How to Live in Babylon
How to Live in Babylon
How do we live in modern Babylon without compromising on the truth? Are you in danger of becoming irrelevant?
[Peter Eddington] Should we, as a church, be relevant? Should we be relevant to the culture around us? What about at this time of year, even? Is the gospel message of the Bible relevant to society? Should God's Church itself be relevant? Culture changes and culture changes quite fast. What we are able to do today in our modern connected internet age would astound even the more recent generations, not to mention how foreign it would be to characters of the Bible to wake up and see television, and the internet, and space travel and what not.
The methods of communication have changed, but the message, the Word of God, never changes. The message of God is very relevant if only people would truly understand what it is. And in this world of Satan's, the god of this age, has blinded humanity to the relevance of the gospel message. And so we have seen, maybe it's been a little crazy with our beliefs, not so relevant in today's society. And you and I pray for the time when the god of this world will be banished and humanity will have their eyes opened to understand the message of eternal life.
One example of the importance of cultural relevance when it comes to the Bible is the YouVersion Bible app. And many of you probably have the YouVersion Bible app on your phone, on your smartphone. This app was created by Life Church with one purpose, and that was to leverage technology to engage people in God's Word, and they've been very successful with that. YouVersion's Bible app features 1,492 Bible versions in 1,074 languages, with audio of some of the more popular versions. You can also access it offline as well as over 800 different Bible study plans that you can access on YouVersion's Bible app. So this is one form of being culturally relevant and engaging people where they are, which is on their mobile devices.
What are we doing to be relevant? What are you doing to be relevant? Someone who became very relevant with his faith, in his society, was the prophet, Daniel. The way he lived his life and showed the way to God was groundbreaking in his time. He was a godly citizen of Babylon. Are you a godly citizen in our Babylon today? Let's look at how relevant living God's way can truly be, and we'll do it through the eyes of Daniel, and we'll see how he confronted the culture of his time and made God's way relevant.
Daniel was a prophet but his main job was not as a prophet. Others like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah were called to the profession of prophet. But Daniel had another job with prophecy on the side. He was mainly a governmental servant and historian. And although his book is shorter than the prophetic books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, the book of Daniel is the most comprehensive and sweeping prophecy of God recorded by any prophet of the Old Testament. Daniel 11 in particular. Daniel was one of the most learned men of Old Testament times and was thoroughly trained for his role in government, history, wisdom, and literature. Moses and Solomon were also very well educated and Daniel was on a par with Moses and King Solomon. What was it like to live in Babylon during Daniel's life? What kind of cultural challenges were faced by the people of God? I guess we're going to ask, what is it like to live in the United States today? What is it like to live in a sinful, fallen world in any country?
Babylon is an arch type of mankind's ability to set himself up against God. When you read about Babylon, it's usually a story of something in opposition to God. It's a rebellion against our creator's rightful rule over all that is. It's actually the same kind of story to the Tower of Babel. "We will do anything we want." And in many ways, our country and every country is an extension of the ancient Babylonian way.
So we have people listening in today who can't get to church because of bad weather in the Midwest, and we have people listening in from other countries, and no matter which country you're from, it represents Babylon in many ways. What good did Daniel bring to his society? What good can we bring to ours? How can we ensure the biblical message is relevant to those that we interact with on a daily basis? So the title of the sermon today is, "How to Live in Babylon." "How to Live in Babylon." How do we remain faithful to God? How do we have the fruit of the spirit of faithfulness? Because, after all, we are to live in Babylon but not be of Babylon.
Let's turn to Daniel 1 because here the opening verses succinctly give the historical setting which includes the first siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. There was a second one later. This is the first siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. According to Daniel, this occurred in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, which was around about 605 B.C. So this is, you know, 2,600 and some years ago. But Daniel 11 :1, take a note here, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it." Notice verse 3, "Then the king, King Nebuchadnezzar, instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles,” back to Babylon. Verse 4, "young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans."
