Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Favor in a Time of Exile

I am reading through the book of Daniel right now. I find this book so fascinating. Daniel 1-6, Daniel interprets the King's dreams and what not. In Daniel 7-12, Daniel is given his own visions, and these visions are about the end times.

Daniel and his buddies, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are perfect examples of believers living in a secular world. They are captives in Babylon, exiled from Jerusalem, and they continue to live their lives in accordance to the law, even in the midst of much outside pressure. Daniel is constantly standing up for what he believes in, and then is rewarded for it. He does this in Daniel 1:8, which the reward is in Daniel 1:17-20. Daniel sought after the Lord to help him interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream in chapter 2. The Lord reveals the dream to Daniel, and Daniel does not take the credit, he acknowledged that God is the one who revealed it to him. When Daniel hits the dream right on the head, Nebuchadnezzar falls prostrate and says "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and revealer of great mysteries"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do not worship the image of gold Nebuchadnezzar builds in Daniel 3, so he decides to throw them in the fire. Daniel 3:17-18, this is their response "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up" And the men were saved from the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar sees how they trusted the Lord and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any other god 3:28-29

Again and again this takes place. At the end of Daniel 5, the Medes and Persians took over the Babylonians and the Israelites. In Daniel 6, a decree is published that any man who prays to any god or man besides King Darius must be put to death. Daniel's response....6:10 "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before" Nothing stopped Daniel from following God with all his being. He knew that God would save him, and He saved him again and again, this time from the mouths of lions.

As Daniel loved the Lord with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength, as he followed God, the Lord gave Daniel favor in the site of all of the kings. In Daniel 6:28 it says "So Daniel prospered..." He was always in high favor of the ruling king and held a high place in the king's court.

Blake and I have had numerous talks about the way these men lived their lives. It is easy for me to sit here and say that I would do the same things the men did, that I would not succumb to the pressure or threat...but I don't know. My life isn't in life threatening situations on a semi-consistent basis....currently, it has never been. I know that martyrdom is very real in the middle east and other countries....

Since I live in a place where I can practice religious freedom....
What are the little ways in my life that I am giving into secularism? What ways am I denying Christ, whether by word or deed? What ways am I choosing to follow the "rules" set before me, not by a king, but by this culture we live in?

What are some of the ways you fall into secularism?

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