Summary: A 32 week journey through the Bible. Inspired by Randy Frazee and Max Lucado. A look at Daniel's faith.
The Story 18 - Daniel
February 20, 2011
Today, we’re going to look at the life of Daniel. He’s one of the OT prophets. His story is found in chapter 18 of the Story or in the book of Daniel in the OT.
Now, let me give you some of the setting where we are at.
We’ve been looking at the story of the divided kingdom of Israel. We’ve seen the northern kingdom and southern kingdoms both sent into exile. The people have been sent to a strange foreign land where nothing is familiar. The people, the language, the culture, the food, even the weather was different. Imagine that happening to you, not because you planned the trip, but because of your sin and the sin of your neighbors. On page 205 in the Story, we learn that the first people to be sent into exile are a group of young elite men who are going to be trained as leaders in the nation of Babylon. We find a description and their names in Daniel 1, the Bible says the 4 young men were without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.
Now to give you an idea of what these men might look like, I thought we’d show you a picture to help you.
PICTURE of PASTOR DOUG and MICHAEL
We’re introduced to 4 of these men. Their names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. After they were deported to Babylon, they were given Babylonian names, Daniel was called Belteshazzar; Hananiah was Shadrach; Mishael was Meshach; and Azariah was called Abednego. What great names. What would you want your Babylonian name to be? Personally I like Meshach, because they’d call me Shaq for short. And I’d name my kids ‘In-the-bed-you-go.’
Historians tell us these men, along with the other young men were probably only 16, 17 or 18 years old. Can you imagine what you were doing at that age. Being stripped from your home, taken from your family and friends, losing your dreams; and being taken to a foreign land.
I don’t you know if you know this, but their experience wasn’t very different than the experience of Christians. We can learn a lot from this story, because it’s a lot like our story. In the book of 1 Peter 1, Peter writes in verse 17 that we are foreigners in this world. Just like Daniel’s hometown was Jerusalem, the NT tells us the hometown of Christ followers is the New Jerusalem, which scripture tells us being constructed by Jesus, even as we speak, in John 14. It will be the center of community in the new earth to come. The Bible calls this our new hometown. This may be the first time you’ve heard that a city is being built for you called the New Jerusalem. And if you’re a follower of Christ, this is your hometown. It’s not Alexandria, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois; or anywhere inbetween. It’s the New Jerusalem.
Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 2:11 ~ 11 I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
We live in neighborhoods and we go to school and we go to work. We meet people who are not fully devoted to God. Most of the places we go to can safely be called “pagan places,” much like the place where Daniel and his friends were deposited. Jesus told us He wants followers to be in the world but not of the world. Peter gives us more instructions in this verse, telling us as followers of Christ we need to be careful not to get sucked into the lifestyle of the world and get brought down by that, and secondly, we need to live our lives in such a distinctive way that we point others to God because of our obedience to God.
So we approach chapter 18 of the Story with the question, what can we learn from Daniel and his friends which will help us live honorable lives for God in a foreign and pagan land? Or we could put it this way, ‘what can we learn from Daniel and his friends which will help us live out God’s agenda in the lower story of our lives.
There are a number of stories which unfold in the book of Daniel. I want to call your attention to a couple of the stories from Daniel; unbelievable stories, yet true. Young teens living out their faith with boldness. Still in chapter 1, we’re told that after arriving in Babylon, Daniel resolved not to defile himself by eating the royal food and royal wine. So he asked for permission to only eat vegetables and only to drink water. The guy who’s in charge is afraid of the king and he knows this type of diet will weaken Daniel and his friends. The king will be angry at the servant and have his head. So Daniel puts forth a 10 day challenge.