So Nebuchadnezzar said, "Bring back some of the smartest, bring me back the computer geeks, bring me back the university educated, bring me back those that know three or four languages. Bring me back the best that Israel, and, in particular, Judah has to offer." And verse 5, "And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them,” they got an extra three years of university education while they're at it. They were already the smartest and now Nebuchadnezzar gives them another three years of training, "so that at the end of that time, they might serve before the king.” And so it's like being asked to go serve in Washington D.C., or Cambria, or wherever, and serve the government at the highest levels. The brightest and the smartest. Verse 6, "Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah."
Look over in 2 Chronicles 36 for a moment. A parallel account of this is given in 2 Chronicles 36 if you want to make a note of it. Also in 2 Kings 24. Here in 2 Chronicles 36:5-7, we read that, "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord his God." He wasn't the first evil king of Judah, which is one of the many reasons why Judah had to be punished and taken captive. So this evil king, Jehoiakim, was 25, fairly young. Verse 6, "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon." Verse 7, "Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple of Babylon." Some of that the golden and fine silver from God's temple ended up in Nebuchadnezzar's temple. And there is a story behind that later on as well which I'm not going to comment today about those articles.
So this capture of Jerusalem and the first deportation of Jews from Jerusalem to Babylon included Daniel and his companions and it was the fulfillment of many warnings from the prophets about Israel and Judah's coming disaster because of the nations' sins against God. They had forsaken the law, had ignored the covenant with God, including Sabbath day even, and gone into idolatry, started worshipping other gods Israel had. Israel, which is to the north of Judah, was now a divided kingdom. Israel had already been overrun by the Assyrians many years earlier and now the southern kingdom of Judah was to be captured. And as a result of their sin, the people of Judah were carried off to Babylon, which itself was a center of idolatry and one of the most wicked cities in the ancient world. It is actually named after the infamous Tower of Babel. So what's it like to be carried off to live and be a governmental representative in one of the most wicked cities on the planet?
So with this as a little background, what was it like to live in Babylon during Daniel's time? I guess we could ask, what's it like living in the United States of America during our time? It's pretty wicked too and a rather godless society now. In many ways, every country of the western world is an extension of the ancient Babylonian system. Nobody gets off the hook. And the book of Revelation talks about end-time Babylon encompassing the whole earth, the whole system, having everyone under it.
So, how do we live in Babylon? Are you a Babylonian? Imagine if you were dragged out of your home here in Cincinnati, as a captive, as a slave, and carried off to New York City to serve in the cabinet of the U.N. Secretary-General or some world leader. Maybe you'd even be given a new name. Maybe you would be put in compromising situations that challenged your faith. Would you partake of the king's delicacies?
Let's go back to Daniel 1 and look at verse 7. Daniel 1 where we started and verse 7. "To these young men that were carried off to Babylon, the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego." So we all know Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, right? That's actually their new Babylonian names that they were given and Daniel was called Belteshazzar. And scholars had generally agreed that Daniel's name… the name Daniel means, "God is judge," or, "My Judge is God," or "God has judged." And the nation of Judah certainly was judged at this point. They were judged and sentenced to 70 years in captivity in Babylon, to be punished for 70 years.
So, all four of the young men were given new names which actually was customary back then when someone entered a new position or got a new job title, and they were given Babylonian identities. The heathen names given to Daniel and his companions probably were given to credit the heathen gods of Babylon for the victory over Israel, for the victory over Judah. It will be a reminder every day they had lost the war just by their names. And this would also further separate these young men from their Jewish, their Israelites background. Babylonians want to try to have you forget who you even were by changing your name.
