Scripture: Daniel 1
We Christians, like the Israelites, have been freed from the land of captivity called Sin because of Jesus, and are wandering in the lands of our earthly existence, awaiting our entry into the Promised Land of eternity in Heaven. While we sojourn, we will cross over into new lands and experience new normals – new ways of living. In every new land, there will be new challenges and new difficulties. The new land that has been created because of COVID has revealed novel challenges and difficulties for us individually, as a church, and as a nation. I believe that we as a church are on the cusp of crossing over into new land and exploring new territories.
How should we live in this new land and face these new challenges? From our passage today, I would like to highlight 3 aspects that we must stay consistent in, especially in this atmosphere of change and challenge, so that we can continue to be a part of God’s sovereign plan and shine for Him.
I. Crossing into the New Land
A. Change of Environment
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. (Dan 1:1-2)
- Physically - From Jerusalem to Babylon
- Spiritually - From the Temple of God to the temple of Babylonian gods
B. Change of Position
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal
family and the nobility. (Dan 1:3)
- Physically - From nobility to captivity
- Spiritually - From the tributes to God to tributes to false gods
C. Change of Knowledge
4… He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. (Dan 1:4b-5)
- Physically - From clean to unclean
- Spiritually - From Jewish religion and culture to Babylonian religion and culture
II. Living in the New Land
Every step forward towards the new land and the new normal will be filled with uncertainty and challenges.
A. Be Consistent in Values
1. Avoid Compromise
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. (Dan 1:8)
Seven steps towards moral compromise:
- 1. A failure to commit ahead of time to do the right thing.
- 2. Underestimating evil and flirting with dangerous temptations, thus being exposed to far more powerful evils.
- 3. A failure to recognize the numerous forms of compromise lurking at every corner of life.
- 4. A failure to recognize the smooth flatteries and enticing fantasies of temptations.
- 5. Succumbing to slick rationalizations, that may allow for potential gains through questionable practices.
- 6. A sudden, deliberate choice to give in to sin.
- 7. A failure to consider the costly consequences of sin.
2. Acquiesce to Authority
… he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Dan 1:8)
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (1 Pet 2:13-17)
All we do must continue to remain within the confines of both God’s law and the law of the land, unless there is direct contradiction against the law of God.
B. Be Consistent in Faith
1. Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. (Dan 1:9)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psa 23:4)
2. Activate Our Faith
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)
C. Be Consistent in Excellence
1. Appropriate Available Wisdom
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (Dan 1:17)
WISDOM = General Factual Knowledge of Reality + Situational Insight + Necessary Resolve to Act
2. Apply Our Gifts
20 … he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. (Dan 1:20-21)
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men (Pro 22:29)
We are in a season of crossing over into new lands and uncharted territories; a season of crossing over into a new normal.
To live in the new normal, we must be consistent in:
- Our Values
- Our Faith
- Our Excellence
Have the eyes of faith to see the new land
Resolve to stand on our faith
Do our best for His glory