“There is no way more likely to drive the gospel away from us than to spurn and oppose it, and its proclaimers. Unless the Lord prevents it this will bring even greater confusion and drive out the good news about Jesus Christ. If you would rather see gospel preachers in prison than in pulpit or soapbox, be warned, God will give you worse in their place. “Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Better you lose the light of the sun than the light of the gospel”
“The Bible must be accepted as absolutely inerrant and authoritative on all matters with which it deals at all. Otherwise, it is not really the word of God! If any man, or group of men, are empowered to tell us authoritatively what God’s word means, then we may as well entrust them with a commission to write the Bible altogether. Man seeks to become God if he (whether he is a theologian or scientist or anyone else) insists that his word must be accepted authoritatively as to what God’s word means.
God’s revelation in nature, therefore, must always supplement and confirm his revelation in Scripture. It cannot be used to correct or interpret it. If there is an apparent conflict, one that cannot be resolved by a more careful study of the relevant data of both science and Scripture, then the written word must take priority….Even though the Bible is not a scientific textbook, it does speak authoritatively on the fundamental principles of science. Furthermore, it speaks correctly even on details of science whenever it refers to them at all.” (Henry M. Morris)
“Daring to be like Daniel”
The Courage of Faith – (Chapter 1 Verses 8-21)
As the young Daniel makes this courageous stance we might as the question, what’s wrong with the food and drink of Babylon? Do we all need to be vegetarians, vegans and teetotallers? Doubtless amongst the Jewish community some would have deemed Daniel to be somewhat Pharisaical, over scrupulous. You’ll recall from the New Testament how tight the Pharisees were, yet still they were defiled. They were so religiously particular while at the same time plotting murder. No, it’s not that with Daniel. Remember what the agenda is here with the Babylonians. The plan is get rid of the tradition of the fathers out of the minds of Daniel and his colleagues. They want to eradicate the biblical worldview, mindset. The is the reason for the change of names, cultural norms, even their diet. Babylon wouldn’t be acquainted with the modern mindset today, that religion is a private matter, to be kept to oneself. The life of Daniel is permeated with religion, he walks, talks and breathes it. God has his hand on this young man. The Babylonian culinary delights offered to Daniel is food that was first offered to idols. Each meal would have been a ‘holy’ meal, offered to the gods of Babylon. Of which of course, there were many. An idolatrous sacrament. So to both eat and drink this food offered to them would have been to eat and drink to the glory of Babylon’s gods. It is for this reason that Daniel refuses, he is consecrated to God, devoted to the true and living God. This is a biblical attitude after all is not? And not just within the four walls of a church building. Whether we buy or sell, whether we build or plant, whether we eat or drink, whatever and wherever we do it, we do it all to the glory God (1Corinthians 10:31). It is the devotion of our entire lives to God, this is our reasonable, or spiritual service. “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
The attitude is wrong that says we recognise the church is God’s domain, but what goes on, or what we do outside is our own business. Business is business, it’s our own lives, keep off. There can be no compartmentalising of the life of faith, Jesus Christ is Lord, and Lord of all, or Lord of nothing at all. Wonderfully and amazingly Daniel, though just a youth, about fourteen at this time, recognises the danger of compromise. You mustn’t compare today’s fourteen-year-olds in the West with a fourteen-year-old Hebrew lad back then. At the age of twelve, a Hebrew lad would be expected to be mature enough to be about his father’s business. The immaturity we see in Western youth is the result of the madness of sin. Daniel will know no compromise, he does not want to be estranged from his God by offending and breaking his commandments. Thus his faith is put into action at the dining room table, both sensibly and compassionately too, I might add. For Daniel would be aware that this man, appointed to be his tutor, his life could well be at stake (v9-10). The compassion note was God-given. So Daniel empathises with the man, he lets him know that he appreciates his dilemma and suggests an alternative. “Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:11-13). The young Daniel acts according to his faith, but not rashly, foolishly, but with wisdom and maturity beyond his years. O for God to raise up young men and women such as this in our churches in the West today.
