When Babylon Rules Again: Daniel’s Band
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Warm Christian Greetings from your friends at Keep the Faith Ministry. We are glad you are part of the family of Keep the Faith. We pray that the Lord will bless you so much this new year that you will not be able to contain yourself. As we near the close of time though, it is more important than ever to encourage one another in the word of God and in faithfulness. The close of probation is near. Please make sure that your relationship to the Lord is strong.
Perhaps one of the most powerful illustrations of the crisis of God’s people at the end of time is found in the book of Daniel. We often think of the story of Daniel and his three friends as a great children’s story of the faithfulness of these four Hebrews whose loyalty to God’s law is an example to all of us. But the greater story behind the story is the faithfulness of God to provide a way of escape, not from the trouble, but through it.
Amazingly, God in His providence gave us this illustration of what His true people will face at the end of time. Many people think that God’s people will be raptured away from the time of trouble, or tribulation. But the scriptures teach that is not going to happen. The rapture is a false teaching and is not found anywhere in scripture. It is a deception designed to make people think that the saved will never have to face the world’s great crisis and that God will deliver them from the trial and test of their faith.
But the way God uses us to glorify Him the most is by contrasting between those that Keep God’s holy law, and those that don’t, and it will be in full display at the end of time. His power to sustain His people in the midst of the time of trouble more beautifully and gloriously honors Him than at any other time. Amazingly, when we are weakest and most vulnerable, and all appears lost, God manifests His strength.
Bible history reveals that God ordains trials for His people so their characters will be matured and perfected through them. But the fiery trial at the end of the world, the great time of trouble, will reveal the maturity of character already developed through previous experience, and the perfection of their love and loyalty to Jesus and His law. He designs that it will reveal His power and glory, while at the same time revealing the faithfulness of His saints.
So turn with me in your bibles to the first chapter of Daniel. Here we have a story that dramatically demonstrates an illustration of the last days. Daniel and his three friends are a type of those living in the last days. Their time, at the height of Babylonian rule, is a type of our own times when spiritual Babylon will again reach the height of power. We are in the run up to the final Babylonian “captivity” of God’s true people when they will be again put on trial for their faith. Think about it. Again God’s church is facing a time of unprecedented apostasy similar to the time in Israel just before Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem. In order to purify God’s church there must again be a time of oppression and apparent defeat. Remember the statement that says that the church will appear as about to fall? Let me read it to you. It is from the second volume of Selected Messages, page 380.
“Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place…”
Notice that the unfaithful will be separated from the faithful in a time of trouble when Satan will set up his power as supreme in a false system of worship. That is referring to the rise of Papal power and the image to the Roman hierarchy which forces all to worship according to Rome’s dictates and persecuting those that do not. Most of God’s people are not anticipating this ordeal. Nor do they think that it will happen soon. They think that at the last minute they will jump in to true Christianity and be faithful during the test. But this will not happen. They will continue to find excuses to compromise their faith. Notice who is going to be faithful and who isn’t. I’ll read on…
“None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. We must be divested of our self-righteousness and arrayed in the righteousness of Christ.”
Let us think for a few minutes about what happened to the work of God during the time of Daniel and his three friends. We do not read much of what happened in Jerusalem during the Babylonian captivity. That is because God’s people were not there. God was with his faithful people in Babylon. That is where the action was. That is where God’s church was. It was also where his true and faithful were. Perhaps there were a few that were left to fend for themselves among the ruins of Jerusalem, but that is not where the church was. The structure had been ruined and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies. There was still a system of organization, but it was now under the direct control of the Holy Spirit. It was no longer under the control of human beings. The church body was small perhaps, but it was a church body nevertheless.
God sorted out who was his and who was not. There were four levels of sorting that went on then and there are four levels of sorting going on among God’s people now. Listen carefully. First there were those that were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s sword. Second, there were those few that were left to fend for themselves in the rubble and ruin at Jerusalem. Third, there were those that were taken to Babylon, but were compromising and ultimately failed the real test. And fourth, there were those taken to Babylon that loved God and His law with all their hearts, and weren’t willing to compromise their principles no matter what. These were the ones who came off victorious.
In our day we have the same four groups. First there are those that just leave God’s church, and leave easily because they don’t believe or understand the message. They are like those in Jerusalem that were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s sword. They are dead in their trespasses and sins and have no interest in living the life of the Christian. They are connected to God’s church for a while by circumstances, family relations, or other chains of dependence. But their hearts are in the world. As God’s true people enter into the crucible of test and trial under the oppression of modern spiritual Babylon, they disappear and fellowship with the truth no more. They never learned the principles of present truth. They resisted light when it was graciously given to them. They ridiculed God’s prophet and spurned His warnings. And though they walked with God’s true people for a while, though they kept the Sabbath and though they were attracted to the fellowship of the truth, they were never grounded in it to where it became the passion of their souls. They are easily shaken out. They are left in darkness.
