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How to Live in Babylon – Daniel 1

    How to Live in Babylon

    This has been an interesting month. Many organizations changed their logos to show their support for the gay-lesbian movement, and other companies declared their commitment to pay for employees to travel to other states in order to receive an abortion. Working in the secular world for a Christian is no longer just an internal battle about giving so much of your time and effort to build a profit; now there is a blatant battle of building a platform to promote things contrary to our beliefs.

    I have worked in both in secular and ministry. During my time in the for-profit arena, I felt called into that world, as if God wanted me to be a light to people who may never enter a church. I’ve had bosses that tried to shame me to get more work from me and others who offered me an apartment where I could spend time away from my family. They seemed to be confused when I didn’t respond the way they expected. At times I felt like an odd-man out, but I never felt in direct conflict to my beliefs.

    Now as I look across the business landscape, I question whether I could ever go back to that world.

    Daniel Worked for Babylon

    Daniel is a good character to study in these times. He was taken captive from his home and bought to a pagan land to be an advisor to the enemy. They castrated him and his friends and trained them in the ways of their new world. Their success would be determined by the success they brought this empire that didn’t share their same values.

    It was in this environment that Daniel and his friends succeeded. He not only lived in these conditions, but he thrived.

    I think this is important for us to investigate to see how we may succeed in the places God sends us.

    • How did Daniel live that led to his success in Babylon?
    • How did he not become corrupted by his surroundings?
    • What things could Daniel compromise on and what could he not?
    • Where did he find his ability to persevere?

    Where Did Daniel Find His Ability to Persevere?

    I want to start first with this question because it should help us answer the other questions. We know that Daniel had a habit of praying three times a day (Daniel 6:10). He also went to his friends in times of trouble to contend with him before God (Daniel 2:17-18). We also know he knew the Scriptures. It is not clear how often he studied them, but he petitioned the Lord on behalf of his understanding of Scriptures (Daniel 9:2).

    I think these three things were essential to Daniel persisting where he was planted. He knew the heart and ways of God through reading God’s word and through consistent times with God in prayer. And, he had fellow followers of God he could lean on for encouragement and support. We would do well to follow Daniel’s example.

    Daniel's Example of How to Persevere:
       1. Maintain regular times with God.
       2. Maintain friendship with people who also follow God.
       3. Study God's word.

    What Things Could Daniel Compromise On And What Could He Not?

    Although we still know him by his Hebrew name, Daniel allowed his name to be changed to Belteshazzar, Bel protects his life. This change was to an encouragement to forget his heritage and his God, so he could assimilate into Babylon.

    Daniel also performed his duties as an advisor to the king with great success. This is the same kingdom that conquered Israel and took off with the articles dedicated to God from the temple. His disobedience to the edicts of the king were when they were in direct conflict with Daniel’s allegiance to God.

    Daniel also made a decision with his friends to not eat meat or drink wine. While the Jews were not to eat certain meat (as in pork), there where some meat that was fine. Daniel decided to make a stand here to be different and separate from the other young men in training. God delighted in this stand and gave Daniel and his friends knowledge and understanding (Daniel 1:16-17).

    How Did Daniel Not Become Corrupted By His Surroundings?

    This answer will be just conjecture. However, I believe that Daniel’s decision to not eat meat or drink wine was a constant reminder of him being set apart. It kept his desire to be set apart at the forefront of his mind.

    I recently heard an interview of Ben Shapiro. He was asked how he was able to remain respectful of people’s questions to him at public venues when he was being attacked. Mr. Shapiro is a fervent Jewish man and always wears a yarmulke on his head. He responded that having the yarmulke on was a help to him being polite. He said he often has quick snarky responses in his head, but he would then think would that comment be honoring to God with him identifying as a Jew.

    I feel this is similar to Daniel. Daniel had made a point that he would eat differently than the rest because of his commitment to God. Therefore everyone knew his commitment and this act of going against the Babylonian customs could very well have kept his other actions in check.

    How Did Daniel Live That Led to His Success in Babylon?

    Daniel rose to be ten times better than all the other advisors in Babylon (Daniel 1:20). It is a significant achievement, but the Bible is clear that God granted Daniel and his friends knowledge and understanding (Daniel 1:17). But, why?

    The story reads as if God honors Daniel’s decision to be set apart for God by giving him special favor. He represents that God rewards those that earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

    How Then Are We to Live in Babylon?

    First of all, spend time with God in prayer and reading the Bible. We should always do this, but when we are surrounded by other believers, we generally are supported to follow after God. In Babylon, we are desperate for His encouragement and life. Making specific time commitments to spend with God creates habits that can sustain us when life in Babylon gets hard.

    Secondly, find support of other believers. Obviously finding people in your Babylon helps exceedingly. They know your struggles, share your struggles, and can together point you to your hope in Christ.

    Finally, pray through where you need to make a stand, where you can compromise, and how to maintain a Christ-like lifestyle. Talk this through with your friends and figure how these decisions play out. Give it over to God as your act of worship.

    May you thrive wherever God plants you.

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