Learn how you can remain faithful to God while confronting the confusion, rebellion and corruption of our present age.
The Bible shows us that our modern world is a cultural Babylon that stands against God's eternal purpose and plan for us.
In the book of Revelation the apostle John, gives a vivid prophetic vision. It says, "Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit,... For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of her passionate immorality. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her."
Then John records a voice of warning from heaven: "Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her (Revelation 18:2-4 Revelation 18:2-4  And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
American King James Version×, NLT).
What does God mean when He says to you and me, "Come away from her"—from this Babylon?
Join us today as we look at the life of a man of God—the prophet Daniel—who actually lived in the original Babylon. The book of Daniel is not only about kings and horns and beasts. We're going to narrow it down and look closely at one particular challenge, Daniel faced when confronted by King Nebuchadnezzar. It's a challenge that's very relevant to you and me today. Daniel's story reveals keys for your life so you can grow in faith today—even while "Living in Modern Babylon."
We all want a brighter, more prosperous future. There are keys to living successfully and making a positive impact in a culture that is working against God's way.
God says to His people today, and anyone wanting to live righteously, to take a look around at the culture and of the times and to make a decision to live differently. To live with a positive hope based on His truth and Word.
God labels this current world and the developing system as Babylon. The prophecy in Revelation 17 is talking about a global culture that develops in the time before Jesus Christ returns to this earth. It's a modern, political, economic and religious system and its roots reach deep into the ancient world of Babylon, the great empire that was centered in what is now the country of Iraq.
The city and state stands throughout the Bible as a symbol of any system, political, cultural or religious that opposes God, His plan and His people. To God, Babylon personifies defiance and rebellion to His perfect will. No one wanting to live a godly life wants anything to do with Babylon and its lifestyle.
Babylon the great, the ancient world was the nemesis of Israel and Judah. Under its most famous king, Nebuchadnezzar, its armies came against Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and the city and deported its citizens. We're told the story in the Kings and the Prophets, notably Jeremiah and Daniel.
Babylon itself, this vast empire, eventually fell as do all large empires. Yet Babylon is different. Its influence reaches into our world today in many ways. Significantly, the Bible tells us of a coming world system based on the spiritual attributes of greed, spiritual deception and human exploitation.
In Revelation it's described in symbolic form as a woman riding on a beast. This woman is called a "great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:1-2 Revelation 17:1-2  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying to me, Come here; I will show to you the judgment of the great whore that sits on many waters:
 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
American King James Version×). Who is this "woman" to wield such extraordinary power? Obviously not a real person, like the beast she is symbolic.
And it goes on to say, "On her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH... And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:5 Revelation 17:5And on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
American King James Version×& Revelation 17:18 Revelation 17:18And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
American King James Version×).
Here is described a return of Babylon, not just a city this time, but personified as a fallen woman who seduces and influences the destiny of the world. Here is described a system that is yet to arise in its fullest out of a global world system that we're watching form before our very eyes.
How do we then "come away from" or "out of" this modern Babylon that is right now forming in the present global secular world of prosperity and glamor?
It is in the story of Daniel. There we find the keys to coming out of our modern Babylon. The prophet Daniel was a young man educated in the way of his native people of Israel—the nation of Judah. He was among a large group transported to the great city of Babylon. The best and the brightest of the men were chosen to be used in the court of the king, Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel and his closest friends made an impact on those in the court and all the way to the king. His story leaves us key lessons to use in a strategy whereby we can live successfully and godly in today's world. Let's take a look at this remarkable life and let's learn.
In Daniel 1, one of those prophets, one of those major prophets of the Old Testament, we begin to read the story. Let's begin reading in verse 1. It says, "It was the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon declared war on Jerusalem and besieged the city. The Master handed King Jehoiakim of Judah over to him, along with some of the furnishings from the Temple of God. [And] Nebuchadnezzar took king and furnishings to the country of Babylon, the ancient Shinar. [There] He put the furnishings in the sacred treasury."
It goes on to say, "The king [then] told Ashpenaz, head of the palace staff, to get some Israelites from the royal family and nobility—young men who were healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions in the government, perfect specimens!—and indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortunetelling. The king then ordered that they be served from the same menu as the royal table—the best food, the finest wine. After three years of training they would be given positions in the king's court.
