Are you in a new situation today – a new job, a new home, a new church, a new family, a new country, a new predicament?
Daniel and his three Hebrew friends found themselves to be in a new culture once long ago. They had been taken captives by the Babylonians. Let’s see what they had to endure:
1. The name change – The king wanted them to be assimilated into the Babylonian culture – so he changed their names
Daniel =God is my Judge became Belteshazzar=Bel, protect his life
Bel was the chief Babylonian God.
Hananiah =the Lord shows grace became Shadrach = under the command of Aku (the moon god)
Mishal = who is like God? Became Meshach =who is like Aku?
Azariah =the Lord helps became Abednego =servant of Nego/Nebo(the god of learning and writing)
This was how the king tried to change the religious loyalty of the Hebrew children.
Do we adopt the characteristics of people of this world and adopt a name change?
2. The food change – The Babylonians’s diet was different from the Hebrew children’s diet. Perhaps they took pork. Daniel resolved not to eat the king’s diet which could compromise their dependence on the king for his gifts and favours.
3. The Educational change – The Hebrew children were subjected to Babylonian education.
Resolve is a strong word which means devoted to a principle and to be devoted to a course of action. Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s meat. He resolved not to give into the pressures around but to do right. Merely wanting to do right was not enough. He had to resolve to obey God. So must we.
To be forearmed helps resistance. Daniel and his friends resolved to resist before temptation came upon them, so that when the temptation came, their course of action was set. Do we resolve when we are already in temptation after we have succumbed or do we resolve just as we take a stand for him. Let us stand for God and trust Him to protect us in ways we may not expect (Psalm 106:46, Isaiah 43:2-5, 1 Corinthians 10:13). The illustration is – how do you avoid a falling into a hole which represents the temptation. Is it easier to avoid it when inside the hole after you have fallen into it and then attempt to crawl out, or by walking strategically around the hole?
Daniel and his friends found a way to live in the new culture by negotiating rather than rebelling, with the proposal of a 10-day diet experiment of vegetables and water rather than king’s food and wine, to live by God’s standard. It was a practical and creative solution and it saved their lives. As God’s children we may have to adapt to the culture we are given to live in as long as we do not compromise God’s standards.
The illustration is do we rebel against the one thing our “masters” have asked us to do or do and we so jeopardise our very existence, or do we talk nicely and negotiate, get our way and still live peaceably with the 100 things we can do which do not contravene God’s ways?
God gave Daniel and his friends wisdom and discernment and steadfast allegiance to God even as they learnt all they could about their new culture and became advisors to the king. They were favored above the court magicians and enchanters because they had wisdom in addition to knowledge. Let us learn to ask God for wisdom in the midst of living in this world which is different from the heavenly culture we are called to. Have we used our knowledge and applied wisdom rather than just follow like robots into the ways of the world?
Alien cultures come in different forms – a new organization at work, a new school, a new neighbourhood. What have we resolved to do? Is our resolution ahead of the temptations that may come so we are forearmed to deal with situations as they come? Have we learnt as much about the new culture so that we can excel in performance and conduct and impact those who are our “superiors”, “managers”? Are we serving others and succeeding without abandoning God?
Let us resolve to live for God wherever He has placed us – for there will be no temptation for us that is not common to man, and God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Are you ready to be blessed, not in yielding to the culture you are in but by standing up with God?