Summary: We will examine what it tookDaniel and his three friends to thrive amidst difficult times.
Thriving or Surviving
Feb 5, 2012 Dan 1
What does it take to not merely survive, but to thrive amidst difficult times? That is the uncomfortable question that jumped out at me through the pages of Scripture this week, in a story that I am going to tell you in a moment.
See, we are in the midst of a difficult time, removed from our facility, after having only partial use since July. Uprooted. Some of our ministries, like our weekly Wednesday night ministry designed to move us into our community and world with the love of Jesus, are on hold completely. Others, like our ladies Bible study and our youth ministries and our weekly worship service are in temporary locations. While still others, like our mission team in Bolivia right now, continue on. Last week I spoke about a need to come together, in patience and love and strength, and hold tight together. This week, I felt God pushing a little further. What does it take to not merely survive, but to thrive?
The year is 605BC. The nation is in turmoil. Young King Jehoiakim, at 28 years old, is making a royal mess of things. Literally, he did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God. (2 Chronicles 36:5). The prophet Jeremiah has been warning, begging, pleading the people to return to God, to give up their wicked ways, to treat the poor with fairness and to worship the Lord alone. So have others, like the prophet Uriah, who was threatened, fled to Egypt, hunted down and then hauled back to King Jehoiakim who promptly had him killed by the sword and his body disrespected (Jeremiah 26:21-23).
Jehoiakim has not been playing nice with others. Including the powerful nations around him, he shifted his allegiance from one to another, and now the massive Babylonian army is marching towards Jerusalem.
But my story is not really about him.
Four young friends sat together in their comfortable homes near the palace. Around their father’s tables, the conversation always seems to turn to Jeremiah and his prophecies. Is he right? Would our God really betray us, and allow our enemies to conquer Jerusalem? Did God not make a covenant with us, to always protect and always fight for us, to establish us as a people forever? Did God not promise our Father Abraham that we would be as numerous as stars?
The debate continued among the four young men as they lay around the table, popping olives into their mouths and sipping their wine. Children of the nobles, they had an excellent education, training in diplomacy, understanding of peoples and government and how to run a country. They knew the stories of their people, and the stories of their God: Father Abraham, Moses and Pharoah, King David; these they knew inside and out. They enjoyed good food and wine, security, wealth. And the luxury to sit around and debate together, as the army of Babylonia marched closer. Which they did, day after day.
Soon the Babylonians arrived. Soldiers clashed, swords clanged and arrows zipped through the air, the King put up a fight, but not much of one. Blood was spilled, but victory was easy. For the Babylonians, that is.