Sermon Notes- Pastor Rafael- The Culture of We: God First in Daniel- 07.21.19
ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO READ THIS WEEK – Daniel Chapters 1-6
The King tried to strip Daniel and his friends of their; culture, namesake and identity.
– How do we learn who or what God says we are?
-How did they know the I Am?
In what ways does our culture seek to change us or steal our God-given identity?
-How did Daniel and his friends handle this situation?
What do you know about the character of God? How can you learn about His character if you don’t already know it? In what ways can we become agents of change in our culture?
Can we expect God to grant us favor with those in authority over us if we are disrespectful? Absolutely NOT!
-Share examples of how to show respect, even when we disagree.
Have you ever been in a position where someone expected you to provide a practical answer to a spiritual matter? Now imagine that your LIFE depends on it… How did you handle it?
-Would you do it differently now in light of this example of Daniel?
Do you think Daniel agreed with Nebuchadnezzar? With his policies, methods, or beliefs? NO!
-How have you handled times when you disagreed with the authority in your life? From your job, parents, church, government, etc?
Did Daniel try to change Nebuchadnezzar? No, he was showing them the difference.
-Who is watching you? What are you showing them?
Daniel put God first when facing the pressures of life (culturally, politically and spiritually)
– How do we practically play this out in our own lives?
The question when pressure comes is – Will you compromise?
Sermon -Who was Daniel?
Daniel was a young man who was taken captive to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar when he besieged Jerusalem. It’s believed Daniel was between 14-19 years old when he was taken captive.
Daniel 1:3-7: King Nebuchadnezzar tells his Chief of Staff to select some of the young men of Judah’s royal and noble families. Daniel and three of his friends were some of those selected.
- The king wanted them to know the Babylonian language, literature and they had to eat the King’s food. In other words, they had to be immersed in Babylonian culture.
- He tried to brainwash the young exiles, and even changed their names. The Babylonian’s wanted to strip them of any of their God- given identity.
- Daniel’s Hebrew name means “God is my judge”.
- Hananiah means: “Jehovah is Gracious”.
- Mishael means: “Who Belongs to God”.
- Azariah means: “Jehovah Helps”.
Daniel was called Belteshazzar, which means, “Bel’s prince.”
-Bel was the ruling god of the Babylonian pantheon.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
Some believe that their names were changed to honor the three other Babylonian pagan deities; Marduk, Aku and Nebo.
This is significant even today! The enemy seeks to rob you of your God given identity. He seeks to brainwash you, and to give you a different identity than the one God gave you.
Daniel’s faithfulness to the Lord was remarkable.
• He didn’t live his life according to the identity that his enemy had given him, but according to his God-GIVEN identity!
-WORD the Lord gave as writing this message: Live your life according to who God says YOU ARE!
Daniel lived under incredible pressure. He lived in an unbelieving, idol worshipping, pagan culture with no regard for the King of Kings, the one true God.
• Despite the environment Daniel found himself in, he remained faithful to his God.
–Are we living like this? Or are we letting our environment steal our faithfulness?
-Are we surviving or thriving?
I want to take a look at three areas in Daniel’s life where he overcame the pressure of his environment:
1- Cultural pressure
2- Religious pressure
3- Political pressure
Definition of Pressure: the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something.
- Cultural Pressure:
Daniel found himself in a culture very different from his. He had a choice to make, will he allow the Babylonian culture to change him? Or, will he become a change agent in this culture?
-In what ways does our culture seek to change us?
-In what ways can we become agents of change in our culture?
In this culture, what the king says goes. In this culture, it is a privilege to be offered the food from the king’s table. It is counter-cultural to reject the food of the king for something lesser.
There were many laws concerning foods that were clean or unclean (Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14). It’s quite possible that the food from the King’s kitchen had been offered to idols.
Daniel was determined not to defile himself!
• He was determined not to allow this culture to affect his faithfulness and commitment to his God.
The HOW is just as important as the WHY in this scenario.
– Many times we want to do what Daniel did, but we do it in ways that diminish or eliminate our influence within the culture.
Let’s look at how Daniel went about it:
Verse 8- He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods
1. He asked for permission. He honored those who were in authority over him.
-God had given the Chief of Staff both respect and affection for Daniel.
Can we expect God to grant us favor with those in authority over us if we are disrespectful? Absolutely NOT!
2. He listened to the predicament of the one who was in charge of them.
-v10 “I am afraid of my lord the king… I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.” He cared about his fears.
-As believers, we must listen to the predicament of those around us. We can’t afford to dismiss their fears and struggles.
-Church, we need to pay attention to the fears of our culture
3. He also offered a solution.
-12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.”
-He knew God’s character. He knew God is faithful, and that He keeps His promises.