So Daniel is given the name Belteshazzar, which is the same name as Belshazzar given to Nebuchadnezzar's grandson who was later a king in Babylon, Belshazzar. So Belteshazzar means, "Protect his life." It actually means, "May Bel protect his life." So Bel-teshazzar. Who was Bel? Bel was a god of Babylon, similar to the god of the Canaanites, Ba-al or Baal. So Daniel gets given the name of a pagan god. And if you look at Daniel 4 for a moment, the meaning of Daniel's new Babylonian name is elaborated on in chapter 4, verses 8 and 9, Daniel 4:8, where we read, "But at last..." This is Nebuchadnezzar speaking right now, "But at last Daniel came before me…” says Nebuchadnezzar. And Nebuchadnezzar says, “…his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god." But Nebuchadnezzar says, the last part of verse 8, "But in him is the Spirit of the Holy God." Nebuchadnezzar says, "I've called him Belteshazzar, but actually, our god Bel is not in him. In him, is the Spirit of the Holy God." And then he says, "I told him the dream." And then, of course, Daniel explains the dream. But look at verse 9, "Belteshazzar, chief of the musicians," says Nebuchadnezzar, "because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the vision of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation."
So Nebuchadnezzar came to realize that Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the creator God, not the spirit of the Bel or Baal. Daniel, in his own writings, he generally prefers to call himself by his Hebrew name, Daniel, most of the time, but frequently uses the Babylonian names of his companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The fact that the Hebrew youths were given Babylonian names, however, does not indicate that they departed from their faith, anymore as did Joseph, you may recall, when he was given a new name by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Joseph was given a new name by Pharaoh when he was in Egypt. It's in Genesis 41.
So now I go back to Daniel 1. And as we continue and ask, what's it like to live in Babylon? How do we live in Babylon? What kind of example do we set? And what is our identity? What is our name going to be? Daniel 1:8, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, or with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." And so there are various explanations as to what this was. No doubt some unclean food that the Jews would not have eaten and there was a tradition back then to mix blood with the wine. And, of course, we're told not to drink the blood from the animals that we slaughter. So the wine may have been mixed with blood. But in any case, Daniel said, "I can't eat and drink this stuff, I'm sorry."
A similar reference is found in 1 Maccabees 1 in the Apocrypha. You don't have the Apocrypha in the Bible on your lap unless you've got a Catholic Bible. But here's what 1 Maccabees which is, kind of, like a pretty good historical record of what happened back then. In 1 Maccabees 1, let me read for you verses 62 and 63. "But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant and they did die." So that's what we read in Maccabees about those who would not defile themselves with unclean food as part of the Babylonian empire. So it was serious business when it came to not compromising on God's law if you lived in Babylon. You could be put to death and many were according to the book of Maccabees.
Daniel's strong devotion to the Israelite law, though, wasn't just from within himself, that came from a strong devotion to God to his Creator. Daniel's identity came from his God not from living in Babylon. And so we ask, "Does your identity come from your relationship with God or from the world in which we live?" And I'm not going to go through all of the examples in the book of Daniel that show how he resisted the temptations and sins of Babylon in this particular sermon. And this year, we are in the middle of an extensive study of the book of Daniel in our bi-weekly Bible Studies here. And you can catch them all and see the archives on our website of beyondtoday.tv. There is another study, you know, in two weeks time.
But there are some elemental points that I want to highlight here today without going through the whole book, as we discuss, How to live in Babylon. Look at Daniel 1:17 now. Daniel 1:17, "And for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." So Daniel had additional skills which actually came from God when it came to prophecy. Verse 19, "Then the King interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and therefore they served before the king."
Verse 20, "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all of his realm." So Nebuchadnezzar did get the cream of the crop from Judah. All four young men had an intelligent understanding of the language and literature of the Chaldeans. Not just literature and language of Judah, but chapter 1 here, verse 4, says, “of the Chaldeans.” They were educated by their foreign captives, and were able to judge wisely the truth from the false. And they did all this while living as part all of the Babylonian society. So this shows that education outside of the Bible can be good, provided it does not replace the biblical truth.
Daniel had skill in Babylonian culture and literature which shows that God does not expect us to close ourselves off from the world and live in a commune or a monastery. We are to live in the world while not being of the world. We live in Babylon while not conforming to it. Verse 17 says that “Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” So Daniel's role was also as a prophet. He was not just a well-educated administrator, but a prophet of God too. Daniel's capacity and role as a prophet brings a very important contribution to our understanding of both history and prophecy. His prophetic writings are more extensive than that of any other book of the Old Testament. To no other person was the broad expanse of gentile history and prophecy revealed with such precision especially in chapter 11 of Daniel. So to ask the question again, How did Daniel live his life? How do we live in Babylon? What good did Daniel bring to his society? What good can we bring to ours?
