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Being Godly in A Godless World

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Daniel 1:1–20 ESV
1 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 gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
The title of my message today is “Being godly in a godless world”.
The book of Daniel is a story of a man’s faithfulness through a time of judgement.
To the Jews it was a dire punishment because:
they were removed from the land originally given to them by God
they are forced to
Daniel, like many of the young people in America today, was born in a time when his nation had turned its back on the Lord and were serving false gods and living godless lives. The nation has been warned by God through the Prophet Jeremiah to repent and return to the Lord or face severe judgment at the hands of the Babylonian Armies and for 40 years he was faithful to his heavenly calling.
After several years, this prophecy came true, the Babylonian army came and destroyed Jerusalem and took their people into captivity.
About 22 years into Jeremiah’s ministry, King Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Army made their first of three raids on the Nation of Judah. During this first raid Nebuchadnezzar captured several of the choice people and youth of the nation and took them as captives back to Babylon. Many of these would become menial slaves in the kingdom, but some of the choicest of the young men were put through 3 years of higher Babylonian Education in which the students would have any and all of their past religious faith and loyalties erased from their hearts and minds and replaced with the faith of the false gods of the land, as well as learning the necessary subjects needed to be an administrator in the Kingdom. With this new faith also came the demand for a new and complete loyalty to the King and His Government as supreme. Once their training was completed they would then be ready to take their place as equipped and trusted servants in Nebuchadnezzar’s Kingdom.
Daniel was among those that were taken to Babylonian during the first wave of the Babylonian invasion. (Call Reuben)
Daniel, among with three of his friends, were snatched out of their families and their country and taken to a foreign land.
Four of these youths were Daniel and the famous three Hebrew children. Daniel and his companions were probably around the age of 15 or 16 years old when taken captive, making them born about 6 or 7 years after Jeremiah began his ministry to Judah. Of these four, Daniel becomes the most prominent, [, ] and the greatest example of how we as Christians are to live for Jesus as Strangers in a Foreign Land.
[, ] and the greatest example of how we as Christians are to live for Jesus as Strangers in a Foreign Land.
America today, like Jerusalem of Daniel’s day, has forsaken the Lord and is now facing the similar fate as did Jerusalem. Like Daniel, our young people are faced with a different America than their parents grew up in. America today is Babylon to our young people. The powers that be are trying to remove the Lord from the minds and hearts of a generation and bring them into servitude to Satan and his kingdom.
How do Christians survive and remain strong in the faith while living in Babylon?
Maybe no greater model exists today for our young people who seek to be true to Jesus in a godless world, than Daniel.
My prayer is that we, especially our young people will become like Daniel to remain godly in a godless world.
How did Daniel remain godly in a godless world?
Three key words:
The very first thing we see as we look at the life of Daniel is the challenges that he faced as a youth, a youth that was a believer desiring to live for the Lord. Every youth faces many challenges, but none as much as those youth, who like Daniel, desire to be loyal to their Lord in the midst of a godless generation. Daniel faced four particular challenges in his day.How do Christians survive and remain strong in the faith while living in Babylon?
Resolve, Remain, Rely
Daniel resolved to keep the faith
Young Daniel and his friends faced great challenges when they arrived in Babylon. They were immediately subjected to brainwashing and indoctrination into the teachings of a foreign land. They were forced to embrace a totally pagan culture and worst they were stripped of their identity and heritage.
Even their Jewish names were changed to pagan names in honor of foreign gods.
To remain faithful to God, Daniel had to resist the lure to adapt the pagan teachings and the tide of ungodliness. He had to make a resolve to remain faithful to God.
Young people of today live in such a world. They are subjected to pressure from the culture to accept a worldview that is totally opposed to Christianity.
America has changed dramatically from the god-fearing nation that it used to be. It has become a modern-day Babylon where its people not only have turned against God but also turned to the worship of idols.
America’s change from being godly nation to a godless, pagan society came gradually, and is an orchestration of the devil himself.
One of the devil’s major moves is the removal of the Bible and prayer in our public school system. They were replaced by doctrines of humanism and secularism.
Abraham Lincoln once said:
“The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next.” - Abraham Lincoln
That is exactly what is happening in America today, the same people who are raised in schools without prayer and the Bible are now the ones removing them in the rest of society.
Like Daniel, young people, you have to strongly choose to keep the faith. Satan’s work is very subtle. He does not need to make you believe that right is wrong, all he needs to do is make you accept that wrong is right.
Are there things that you see in social media, in your video games that you know are evil, the cussing, the bloody killings, the sexual innuendos???
Some of you say, no I am not affected by all of that, my faith is firm.
That is exactly the issue Satan has desensitized you from all these things, and that is all he needs to do.
If Satan is successful in desensitizing you from what is evil his next step is to remove your appetite for what is good.
Before you know it you will have no interest in reading the Bible and prayer...
For Daniel, it may seem a small battle. His challenge was should he eat the King’s choice food and drink from his wine? You may think, that is a small matter, food should not really corrupt, right?
But to Daniel, if something means disobedience to God and His commandments He willed himself not to do it. He resolved to follow God and besides, these food that he was being told to eat was food offered to idols. Daniel will have none of that!
Young people - dare to be a Daniel!
2. Daniel remained in his allegiance.
In refusing to obey the pagan king’s requirement to eat of the food from his table Daniel drew the line in the sand and made a bold declaration that “my loyalty is to God”!
Daniel did not rebel but neither did he compromise.
Daniel did not compromise.
Who are we loyal to when we go out to our workplaces and businesses?