-Deuteronomy 29:1 points out that Daniel knew God!
“We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is.”- A.W. Tozer
2. Religious/Spiritual Pressure
Because Daniel, and his friends, impressed the king so much they entered into royal service.
– Whenever the king consulted them about things requiring balanced judgement and wisdom, he found them 10x more capable than any of the magicians or enchanters in his entire kingdom.
The king had a very disturbing dream and couldn’t sleep:
- He called his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers.
- He wanted an interpretation for his dream, but the deal was they had to first tell him what his dream was.
- They were unable to tell the king his dream:
-“The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.” 2:11
- The king became furious and ordered the killing of all the wise men in Babylon.
- Because of this order men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.
- Daniel rushed to see the king, and he requested more time to tell the king what he had dreamt.
Daniel was now under tremendous religious pressure. The pressure of providing a religious response to the king.
– Have you ever been a position where someone expected you to provide a practical answer to a spiritual matter? Now imagine that your LIFE depends on it…
Religion is always based on what “I can do”. Relationship with God is based on what Christ has done!
- Religion is about “me”.
- Religion exalts/elevates man.
- Daniel was about putting God first! He was about exalting God, and making His name and power known.
- Daniel’s approach was completely different than that of the rest of the wise men in the kingdom: Daniel went to his friends and asked them to pray.
- Daniel was not doing anything from his own strength and abilities. He had always relied on his trust in the faithfulness of God.
After enquiring of the Lord, that night the secret was revealed to Daniel.
– Then Daniel praised God: Daniel 2:20 (before he knew if the answer was right/if the king would accept it)
-This is such an amazing exchange between Daniel and king Nebuchadnezzar.
-Daniel tells him that NO ONE can tell him the dream and interpret it, but that he knows the ONE who can. He knows the one who reveals SECRETS!
That’s OUR calling!!! Our calling is to introduce the world to a miracle working, mystery revealing, wisdom giving, life transforming, ALL loving GOD!
- This includes government too! After all, this was the king.
- Still today, we need to offer wisdom to government. God’s wisdom!
- This is not based on whether we agree with them or not
- It is not about trying to change them, their opinions or beliefs, etc…
Let’s not forget that this was a sinful king. A king who destroyed Daniel’s home, and took him captive. Do you think Daniel agreed with Nebuchadnezzar?
-With his policies, methods or beliefs? NO!!!
But he understood one thing:
–vese 30 And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.
-The first thing is: Daniel’s humility in this situation.
-The second is: God wants you to understand what was in your heart.
–Wait a minute, God is interested in helping people (those who are not believers) understand what’s in their heart? Can He do that? YES!
-Especially when we allow Him to use us, and we get out of the way!
–God wants people, who don’t know Him, to know Him!
3. Political Pressure:
Daniel served 4 different kings in a timespan of over 70 years.
– In Daniel 6 we read that King Darius the Mede chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers, and to protect the king’s interests.
-Again, here is a Jew who does not believe what the Babylonians and Persians believe.
-Daniel has little in common with them, but there he is; serving in a culture, religious system and a government that does not honor his God.
So, the other administrators try to find a fault in the way Daniel is handling government affairs. However, they were unable to find any fault.
– They just know he prays to his God…a lot!
Due to the jealousy of these politicians, a law was instituted for the sole purpose of accusing Daniel.
-They wanted to bring him down!
- They claim that “all administrators” were in agreement, but Daniel was an administrator. He was certainly not a part of this discussion. That was all a lie!
- If you think the enemy is going to play fair, you are mistaken.
- If you think people are not paying attention, YOU ARE MISTAKEN! Especially, if they know you are a Christian.
- They were looking at Daniel’s life to catch him slipping.
- Daniel 6:4-5:
-Daniel was: Faithful, ALWAYS responsible and COMPLETELY trustworthy.
-If our enemies were looking at our lives I wonder if that’s what they will find?
-They realized that the only way to accuse Daniel was to attack his faithfulness to God.
-What did Daniel do? Did he go and tell the king that they were not all in agreement? Did he go and plead his case?
-What did Daniel do? What he had always done in times of pressure.
-What did Daniel do? He prayed and gave thanks to God.
Daniel gives us a powerful example of how to live righteously in a society that does not honor God.
- Daniel used his God given talents and abilities so that others would know “the living God”.
- The question when pressure comes is: Will you compromise?
Daniel put God first when facing the pressures of life.
- We all face CULTURAL, POLITICAL and SPIRITUAL/RELIGIOUS pressures.
- Can we make a decision that we will put GOD first when pressure comes?
- Daniel’s answer to the pressures of life was going to God in prayer.
We need to PRAY for those:
- “Under pressure”
- Seeking to use their talents and abilities to help others know God.
- Who desire to know GOD.