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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's ReadingIn our reading from Psalm 89, we find the powerful promises which Yahweh made to David. Yahweh promised to sustain, amidst his enemies. He would prosper David and keep him. From David's end, Yahweh desired for him to stand faithful, no matter what. This perspective of David, his faithfulness to Yahweh, and the trials of being surrounded by enemies, reminds me of Daniel in Babylon.
For all of us who love and follow Yahweh today, we have many points of inspiration and encouragements from both Daniel and David. We live in modern Babylon. And just as Daniel stood faithful amidst the pressures of Babylon, we too are empowered to be true to Yahweh while living in a culture that is saturated with Babylon.
Let's take a moment to consider what it means to stand faithful amidst the paganism and pressures of Babylon, by looking at the life and example of Daniel. This beautiful perspective on the life of Daniel is found in the Benham brothers' book, Living Among Lions: How to Thrive Like Daniel in Today's Babylon.
Daniel, whose name means "God is my judge," was likely a teenager when he was taken captive to Babylon. The southern kingdom of Judah - like the northern kingdom of Israel before it - had sinned against God and fallen under His judgment. After years of continued rebellion, even though God had sent prophets to warm them and encourage their repentance, the people continued in their depravity. So God raised up an enemy to defeat them and remove them from the Land of Promise.
The king of Babylon took many Jews into exile, choosing the "best of the best" to train and then serve in his court. Four of them were young men named Daniel (renamed Belteshazzar) and his three friends - Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego). They were from the royal bloodline and had mad-crazy wisdom and skills. They were the millennial rock stars of their day.
Upon arriving in Babylon, they were taken into the king's court for three years to be indoctrinated into their new culture. They would be served the finest food and wine available. Every day would be an all-you-can-eat buffet from the best five-star chefs in the region. Daniel and his buddies lived in the lap of luxury, treated with privilege and surrounded by the brightest and most beautiful people in the "Hollywood" of their day. Surely the temptation to melt into their new, pagan culture was present on many levels (Daniel 1:3-7).
But right out of the gate, these guys kept their form... Though they mixed in - learning the nation's history, principles, and language; respecting its government as much as possible; and versing themselves in all things Babylonian - Daniel and his friends still refused to blend in. They distinctly remained God's men (Daniel 1:8-17).
This concept of mixing without melting reminds us of a quote most often attributed to Thomas Jefferson but that is really of unknown origin: "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."...
At the time of Daniel's deportation in 605 BC, Babylon was the most powerful empire in the world - the cultural center for art and industry, creating great wealth and luxury for its citizens. This environment, coupled with blatant idolatry and fascination with the occult, created the perfect storm of sin and rebellion among its people.
...We googled phrases related to "comparing America to Babylon" and got almost twenty million results! Although there are major differences between America and Babylon, there are some alarming similarities: wealth, world influence, natural beauty, sexual promiscuity, increasing paganism, and more. So, if Daniel could live faithfully there, we can do it here.
During their three years of training, Daniel and his friends were fully indoctrinated into Babylonian culture, one that did not and would not honor their God. Persecution in those days wasn't a rude tweet or a mean Facebook post but actual, straight-up, cold-blooded execution.
These four young men knew God. They had studied the Law and the prophets and knew the Scriptures well. They were familiar with the Psalms, including the passage in which King David wrote:
I am surrounded by lions;
I lie down with those who devour men.Their teeth are spears and arrows;Their tongues are sharp swords (Psalm 57:4 HCSB)
David's God was their God. They were going to live faithfully just as David did before them, even among the lions...And because Daniel didn't conform, but stood faithful, the king of Babylon - and the pagan culture - encountered the true God through God's man. Because Daniel himself was transformed, he was able to transform his world!
So whatever you're facing today, remember what God can do through one submitted life. Can one person really make a difference in a world as pagan as ours? Yes! As Daniel demonstrated, Babylon can be transformed by the power of Yahweh in one fully submitted, completely Spirit-filled life! Won't you be that one?