In it, not of it | Daniel 1:1-21

June 5, 2016 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: GOD in the Secular World | Daniel Part One

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Daniel 1:1–21

In it, not of it - Daniel 1 from Damascus Road Church on Vimeo.

Christopher Rich – June 5, 2015
GOD in the Secular World - The Book of Daniel Pt. 1
Wk1: In it, not of it | 1:1-21

Good Morning! This week we are beginning our new series on the book of Daniel. Daniel is broken up in two parts; the first 6 chapters focusing on the events in the life of Daniel and His friends Jewish exiles in the land of Babylon, the second part focusing on 4 visions Daniel has from God regarding his judgement, salvation and restoration of all things. The first part is GOD in the Secular World. It is not titled Daniel in Exile. These men play prominent roles and lots will be gleaned from how they responded to the challenges they face. However, while the Bible is written for men it is not ultimately a book about men but about God, His glory shown in the salvation of His people leading to great and lasting joy. Because this book is about God we will not settle on seeing the human characters as merely moral examples without looking past them to the God who is in charge of world affairs and personally engages with His people. So it’s not just be like Daniel and don’t be like…. we always want to have a God and Christ Centered theology.
Our goals for this series are the same for every series. That we would have the target of our affections, hope, and worship moved from the things of this world to the Creator of this world who reveals Himself through the scripture and most clearly in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. Additionally, as disciples of Jesus who are called to go into the world to make more disciples we do seek to faithful engage with a world opposed to the God of the Bible. We will learn much from these men in how to be faithful disciple who are both “in the world” but not “of the world.”
Verse 1-2 | Setting the Stage
Daniel 1:1-2 | In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.
Daniel is not a standalone book but is part of a greater story of God’s redemption of His people. From the beginning God made the world and all that was in it good. Through Man’s rejection of God’s law sin has entered into the world and with it conflict began that requires resolution. God holy, good, perfect, will not be defiled by sin. So where Men and women used to live in the garden paradise with God because of sin we are exiled from the Garden. God just, but God is also merciful and gracious. His exiled people are pursued by Him and a promise is made that God will end this conflict through victory over sin and evil. This promise is repeated and clarified in Genesis 12 and following where Abraham, then Isaac, and Jacob are told through them a great nation will rise and one will come who will bless all the nations of the world.
Generations come and go slavery, exodus, entrance in the Promised Land, Kings rise up (David) and a golden age follows. Surely this is what God has promised, let the good times roll forever! This was not to be, in a handful of generations the kingdom is divided, several more kings (some faithful, many not) rise and fall. Eventually you get to Jehoiakim who 2 Kings says “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and now nations around Israel/Judah who have been amassing at her boarders invade and take possession of the “Promised Land”. So here we are at 605 BC where the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar has encircled Jerusalem and eventually taken.
With Jerusalem fallen no longer can God’s people pretend there is not a real and active enemy in the world. Israel was to be the promised blessing of God to the nations of the world and now they are a defeated nation, a conquered land, and an exiled people. Hope looks dead and God looks absent.
God is in control over all things even when it doesn’t appear that His influence is growing the way we expect it or even when it appears His purposes in the world are being thwarted. We see this in victory of Babylon over King Jehoiakim. Who is credited with the victory? Was it Babylon’s great army, or Nebuchadnezzar’s great strategy and leadership? No it says in verse 2 “the Lord” (the creator and owner of everything.) Wait even with all the items in the temple God’s people used to worship the God taken and put in the “house” of Nebu’s god to be mocked? In the land of Shinar, ancient location of the tower of babel where humanity flexed her muscle and displayed her pride to God, yes even then God is in control. This is why we read the book and not just watch the movie. If we only see with eyes and watch what is happening in the world in History without listening to the words of God who is eternal we will miss big ideas, and easily become discouraged. This series is not Daniel and friends in the secular world; it is God active in the secular world. That means there is God’s kingdom and then there are the kingdoms of men. As disciple of Jesus and citizens of God’s Kingdom we need to be able to clearly differentiate the two. Can we stop pretending that Team America is on Team Jesus? We are much more United States of Babylon that we are a new Israel. God’s people are not defined any longer by national, political, or ethnic lines as they are in the old testament by their allegiance to Christ and His work in their place. However, as we’ll see in Daniel we are still in a world opposed to God who seeks to conform us to its image over His image.
Verse 3-7 | Assimilation, Resistance is Futile
Daniel 1:3-7 | 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
Israel conquered; Babylon’s plan to rule over God’s people is not through heavy handed dictation but by attractive seduction. There is an attempted assimilation to the world opposed to/absent from the God of the Bible and it’s is incredibly systematic, intentional, and effective. Babylon go right at the children of those of with influence over God’s people. Rather than an all-out assault declaring the new world order in bold colors they hope to take the next generation of leaders assimilate them to make them good patriotic Babylonians who will either go back to Israel to lead or remain in Babylon to serve. They took the cream of the crop. These are the attractive, the gifted, the talented, those who would have the ability to wield the most influence and who others would desire to emulate. They are taken from their families and their community and then placed in the best boarding school run by the King’s chief eunuch. Apart from worshiping the God of the Bible this would actually be pretty desirous if you could get your kids into this program. Here it is an exiled people’s hope of their future put into subjugation and service of the people who are oppressing them. Mom and dad have no more access or influence over their children during the formative part of their lives, the community of God’s people will not be able to pass on their culture, history, or their worship of God. This is an intended consequence by the Babylonians.
Worldview through Education- They’re going to learn the language and the literature of the Chaldeans. Caldeans were the ruling/political class who was also very spiritual in their practices of divination, witch craft. So these guys are at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government combined with the Harry Potter School of sorcery. Babylon is telling them you need to see and speak about the world the way we do. You need to interact with spiritually the way we prescribe, not following the God of the bible but our Babylonian Gods. You will drink deeply of our popular culture and it will shape how you see the world, what is good and what is not. Culture has a powerful ability to shape worldview, and our popular culture is constantly preaching what it values even at a young age. #GiveElsaAGirlfriend as a trending topic this past month is a clear reminder of where we are. Three years would be long enough to break down whatever influences they may have previously had. We’ve all had a lifetime of learning from the culture of our world. What are you learning from? How are you being educated? What influences your worldview?

Identity through Name- At registration of the Babylonian finishing school each one is given a new name. This is not insignificant. In these cultures names corresponded to your identity. Your identity is tied to where your hope is. When you believe something about yourself you place your hope in what you believe you should. Daniel (God is my Judge) >Belteshazzar (may Bal protect me.) Azariah (Yah is my help) > Abednego (Servant of Nabu) Rather than look to my God for help/guidance in life, I am now created to serve this other god. Hananiah (Yah has been gracious) and Mishael (Who is what God is?) become Shadrach and Meshach again homages to Babylonian gods. This would be like a Matthew becoming a Mohammed. It is possible they were even made eunuchs (not known) in which case even the biological reality of them being men would have been eliminated. What is your identity? Where do you derive if from? What is able to change or undermine your sense of identity?
Allegiance through Appetite – You don’t bit the hands that feed you, in fact it become where your loyalty is placed. We will feed you, we will give you good food from the King’s table. Food sacrificed first to the Babylonian Gods you will know who your provider is. Your provider is who you pledge allegiance too. Your provider helps shape your appetite. We all get hunger and eventually we’ll eat what is given us. Unlike POWs who are feed scraps of garbage this is a royal banquet of the best food and drink the world had to offer served daily. It’s much more like a college football training table than prison food line. What is your appetite for? What do you crave? What is it that feeds and satisfies you?
The purpose of all this is not to avoid education or abstain from food; but to recognize their intended effect.
Verse 8-16 | Resolved to Resist
8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
There is wide and unquestioned adoption by the youth of Babylon’s assimilation plan by many to simply live out “if you can’t beat them, join them.” However, there is an alternative response by one to Babylon’s assimilation plan. But Daniel- Not resigned retreat or radical revolution, but resolution I will not be defiled. Daniel respectfully appeals to the highest authority he had access to. Let me see if I can get a special dispensation to live out my convictions peacefully under the rule of the Babylonian law.
God gave favor, God gave better- The same God that gave Jerusalem to Babylon also gave favor to and compassion for Daniel with Ashpenaz. He is for Daniel but he fears the king of the world. He would like to help where there are no consequences but he is not willing to act in a way risk that might end his livelihood or his life. But Daniel is “resolved” meaning he won’t give up when he meets some initial resistance. He redirects his efforts to the person directly responsible for their food and proposes a test. (Not whole thirty, but vegie 10). He discerns wisely his steward functions on pragmatism over principal, just do what works. The test proceeds and the results are overwhelmingly clear; Daniel and his friends appear much healthier. Only God can claim the credit for their appearance based on that diet in 10 days. In Daniel’s plan what he has done is shifted where the credit and glory will be found whatever worldly success he enjoys.
Verse 17-21 | Jesus the Better Daniel
17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.
God gave them skill, knowledge, wisdom, giftings so that when they stood before the King they stood out among all the others. God given giftings can lead to favor in the world. For these disciple in exile this will become both source of blessing to themselves, those around them, but also great responsibility and trials. They serve and engage with the world while remaining “undefiled” by it. Providing a model God’s people are resolved because they haven’t forgotten their true identity and where their allegiance lies. Daniel and their friends are still referred to in Chapter 1 by their “God-given/honoring” names. Disciples in exile don’t forget your true and primary identity regardless of what the world calls you.
As this chapters closes Daniel enjoys tremendous influence and impact in the world for nearly 70 years!! Jesus is the better Daniel He experiences a greater exile and lived out a greater faithfulness. He didn’t go from second rate kingdom to super power elite. He went from the throne room of Heaven to the poorest of the poor. Jesus was an exile with a mission and a purpose to display God’s love to a secular world who is perishing without Him. John 3:16-17 | 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
As disciples of Jesus we are also exiles from our home on a mission to point people to hope in Jesus alone.
Phil 3:20 | 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, This means we are not waiting for our moment before the kings and rulers of the world to give us their approval and applause but Because Jesus is the better Daniel in our place we can live lives engaging our world like Daniel when we Trust Jesus.

More in GOD in the Secular World | Daniel Part One

July 10, 2016

Dan in the Den | Daniel 6:1-29

July 3, 2016

Writing on the Wall | Daniel 5:1-31

June 26, 2016

Pride of Man | Daniel 4:1-37