Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In due time

by John Fischer

NOTE: Reposted in entirety from http://catchjohnfischer.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/in-due-time/ 

I remain with Daniel’s influential place in court of Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the Babylonian empire, during a time when the children of Israel were in captivity there. I find this similar to the place a follower of Christ has in the marketplace today. As believers, Christians are in exile in a foreign country since their true home is in heaven, yet, while on this earth, they are required to take part in the “secular” culture in which they find themselves – to “build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:5-7 NLT).

And when, in the course of living in an environment sometimes hostile to their faith, Daniel’s example would be to remain true to his God whatever the cost. In Daniel’s case, that’s what got him famously thrown into the lion’s den, where his survival impressed the king, making him respect not only Daniel, but Daniel’s god, and causing the king to put him in a place of high influence in his empire. At all times Daniel conducted himself with humility and respect for those around him – looking after their welfare as he would his own. These were pagan people following pagan gods, and though they were hostile towards him at times, he was never hostile towards them.

Indeed, Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed with Daniel and Daniel’s god (I use the lower case “g” to indicate the king’s perspective) that he named him Belteshazzer, a name after his own god, and claimed “the spirit of the holy gods is in him” (Daniel 4:9). This is Nebuchadnezzar putting Daniel and Daniel’s faith into terms he understands. And Daniel does not appear to resist this. Why should he? If anything, it’s a compliment, and Nebuchadnezzar will find out for himself whose god is God in due time.

Christians of recent years have tried to gain ground in society through confrontation, in some cases creating animosity and then claiming “persecution” over the reaction that animosity engendered. I do not find this to be in keeping with the way God works. Daniel’s approach is much more suited for representatives of the kingdom of God who are living in and taking part in the secular culture in which they find themselves.

Daniel never tried to turn Babylon into Israel. At all times, he operated without compromise, remaining true to his God while respecting the people and the religion of the nation to which he was exiled.

And in the end, after recovering from a period of insanity during which he lost everything (something also predicted in a dream Daniel interpreted) Nebuchadnezzar claimed, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble those who are proud” (Daniel 4:37).

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