Summary: These four young Jewish men were given an opportunity to remain unique or go with the flow. And God used them mightily because they remained true to their principles.
Passage: Daniel 1:1-21
Intro: Every people, every nation, every person is faced with the same choices.
1. same choice that Adam and Eve had.
2. to listen to God and obey Him, or to listen to the liar.
3. circumstances are typically a part of that choice.
4. “what has God done for me lately?” can cause a person who has believed to change allegiance.
5. The Book of Daniel is filled with stories about this choice.
6. and at the end of Daniel, the picture of God gets huge
7. but let’s start here in chapter 1 with a very practical, seemingly insignificant event.
8. this sets the stage for the rest of the book
9. first half, not just Daniel, but four young Jewish men who believed God
I. They Had Plenty of Reasons to Switch Sides
1. things were falling apart in the once mighty Jewish nation.
2. from the glory of David’s reign, more than 400 years had passed, and now the nation was in shambles.
PP OT timeline
3. the northern kingdom had gone into exile in 722 b.c., and the southern kingdom of Judah has lasted another 117 years until the first exile to Babylon
4. so for these four exiles, it would be easy to conclude that God was finished with Israel.
5. and so we find them here in 605 b.c., in the land of Babylon, where God had sent them. V2
6. and not only them, but some articles from the Temple.
7. the Babylonians gods had defeated Yahweh, and taken His belongings!
8. and then, an opportunity came to these slaves.
9. they were chosen to be part of an elite group that would be welcomed into Babylonian culture
10. they would learn language and literature, eat the best food, be part of the royal court!
11. when we compare what they were being offered to what they had, the choice was obvious.
PP they could become part of the winning team.
-they could have the best food in the world, prepared by pros, without being involved in prep or cleanup
-they could become part of the ruling elite
-they would get a free education
12. all they had to do was become Babylonians in every sense of the word.
13. they just had to “fit in”, to lay aside their uniqueness.
14. and after all, God was clearly done with them, had forgotten them.
15. I’m glad there were four of them
16. don’t miss this application! We encourage each other to stand with God.
17. they stood strong because they believed God was true to His promises.
18. circumstances indicated God had forsaken them forever, but promises told a different story.
19. and now their actions would reveal the foundations of their lives.
20. there will always be opportunities to compromise. How will we respond?
21. these four young men looked at their circumstances and …
II. They Clung to Their Unique Identity
1. when we analyze the plan of the Babylonians, we recognize a kindly form of brain-washing
2. purpose is to replace the old identity and belief system with a new one.
3. “you are not who you were, but are who we say you are.”
Il) “you’re in the army now!!”
4. vv6-7, get rid of the old God-honoring Jewish names (El, Jah) and replace with names that honored the Babylonian gods; Marduk, Aku, Nabu
5. teach them the glories of the language and literature of Babylon
6. interesting that there seems to be no resistance to learning, name changes.
7. but the food was a problem. Why?
8. first, food is the subject of very clear commandments from God.
9. of everything in this curriculum, only the food (at this point) was prohibited.
10. 2nd, you can filter corrupt learning through the filter of God’s Word, but there is no filter for food once it is swallowed.
11. this was part of their uniqueness, and they chose to honor God thru obedience.
12. yet notice how respectfully! Proposed a test that would glorify God, give God an opportunity to display wisdom.
Il) remember, this was almost 2500 years before the discovery of bacteria as a health problem by Louis Pasteur
13. but God knew all about them and the disease they bore, so He set up laws to protect His people.
14. and these four guys believed Him!
15. they chose to honor God in the face of the kings wishes! A king that could kill them!
Il) Eric Liddel did the same thing at the 1924 Olmpics in Paris. Refused to run a 100 meter heat (best race) on Sunday, so had to run the 400.
16. he clung to what made him unique, to honor God.
17. this leaves the results to God.