in the Bible
Read/Print the entire book
(Update - 2nd Edition, 2010)
Table of Contents
Iran In The Bible
Persians in the Bible
Daniel Overcomes Culture Shock
A. MORE THAN A LION TAMER
When we hear about the prophet Daniel, most of us remember the story of how he was thrown into a den of lions for refusing to worship anyone but Jehovah. Because of his love and faithfulness to God, we know that he was miraculously spared. Some missionaries face adversity almost every day in a foreign culture. In fact any Christian working in a secular environment may sometimes feel as though he is in the middle of a lionís den. Letís take a look at how Daniel remained faithful and consequently served as a vibrant witness, not only to the Babylonians but also the Persians who would later rule the empire.
1. How did Daniel get to Babylon? Read 2 Chronicles 36:6 - 21. We learn that Nebuchadnezzar took captives from Israel to Babylon three different times.
- In 604 B.C. during Jehoiakimís reign at which time Daniel was taken (2 Chronicles 36:6)
- In 597 B.C. during Jehoiachinís reign (II Chronicles 36:9-10)
- In 586 B.C. during Zedekiahís reign (II Chronicles 36:18-21)
2. How long did Daniel serve God in Babylon and Persia? Read Daniel 1:21; 6:28; 10:1. We know that Daniel was an honored public servant throughout the reign of the kings of Babylon and at least into the third year of the reign of Cyrus---all told, a span of more than 70 years.
B. FACING TEMPTATION
Culture shock is what missionaries get when they are faced with the stressful changes of living in a different society. Fatigue, depression, and despair are a few of the symptoms that can overtake someone living as a foreigner. Chapter one of the Book of Daniel clues us into the pressures Daniel faced in the Babylonian culture. How are some of the examples below similar to the pressures faced by people today who move to different countries? Do Christians working and living in our own secular society face any similar pressures and feel like foreigners?
1. Functioning as a Jew in the secular Gentile world was not easy. Godís law prescribed that His people live apart from the world and, as mentioned in Daniel 1:8, this included dietary restrictions.
2. Seeing Jerusalem destroyed and Godís people taken captive must have tempted young Daniel to doubt the power and promises of his God.
3. Adjusting to captivity and new responsibilities in a strange land was thrust upon Daniel while only a teenager.
4. Surviving required learning the Babylonian culture and language.
5. Serving the king was mandatoryĖDanielís only option was to live in the royal palace and study hard.
6. Being renamed from Daniel, which means "God is my judge," to the Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, which means "prince or protector of Bel," must have felt to Daniel as though he were losing part of his identity.
7. Being tempted to compromise put his faith to the test.
C. HOW DANIEL RESPONDED
1. Daniel trusted in God.
Daniel was a young, privileged Israeli noble (Daniel 1:3-4) when he and others were taken captive. They had to travel the 400 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon. They probably walked the distance, perhaps going hungry. They may have been mocked by the Babylonians. Some might have died along the way. What hope was there for prisoners of a heathen nation? Daniel was chosen to be one of the few who would study the Babylonian culture in order to serve in the kingís palace. God had a plan for Daniel.
2. Daniel committed himself to pleasing God.
One translation of Daniel 1:8 says he "purposed in his heart" (KJV) and another says "Daniel resolved" (NIV) not to defile himself. As the U.S. Marines would say, "Death rather than dishonor." Daniel would not eat the rich food from the kingís table, probably because it did not meet the dietary standards prescribed in Godís law. Wisely, he did so without causing offense, asking an official to test his health over a period of days and see if he would not be stronger simply eating vegetables and water. God honored Danielís commitment and consequently, the unclean food was removed from all the Israeli men in the palace (Daniel 1:16).
3. Daniel lived with integrity.
Daniel became an honored public official whose service survived the transition of an empire. He successfully served kings across cultures, from Babylonian to Median and Persian. In the trials of his first three years of study and throughout the next several decades, God sustained Daniel as he lived out his faith with integrity of character.
- He was a man of prayer. 2:17-18; 6:10; 9:3-4; 10:2-3
b. He was righteous and godly. 1:8; 6:4-5
c. He was sociable with other people:
- Believers 1:6- 7
- Unbelievers 1:9
- He was an excellent student. 1:19- 20
a. He was flexible, accepting his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, and learning a new language.
b. He was humble, acknowledging that God was the source of his knowledge and wisdom. 1:17; 2:19
D. MAKE A PERSONAL APPLICATION
Chapters 2-6 of Daniel reveal how God has worked beyond the borders of Israel, particularly in the Babylonian and Persian Empires. Are these principles still applicable in the modern world?
Chapter 2 - God sets up and destroys governments and will replace them with His own.
Chapter 3 - God gives deliverance from government religious persecution.
Chapter 4 - God is in control of governments.
Chapter 5 - God will judge evil in government levels.
Chapter 6 - God will deliver believers from the plots of unbelievers.
(Donít forget the punch line 6:25-27)
E. DIG DEEPER
Carefully read Daniel 1-6. These chapters were chosen by a group of Christian congressmen in Washington in order to study how to serve God within the context of a political office. What points do you think the group may have discussed?
2. In what way were Danielís 70 years of political life unusual?
3. Use the model of Danielís adjustment to Babylon to help you to understand the challenges faced by an immigrant to the USA. Perhaps God will give you an opportunity this week to help a person who has recently arrived in America.
How might the way Daniel adjusted to his new situation in Babylon help you if you and your family had to move to a new city away from friends and your home church?