The Lord’s Message:  Fighting Assimilation

The Lord’s Message:  Fighting Assimilation
Date:  June 23, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Daniel 1:1-9, 11-17

            We are going to start off with some Biblical History.  I know that this is probably going to bore you, but it is important that we learn Biblical History, so that we can understand the Bible and what God has to say to us living in the 21st century.  Most of us know about Daniel being put into a lions’ den.  That is just a small portion of the Book of Daniel. The majority of the book is based on what happened to Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah growing up in a culture that does not worship God, but idols.  Daniel and his friends were living at the time when God said enough is enough.  The Kings of Judah from the ancestry of David had been disobeying God and worshipping idols, false gods of their neighboring countries.  They were leading the people of Judah into sin.  God has sent the prophet Jeremiah to warn them of their sins.  Jeremiah pleaded with them over and over again to repent of their sins and turn back to God.  He warned them that the nation of Babylon would come and destroy the nation of Judah, cart off the inhabitants, demolish the Temple for God that King Solomon had built and leave Jerusalem and the rest of the nation in utter ruin.  This was all accomplished in three waves of battles and after each defeat of Judah was a deportation program.   Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all live at the same time in Jerusalem.   Ezekiel was in the first deportation to Babylon.  Daniel in the second deportation to Babylon.  Jeremiah did not go to Babylon, but to Egypt. 

            Let us pray.

            We know that Daniel came in the second wave of deportation to Babylon, because in verse 1, it says, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of Judah.”  In 2 Chronicles 36:5-7, we are told that God had King Nebuchadnezzar take King Jehoiakim to Babylon. Daniel’s father was serving in the court of the king.  We know this because in verse 3, it says, “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility.  We are told in verse 6 that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were selected.   Therefore, we also know that Daniel was deported.  The Bible tells us nothing about his parents or the rest of the family.  Daniel was separated from his family by force.  We do not know the age of Daniel when this happened, he could be as young as 12 to as old as 17.  

            The assimilation begins.  Before Daniel was deported, there was great suffering in Jerusalem.  There was very little food.  Many people crammed into Jerusalem to escape the fighting.  After the fall, there was even more suffering.  It is 900 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon.  In Ezra 7:9, Ezra records that it took him in a caravan 4 months to journey from Babylon back to Jerusalem.  Ezra went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of God, once again beginning the worship of God in Jerusalem. 

            Daniel endured many hardships before arriving at Babylon. The king has selected he and his friends to be raise up and trained to be a Babylonian.  In verse 4, it says that Ashpenaz was to teach the young men the language and selected literature of the Babylonians.  The literature would also be the history of what the king wanted them to know.  In verse 5, They are also given the same food and wine that the kings ate and drank.  This would have been the best.  This was to go on for three years and the king would then select who would serve him.  On top of all this, the king would change their name from Hebrew names to Babylonian names. 

         Hebrew Name   Meaning                            Babylonian Name             Meaning

         Daniel         God is my Judge                       Belteshazzar             Keeper of hidden treasures.

         Hananiah   The grace of the Lord             Shadrach                   Inspiration of the sun.

         Mishael   He that is the strong God         Meshach                   Who is like Shach referring to

                                                                                                            Babylonian Goddess of love, Istar.

         Azariah      The Lord is my help                  Abednego                 The servant of the shining fire.

            I want us to look deeply at this process of assimilation. 

            First, take boys who are young and moldable, age 12 to 17 years old is perfect. 

            Second, remove them from their parents and any association that they have with their    

            past, such as their country and their relationship with God. 

            Third, give them new names, so that there is no reference to who and whom they are.

            Fourth, educate them on what you want them to know. 

            Fifth, feed them the choicest of food and pamper them, so that they will be loyal to you.

King Nebuchadnezzar was very smart.  He was able to accomplish two goals at the same time.  First, by removing the boys from their parents, King Nebuchadnezzar was able to keep rebellion to a minimum.  I suspect the king told the parents if you rebel, not only you will be punished, but your sons will be punished.  We know that King Nebuchadnezzar dealt ruthlessly with his enemies.  He even had all the sons of the king of Judah, Zedekiah, killed in front of him and then gouged out the eyes of the king.  So, that the last sight he would remember would be his dying sons, 2 Kings 25:7.