Let's turn to Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah himself instructed the Jews in exile in Babylon how to live and work for the good of the pagan society in which they were immersed, but without compromising on God's way. And we know as we read the first six chapters of the book of Daniel, that there are lots of illustrations of the captives doing just that. Living in Babylon but without compromising. There was one man above all who pictured Jeremiah as ideal here and that was Daniel. Jeremiah and Daniel lived at the same time although Jeremiah was about 22 years older than Daniel. So Jeremiah is in Jerusalem still, he didn't get carted off, and Daniel's in Babylon, but they lived at the same time. The Babylonian and Persian Empires did not embrace the worship of God in obedience to the law, but Daniel, did live up to those principles of God and in so doing, he was a blessing to the pagan empires in which he worked. Daniel was a blessing to Babylon. And precisely because of his faithfulness, Daniel rose to position as one of the most powerful civil servants in the kingdom, kind of like Joseph did in Egypt. Number two.
So look at Jeremiah 29. How do we live in Babylon? Do we live at godly principles that are a blessing in the city in which we live, and work, and which we go to school? Do we live like Daniel? Yeah. Jeremiah 29:1. "Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive to Babylon." So here is a letter from Jerusalem sent to Babylon. "To the priests, the prophets, and all the people who Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon." So the captives get this letter from Jeremiah. They’re now living in Babylon, basically slaves, and here's what Jeremiah tells them to do. He says, "Here is how you are to live in Babylon." Look at verse 4. "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive..." Whom God says He caused be carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, it was a punishment. Verse 5, "Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters— that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I've caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to God for it; for in its peace you will have peace." So Jeremiah says, "Even though you are captives, be a good citizen. Don't break the law. Contribute to society's peace. Get married, have kids, grow veggies."
And verse 8, "For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Do not let your prophets and your diviners here in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.’" So a kind of a warning, even Jeremiah, "Don't follow any of the false prophets that are still in your midst. Some of these false prophets are the ones that got you carted off to Babylon in the first place." Don't follow those who lead you away from God. Verse 9, "For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord." So because Israel and Judah were filled with false prophets at the time, people like Jeremiah and Isaiah and Daniel had to rise above that and preach the truth. Verse 10, "For thus says the Lord: ‘If you do all this right, if you're faithful to Me while you're captives, you know, if you build houses and are a good citizen, after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will come back, perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return back to Jerusalem." “So if you stick with this for 70 years," God says, "If you take your punishment, if you're good if you follow Me and don't go after those false prophets again, I'm going to bring you back. You will return."
Verse 11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” and I love this verse. “'I know the thoughts I think toward you,’ says the Lord. ‘I think of thoughts of peace not evil, to give you a future and a hope." So God doesn't want what's bad for us, but if we mess up we do get punished. And here Judah is being punished for 70 years. "But if you live a godly life," He says, "I'll bring you back because I want what's best for you." It's the same for us today. God wants what is best for us in how we live our lives. And so the Bible gives solid moral examples of how to live in this world, of how to live in Babylon, and Daniel is clearly an example to be followed in how he lived his life. It's a picture of what it looks like to live faithfully in a religiously hostile world. It's completely appropriate to say that we should be like Daniel as Daniel follows God. Be a peaceful contributor to society. Now, grow gardens, raise families, work hard. But Babylon is the personification of evil. How do we live in that kind of a society? Because even at the end of history, Babylon will represent the worst of the worst. And you can read about its horrific rule in the book of Revelation sometime. How do we survive in such a place?