"Four young men from Judah—Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—were among those selected. The head of the palace staff gave them Babylonian names: Daniel was named Belteshazzar, Hananiah was named Shadrach, Mishael was named Meshach, [and] Azariah was named Abednego.
"But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king's food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet. The head of the palace staff, by God's grace, liked Daniel, but he warned him, 'I'm afraid of what my master the king will do. He is the one who assigned this diet and if he sees that you are not as healthy as the rest, he'll have my head!'
"But Daniel appealed to a steward who had been assigned by the head of the palace staff to be in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 'Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see.'" (MSG).
Now let's stop there for a moment. Let's consider what we've read. You know, many feel that the food that was involved here on the king's table, would have been either foods designated by God to be "unclean"—which means they did not meet special dietary laws prescribed in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Bible. Such foods as pork or certain kinds of fish like lobster, clams or shrimp would be included. It could also be that the foods on the king's table would have been offered to pagan idols. Whichever of the two, Daniel determined in his mind he would eat it, he would not eat it and become defiled. If he did, he felt he would become unfit before his God.
Now this is a really critical point. Daniel and his friends determined to be faithful to their heritage. And it went so far as to include the food they ate.
They would not eat certain foods because it dishonored God. Can you imagine that today? In our Western world, you know we're very conscious about organic food and there is a great emphasis on the quality of our food and the diet. We like "whole foods" and many want to eat healthy for good reasons. We'll pick up a food package at the grocery store or we'll read the contents, and we'll determine how many calories and how much fat it contains. If it has too much sodium, we'll put it back on the shelf and we'll buy a low-sodium version. All this is good, but consider something else.
How about eating for our "spiritual health"? Could it be that God's dietary laws—clearly revealed in the Bible—teach us something about a spiritual relationship with God?
You see Daniel understood that his life was a part of a bigger spiritual picture. He knew he was part of something bigger than himself. He knew he was caught up in a bigger story. God's heavenly Kingdom was real to him.
How about you? What are the little things on which you might compromise spiritual integrity and sacrifice to a personal "idol" of life? Compromise always starts small but in time can consume our life. Daniel would not turn his back on what he had been taught from God's Holy Word.
Daniel and his friends refused to compromise on God's food laws, possibly putting their careers at risk. They didn't know how this would turn out. Did it pay off? Well, we'll see in a moment. But I'd like to ask you another question.
How is it that you understand this prophetic book of Daniel and the many other books of prophecy in the Bible? See many people think that Bible prophecies cannot be understood. They have no meaning for us today. Do you?
Don't be too quick to dismiss Bible prophecy because of attacks made by liberal scholars. And don't be put off by the false prophets who from time to time make wild predictions about the end of the world, or the Tribulation or when Christ will appear.
You can understand Bible prophecy as God intended. You can read the Bible from a fresh perspective when you understand that prophecy speaks to our world today and how you should live within this world. Our booklet, The Book of Revelation Unveiled will take you through the story of Babylon and Bible prophecy and help you understand what some seem to feel is a complicated topic.
You can request your free copy of The Book of Revelation Unveiled by calling 1-888-886-8632 or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv.
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Now let's pick up the story of Daniel and his friends. We left them hanging with a test before them of obedience or idolatry. They had asked to be exempted from the food of the kings table in this testing process of young men in training for the service to the court of Babylon.
Let's go back to Daniel 1:14 Daniel 1:14So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
American King James Version×. It says, "The steward agreed to do it and fed them vegetables and water for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked better and more robust than all the others who had been eating from the royal menu. So the steward continued to exempt them from the royal menu of food and drink and served them only vegetables.
"God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in both books and life. In addition, Daniel was gifted in understanding all sorts of visions and dreams. At the end of the time set by the king for their training, the head of the royal staff brought them in to Nebuchadnezzar. When the king interviewed them, he found them far superior to all the other young men. None were a match for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah" (MSG).
Now let's pause again. Let's consider this. Obedience to God, we're told, brings wisdom, understanding and knowledge. That's what this story tells us. Daniel had a skill it says in both "books and life." To be sure, these men had real sharp minds and they likely had high IQs. But God added to their native intelligence and He enhanced it because they put Him first. Here's a living law. It's taught in the book of Proverbs and we see it in this living example with Daniel and his friends. It's this: Obey God and He gives knowledge and wisdom.
