Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Daniel: How to Live as Yahweh's People in an anti-Yahweh World

Sometimes I think God is up in the heavens, playing a big game of Monopoly.  Each square represents a nation.  He owns it all.  Some of the titles have houses and are flourishing, while others are bankrupt and flipped over.  God is in the heavens and He does as He pleases.  He uproots kingdoms and throws them aside.  He births kingdoms and allows them to rise to power.  He owns it all and controls it all.  Some mysterious and sovereign collision of His longsuffering and man’s rebellion brings about the timetable of each nation.  If a people group chooses repentance, He is always willing to relent on disaster.  But, if the people group’s sins reach a full measure of stench to his holy nostrils, they are turned over to judgment. 

Even if that people group is the apple of His eye, Judah.

When we open the first pages of Daniel, we find ourselves tracking some of the young captives stolen from their homes in their beloved land.  They are taken into Babylon to dwell among a pagan people.  They are thrust into an anti-Yahweh world. Will they assimilate into the culture as Nebuchadnezzar strips away their God-names?  Will they curse God for allowing the captivity to take place?  Will they feel the weight of it all and refuse life altogether?

Daniel teaches us that courage while in captivity is ours for the taking.  He teaches us that we, too, can call upon this same Jehovah who gracefully dishes out heaping bowls of dauntless courage to remain steadfast as one set apart for the glory of God.

The key is found in Daniel 1:8, “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.”  Daniel purposed the whole thing out in his heart before he was ever tempted in this new anti-Yahweh world.  Spurgeon says, “He gave his whole self to a certain definite purpose which he deliberately formed.”

In order to strip them bare and brainwash the fibers of their souls, the Babylonian rulers renamed Daniel and his Jewish friends.  Daniel, “God is my Judge” became Belteshazzar, “Bel’s Prince.”  Hananiah, “Yahweh is gracious” became Shadrach, “command of the moon god Aku.”  Mishael, “Who is what God is?” became Meshach, “Who is like Aku?” Azariah, “Yahweh is Helper” became Abednego, “Servant of the shining one Nebo.”

Bel, Aku, and Nebo, false gods of Babylon, were now stamped on Jewish men. But, what these Babylonian rulers didn’t realize is that once the Name of Yahweh is engraved on your soul, there is no other name in all of the earth that can stamp over it. As Spurgeon beautifully says, “the name of God was wrought into their texture.”

{Dear saved soul, Satan does not have the power to rename you.  So, quit letting him try.}

Nebuchadnezzar wanted to steal the young men’s names, identity, land, and God.  If anything, the culture shock only made their faith stronger.  They clung tighter to the bosom of Yahweh because they had already purposed that He was all that mattered.  The young men continued to call one another by their real names, reminding each other of their true identities.  They refused to assimilate, but they did it in a way that still honored the new authority that God had placed them under.  God blessed these young men and poured out His favor on them, so they might proclaim the One True God in their new environment. God used them to be a blessing to their captors; they became conduits of grace to knowing Yahweh.

We are entering some unknown and quite terrifying times in the United States of America.  We are a people group who has chosen the land of muck and mire over the land of repentance and peace.  The stench of our sin has reached the holy nostrils of our Father.  He is longsuffering and patient, but at some point, he will say, “Enough!!!”  It is quite possible that we have entered a season of judgment, where times will only get worse.  If God’s people are led away into captivity, are we prepared with how to act?  It is time we purpose in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves, no matter how evil the rulers are.  It is time we remember our true identities and that nothing can strip us from being children of God.  It is time we learn to serve faithfully, even if it is under harsh and Godless leadership. It is time we daily remind ourselves that God’s kingdom is forever and that it will physically manifest itself on earth with Christ on the throne soon and very soon.

The time for courage is now.  We must purpose in our hearts today that we will serve Yahweh alone.  

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