Today there are Christians who claim to follow God, but in reality, they live a life of cultural accommodation, and in trying to become relevant to society, they become irrelevant before God. We must not, as a people of God, become irrelevant before God. It's easy to obey God if we agree with Him, but that's not really obedience. We haven't really learned obedience until we do what God says. Despite our doubts, how hard it is, any confusion or concern that it's just way too hard. If we want to experience Daniel-like courage, we have to follow his example. Instead of letting our friends, the media, the latest crisis determine our outlook, we need to let Scripture and God's Spirit determine our outlook. And Daniel genuinely desired the best for his fellow captives. And he endeared himself to his captors with humble service and heartfelt concern for the wellbeing of Nebuchadnezzar's household. As Jeremiah wrote, "Seek the peace of the city where I've caused you to be carried away captive. And pray to the Lord for it, for in its peace you will have peace." And Daniel did that. The problem with Babylon today though is many fold. We have to evaluate what it's like to be a person of God, not in the ancient world but in today's world. We have to recognize the evil pulls of Babel and resist them.
Let's list some of the major pulls, some of the major battles we face in Babylon today. And these will help us figure out how to live in Babylon and how to resist them. You recognize many of these. First of all, self is at the center of everything. There's a disproportionate sense of self-awareness and me. “I am of the utmost importance.” “I can do anything I put my mind to.” “I have the most social media followers.” "Like me." And one of the biggest goals of younger people today, if you do a survey, is they say, "I want to become famous." More so than wanting to become an engineer or a schoolteacher, "No I want to become famous." That's what young people say on surveys today. Or, "I wish I were famous."
And we live in a time when everything comes to us immediately, quickly. We want it now and we get impatient at the microwave. We can't wait 20 or 30 minutes for something to bake in the oven. We want it in two minutes. What about when you go to the elevator at a high rise and you push the button? You push it, you push it, it's still not coming. You get impatient. But what's the antidote to self? God should be at the center of your life, not yourself. Not a wish for fame. God must be the center of our lives first and foremost.
Here is another one today, there is no absolute truth. Our culture is amoral which leads to immoral. There's no right or wrong, let's decide for ourselves what's best. It sounds like that tree from the Garden of Eden, doesn't it? What is the antidote? The ethics of God and not the ethics of Babylon. We cannot be morally ambiguous. We need a godly moral solidness in our lives. We cannot be ambiguous about what we believe in the truth. Here is a warning to you and me. When a church stops being a light in Babylon, it becomes a disappearing church, just, kind of, blend into the system. It's no longer a witness as Jesus Christ said His disciples should be. We had to be a witness of His way of life. Can you imagine how different the story of Daniel would have been here in the Scriptures if he had decided it was not worth being a light in the king's court, and just blended in, took of the king's delicacies, just became one of the other wise men? What is the antidote? We must live like Daniel, we must leave a disciplined life. Daniel was a faithful witness of God's way of life, whether he was ruling in the king's court or later stuck in the king's prison. He didn't change his faith. He didn't change his position. godly ethics are the antidote.
See, the ethics of God's Kingdom, which are actually spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount, are so contrary to the ethics of modern Babylon. The ethics of God's Kingdom act so contrary to the ethics of modern Babylon. We cannot afford to deconstruct our biblical traditions, our biblical beliefs. There are certain beliefs that we must be black and white about and which we cannot compromise, in which we are unwavering. We must be a light. Daniel's life, Daniel's faith was not a secret. It's not a life of stealth. We talk about what we love.
Social scientists have studied churches and organized religion over the decades, and what they've shown is that “the moment a church abandons its own orthodoxy, its core beliefs, the moment it goes liberal,” they say, “is the moment it becomes morally ambivalent and when it signs its death warrant.” Seen a lot of that lately the last 10 years or so, of churches going back on their long-held orthodoxy, especially when it comes to moral issues. And our modern Babylon, even more so than ancient Babylon, has an obsession with spectacle and hype.
We've given ourselves to the great god entertainment. The god of media and fantasy and spectacle. We escape the chaos from pressure of life through entertainment and Imagineering, as Disney puts it. Babylonians today like to live a life filled with spectacle and images and visuals. See the world, Babylon, is on a completely different trajectory than we should be. What was it like to live in Babylon? Did Babylon have jails? They had lions' dens instead. Talk about a crazy society. You didn't go to jail, you went to the lions' den and everybody watched. It was an outrageous society. So it's better to have conflict with society around us than to have conflict with God and our faithfulness to Him. We're told in John 6 that, "In this world you will have tribulation." It's in John 16:33. "In this world you will have tribulation." It's not always going to be easy to live in Babylon. Remember that only dead fish swim with the current.
