Daniel In The Culture's Den Part Two
In Part One of “Daniel in the Culture’s Den,” we looked at the story of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah — four adolescent boys among the thousands of captives stolen from Israel by their Babylonian conquerors. I wrote, “We in America haven’t been taken to a new country, but we have watched as a new country has formed around us.”
In this strange new America, our children are being taught to kneel before wicked kings and worship strange gods. Their minds are being reordered by sinister forces out to remove God and His word from their way of thinking.
Many of our churches and Christian families have chosen to compromise with the brainwashing. Be it premarital sex or mind-altering drugs, they act like it’s to be expected, and must simply be managed. But a condom does not shield young people from the perils of promiscuity. The Bible consistently condemns drunkenness — another word for “getting high.” And that’s the single purpose of recreational marijuana.
Churches determined to be “cool,” primarily entertain their youth, while mixing in a few life-affirming messages. I’m all for fun. But with the fun, we must give them an understanding of God and His ways. It’s like having a school that lets the kids stay all day on the playground. They need to play, but they also need to study.
Churches and Christian families have an urgent need to teach Jesus and His Word. They say people under twenty-five can’t listen for more than a few minutes. But some of the most effective ministries to young people feature teaching sessions over an hour long.
The best antidote for error is the truth. Families and churches must build their communications around the Bible. We don’t know what the kids will face outside of homes and churches, but we can introduce them to Someone Who will keep them throughout this life and beyond. We can’t always be there for them, but He can.
It’s the same with you and me. We live in perilous times. To be ready for what awaits us, we need a lively faith in God. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (NASB)
The Babylonians used intense training and immersion into their culture to try to cut Daniel and his friends off from God and their memory of God. They wanted to remove these young men from themselves — to cut out the core of their beings and replace it with someone made in the image of Babylon and her gods.
They put the boys into a rigorous school for four years. There, they were taught and brainwashed day and night. They received food from the king’s table, but it wasn’t to make sure they ate well. It was part of the process of breaking down their religious roots. Even today, Judaism and food are tied closely together. In those days that was true of all religions. The meat served at the king’s table was first sacrificed to pagan gods. This was strictly forbidden for a Hebrew.
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8 NASB)
Imagine a 13-year-old doing that. His life hung by a thread. He knew he could be put to death for a little bit of nothing. Yet this kid had enough commitment to the Lord, enough desire to please God, and enough faith in God to stand against the tide.
Compromise was the order of that day, just as it is today. Go along to get along. But for those who remain true to God and His word, amazing things will happen. Today’s young people face peer pressure and brainwashing like no generation in the history of the world. Help them build, not on the sand of fun and games only, but on the solid rock of God’s word. More than that, we need to introduce them to the Author of that word.
One of the miracles of our day is that the Jewish people remain intact. Spread across the world and across cultures for millennia, somehow they remained a distinct people. This great miracle took the hand of God. But like so many miracles, God did His work through people.
Daniel was pivotal. By example, he taught generations of Jews how, not just to survive in other cultures, but also to thrive. The Chaldeans controlled Babylon when Daniel arrived. The young man had great favor with their king, Nebuchadnezzar. But when King Neb died, Daniel was largely forgotten… until a great hand wrote a message on a wall one night, and they needed someone to tell them what it meant.
Daniel interpreted the message. They had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. In that very hour, another kingdom was overtaking them. When Babylon was taken by the Meads and the Persians, Daniel — by then an old man — again rose in favor and power. But it was not easy. Nebuchadnezzar threw Daniel’s friends into a fiery furnace. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions. And it would not be easy for the Jewish people across the centuries. But when they followed Daniel’s example, they thrived.
For Christians between now and the rapture, things may get very tough. We may face our own fiery furnaces. If so, may we and the young people we raise be as strong and wise as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known today by their Babylonian names, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego”).
When we face a fiery furnace, may we be able to say with them, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NASB)