The second goal was to seal his power structure in Babylon with the smartest, best looking, and loyal leaders.  Through assimilation, King Nebuchadnezzar was able to accomplish both goals. 

All but four boys were able to be completely assimilated.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They accepted their Babylonian names.  They read and study the Babylonian literature, but when it came to eating the king’s food and drinking his wine, they said, “No.”  The reason was that this food was offered to idols.  This is one of the rulings that the Council of Jerusalem put on the Gentile converts to Christianity, Acts 15:19-20.

Now, they did not do this in a harsh way.  They did not protest.  In verses 8-10, Daniel discusses this matter with the chief of the court officials, Ashpenaz.  Ashpenaz does not consent, but he also does not say No.  He simply says that he is afraid that if Daniel and his friends look under nourished, then the king will kill Ashpenaz.  So, Daniel comes up with a way of testing to see who is healthier looking, Daniel and his friends who are going to eat only vegetables and drink only water or the other young boys that are going to be feasting on the king’s food and drinking his wine.  Daniel does not bring this test to Ashpenaz, but to the person guarding him, verses 11-14. 

The result at the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends look healthier and better nourished than the other boys, verses 15-16.  In verse 17, not only were they healthier and better nourished, just as God had given wisdom to Solomon, they were blessed by God with wisdom. 

The one that would be the supreme earth judge of their training, King Nebuchadnezzar, made these statements in verses 19-20. 

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to assimilate Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into becoming his loyal subjects.  Daniel and his friends compromise by learning the language and the culture but refuse to forget who God is.  They refuse to compromise by eating food and drinking wine that had been offered to idols.  Instead, they ate vegetables and drank water, God blessed them by showing physical and intellectually that they were far superior to those young boys that had eaten the food and wine offered to idols. 

We lived in a world that wants to assimilate us, believers in Jesus.  They pack our Sundays full with youth sports and other outdoor events.  They even are telling us that we are foolish for believing in God.  Now, they are even trying to change our gender from the image in which God has made us.  They are educating our children far from God’s way.  It will not stop.  They want to do away with all Christians holidays.  They have corrupted Christmas and Easter.  Satan is at work to destroy everything that God has made and called His, including Christians. 

The church should influence the culture, not the culture influencing the church.

Compromise on some things is good.  But we should never compromise on the Bible and living for God.  I once read an illustration on compromise on Facebook.  It was a very cold day and a hunter decided to hunt down a bear and skin the bear, so that he would be able to keep himself warm with the bear’s fur.  He lined up his gun and was about to take a shot at a bear, when the bear spoke up and said why are going to shoot me.  The hunter replied, “I am very cold, so I am going to shoot you, so that I will be able to keep warm.”  The bear replied, “I am very hungry, and I was going to eat you, to quench my appetite.”  The bear though for a moment and then replied, “We can accomplish both needs, if I eat you, then you will be in my stomach and be nice and warm.”  The hunter thought this over and it seemed good to him.  So, he let the bear eat him and now he is nice and warm in the bear’s stomach and the bear is not hungry anymore, at least not for a little while.

When we compromise the Word of God and our holy living for God, then the world will gladly consume us and assimilate us into its culture.  We need to stand up and fight assimilation with the Word of God.  Let us be counted as a follower of Jesus, even if it means putting our life on the line.  Daniel and his friends did with the help of God, and we should know that God will do the same for us as well.  Every day, Christians are facing persecutions.  Every day, Christians are being tortured and/or killed for their faith.  In India, churches are being burned and Christians beaten and killed in the streets.  The local police look the other way, but the churches are growing, because they refuse to compromise their faith and be assimilated into the culture. 

Persecution in this country is more subjective, but it is still there and growing.  We need to stand together for Christ.  By standing for each other, this is how we grow together in faith.  Amen.

June 25, 2024 11:50 am