Secondly, there were those that are similar to the ones that were left behind in Babylon to fend for themselves in the rubble. Ultimately they too eventually die off. They think they are still in God’s church because that is where the old structures were in spite of the fact that it is now ruined. God’s activity moved with His church from Jerusalem to Babylon. These souls eventually become discouraged and give up on their faith, or die off. When God’s people come under the oppression of Romanism, or modern Babylon, that is where the action will be. The modern structure will be destroyed under the pressure of persecution, but God’s remnant church will go on, though quite differently. There will be organization, but it will be more spontaneously infused by the Holy Spirit. The remnant will continue and they will go from strength to strength under the power of the latter rain and give the message. And Jesus will go with them. But the storm and tempest will sweep away the structure. Listen to this ironic statement concerning the apostasy that would likely develop in God’s church in the last days if Satan is allowed to deceive souls. It is from the first volume of Selected Messages page 204 and 205.
“The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.
Does that sound like anything that might have actually happened? Have the doctrines been given up or are in the process of being given up? Has there been a reorganization from a decentralized church to a centralized one? Has there been a false reformation? Have books of a new order been written? Has there been the introduction of a new system of intellectual philosophy? Has the Sabbath been lightly regarded?
Notice that the change has been from within. Under those changed conditions, God’s messenger has warned us that the structure would be swept away by the storm and tempest. Are we really on solid foundations, and do we actually have a solid structure when we walk in ways that are in conflict with God’s revealed word? Certainly not! Is it possible that God would need to send a storm of persecution on God’s people in order to sweep away the structures that hold them so that He can finish His work? I don’t know about you, but I think it is highly likely. Those that remain in the destroyed city at the time of trouble are like those that think that God will never sweep away the structure and that God would never leave them to fend for themselves. They will find themselves left behind when the real crisis comes, and they will be terribly discouraged, disheartened and will give up the faith. When God’s true followers are sent into the “Babylonian pressure cooker” so that Christ can fully reveal His character in their lives, these are glad to be left in the old ruins, glad that they are not called to suffer like those taken into Babylonian oppression, glad that they will be left alone – at least for the time being. But what will they have? They will have nothing. They will have missed out on the greatest opportunity of their lives – to walk with Christ in the midst of fiery affliction. Oh my friends, please make sure that no matter what, you are faithful. Please don’t compromise to avoid persecution. Find your soul’s passion in Christ. He will lead you and sustain you, even when He has to put you through test and trial.
The third group of Hebrews were those who traveled with Daniel and his three friends to Babylon during the long walk to Babylon. They were captives and were able to tolerate some of the pressure. They went to Babylon with the idea that they would do whatever they had to do to survive. They were well versed in the truth. They could argue its key points very clearly. They understood intellectually its intricacies. But did not learn the love of the truth. They were unprepared to let the love of the truth purify their souls and make them holy so that God could really use them. They could be bribed, or pressured, or cajoled into yielding their faith. They were offered inducements and high positions and even luxury. Imagine how surprised they were to find such great opportunities. They were flattered that they were chosen for a good position in Babylon and thought that it would be appropriate to compromise on little things in order to remain in favor with the king and with the other Babylonian supervisors. They appeared very much like the faithful Hebrews for quite some time, at least to the Babylonians.
Listen to this statement from Great Controversy, page 608. Speaking of the faithful souls who resist every demand to compromise their faith, the author says; “As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith.”
This third group of Hebrews that went into captivity with Daniel and his three friends have their parallel at the end of time too. While the faithful will not yield to these inducements or threats, those that are willing to compromise will appreciate them, particularly the inducements. They are souls who intellectually know the truth. They can argue its points very clearly and articulately, but they are not sanctified by it. They don’t let it come into their hearts. They are a compromising group. They will last longer, but will, in the end, capitulate to the demands of Babylon. They think that a little compromise will bring them into favor with those from whom they seek approval. Like those compromising Hebrews, most of those who are presently members of God’s remnant church will tragically give in to the pressure to avoid persecution.
Like the group of Hebrews that journeyed with Daniel and his three friends, there will be those that hang in with the truth during the build up to the fiery trial in the last days. They will try get along well with the Babylonian authority. But they will not last. Listen to this interesting statement from the first volume of the Testimonies page 187. “Said the angel: ‘God will bring His work closer and closer to test and prove every one of His people.’ Some are willing to receive one point; but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find that it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols and heed the counsel of the True Witness. . . . Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.”
Do you have any idols that stand between you and Jesus? Has He shown you something in your life that you need to change, but you have resisted it? Oh, my friend, don’t play with your salvation. You are in your testing and proving time. You are given this opportunity to make your life like the life of Jesus. You want to be where the action is. But the action will be with those who come under test and trial by modern Babylon. How often it is that young people think that they have to distance themselves from those that firmly hold to the truth because they want the favor of the church or the favor of other worldly members of God’s church.
There were many Hebrews that were brought into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Listen to Verse three. “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” These were the “cream of the crop.” They were the ones that were of the royal stock.