“Daring to be like Daniel”
What’s in a Name? – (Chapter 1 Verses 1-7)
The question might be asked, where did Daniel and his three friends come from, spiritually I mean, not geographically? Well, I do believe these youngsters could well be a fruit of Jeremiah’s ministry. Jeremiah’s ministry began in the time of Josiah’s reign and revival. Now we’ve already said the revival didn’t go far and deep enough, it certainly didn’t stop the rot in Israel. But, I ask, was it during that time that young Daniel learned his faith, or at least the seeds of it were sown? Was he the son of the faithful remnant, well grounded in the faith at a mother’s knee? And now that seed has come to fruition, now it’s time to stand and here this young man stands. We do our young people a great disservice, in fact, we fail them when all we do is feed them superficially. On a visit to the United States of America a short while ago I was asked to speak briefly to some high school kids, at a Christian school. What a joy to see that they weren’t just being fed on Bible stories. The class I spoke to were studying apologetics. How many of our fifteen-year-olds in our churches here in the United Kingdom even know what the apologetic means? The young man Daniel was certainly trained for days of war, spiritual war I mean, and that’s what we ought to be training our children for today. Here now in Babylon Daniel finds himself under the instruction of a youth worker of a different kind (v3-4). Ashpenaz is his name (v3). And he is meticulous in his job. His task is to inject the Babylonian spirit into some of these young Hebrew men, the better ones. Included in this is also the changing of their names (v7). Now to understand the background to all this one has to remember that the book of Daniel is prophetic. Daniel is God’s prophet whose struggle is between Jerusalem and Babylon. The first, Jerusalem, is the city of God. The latter, Babylon, is the city of darkness, i.e., the world. They are in Shinar (v2), where the world-power originally rose up against God (Genesis 11:4). Mankind’s first attempt at autonomy, independence from God. Man’s bid for sovereignty, to be the master of his own destiny. It was the beginning of the war of the ages and extends to end of the world’s history as we know it. It’s the war against God and Satan. Between the church and the world. Between Christ and the Antichrist. It is the war that culminates in the final battle (Revelation 18:1ff) with the ultimate triumph of Christ.
Note the relevance of the plan here (v4). The scheme is an old one but it’s not obsolete. Babylon’s interest is in the elite, the ones who they esteem will be future leaders amongst the youth. The ones whose character and convictions have not yet hardened, but can still be moulded, shaped, redirected even. So these are not treated as prisoners which of course who tend to harden them against the Babylonians, alienate them. They are selected for the best of education, Ivy League class, or Oxbridge if you like (v4). If you want to poison a lake what is the best, easiest way to do it? You go to the source, the stream that fills the lake and there you insert the poison. The stream will do the rest of the work carrying the poison into the entire lake. Now if you want to poison a nation you use the same principle. You go to its youth, their Universities and Colleges and there you inject the poison, you indoctrinate them and they will carry the poison into every sphere of society. You don’t bother with the older ones, the are too hardened in their convictions, you will not change them. You either kill them or wait for them to die off. The Nazi German policy under Hitler also. It’s not new but neither is it obsolete. It is happening in the West even as I write. So this is Ashpenaz’s task to Babylonianise Daniel and his three friends, indoctrinate them with Babylonian culture. To naturalise them (v4-5). One of the first things to be done is to alienate them from their own native ethos and language. They are going to be Paganised. They are to be taught Babylons beliefs, ideologies. All, everything has to be transformed even their diet (v5). It would be put to them that their old Jewish food regulations and customs are so old fashioned, you guys are in the modern world now. Get with it guys. When a new regime takes over, as has been seen in Russia over the last hundred years or more, they changed to names of places. Of cities, towns, palaces and squares, everything that reminds people of the old regime has to be changed. So these four Hebrew lads, their names which are well meaningful as we shall see, they have to be changed. The past has to be erased from their psyche, it’s called indoctrination. The culture of the world has to be embraced. How will they ever be able to stand against this? Faith is the answer. In the true and living God, the God of Israel, the God their fathers.