What does the Christian faith look like in an environment that is hostile?

In Western culture, we would say we don’t live in a hostile situation. Yet, when naturalism is the dominant worldview of our day, and Christian claims of the existence of God are often met with ridicule, scorn and laughter because Science “rules,” it doesn’t seem so peaceful after all. Do we just sit back and allow ourselves to blend into what goes on around us, not wanting to ruffle any feathers? How does a servant of Christ contend for the faith in such an environment?

We may not be displaced from our homes here in the Western culture. We may not be physically forced to assimilate to the culture around us. Yet the subtle pressures around us may be even more dangerous: the constant pressure to fit in, media influence that is unavoidable, and materialistic desires, just to mention a few.

And what does this have to do with the book of Daniel? One might think Daniel is not relevant today. Although the events in Daniel occurred a very long time ago: a different time, a different place, it won’t take long to discover that what happened to Daniel and his friends is very applicable and significant for us today.

Daniel is set in the sixth century, BC. The Israelites had been warned numerous times to change their ways and to turn back to God. God used Babylon as His agent of judgment against Israel for their sins of idolatry and rebellion against him. Each time Judah rebelled against Babylonian rule, Nebuchadnezzar would lead his armies against them. Eventually Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem for over a year, killing many people and destroying the temple. He took many thousands of Jews captive and left Jerusalem in ruins.

Daniel was one of those taken captive. He was born of noble blood during the last days of the kingdom of Judah. He was approximately 15 years old when taken into captivity by Babylon. Instead of allowing Babylonian culture to influence them, Daniel and his friends set their hearts on living for God, even though it was dangerous for them to do so, as we will see over the next few weeks.

In this sermon series, we will be focusing on the first six chapters of the book. Chapters 1 through 6 are narratives from the lives of Daniel and his three friends. They “exemplify faithful living in exile and provide models of how God’s people should live as strangers and exiles in a world that is not their home.”# They served their pagan masters loyally without compromising their greater loyalty to God. However the book is about more than who God expects us to be, it is about who Yahweh reveals himself to be. He doesn’t demand faithfulness of his people without demonstrating time and time again that no matter how difficult things get for his people, he is in control and will be faithful to them.

 

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