I. Being tested in ‘Babylon’
First Test (1:5-16) Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and Jerusalem in 605 B.C. He orders that sharp young men be taken to Babylon to be trained to serve in the Kings palace. They were given the Kings food to eat.
Daniel and company had chosen not to compromise and eat the Kings food.
Reason 1) the Jewish people had dietary laws that only certain animals could or could not be eaten (Lev 11, Deut 14)
Reason 2) the Kings food would probably been offered to idols first.
They passed the test with flying colors. You can imagine the incredible feasts and food available to Daniel and his friends; Delicacies galore, meat, fish, wines, breads and rich desserts. It would be like a chef cooking up for you whatever you wanted to eat. Like taking one of those luxury cruises on a boat where you eat three to four huge meals a day. It would have been hard to resist that kind of eating and lifestyle.
Just like Daniel was tested in Babylon, so you will also be tested. Yes, your metals will be tested in Babylon.
Second Test (3:1-27) King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image about 90 feet high. He probably got the idea from 2:38. The people of the land were to fall down and worship it. Whoever did not fall down and worship it was to be cast into a burning furnace.
So, when the people heard the music (3:5-6) they all fell down and worshipped it. All of course but three Hebrew young men did this. They refused to worship it and compromise. And God protected them.
They knew the scriptures, which were probably taught to them growing up. Daniel and friends must have received a godly upbringing and influence under King Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34) and from the prophet Jeremiah (1:2). Their minds were probably thinking about the first two commandments of Moses (Exodus 20:35). “You shall have no other gods before me, and you shall not make yourself any graven image (idol) or worship it . . . or bow down yourselves or serve them”.
Note: The word worship is found eleven times in the chapter. They could have said, “We are in a foreign land and everyone else is doing it, anyhow who will (see or even know) if we are doing it or not.” You may be thinking the same thing, “If I do it, it won’t hurt anybody. Who will know if I go into an (x) rated book store, or go onto the internet to an adult porn site and look around. Or, who will know if I steal something. Who will know who even cares?” God does!
The Fiery Furnace: The image of the “fire” is often applied to testings and persecutions even in modern day conversations. “I am really going through the fire.” Throughout history Christians have had to face their own fiery furnaces for their faith including torture, persecution, loss of jobs, houses and even death.
As we move toward the end of the age. The furnace of testing and persecution “will be heated up seven times hotter, and the pressure to conform will be even stronger. Why? The devil knows his time is short. Daniel 3, reminds us of the prophecies found in Rev. 13-14. There will one day arise a world leader like Nebuchadnezzar, the beast, who will have an image of himself made, and will make everyone worship it or die.
The Third Test (6:1-12) ‘The Lion’s Den’
6:1) Daniel had previously been appointed a governor in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (2:48). Here Daniel is governor in the new Medo-Perisan Empire.
6:2) Suffer no loss. Refers to taxes, or it may mean that no money was stolen from the kingdom.
6:3) Excellent spirit. Probably refers to Daniels surpassing ability to do his job. Darius must have suspected that some of his officers were not doing their work faithfully and were robbing him (the kingdom). It would be impossible for Darius to keep his eyes, ears, and hands ‘on everything in the empire’, because that would mean supervising every worker, auditing every account and checking up on every assignment.
Daniel was one of three key administrators. These three men were to manage the affairs of the 120 leaders who ruled the provinces and reported directly to the King. Daniel proved to be such a superior worker, that Darius planned to make him the number one administrator, over the entire kingdom (6:3). Daniel was ‘the top dog’.
Yes, you will be tested in “Babylon”, why? Because the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
II. Be not conformed to ‘Babylon’
Daniel 1:4-6, Romans 12:2
Daniel and company were to be taught at the “University of Babylon” for three years. The Babylonians wanted Daniel and the boys to think, eat, act and live like Babylonians. The purpose of the course was to transform the Jewish boys into Babylonians. This meant there were uprooted and taken to another country.
For three years their Babylonian teachers would attempt to “brainwash” Daniel and his three friends. How many Christians go off to high school, college or a university for a couple of years and learn customs, culture, ways and lifestyles of the school.
I can think of someone right now. I’ve known the family for over ten years. They have a daughter that started going to college. And I noticed that she started changing. One day I saw her, and she was looking and dressing like someone from back in the 1970s.
III. Be not conformed to ‘this world’
The apostle Paul tells us (in Romans 12:2) not to be conformed to this world. The word conformed in the Greek (Strongs #4964) means to fashion alike, conform to the pattern, or conform to the shape it is molded to.
Don’t let the world put or squeeze you into its pattern, fashion, form or mold. Many times you cannot tell the “church apart from the world.” They have almost mixed and blended together. The church wants to dress, talk, and act like “Hollywood”.
Israel was to become a Holy Nation, separated from the ways and customs of the nations around them. Instead of remaining separate from the other nations, Israel intermarried with the nations around them and worshipped their gods (see Judges 2:11-13; 3: 5-6).