You want to succeed in school? You want to succeed in your job and in your life? Or are you struggling to figure it all out and put it all together? You know there's all sorts of programs and books and plans that you can follow to find "success" and the knowledge of life today. And you know, there's a need for that and there's a market for all of this today because something has been lost in our modern world where once we had certain values and understanding about what life was, and that was passed on within a family or within a larger religious community. It seems we've lost a lot of that today.
Society is fragmented. Families are shattered. Religion has lost its place as a cornerstone of life. People today cast about looking for understanding about finance, about marriage, about romance and about relationships. They don't often find it because so much has been lost.
I read recently about a college coach who really chastised his players because they were skipping school, classes. They were making bad grades. They were even skipping basketball practice and as a result, they had a losing record. And in one of those post-game interviews the coach just really lambasted his players and he said you're not learning life skills. You're going to take these same skills and you're going to go out in life and you're going to be failures. Just as you're failures on the basketball court.
You know what happened? He got immediately phone calls from other coaches applauding what he said. He got phone calls from parents saying, I want my son to come and be taught by you and to work and to play for you and your school. I want you to teach him the things that he needs to learn. A lot of that knowledge has been lost and we see it all around us today.
Here in Daniel's story, we see that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge and just such knowledge is life itself. Put God first and seek Him. Don't compromise and bow to a modern idol that you can find how to live and to succeed with.
Let's go back to Daniel 1:19 Daniel 1:19And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
American King James Version×. It says this, "So they took their place in the king's service. Whenever the king consulted them on anything, on books or on life, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom put together."
Daniel and his friends passed the job interview. They rose to key positions in the government. They got the corner offices. Their challenges were not over but they had arrived in a place and God was with them.
Now here is what this story of Daniel really means. It's more than an old story from the Bible put in there for people to puzzle over, argue about and speculate over.
The book of Daniel tells the amazing story of a man who lived at a very dangerous time. His nation, his city and his way of life was destroyed by an invading army. He became a prisoner and was deported to a strange land with strange customs and speech. Nothing in Babylon was familiar to him.
In Babylon he was selected for an elite training program that would put him in a key position at court. While there was no, there was opportunity, there was also great peril. You see, if he made one misstep, he could have lost his life. Life at this level in any government has risks. In Babylon, which was a despotic system, Daniel would not have been guaranteed any type of liberty or rights. Everyone existed in that court to serve the state and one man was the state. Provoke his wrath and his word was law—no review and no second chance.
Daniel was a captured foreigner. To many who would have been jealous, he would have been a subject of intrigue and entrapment. At any time his life would not be worth the price of his execution. And Daniel understood this, but he was not afraid. Something within Daniel caused him to determine to stand his ground and remain true to who he was at whatever cost.
I think Daniel had been mentored by someone who made a very deep impression on his character: a parent, a family member, a teacher, maybe a priest. Maybe a devout mother who feared God and was a student of Scripture.
Somewhere along the way of his young life, he had training that kicked in when he was pushed out of his comfort zone and thrust into an alien environment. While many others gave into the new life and its culture thinking that it better and convenient to do so, Daniel and his friends made a compact to remain true to their God and the way of life they knew.
Daniel is among those who saw the vision of the Kingdom of God and embraced it. He knew that being an Israelite, descended from Abraham, opened a door to understand what life was about. His life had meaning within context of the world he knew. While others bowed to idols of stone and wood worshipping strange images of God shaped in the form of animals or weird human forms, the faith of Israel did not go that way.
Daniel understood God was not bound by any physical law—no form, no shape. Though He, God, controlled all the elements, the sun, moon and stars—wind, water and fire—He was not identified with any of them. He had no fixed place to dwell. Yet He was a moral and just God who controlled all, especially the history of man.
He was the one true God who summoned man to obey Him in a relationship of grace. This was a God who could, and did deliver His people from their enemies. Who could bless them with all abundance and then when they disobeyed, without remorse could be delivered into captivity with all national sovereignty stripped from them.
Daniel's God was not vengeful or angry. He understood that man could have a relationship with the Creator and worship Him in truth.
We're not done with this topic today. The Beyond Today panel is coming on and we're going to get their insight into this subject. You're going to want to hear what Steve Myers and Gary Petty have to say about living in a modern Babylon.
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Challenging the existence of God in the face of science is continually wearing down our world and moving us into a secular Babylon. If you have children or grandchildren learning evolution in school, you'll want to read and want them to read, articles on that topic in some of our issues of The Good News magazine. Challenge them and yourself with evidence and proof there is a God and believe His Word. The Bible can be trusted.
