Summary: So we can learn to live as citizens of heaven and resident aliens, in God’s broken and beloved world. What does this look like?
Major Themes: Our Sovereign God, Servant Calling and Certain Hope
I. Why Study the Book of Daniel?
A: So we can learn to live as citizens of heaven and resident aliens, in God’s broken and beloved world. What does this look like?
[Read Daniel 1:1-21]
What do we see as the Book of Daniel begins? God is Sovereign: He is in control of Babylon’s King, Nebuchadnezzar… Judah’s King, Jehoiakim… Israel’s Temple treasures… the people of God… the chief of Eunuchs… learning, skill and wisdom… and the whole Babylonian Captivity. This is HIS Story!
II. Becoming a better Babylonian than the Babylonians!
Notice the two plans and strategies at work as the Book of Daniel begins…
1. Nebuchadnezzar’s strategy for assimilating God’s people into Babylonian culture: Start with the “best and brightest” leaders, then capture them through…
· The Temptation of privilege and power… “standing in the King’s palace”
· The Seduction of the “good life”… consuming the King’s food and wine;
· The Enculturation of new names… Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego;
· The Indoctrination in Chaldean literature and language.
2. God’s strategy for revealing his glory and grace to the Babylonians:
· Gifting his sons and daughters with great competencies to serve and excel in every cultural endeavor;
· Grounding his sons and daughters in His Story, grace, wisdom and discipline;
· Placing his sons and daughters throughout the world, and in every sphere of society and cultural life;
· Providing the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish his purposes.
III. Five Ways Christians Relate to the “Majority” Culture
1. Over-adaptations to the Prevailing Culture
• THE “UN-CULTURE” – The “Accomodationist” or “Immigrant” Model
• THE “SUB-CULTURE” – “Privatization” or “Oreo” Model
2. Under-engagement with the Prevailing Culture
• THE “ANTI-CULTURE” (Psalm 137) “Ghettoization and/or Militancy”
• THE “PARA-CULTURE” (Jeremiah 28) “Revivalist” or “Tourist” Model
3. The Third Way… the Way of the Gospel of the Kingdom (!!!)
• THE “COUNTER-CULTURE” – (Jeremiah 29) “Engagement” or “Resident Alien” or “Colony of Heaven” or “Ambassador” Model (Daniel, Esther and Joseph are great example of this way of life)
“Perhaps the best analogy to describe all this is that of a model home. We are God’s demonstration community of the rule of Christ in the (unbelieving) city. On a tract of earth’s land, purchased with the blood of Christ, Jesus the kingdom developer has begun building new housing. As a sample of what will be, he has erected a model home of what will eventually fill the urban neighborhood. He now invites the … world into that model home to take a look at what will be. The church is the occupant of that model home, inviting neighbors into its open door to Christ. Evangelism is when the signs are up, saying ‘Come in and look around’ … As citizens of, not survivalists in, this new city within the old city, we see our ownership as the gift of Jesus the Builder (Luke 17:20-21). As residents, not pilgrims, we await the kingdom coming when the Lord returns from his distant country (Luke 19:12). The land is already his… in this model home we live out our new lifestyle as citizens of the heavenly city that one day will come. We do not abandon our jobs or desert the city that is… We are to ‘seek the peace and prosperity of the city’ to which God called us in exile (Jer. 29:7). And our agenda of concerns that seeking becomes as large as the cities where our divine development tracts are found.” (Harvie Conn – Planting and Growing Urban Churches)
Think about it! How does Daniel serve as a model for us as we think about living to God’s glory in our pagan culture? What is involved in setting our hearts “not to be defiled?” Why is this impossible to do apart from the truth and power of the gospel of God’s?