How to Stay Faithful in Exile
Daniel – one of the Major Prophets written during the time of Judah’s captivity to the Babylonian Empire. The events of the book span approximately 70 years (605 – 530 B.C.) … from Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon) to Cyrus (Persia).
Daniel was a part of the first deportation (605 B.C.) while Jehoiakim was king of Judah. Jehoiakim, was a wicked king who rejected the Word of the Lord as spoken by Jeremiah sealing the fate of the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
There were three deportations: 605 B.C., 597 B.C., and 586 B.C.
The first six chapters are primarily (not entirely), historical, while the last six are prophetical, revealing the progression, rise and fall, of world empires (Babylonian, Medo/Persian, Grecian and Roman), and ultimately the Kingdom of God.
The events of Daniel take place in ancient Babylon, located in modern in Iraq, near the city of Baghdad.
Daniel may have been 20 years of age at the time of his deportation, and 90 years old during the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia.
Remember your true identity (Daniel 1:1-7).
Do not overlook verse two … Judah’s captivity is the work of God. What warning should we take from this passage?
The concern: How would the captives behave in a foreign land? Would they see their captivity as an opportunity (positive attitude) or a detriment (pessimistic attitude)? From the vantage point of Babylon, the Hebrews were captives; however, from the vantage of God, they were missionaries sent to share a witness …
How do you respond to adversity?
Note … God often allows suffering to grow the believer and to provide an opportunity for His goodness and glory to be on display.
Note the different ways the young men were subjected to “brain washing.”
They were isolated from their country and culture… How does this compare to someone leaving home and church to go to college or take a job.
They were indoctrinated (attempted to brainwash them)…. Think about how this compares to our present educational and political system
They were pressured to fit in… Children and youth are often ridiculed for their faith …We live in the world but not as the world
They were given new names in an effort to diminish their recollection of the past … an attempt to remove from their thought processes any consideration of Jehovah God.
Daniel (God is my Judge) to Belteshazzar (Refers to the Babylon god, Bel and means “May Bel protect his life.”)
Hananiah (The Lord is gracious) to Shadrach (Sumerian moon god).
Mishael (Who is like God) to Meshach (Who is what Aku, moon god, is?).
Azariah (The Lord helps) to Abednego (may mean “salvation of Aku, or servant of Nebo).
Note: As parents, and Christian teachers, we have a responsibility to engrain the truths of God into the minds and hearts of our children. See Proverbs 22:6.
Embrace the risk of holiness (Daniel 1:8-16)
Daniel and his friends were determined not to abandon their convictions or their commitment to God.
The king’s food may have been offered as a sacrifice to the Babylonian gods, or it may have been spiritually defiled (a food, according the Mosaic Law, inedible by Hebrews; defiled).
Note: Don’t wait till there is a problem to make a decision about your relationship with God … predetermine (make a commitment now!).
Again, note God’s intervention into Daniel’s situation (1:9). God was at work.
Reward requires a risk.
Faith untested is not faith…
Look for ways to testify to God’s grace (1:17-21).
God blessed their obedience (1:17); He rewarded their risk.
God honored the faith of Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego by placing them is positions of honor in a heathen kingdom from which they would honor Him.
Daniel would remain a testimony of the greatness of Jehovah God throughout the Babylonian and Medo/Persian Empires (1:21). Daniel’s faith in God and faithfulness to God gave testimony to the greatness of God for approximately 70 years.
Theological Theme: God is at work no matter the situation for His glory and our good.
Christological Theme: Just like all men, Christ was tempted, but did not sin, and was therefore capable of dying for mankind’s sin.
Missional Theme: Even in adverse situations, be a testimony of the goodness and greatness of God by remaining faithful to who you are in Christ Jesus.