Daniel was thrust into a challenging and ungodly environment in Babylon. But he thrived, physically and spiritually. It’s because he made one life-changing decision. This sermon describes that decision, and the model it sets for us to thrive in today’s culture.
Review: The king of Babylon had conquered Jerusalem. He took treasure and people to Babylon. Daniel, probably a teenager, was one of those people, and he was to be trained in the language and customs of a foreign, ungodly culture to serve the king.
Daniel was put into a position that forced him to make a number of decisions.
His first challenge: Don’t eat the king’s delicacies. Why? Might have been offered to idols, may have not been prepared according to Jewish dietary laws. The Scriptures don’t specify.
Imagine saying no to a powerful and brutal king! But Daniel made a life-changing decision: he resolved not to defile himself: Daniel 1:8
He said, put us to the test. He could do that because he clearly believed that obeying God would have its rewards.
What kinds of similar challenges do we face?
The question hanging over all these themes from Daniel is “How can we live successfully in a culture that is increasingly anti-Christian?”
Decide to not defile yourself.
This was the key to Daniel’s success and what kept him safe and focused.
Can we make a decision to go through life wanting to honor God in all our actions and making a stand to make sure you’re not defiled by anything if you can help it?
What might we have to give up to make that decision? Daniel gave up the possibility of advancement, and money, and influence. Who would you have to disappoint? What would have to stop? What would have to start?
Some of these things are personal and individual. But the question is “How can I honor God in this area” not, “How much can I get away with before it’s bad for me?” Movies and television, alcohol, books, parties, concerts, etc.
Proverbs 4 says this: Guard your heart…
Daniel’s life continued: The king had a dream that confused and troubled him. The magicians, astrologers, sorcerer and another group of those considered wise, couldn’t tell the king what the dream was. His response – kill them all! And that included Daniel and his friends
Daniel (note the pattern) went “with counsel and wisdom” to the captain of the king’s guard and asked him about the king’s order. Then he asked the king for more time. Daniel 2:17-18 – He went into serious prayer with his friends. Notice they didn’t talk about it and come to a conclusion. They prayed! Then God revealed the meaning of the dream to Daniel.
Daniel interpreted the dream, which was not only a powerful prophetic word about kingdoms that would rise and fall, but it made it clear that the current king’s kingdom was going to fall. Brave!
Many of us know the other two big stories. Daniel’s friends wouldn’t worship the gold statue of the king, and were thrown into the fiery furnace. But God delivered them. And the king gave glory to God.
Later, there was writing on the wall during a feast of the next ruler, Belshazzar. The usual interpreters couldn’t figure it out, so they called Daniel.
Sometimes we get rejected because we follow the Lord, only later to be sought out later because we have God in our lives.
Daniel’s last challenge was when the decree went out that anyone who petitioned another god or man other than the king for 30 days should be cast into a den of lions. So what does he do? He prayed with the windows open. He could have waited for a month. But he prayed. He refused to defile himself by not praying. Of course he lived, and the king gave glory to God.
By deciding to not defile himself, Daniel gave us his reputation, money, influence, power, and even, several times, a chance at life itself. What did he get in return? The same things!
How about you? Daniel was sent by God into that situation because He trusted him. What can God trust us with? We’re sent – every day! Into our neighborhoods, our workplace, our family events. Will you make that determination to not defile yourself? If you do, you’ll begin to thrive in this post-Christian world.