. Most scholars who try to make sense of these prophecies and their timelines end up creating charts like the following that have countless points of fine print and cross references. Using the book of Daniel, these scholars have made some rather impressive predictions concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ but in the end they always turn out to be nothing more than mere speculation. While this does not mean we should not read Daniel’s prophecies, it does mean we must be careful to not assign an exact date to written material where future dates are not given. Remember, our wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 3:19) because only the Father knows the day and the hour of Jesus’ return (Mark 13:32).

In his book “Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a godless Culture,” Larry Osborne brilliantly makes the case that the main theme of Daniel being “Thriving in Babylon.” For Osborne, he sees the book of Daniel as being a template on how to live and thrive in one of the most godless of all cultures. Daniel’s counterintuitive “responses to wicked leaders, evil coworkers, and a godless culture” (Kindle, loc. 147) of hope wisdom and humility are seldom practiced by today’s spiritual leaders and committed Christians. The first part of this sermon series will begin by giving some historical background information on Daniel’s situation and how one is to prepare to enter into the battleground of living amongst foreign gods and practices. Part two of the series will focus on how to remain hopeful when opposition to living a holy life becomes intense. Part three of the series will focus on creating credibility amongst the unsaved and the last part will focus on being wise and on the power of perspective.

Daniel’s Situation

Let’s look at Israel’s history so that we can get a better understanding of Daniel’s situation.

1. To begin with the children of Israel are freed from their bondage in Egypt under Moses as their leader at approximately 1446 BC. After having been in bondage for over 400 hundred years, the power of God demonstrated in the Ten Plagues of Egypt forces Pharaoh to the let the Israelites go. The Egyptians looked favourable on Israel to such an extent that their gifts to them was the equivalent to plundering Egypt (Exodus 12:35-36).

2. After having wondered in the wilderness for their lack of belief that God would give them victory over the giants of the land (Numbers 13), Joshua leads the children of Israel and they conquer the promised land around 1400 BC. At this point they have no human king because God was to be their king (1 Samuel 8).

3. Israel cries out to Samuel and demands they have a king. Even though God stated He was disappointed in Israel for having rejected Him as their king, He grants them their wish. Saul, a man of good standing, hansom and a head taller than anyone else was anointed as king of Israel around 1050 BC.

4. David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), succeeds Saul as king around 1011 BC. During his reign God makes David a promise that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7). Under David’s reign Israel flourishes.

5. In 971 BC David choose his son Solomon to succeed him. Solomon asked and received wisdom from God (1 Kings 3). Solomon built God a temple (1 Kings 6). David warned Solomon that if he turned his back on God, God will turn his back on him (1 Chronicles 28:9). This is a stern warning not only to Solomon but to all of Israel.

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