I love to study the characters in the Old Testament. Just yesterday I preached in my home church and focused on the life of David (you can see or listen to that message on the church's website). For the next few weeks, I will revisit Daniel and look at his life through the eyes of purpose.
When I read Daniel, I think of how many people today mourn the current state of the world. Some are convinced that we are close to the end and, who knows, they may be correct. Yet I happen to think that God is up to something different, something that those doom and gloom folks don't recognize. It is what I call the Babylon model. What is that, you may inquire? Ah, I will be glad to answer but it will require that you read on.
Daniel was taken from the comforts of Judea to the discomfort of Babylon. There was nothing about Babylon that reminded Daniel of what he knew in his youthful past. He had to learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, learn a new currency, get accustomed to a new name and a society where everything was a god. This young man who served one God had to learn how to live, work and prosper in a land where everything and everyone was a god. I would expect that Daniel had culture shock.
Yet God brought Daniel to Babylon. You may say that it was God's handpicked place for Daniel to learn, grow and prosper. Daniel had no time to yearn and mourn for the "good old days" back in Jerusalem. He had too much work to do to make it in Babylon. And make it he did.
When you think of it, Daniel was one of God's first missionaries. God sent Daniel to Babylon and immersed him in a place where Daniel's voice and God were only one among many competing for the allegiance of men. Yet Daniel did it and soon was at the top of the world in his new home.
So what does that have to do with now? We live in a modern Babylon. Everything is a god and consequently nothing is sacred. Every man does what is right in his own eyes and, like Nebuchadnezzar, we build monuments to heroes who are not heroes at all. Yet God is raising up missionaries to this new Babylon but only those who embrace this Babylon model, will prosper and succeed. Those who build spiritual fortresses to preserve the past will miss the fact that this Babylon model is God's idea. In the past, God's people were the only act in town, so to speak. Now His people are one voice among many but God promises that they will succeed and prosper but only if they don't become opponents to what He is doing.
Daniel did not just exist in Babylon, he prospered there. He did not oppose the soothsayers and necromancers, but rather became their supervisor as chief of the so-called wise men of Babylon. Daniel thrived in the Babylon model and you will, too. First, however, you have to let go of the past and learn to express your purpose in this new day where God's ways have to compete with many other philosophies and lifestyles that claim to be superior to God's way.
Most expressions of purpose find their fulfillment not in the church but outside of it. God is concerned with the whole world, and is assigning His people purpose in many domains, like education, the military, business, government, social work and entertainment. It's a modern Babylon out there, but God is raising up Daniels (men and women) who are not intimidated by Babylon but see it as an opportunity to show the supremacy of our God and His plan.
Wherever you are in your PurposeQuest in Babylon, I urge you to make the most of your opportunity! Be the best you can be and trust the Lord to give you a chance to be the head and not the tail (see Deuteronomy 28:13). Don't be an adversary to Babylon, for then you won't be able to impact Babylon for God's sake. As you journey on in this new land, I pray you will have a great week!