In the New Testament it says not to be yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). This “mixture” would not be good, even as it was not good in the Old Testament. Stop conforming yourselves to the worlds standards and ways. We are to resist being poured into the mold of the present thinking and value systems. Don’t let the world and other people squeeze you into their ‘mold’. Let God squeeze you into His mold. We are to conform, but conform only to God and His Word, and not the World.
Daniel and his friends were transformers, not conformers. Instead of being changed, they did the changing. Daniel and his friends did not compromise their ‘Godly beliefs’ in that foreign land. It would have been easy to do so, like enjoying that comforts of Babylon like food, money, power and authority (Daniel 2:48-49; 6:2). But they did not ‘buy into’ the culture or lifestyle. They did not pollute themselves with the things in Babylon.
Message for today: Let us not compromise our Christian beliefs in the present evil world.
Story of Lot: Lot first moved near Sodom (Genesis 13:12). Then in the next chapter, we find that Lot had moved into Sodom (14:12), then in (19:14) we see that Lot had compromised to the point that he was useless. His future sons in law thought he was joking. They didn’t take him seriously. Lot had blended in with the rest of the crowd so well at Sodom, that they didn’t take him seriously.
Have you also compromised at school, college, work or somewhere else, so that your testimony for God is almost useless?
Chameleon: a small lizard able to change colors to blend into its surroundings. We are not called to be like a chameleon that blends in with its surroundings.
IV. Come out of the culture of “Babylon”
What was Babylon, and who started it? We first read about Babylon in Genesis 10:8-10. It was Nimrod who started the City of Babylon, and the Kingdom of Babylon. In Genesis (10:10; 11:12), the land of Shinar is identified with the region of Babylonia. This is the section of Southern Mesopotamia where the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers flow in relatively close proximity to one another. A number of large cities were built along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. One of these was Babylon, which eventually gave its name to the entire region, calling it Babylonia.
Babylonia: Babylonia was also known as Shinar and Chaldea (Genesis 10:10, 11:2, 28)
Babylon: the city of Babylon, became the capital city. Babel is also the Greek spelling of Babylon (Genesis 11:9)
Chaldeans: Chaldeans is another word for Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6)
Nimrod: the descendants of Noah were led in rebellion against God by Nimrod, a grandson of Ham. Nimrod’s name means “rebel”, and it is though that Nimrod was a rebel against God, and God’s people. Nimrod not only started the City of Babel (Babylon), but it is believed that he may also have started and led the tower of Babel project. This city, Babylon, was the seat of Nimrod’s rebellion.
Babylon: In Babylon there were worshippers of fire, the sun, moon, stars and various forces of nature. It was against God’s law for the Jews to worship heavenly bodies (Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:3). Ancient Babylon, in Mesopotamia, was the commercial, political and religious center of the world. Even in the time of Joshua (about 1400 B.C.), Babylon was well known for the garments they made (Joshua 7:21). It was also known for its luxury and immoral behavior.
Both Isaiah (13:17-22) and Jeremiah (50:18-51:58) prophesied that Babylon would be conquered and become desolate forever. Babylon was conquered by King Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C. It was Alexander the Great who finally destroyed Babylon in 330 B.C. and left it a heap of ruins. After that, people left and gradually the city became deserted. By the time of Christ, Babylon had fallen into complete disrepair and ruin and no one lived there. Today, though Saddam Hussein tried to restore parts of Ancient Babylon, it still remains in ruins.
Come out: Come out . . .my people (Revelation 18:4), is a command that echoes Isaiah (52:11) and Jeremiah’s 51:45). In the book of Revelation, we see God destroying the Babylonian world system and setting up His kingdom.
In our western culture, the people of Hollywood; movie stars, celebrities, rock stars, football, basketball and sports heroes have become our role models. Unfortunately, they also have become role models to many Christians. Many children, probably your own children “look up” to them and how they act, talk, live, dress and, yes, even think. Many of these people imitate this bad boy or girl image. We see it on our television and hear it in our music. Many of these people are drug addicts, drunk on alcohol, live immoral lives, and are violent and wicked. They say “be like us, rich cool and bad”. They show and teach us and our children that it is alright to break the law. It’s alright to do your own thing. Who cares about the law? It’s cool to be bad. They want us to blend in, and mix with this present culture.
People like Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears, should not be out role models. To many of us are “cultural Christians” and not “Christians called out of this culture”. Our culture spends billions of dollars to influence us to buy, to want, to think, to do, to go the way they want us to think and buy. They want us to think that we cannot do without “these things”. Our modern day culture, teaches us to be very materialistic. It teaches us, this is the thing you “need”, now go out and buy it. They show you a nice beautiful car. They want you to think, you not only want it, but that you also “need it”. My neighbor has it, I want it too.
American and western culture is obsessed with materialism, luxury and money. This by the way is what most churches in America “teach”. They teach the “gospel of chasing after money and things.” Many churches have conformed to the culture of modern day Babylon and not to the Bible. “Come out, come out, come out of modern day Babylon”, says God, “for you are a holy people unto the Lord, purify and separate yourselves and be not part of this Babylonian World system.” Come out of Babylon is a command that echoes in the books of Isaiah (52:11), Jeremiah (51:45) and Revelation (18:4). What a picture of this present age and time we live in. It’s time we “come out of Babylon”.