a stranger in this world, Bel, Daniel 1:1-8, exception to the rule, faith is non-negotiable, George Shultz, God is my judge, heaven, Jehovah, nebuchadnezzar king of babylon, no compromise, Secretary of State, the Lord is gracious, the Lord is my helper, Who Are You?, word curses
I like Daniel. He was a “good ole boy in a bad ole land.” He was one of only three people in the Bible in which no sin was ever mentioned in his life. I am not saying he was sinless, but he does provide a model for everyone to follow. He lived a life without compromise. Even though he was snatched away and coerced to live in exile, he did not compromise his beliefs. Many believers have their family, friends, and support groups, yet still struggle with compromise. Listen as the story of Daniel and his friends begins…
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 delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 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. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. Daniel 1:1-6
What you may not be able to grasp from simply reading this passage was the Babylonians tried in every possible way to strip these young Hebrew men from their identities. Their Hebrew names gave honor to Jehovah. Their new Babylonian names gave homage to Bel. Even though the young men were given names of pagan gods of Babylon they continued to live up to their Hebrew names.
- Daniel – (God is my judge) was called Belteshazzar (the secret of their God Bel),
- Hananiah – (the Lord has been gracious) was called Shadrach (the inspiration of the sun-god),
- Mishael – (The one who comes from God) was called Meshach (he who belongs to the goddess Sheshach.)
- Azariah – (The Lord is my helper) was renamed Abednego (servant of Nebo – the morning star).
Just because the world names you one thing, you don’t have to agree and live with those word curses. What negative words have people spoken to you? I’ll bet you can still hear those words. These names could have been hurtful, mean, and even spiteful. It doesn’t make any difference, unless you choose to believe it. Bottom line, the real believer lives as a stranger to this world. In one sense we are all like Daniel… we live in a strange land which doesn’t understand us.
When George Shultz, Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, interviewed newly appointed ambassadors, he told them to go to a large globe in his office. Shultz would test them. He would say, “You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country.” They would go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which they were being sent. He promptly would tell them, “You’re wrong!”
Shultz then would lecture them saying, “Never forget you’re over there in that country, but your country is the United States. You’re there to represent us. You are being sent to take care of our interests. Never forget it, because you’re representing the best country in the world.”
We must never forget where our home and our allegiances lie – Heaven. Daniel lived in a land that was hostile to his faith. His new bosses were some of the most powerful, ruthless, and egotistical kings in all ancient history…. to contradict these men could mean instant death. In fact, Daniel and his friends were threatened numerous times… but they never compromised. The book of Daniel is a record about how Daniel’s faith placed him in inconvenient and uncomfortable circumstances. Our faith will place us in similar situations. Like Daniel, God calls us to stand firm because our faith is “non-negotiable“.
What many believers see as an exception to the rules, these faithful men saw as non-negotiable. According to Daniel and his friends… it’s not the big decisions that determine the quality of your faith, it’s the little ones.
But Daniel (along with his three friends) resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and win, and he (Daniel) asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Daniel 1:8
Daniel and his friends were committed to living a life without compromise. Do you want to live a life without compromise? Like Daniel, there are several commitments you can make to assure your fidelity. The next few blogs I will spend some time talking about these types of commitments.