Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 145 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Daniel 1 today and our focus is on: How Can Young People Stay Christian In a Secular Society? (Why Did Daniel Refuse the King’s Food?)? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Mukono, Uganda, Nairobi, Kenya, Paramaribo, Suriname, Athens, Greece, Parts unknown, Philippines, Ontario, Canada, Uttar Pradesh, India, Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin, Texas .  Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Daniel is one of the more interesting books and figures in the Bible. He is one of the very few major people in the Bible that pretty much nothing negative is said about his life, and no wrongdoing of his is recorded. This, of course, does not mean that Daniel was sinless, but it certainly does appear that he was a man of unusual faith and virtue, especially considering that he was a God-fearing man serving in a culture that constantly pulled him in opposite directions. One of my favorite quotes is from a preacher and writer named Voddie Baucham, who says, “we cannot continue sending our kids to Caesar for education and being surprised when they come home Romans.” It is a very profound point that illustrates a difficult dynamic for Christians in a secular culture: If our Christian kids go to church for a 3-4 hours a week, and then we teach them Godly values and God’s Word for 1-2 hours a week, how can that compare to an education system that feeds them secular education for 30-40 hours a week? In saying this, I need to say that I am not against teachers or schools. I was a public school teacher as recently as 2017, and my wife taught in public high school and middle school for years, but the issue remains – for many Christian families, agents of the state are teaching their kids more than the parents are. The book of Daniel, however, shows us that it is possibly to serve God uncompromisingly in an absolutely secular society – even a secular society that was far, far more militant and secular than is our own society. Let’s read Daniel 1 and see how Daniel and his godly friends refused to compromise, and ended up shining brightly like stars in a dark society.

Pastor Tony Evans sees the book of Daniel as a playbook of sorts for Christians wondering how to be Christian in a thoroughly secular society. In addressing the question of why Babylon selected the best of the best of the young people and isolated them, and why Daniel and his friends resisted the food of the King, Evans writes:

The king makes an order Verse 3, “To Ashpenaz the chief of the officials, to bring some of the sons of Israel2”the crème de la crème—cream of the crop, “Including some from the royal family and the nobles; youth, teenagers, in whom there was not defect who were good looking, showing intelligence in every brand of wisdom, endowed with understanding…; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.3”In other words, let’s get the next generation. Let’s get these young teenagers… let’s babylonianize them. Let’s reshape their thinking into who we are not where they came from. Let’s get church up out of them. Let’s get their God away from them and let’s re-orient them” So how do they do that? The first thing they do is isolate them from their spiritual heritage. They remove them from Israel, from the house of God to Babylon, to the house of idols and they relocate them in order to re-educate them. When you send your high school student off to college you have to understand you are relocating them. In fact, you don’t have to send them to college to relocate them because in many of our high schools they get to undo eight hours a day what you give two hours a week. And if you bring them to church an hour and forty-five minutes, two hours a week, they get a little something-something. They are in another system eight hours a day that may or may not reinforce the values that you have as a parent. And in fact you don’t even have to be a kid because some of you when you go to work eight hours a day are being isolated from the value system you may hear for two hours on Sunday. Because the people you’re around, the philosophy they have, the worldview they possess, the language they use, the discussions they have, and the things they do may be absolutely, totally an antithesis to the worldview you were taught, raised in. Oh, some of you have been to college you know what I’m talking about. You know what it is to walk away from God because you’re surrounded by secularism, by a different viewpoint. 

Anthony T. Evans, “‘Saints in a Secular Society,’” in Tony Evans Sermon Archive (Tony Evans, 2013), Da 1.

So pastor Tony here is explaining why the king wanted Daniel and his friends to eat the choice foods and have the finest Babylonian education (and also some of the difficulties that Christians face in a secular society) Why did Daniel and his friends not eat the king’s food? Again, back to pastor Tony:

“But Daniel made up in his mind” that is he established a boundary. Have you established a boundary for your kids? In fact, have you established a boundary for you on your job? But Daniel, Now what exactly was Daniel thinking when he set up in his mind? Come on Daniel, what’s wrong with eating food at the king’s table? Gotta eat somewhere, the king’s going to take you to lunch! What’s the problem? Now remember, Daniel’s last name is, last part of Daniel’s name is el. EL God. I can tell you what Daniel was thinking because see he’s raised in a theocentric, theistic, and God-centered environment. He’s probably fifteen or sixteen years old when we read about them in Babylon. So he’s had fifteen or sixteen years being raised in the house of God by a family that wanted him to remind him that he belonged to God. That was instilling him with God’s ways I know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s thinking Exodus 35:14 and 15 “For you shall not worship any other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.“Otherwise,” verse 15, “you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice11” [Daniel was smart enough], to know this food is not just about eating, this food is about fellowshipping around their god” Because we’ve already been told in Verses 1 and 2, that he took out of the house of God and brought into a house, that served another god. He knew the food had been offered to god so he knew to fellowship around the food was not just to eat, it was to fellowship with Babylon’s God.

Anthony T. Evans, “‘Saints in a Secular Society,’” in Tony Evans Sermon Archive (Tony Evans, 2013), Da 1.

Bible Memory verses for the month of May: Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   

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