Pastor Marcus Blair, Cornerstone Baptist Church
The ancient Babylonians were a pagan society that believed in multiple gods. They were also very warlike, and they loved to
conquer other societies. They came and conquered Israel, and when they did, they took all the best people with them back to Babylon with the intent to assimilate them into Babylonian culture. You see that here in the first chapter: Nebuchadnezzar, the pagan king of Babylon, wanted all the best and brightest people, especially youths, to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians. He even gave them new names. And often they would leave or kill the weak, the uneducated, and the old, and they’d take artists, doctors, teachers, and scholars.
The strategy was clear – you don’t just take over another nation, you absorb them into your own. You get them to speak like a Babylonian, not like a Jew. You give them a Babylonian name to take the place of their Jewish name. You get them to eat and drink like a Babylonian, and dress like one. You start filling their head with teachings and customs of the Babylonians, and before you know it, you have a young generation that is ready to be outstanding members of Babylonian society. All you have to do first, is kill who they were raised to be. You have to take away and confuse their identity.
Is any of this sounding eerily familiar? Especially with our young people: the devil wants to ensure that anything our youth have learned about God, respect, morals, and family be flushed down the tubes and a new programming be installed in them. A programming of atheism, acceptance of immorality, and ultimately, the total corruption of their identity in God. Are people confused about their identity these days? Oh yeah. People have lost the concept of who they were created by God to be.
The great thing was, these four young men, Daniel, and his friends, understood that plan and rebelled against it. They knew that the Babylonians were attempting to wipe out their knowledge of God and turn them into pagan Babylonians instead. But they would not abandon their faith!
No, Daniel and these others weren’t going to stand for it. Are you going to stand for it? There is truly only one way to fight the tide. We are left with just one course of action. As Christians, we must stand out. We have to stand out from the crowd, especially when the goal of evil is to absorb you and turn you into something you’re not. You have to be like Daniel and say, “I’m not going to eat that food or drink that wine. It was dedicated to demons, and I’m not going to defile myself. I’ll just eat greens instead.”
Now remember, Daniel here was turning down the king’s own food. It must have been some good stuff. Very, very tasty, sumptuous in fact. Can you imagine, sitting there smelling all that roasted meat and rich food, and deciding you would rather have a plate of vegetables? But that’s the kind of stand we need to start thinking about: will you sacrifice comfort for God? Will you miss out on some things, to be a person of Christ? Will you let everyone around you go one way, and swim against the stream?
The Bible teaches us that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world. We are a peculiar people. We are meant to stand out. If someone finds you weird for following Jesus, that’s a high compliment. Someone who practices the Bible and follows Jesus should seem weird compared to the culture around them! Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven. We are from a different place, and one day, we are heading back there. We are just passing through this world. We have to keep ourselves, like Daniel, from being tainted by the darkness and evil around us. We are pressing on to our real home, and it’s not Babylon!