Living in Babylon

Somewhere around 606 B.C., a young Jewish noble named Daniel was part of a large group of nobles taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. These young men were likely forced to become eunuchs and to serve in the court of the king. The obvious intent by the emperor would be to prevent the political leadership of Judah from attacking since they knew that the Babylonians had their sons.

 

Can you imagine the hard choices that Daniel had to make? When should he go along with the society around him and fit in? When should he stand on his principles and make a stand? When should he make a stand, butt not make a stink?

 

The king had the young men educated in the Babylonian system. By all accounts, Daniel and his three friends showed themselves to be the best students in the bunch. So, apparently, Daniel felt comfortable learning what he was told to learn without forcing every classroom session to be a philosophical debate. At the same time, Daniel did not compromise his true beliefs from the word of God.

 

Daniel 1:8-9 – 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs…

 

When the king wanted to feed Daniel from his table, Daniel asked for mercy. To eat that food would be a direct and personal violation of the law of God. The people of Judah had been given by God direct commands to avoid certain foods in order to set themselves apart from the rest of the world. Daniel made this point a line in the sand. He asked for permission not to heat the king’s provision, but instead to have a more vegetarian diet.

 

Why was this the area of a stand for Daniel? Why was this the time to ask to be let out of the king’s plans? Daniel could live as a good citizen of Babylon in most areas. Daniel could go to school, learn what his teachers wanted him to learn, and get good grades on his tests. But to eat the king’s food would be Daniel’s choice to compromise himself. It was not Daniels job to stop Babylon from being Babylon. It was not his job to make them stop their odd astrology or even to change their diets. But Daniel could not go so far as to violate the law of God for the sake of peace and quiet.

 

So, Daniel spoke up, the Lord gave favor, and Daniel and his friends were allowed to eat vegetables instead of the unclean foods of the Babylonians—and no, this is not a biblical call to veganism. Instead, I would argue that it is a call to learn where you and I can compromise and where we cannot. It is not our jobs to politically turn our nation upside-down. Sometimes it may be for us to live in our nation as best we can while refusing to join in any activity that requires personal sin on our part. Then, as we live in our own Babylon, we can communicate the gospel of Christ with those around us and see our nation changed, not through the political process so much as through the process of the Lord God changing lives through the love of Christ and the power of his Spirit.

 

Christians, we are living in a Babylon. We had better start thinking like Daniel. I am not telling you what that looks like. You may feel a strong desire to participate in the political process to bring about change, and that is great. You may see that your role involves more of outreach to friends and neighbors, and that is great. Just remember that we are here to serve and worship the Lord Jesus. Remember what God commands us to actively change. Realize that the biblical command is not for us to battle against every wrong thing that those who do not know the Lord would do. Instead, we are to obey Christ, share the gospel, make a difference where we can, pray for our government, and live to the glory of the Lord even here in our Babylon.

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