We cannot be neutral about our faith, but that's what people like to be. It's easier. People like to become part of the system, to become Babylonians. Look at Daniel 5:10, for a moment. Look at Daniel 5. Look at part of the legacy that Daniel left for us. And I ask, "Could this be said of you like the queen mother said of Daniel?" In Daniel 5:10, "The queen..." So there's an issue going on right now, right, and the king cannot understand the handwriting on the wall. "The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke saying, 'O, king, live forever!’" It's a good thing to do if you don't want to lose your head, right? "O, king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change because there's a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God." So not the spirit of Bel. This guy, she says, “has a Spirit of the Holy God. "And in the days of your father, he had light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods, who were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father…” was actually the king's grandfather at this point, Nebuchadnezzar was actually the king's grandfather, “…your father the king, Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the musicians, chief of the astrologers, chief of all the Chaldeans, and soothsayers." So, obviously, the king had forgotten now after 70 years, almost, the story of Daniel, but the queen remembered. The queen mother actually remembered and said, “You need to go get Daniel," who is now aging.
Verse 12, she says, "Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar." She says, "Let Daniel be called and he will give you the interpretation." So after decades had gone by, some people still remembered the legacy of Daniel even though he was no longer serving in the king's court at this point. Daniel did not go with the Babylonian flow like a limp fish caught in the current. No, he had the Spirit of the Holy God, and he was recognized by the Babylonians as being a different kind of God than their god. So we have to ask: is the Spirit of God recognized in you and me? Will the queen mother say that of us? Daniel's God was seen as being very different from the gods of the Babylonians because Daniel's God came from outside of creation. Daniel's God came from the spirit realm, but the Babylonian gods came from everything around them, from inside creation. Their gods came from the river, from the trees. Their gods came from nature. Not Daniel's God. Daniel's God was from outside of creation. You see, the Babylonians worshiped the creature and the creation rather than the Creator. Daniel's God was the Creator God. And the Spirit of the Holy God was very different from the gods of Babylon. And so, do people see God's Spirit in us different from the gods of this world?
Now, we won't all face lions in the den. For us, it may be more subtle. Perhaps it'll be a gradual decline of our faith, a gradual decline of obedience, of Sabbath observance. But we're reminded that even in the smallest matters, we must not be godless Babylonians. We, too, must not partake of the king's delicacies if they are in opposition to God's way. To put it in modern language, we cannot partake of the king's Christmas party, the King's New Year's Eve revelry. Maybe it’s at… maybe the king is our boss today. We can't partake in our bosses Christmas party or New Year's Eve revelry. We can't partake of the king's delicacies. The modern Babylonian delicacies.
We can't partake of ungodly language. As a result, you stand out at work because you don't swear. We can't partake in irreverent music, evil movies, and videos. We can't have a disregard for authority like so many people do today. We cannot partake of the king's delicacies in our society today, whatever those might be day to day. Look at Luke 16:10. Luke 16:10, verses 10 and 11. Luke 16:10. We're reminded that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore…” verse 11, “…if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" Of course the “true riches” here is eternal life. If you can't be trusted in the little things, who's going to give you eternal life?
We must live in Babylon, but not become ungodly Babylonians. What's the antidote? How do we do it? We must do everything to the best of our God-given ability. We must be faithful even in the little things so that we can be given greater later. We put our best into all that we do. So we clean up our life, we clean up our social life. We don't partake of the king's delicacies. And as we see here in Luke, dishonesty even in the smallest amount leads to dishonesty in even larger portions. Dishonesty opposes the truth. Dishonesty is actually non-truth. Our character must live up to our calling and Daniel's respect for God far outweighed his fear of what man or man could do to him. And God looked after him as a result.
