I have been doing a Bible study on Revelation this year and recently part of the study involved taking a look at the book of Daniel. Daniel lived in Judah when it was taken captive by Babylon in 605 B.C. The Babylonians then began to take some of Judah’s leading citizens and transport them to Babylonia to live there. During one of these deportations, Daniel went into exile in Babylon. Scholars think that he was probably about 17 years old. Some of you can imagine what it’s like for such a young person to be taken from his or her family!
This young man suddenly found himself in a culture very different from his own. And all around him was evil. Biblically Babylon became the symbol of a people opposed to God. Most organized religions of today can be traced back to ancient Babylon. It was terribly wealthy so materialism was rampant. The city was lavish with decorative buildings and luxurious palaces. Daniel 5 hints at the idea that many lusts of the flesh could be indulged in Babylon. Isaiah condemned Babylon for its excessive bloodshed. As Daniel went into captivity in this environment, he amazingly held onto his faith. You can read the story in the first chapter of the book of Daniel. Because not only did he hold onto his faith, but he fervently lived it out among his captives. He chose obedience to God’s laws over the temptations before him. He lived out his faith among the Babylonians and God gave Daniel favor. Eventually he found himself in the presence of the king where he was given the ability to interpret the king’s dreams (see Daniel 2). Daniel was the only one in all of the kingdom to correctly tell the king what he wanted to know – the content and meaning of his dream. As a result, the king himself acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God (2:47). Daniel was given position and power and had great influence for many years to come.
We, too, live in an evil world. All around us we see the destruction and heartache caused by sin. We live in cultures that practice and even encourage attitudes and behaviors that are against God Almighty. People hurt and kill each other, immorality is everywhere, and Christians are persecuted. It is so easy to look around and criticize our culture. The temptation is strong to become discouraged and begin to feel hopeless toward the world around us. Some days I wish God would just hurry up and bring His final judgment to this evil world. But that’s not what Daniel did. Surrounded by sin and godless people, Daniel did not criticize or despair. He simply lived out his faith. He simply remained obedient to what he knew God had asked him to do. He followed God’s laws and spoke of his God and prayed. And in doing so, he impacted those around him in powerful ways.
I want to be like Daniel. I want to resolve, like he did, to follow Jesus no matter what the world is doing around me. Instead of criticizing and judging the world around me, I want to focus on Jesus and following Him and let Him do His work through me. Will you join me? Let us not despair but focus on Jesus, pray often, love those around us, live out His Word, and share truth when we are given opportunities! God bless each and every one of you!
-Corrie Kozacek (married to Chris, International Care Pastor and Field Ministry Team Manager for YFCI, mom to Bailey and Brennan)