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LEGACY OF FAITH IN BABYLON

Daniel 1:1-1:21
Key Verse: 1:8

Daniel was a young man who brought to the foreign country when Babylon invaded Judah in 605 BC. He started his life as a captive with a decision of faith. His life became a legacy of faith to the Israelites for thousands of years. His life is a spiritual legacy for us how to live a godly life in this ungodly world.

I. Daniel, a prisoner of war.(1-2)

The historical background of Daniel was the rising superpower Babylon. She made a military propaganda toward south west.

Look at verse 1. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” In spite of the continuous urge of God’s prophets Israelites refused to repent. Especially the kings of Judah did all kinds of evil thing. Jehoiakim was one of them Jehoiakim is known as the king who burned the scroll of God’s words. The prophet Jeremiah delivered him God’s words in a scroll but he burned it. Later on, because of that he died. He ignored God’s warning and was killed being thrown outside Jerusalem.

Some articles of the temple of God were taken to Babylon and placed before the Babylonian gods. It was a shocking event that God’s chosen covenant nation was conquered and the sacred vessels in the temple of God were defiled. Look at verse 2, “The Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…” Outwardly Judah was defeated in the war because she did not have enough power to overcome. But spiritually it was because of their sin-problems and God was behind. God was using Babylon as a training rod for his chosen people. It was God’s divine discipline for his covenant nation. The three times of Babylonian invasion left the nation destroyed and the temple of God ruined. Numerous people were carried to Babylon for the hard labor of the water tunnel construction. But God never gave up his chosen people. Later on Babylon was destroyed by Persians. But the people of God began to return to their own land and rebuild the temple of God.

II. Daniel’s decision of faith (3-16)

Look at verses 3,4. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.”

The king opened a special degree program in his loyal palace academy for the POWs. The level of qualification was very high. The background checkup had to prove that he had a royal blood. He had to be perfect physically and intellectually. The full scholarship was given and all other expenses were free. The job was guaranteed after the degree.

Look at verse 6a, “Among these were some from Judah…” Here we see that Nebuchadnezzar collected those young men from all his colonies and some were from Judah. The students were internationally chosen.

“Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaria. The chief official gave them new names: …” The first thing they did to the POW students was changing their names. The young men began to be called with the strange names which contained the Babylon idols.

Look at verse 5. “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table...”

The king gave the POWs a great favor that he provided the same quality food as his own table. In this way he wanted to gain the young men’s mind and show that he was a generous leader. The young men who were in vigorous age were to enjoy all kinds of delicious food. They were allowed even drinking wine.

Look at verse 8. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” The food gave troubles to the young men from Judah because the law of God did not allow the meat of the unclean animals. They could not eat folk chaps and Red Lobsters. Moreover the food was given after the idol rituals. So Daniel made a decision not to eat such food and not to drink such drink.

Usually boys don’t like vegetables. They are vigorous in energy and they like meats. (I know this because I have two boys.) Those young men could compromise saying “I like meats”.

But Daniel made a decision of faith to obey God’s word.

It was not easy to carry it out. First, his position did not allow it. Even though he was given a privilege he was a prisoner of war and a slave to Babylonians.

Second, if the things were getting wrong. He would lose everything. The opportunity for the educations, provisions, guaranteed jobs, and a happy family…

But Daniel overcame all his personal concerns and carried his faith out by asking the chief official for the permission.

Where did this courage come from?

First, his childhood faith must be affecting. The meaning of his name is “God has judged.” His parents must be godly people. He learned from his childhood that he had to obey God’s word.

Second, he had a strong identity as God’s people. Even though he was in Babylon, he remained as the believer of God.

Look at verse 9.”Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel…” Daniel’s decision was personal and small. But that decision brought God’s intervention into his life.

It looks like Daniel was all alone in this strange world. But the God of Israel was with him. If God was with him he did not need to fear of people. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us who can be against us?” Weymouth version says, “If God is on our side, who is there to appear against us?”

There was a story about a trust relationship. In an apartment a mother left a 4 year old boy for a quick shop at the grocery. There was a fire in the building. All the people of the building escaped but the boy did not know what to do with the fire alarm. The fire fighters found him at the balcony of the 5th floor. The smoldering smoke was behind him. They placed the air blanket on the ground and called the boy. “Boy, you have to jump. Jump right now.” But the boy looked at the ground but could not jump. All the fire fighters and policemen’s effort was of no use. Right then his mother arrived at the place and she called the boy’s name and said, “Mommy is here. You should jump. It’s safe. Jump!” Then the body who was looking at his mother jumped saving his life. The trust relationship enabled the boy to jump from the fifth floor.

May God help us to build up the trust relationship with God.

Look at verse 10, “but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head instead of you.”

There are always obstacles when we do right. But by God’s wisdom Daniel suggested the guard of the ‘10 days of testing period’. But the testing result was not certain. How can a person who eats broccolis and spinaches can have a better look than those who eats Kentucky chicken and cow ribs every day. After ten days what happened? Daniel and his four friends’ face were oily and their smile was beautiful with the white shiny teeth. But other boys looked weary and tired.

Here Daniel’s decision making faith gives us the spiritual lesson how to live in this fallen world. Our life is a continuous battleground against our own sinful nature. We see many famous people in the world who fall suddenly. The social position or the age do not matter. It was interesting to hear an interview the Navigator leader made with an old missionary in a remote country. He asked the missionary, “Tell me, when did you conquer the lust of your body?” The missionary said, “Oh Lord, I haven’t done yet”.

Thank God that our second-gen missionaries are building the Bible based value systems. Personally I thank God for Christopher that he began to learn what is right. May God help our family to build a legacy of faith and maintain the integrity of our life of faith.

There was a mission report from a man who was serving the prison ministry in America. He said that he met numerous Christian juvenile prisoners whenever he went. They came to the podium and shared their life testimonies. Everybody who attended there made tears hearing of their life stories. The amazing thing was that their body was full of piercings and tattoos. They were to stay in the prison for decades wasting their lives. He said, “How could the believing children be left like this without the proper teaching of the truth that they have to suffer like this” He blamed of the fathers who left the family. There are 2.5 million prisoners only in America and among them there are many children of God. We value the lesson of Daniel in this regard. Christian children should be taught how to live before God in the ungodly world. They have to be trained how to obey God’s word instead of the peer pressure.

III. God’s blessing on Daniel and his friends ( 17-21 )

Look at verse 18. “At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.”

After the three years of the royal academy, there was a graduation ceremony. The final mark was given by the king himself. The king brought the difficult questions and interviewed the students. And Daniel and his three friends were selected as the top four students.

What was the secret of their study? Verse 17 says God gave them the knowledge and understanding of all kinds of studies. The source of their excellence was in God.

How can we be excellent in every area? Verse 17 speaks.

Look at verse 20. “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

Wow ten times better than all others! We all need God’s blessing like this wherever we go. The Bible tells us when we live a life of faith that pleases him, God will bless us like this.

Ephesians 5:10 says, “… try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord!”

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of the knowledge”.

Conclusion:

The worldly influence comes to us like Babylon. And we need a personal faith like Daniel. We need to build the legacy of faith in order to keep our spiritual influence to our descendants. We see many famous people fall morally every day. The world is losing the standard of a moral life. May God help us to keep the integrity of our moral life and obey God and his word.

(Peter Moon)

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