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I'm joined now with the Beyond Today panel, fellow hosts Steve Myers and Gary Petty. When we look at this subject of "Living in Modern Babylon," how is today's world, with all of its glitz and glamor like a modern Babylon?
[Gary] Well you know really, Western society is an extension from what ancient Babylon was an attempt to be. Ancient Babylon was an empire that attempted to bring all these different cultures together, really under one economic system, and one world government. So in very many ways we trace Western society back to the time of ancient Babylon and so we are an extension of it in more ways than most people realize.
[Steve] It's also interesting, these days it seems that the government is taking care of more and more people. It doesn't seem to be wherever you live, that seems to be the case and so people look to government for security, and actually it exerts a control over their lives and that's the interesting connection I think, what we get into here, the control that government has over people.
[Darris] No matter what the political debate today, what the Bible describes in Revelation as a coming system exerts far more control than I think what anybody imagines from any current political governmental structure.
[Gary] And the reason why is it's so universal. The Babylon that's going to come has massive power on many of the nations and much of the trading and much of the economics of the world. So, it's going to be massive.
[Darris] It'll be bigger than anything that we can even really begin to even imagine. We see it developing around us today in our global, commercial, secular culture that we've got.
When God says come out of her, don't be a partaker of her sins. What exactly does that mean? What do we learn from Daniel's life to kind of apply that to a person today in this world? What does it mean to come out?
[Gary] Well you know Daniel is such a great example of a man who had a belief and faith in God, and that belief, that faith was more important than his own comfort, even his own life. And we see a man in a system where everything around him takes him away from God. And really what Babylon is, what all human systems are, an attempt to control things, an attempt to make ourselves the center of attention instead of God. And he was in a world in which the true God was outside the system. And he had to obey God and live God's way inside that. And for the coming Babylon, all true Christians are going to have to face that.
[Darris] You know when you look at a life like Daniel, it demonstrates a great deal of courage and it's almost more courage than any of us really want to imagine that we need.
[Steve] Daniel was forced to step outside the system that he was being encased in. He was a slave and yet he purposed in his heart not to disobey God. In a way that passage is telling us he had already decided long before that there was no way he was going to compromise. He was not going to give up on his true belief, his true obedience to God and so when you look at the system, it was taking control of everything. And he said, no. I'm going to do that. No matter what you do to me, I'm going to stick to the faith that I have in God and obey Him.
[Darris] The type of courage that you're talking about that he had to resist that system, is it really possible to have that, to live godly in today's present world?
[Gary] Not only is it possible, it's required. But it's only possible when we do what you just said. That we're prepared. We have a relationship with Almighty God. We have a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ and that is the center of our lives. And we're willing to understand that there's a cost for that. You know, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, to obey God in this society, there's a cost. Daniel understood that. We have to understand that too to have that same kind of courage, because we get it from God, we get it from that relationship.
[Darris] To come to that, it's pretty scary and frightening for us to imagine that we may not have it but we know that we're going to need it in the world that's going to be coming shortly.
[Gary] If we don't have it now in the good times, what's it going to be like in the hard times?
[Darris] Remember our free offers today, the booklet on The Book of Revelation Unveiled and our free bi-monthly magazine, The Good News. You can call right now, the number on your screen, 1-888-886-8632 to request your free copies and a subscription to The Good News magazine. 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv.
What the Bible says about Babylon is very sobering—perhaps the most sobering message of warning in the Bible. Babylon in ancient times stood against God and His plan. The modern Babylon that is here and will arise in full force before an unsuspecting world will be one final effort to thwart God's eternal plan. It will not succeed.
But what God wants to know today is whether you will wake up and to come out of this developing culture and system that God hates. God's command to "come out of her and not take part in her sins" should move you to action like it did Daniel. Daniel resisted the temptation to give in and go along. He remained faithful and true to God and the vision of His Kingdom. You can as well.
We'll be right back with one final comment after this.
[Narrator] Two men ran through the streets of the city each trying to be the first to discover if it was so. They turned the last corner and arrived at the tomb. They both stopped. One leaned over and looked into the space and noticed a neatly folded pile of linen cloths. He was astounded and backed away not believing what he saw.
Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead. All things had changed.
Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth—that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars—giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
Sign up to attend these Bible seminars today and watch our program again here next week.
And remember to join us in praying "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely.