Life in Exile - Life for Eternity | In it, not of it | Daniel 1:1-21

September 18, 2022 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Life in Exile - Life for Eternity

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

09-18-2022

Life in Exile - Life for Eternity

In it, not of it

Daniel 1:1-21

Chris Rich

 

Life in Exile - Have you ever wondered how God interacts with our world? Maybe you’re
wondering how God interacts with your world. How should we understand and engage with our
world/culture? Does your job matter? How are you supposed to think about the evil you see?
How are you supposed to think about the beauty around you? Addressing questions like these,
the book of Daniel can help us understand our current cultural moment in history through
another moment in history...
God’s people are disorientated and discouraged. Israel has been ransacked. The temple
destroyed. The people of God are dispersed throughout the land, many of them enslaved to the
evil Babylonians responsible for the devastation of their homeland. Among the Israelite slaves is
a man named Daniel. Imagine the thoughts he must have had being led away from all he has
ever known into a corrupt and fallen nation: “What will life look like now?”, “How will I continue to
serve God?”, “What will become of God’s people and His promises?”.
In many ways we are in the same place; we are the people of God in a nation that is not our
nation. We are surrounded by people with other worldviews, ideologies, and religious views. At
times, it might even seem the world is slipping away from God’s promised coming Kingdom. We
need to navigate the tension of being both chosen and known by God AND far from home in a
foreign and hostile land. We are both honored and used by God while being shamed and
rejected by the world. We’re hurting and despairing; wrestling with life in a culture that is
opposed to Jesus. Outright persecution and martyrdom are not normative yet, storm clouds are
mounting on the horizon as marginalization and reviling increase. We need hope; reminders of
what is true, instructions for how to persevere, and encouragement to live with joy in all
circumstances. In the midst of great suffering, we are given a greater hope because we are not
alone. We have other Christians around us in our local church, our surrounding communities,
and other churches. We are part of a global church with people from every tribe, tongue, and
nation represented; each facing unique and universal challenges of remaining faithful and
unbroken in a broken world. Finally, and most importantly, we have Jesus as our chief shepherd
who loves, protects, provides, and leads us through the valley of suffering to eternal glory and
rest with Him. They struggle to maintain hope in the land of their conquerors. We need
endurance & encouragement in the face of suffering. We also need to know while God sustains
us in suffering, the source of our suffering is humanities’ collective, and our individual, rejection
of God’s authority over the world and our lives. While recounting specific events and unique

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dreams/visions, the Book of Daniel is able to give hope to all generations of God’s people
regardless of time, place, or circumstances. When we reject God, we become beastly. God’s
plan of redemption promises to conquer the beasts of this world and our hearts rescue us from
exile and renew us with right worship of Him.
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. Let’s get
started….
PART I | 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. 
Setting the Stage -. The first part is Life In Exile. These men play prominent roles in the
narratives and a lot will be gleaned from how they responded to the challenges they face.
However, life in exile includes God with us in our exile. The Bible is written for humanity, but
it is not ultimately a book about men and women, it is about God. He is the source of all life. 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 oversees world affairs and personally engages with His
people. Our biggest lesson here is not “be like Daniel and don’t be like the Babylonians”. Rather,
we should see How is God faithful to His people and how can/should we respond to life in exile.
We are all Exiles - 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 the world and with-it conflict began that
requires resolution. God who is holy, good, and perfect will not be defiled by sin. Where men
and women used to live in the garden paradise with God, because of sin we are all now exiled
from the garden. God is 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 into 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 say, “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 takes the city. With Jerusalem fallen no longer can

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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. Yet...
God is in control of 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? Neither, in Daniel
1:2 it says “the Lord” (the creator and owner of everything.) Even with all the items in the temple
God’s people used to worship taken and put in the “house” of Nebuchadnezzar, God will not 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 do
not just watch the movie, we read the book. 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 just Daniel and friends in exile;
it is God active in all situations.
United States of Babylon - There is God’s kingdom and there are the kingdoms of men. As
disciples of Jesus and citizens of God’s Kingdom we need to be able to clearly differentiate
between the two. In America, we are much more United States of Babylon, than 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 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. Babylon is not
good or neutral, we need to be aware of her influence and agenda.
PART II | 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.
Assimilation through Influencers - 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 goes 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

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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. Yet these young men will not have a lasting lineage. They are
eunuchs now. The exiled people’s hope of their future is now in 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 intentional consequence.
Worldview through Education- Grooming 101- They are to learn the language and the
literature of the Chaldeans. Chaldeans were the ruling/political class who was also very spiritual
in their practices of divination. 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. 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. As likely
Eunuchs even a key biological marker of their manhood 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? Who is your provider?

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PART III | Verse 8-16 | Resolved to Resist
Daniel 1:8-16 | 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.
But Daniel - 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.” Or go all in. Not everything is
profitable or even healthy. Daniel is not resigned to retreat or leading radical revolution, but is
Resolved. 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 “Religious Exemption” to live out my
convictions peacefully under the rule of the Babylonian law.
God gave favor, God gave better- The God who 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 risk that might
end his livelihood or his life. There so many people who live and function in Babylon not as “true
believers” but rather reluctantly out of fear of Babylon’s response for falling out of line. We can
and should be gracious and charitable to not assume motives or demonized people who simply
are trying to navigate the same challenges we face. We should reserve judgment but not wane
in resolve. 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.
PART IV | Verse 17-21 | Jesus the Better Daniel
Daniel 1:17-21 | 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

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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 out gives what Babylon tries to take – Third time God gives Here it isskill, 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, flourishing for themselves and others, all will
helping enduring faithfulness. For these disciples in exile, they 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. In doing so they display the truth
that God’s ways and wisdom a greater for everyone than Babylon’s foolishness. 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! Our study in the first half of the book of Daniel will look at how
Daniel and his friends live in exile as well. We’ll look at what this means for us living in exile
today and, most importantly, how Jesus leads us as the true Daniel; He who comes into a fallen
Kingdom and begins to bring in his own kingdom through obedient faithfulness to God the
Father. 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.

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