A lot of times it is so easy to behave differently when your faith is being challenged.
Those of you in corporate America, are you forced to embrace and even champion a policy that runs counter to your deeply cherished values?
Are you forced to support a policy in favor of a lifestyle that the Bible clearly teaches as sin?
The response to these questions will reveal to whom you are ascribing your loyalty.
Colossians 3:23 ESV
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Pastor Ramon, are you telling us to risk losing our job?
I believe that the Lord’s favor are on those who choose to honor Him before men.
Rejecting ungodly policies in the workplace does not mean you go on a passive resistance and do nothing, actively apply godly principles in the workplace.
Daniel did not compromise.
In refusing to eat the pagan king’s delicacies, Daniel did not go on a hunger strike or secretly heated his kosher sandwich in a microwave and ate it, he openly declared his loyalty to God by challenging the king’s Eunuch, he said:
Daniel 1:12–16 ESV
12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
Test us, just let us eat vegetables and drink only water and after 10 days compare us with those who eat the king’s food, you will see who looks better and healthier.
Honor the Lord by your godly behavior. The Bible says people can be won over “even without words”.
There is reward in not compromising your faith even at the risk of losing your job.
Actually, God will stand by your side.
He did for Daniel and his friends. You will see later in his story..
By not bowing down to a false god, Daniel’s friends were thrown into a fiery furnace and God stood with them in the fire and they were not burned.
By choosing to openly pray to God faithfully even though it was against the law, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, but God closed the mouths of the lions and Daniel was not hurt.
Brothers and sisters, you will not be alone when because you stood for God you are thrown into the fiery furnace or the lion’s den. God will remain by your side!
In reality, if your mindset is that “God is your employer and not men, you will not even think of the risk”. The Lord’s favor will be on you. If you lose your job or you lost that business deal because you stood true to the Lord and His word something greater is coming your way.
God is your true employer. He will provide for you and your family.
3. Daniel relied on God’s sovereignty.
Do you know how long Daniel was in Babylon? He was there for almost 70 years.
For the time he was there, he did not choose to rebel and lead a fight for freedom, actually he waited on the Lord and trusted His word that God’s people will remain in captivity for 70 years, and he remained in the will of God.
Daniel 9:2 ESV
2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
Daniel knew that being captive in a foreign land for 70 years or more is God’s will for him. He trusted the Lord.
But he did not sit idly by.
He performed his work diligently even for a foreign government, God gave him all the gifts that he needed even to bless a foreign ruler.
Twice he interpreted the King’s dreams.
He gave good advice to both the Babylonian and Persian rulers. He remained faithful even working in the courts of foreign and pagan palaces.
God used him mightily, he wrote one of the greatest books on prophecy that even now Bible scholars are so amazed by its accuracy. A lot of what Daniel wrote was fulfilled hundreds of years later. These scholars even had to conclude that Daniel must have been written after the historical events because of its accuracy.
But we believe that it was the spirit of the living God that revealed these things to Daniel. He didn’t stop at prophesying about events that took place hundreds of years later (the rise of Persia, Greece, Alexander the great, the first antichrist, the roman empire) he even prophesied about the coming, death and ascension of Jesus the Messiah, then he foretold of future events that have not yet taken place.
Daniel also ministered to the known world of that time. He used the knowledge that he acquired even a foreign language to reach out to many. Aramaic was the common language at that time and he wrote parts of his book in that language.
For us who were born in a foreign land and brought here to the US, we are not called only to reach out only to our own people, reach out and minister to people in the land that God has brought you even in a foreign language. That is exactly what Daniel did.
Daniel allowed himself to be used by God. For us who were born in a foreign country
Be Daniels in a foreign land!
The lesson here is that even when you think you are in a dark and godless place, God can use you to shine His light if you remain in His will.
Daniel’s story did not end there. I believe that God used him for the final liberation of God’s people. When Daniel interpreted the literal “handwriting on the wall” which resulted in the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Persian empire. Daniel knew that according to God’s word in Isaiah, that when the 70 years are over, God will raise a man named Cyrus that will be used to bless God’s people again.
That was exactly what happened, Cyrus the Great rose to power and within a year, he made a proclamation to free the captives so that they can go back to Jerusalem.
Amazing fulfillment of prophecy, how did Cyrus know his calling? Did God directly tell him? Many Bible scholars believe that Daniel, who was around 80 at that time remained in the courts of the new regime, in one of his audiences with Cyrus, he brought the scroll of Isaiah the prophet, written hundreds of years before. And showed to Cyrus the king what was written about him. Cyrus was so amazed and moved by this prophecy from God and immediately he carried out his mission from God to liberate the Jewish people.
God used Daniel even at an old age for His purposes because He relied on His sovereignty. Hallelujah.
Young people, you do not have to wait until you are 80 to serve God, start now and once you make that decision God will use you to a ripe old age.
Dare to be a Daniel! Be godly in a godless world.
That is a tough challenge, be godly in a godless world? You may say, I can’t even remain godly period, much less a godless society.
They key question to that mindset is that “how much of the world has gotten into you?” The way you respond to your life situations at home, at work and at school is dictated by the degree in which the world has influenced you.
Reality is, you cannot employ pagan ways to resolve spiritual issues. Fathers, lift up your whole family to God in prayer. Wives, pray for your husbands, better yet husbands lead your wife in prayer together.
Dare to be a Daniel!
Resolve to keep the faith.
Remain in your allegiance to Jesus.
Rely on the sovereignty of God.
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