Here's another antidote to Babylon. If you don't make time for God, don't be surprised if your faith wanes, for it seems God doesn't listen to you. Here is a side note for you. One of the biggest reasons that young women are outpacing young men in almost all aspects of professional life today, in the business world, is because of gaming. It's not some psychologically complicated reason why women are doing so well in business right now. It's because young men, as a whole, are playing too many video games. That's been proven. And if you do, you are not only in grave danger of messing up your job but in grave danger of not making enough time for God as well. And gaming is just one of many modern addictions, including opioids, of course, we've heard so much about, alcohol and even pornography.
If our relationship with God will fall apart is determined by the time we give to Him, just like in a marriage. Do we read our Bible? “Not really.” Do you pray? “Not every day.” Then, of course, God's not going to be fully real to you. God made human beings with the desire to seek a higher power, to have a desire to worship something. So if we don't worship God, then we'll end up worshiping something else or devoting our time to other aspects of life, like gaming, for example, and then that takes away from our prayer time obviously. So we'll end up worshiping something else. God was real to Daniel and he did pray every day, even three times a day as was his custom. We read through Daniel 6:10 if you want to make a note of it. Daniel 6:10, "When Daniel knew that the writing against him was signed..." He was in, you know, deep doo-doo right now, “…he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since the early days." So, it wasn't just that day he prayed three times, that was his custom normally, praying three times a day. So, you've got to give time to God for Him to be real to you.
Another antidote: We have to learn to discern God's voice among the multitude of voices constantly vying for our attention in Babylon. There is so much noise out there vying for our attention and we have to hear God's voice through all that. Pray and study His Word because we are whatever we give ourselves to, whether through media, and fantasy, and spectacle, like our world offers us, or to the truth. Whether to the Word of God or to Babylon. It's our choice. If our Babylonian system today arrested you for being a Christian, for being a follower of Christ as outlined in the Bible, would there be enough evidence to convict you or would you just be like lots of others out there and they wouldn't notice any difference? And, of course, prayer is an antidote. The apostle Paul said, "Pray without ceasing for this is the will of God." You want to know what the will of God is? People will say, "I wonder what the will of God is?” Pray without ceasing. And successful prayer often comes from quality time in the Scripture. When you read the Word of God, you've got something even more to pray about. Scripture is a great teacher and helps connect us with God. But don't blame God if you don't do your homework. It takes effort. We've got to do our homework.
I would like to turn to just my second last passage here and I'll turn to New Testament Galatians 6:9. Galatians 6:9, Here is a great promise for us as we work hard to live in Babylon but not be of Babylon. Galatians 6:9, "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." There is a great promise there. Eternal life is what's at stake, so don't be weary about doing good.
The narrative of Daniel is an eloquent testimony to the power of God in a dark hour of ancient Judah's history. And the faithfulness of Daniel and his companions shone like a bright light in Babylon in every age, not just back then. God is looking for those people who He can use. You cannot know it and love it if you have not lived it. We have to live it like Daniel did. And so what we see in the book of Daniel are four young men whose testimony has been a source of strength to every one of us. We read the book of Daniel and he's like our hero, favorite character in the Bible for some. He's been such an inspiration to people in the Church, to us who are now living in end-time Babylon have as we face the lions of our day and have to say, “no.” Like Daniel, we too must be men and women of prayer and uncompromising moral character whom God will soon honor fittingly with eternal life in His Kingdom. That's the promise.
Look at Acts 4, my final verse here today. Acts 4:13, if you want to make a note of it, Acts 4:13. Because Daniel and his companions represented the testimony of their God, and they had and were filled with the Spirit of God. Daniel and his companions were God's true witnesses of the day, even in the dark hours of the Jewish apostasy and divine judgment. Seventy years in captivity. And the noble example of these young men will serve to encourage us every time we read the book and encourage us our great trials in the time of the end. Act 4:13, "And when the Jewish leaders of the day saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus." So the question is, for us, is it obvious that you've been with Jesus, so to speak? Is it obvious that you're a child of God? Is it obvious that you're a son and daughter praying for God's Kingdom? Is it obvious that you're a man or a woman of God? If not, make it so.