Nebuchadnezzar’s idea was to train the best of the youth in the ways of the Babylonians and Chaldeans and then place them in positions of loyal leadership. But as they trudged around the fertile crescent, Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, must have talked together about the conditions they would find in Babylon. They knew they would face trials of their faith. God must have spared them for a reason, and they realized they had a mission to influence the heathen Babylonians with the truth of God. When God puts you in adverse circumstances, it may well be that He plans to use you as a witness to those that would otherwise never hear your testimony of the love and power of God. Think about it. Instead of complaining about what you cannot change, thank God for it and look for opportunities to talk to others of His love and His law.
Daniel and his three friends were no doubt impressed to pray for guidance. And they made a decision that would place them in the midst of conflict, but where God could really use them. They determined that they would cooperate in everything unless it conflicted with principle or their duty to God, and that whatever the consequences, even to the point of death, they would never disobey their God and would honor and serve Him in Babylon. If we really want to be used by God, we must make that level of decision. But it takes prayer. Daniel and his three friends were men of prayer. They were often on their knees before God pleading for understanding of the perplexities they faced. And God heard their prayers.
No sooner did they arrive in Babylon and they were confronted with unclean food, some of which was offered to idols. Let us read it from the Bible, starting with verse 5. “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” Verse 8: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” No doubt his friends also made that decision.
They could have plausibly excused themselves because of their difficult circumstances. But Daniel “purposed in his heart.” I like that. Have you “purposed in your heart?” Some might think that Daniel and his friends were narrow, bigoted and too particular. But God had forbidden them to eat of these things. The use of luxurious and unhealthful food and drink was contrary to strict principles of temperance. Besides they wanted avoid flesh foods altogether and requested a vegetarian diet. They determined to do nothing that would interfere with their physical, mental and spiritual development.
The same is true today. If you want to be spiritually wise with understanding, you must also avoid any unclean and unhealthful food and any other thought or act that will diminish your ability to hear and understand the voice of God to your soul. Oh, that young people today could grasp this principle. What misery they could be spared! What opportunities are missed! By letting God’s word guide you in everything, you can have the same experience as these Hebrews.
It is worth pointing out that the four Hebrews in Babylon had a health message. And they shared their health message with their heathen supervisor. What a testimony! Perhaps we will be surprised one day to find that he also became a vegetarian. We don’t really know that, but there may actually be many Babylonians who followed the light that they received from these four Hebrew faithfuls. At the same time the rest of the church that was with them in Babylon rejected the health message. For a time they didn’t seem to have any disadvantage, but in the end they failed the test. It prepared them to do the wrong thing at the great final test.
It is instructive to recall that the last generation church has also been given a health message to give to the world. It is often far more easily accepted by the heathen or secular world, than by God’s own people. In fact, we are told that the health message will come to God’s church as the final test.
Listen to this. It is from Loma Linda Messages, page, 62 ”The truth for this time, the 3rd Angel’s message, is to be proclaimed with a loud voice (meaning increased power) as we approach the great final test. This test must come to the church in connection with the true medical missionary work. A work that has the Great Physician to dictate and preside in all that it comprehends.”
Now connect that one with this from the 9th volume of the Testimonies for the Church. “The work of health reform is the Lord’s means…of purifying the church.
In other words, God’s people will face a test of their faith in connection with health reform. If you have not made the same commitment that Daniel and his three friends made in Babylon, to live by healthful principles so that you can be vessels unto God, you will be deceived and fall in the end. The test for God’s church revolves around the health message. Without the health principles in your life, you will never overcome evil and you will be weakened and demoralized so that you cannot resist the great temptations of Satan that will deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.
The work of God’s people in the final crisis, while they are under oppression and in captivity to spiritual Babylonian, will be to proclaim the health message. This will win the hearts of some Babylonians in the end of time just as it did Melzar’s heart.
God provided a way of escape for the faithful, even though they went through a potentially threatening trial. It is found beginning in verse 9. “Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” If Daniel had been belligerent and defiant rather than humble and meek, do you think that the prince of the eunuchs would have come into tender love with Daniel? I don’t think so. Reading on; “And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? Then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, prove thy servants I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in his matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.”
This is really an amazing story when you think about it. Here is Daniel asking for a mere 10 day test. He was pleading for the opportunity to be faithful to God. He was asking the impossible at least from a human standpoint. But he trusted that God would reveal His power. While this is a wonderful story, the story behind the story is how God blessed those ten days. Ten days is hardly enough to make any difference in such a thing, but combined with supernatural power, anything is possible. God tremendously blessed these four and gave them the full benefit of their loyalty to him. Melzer could not deny that they were much better than all the other Hebrews.
But you can imagine the thoughts that must have gone through the minds of those other Hebrews that were also there in Babylon. “Oh,” they must have said, “why are those boys being so fanatical. They are going to get the rest of us in trouble. If they become so rigid that they are punished, that will bring us all under suspicion.” You see, my friends, there are plenty of plausible concerns that can be raised by others who should be faithful, but who have chosen to compromise, against those that determine to be faithful. So you have to plan on criticism if you are going to stand for truth.
Perhaps they even got more aggressive with Daniel. “Why are you so concerned about what you eat? God will understand. After all, we’re in a tight spot. Think of it. You won’t get much chance to advance here unless you distance yourself from this straight-laced mentality.” I can even imagine them calling Daniel names when they couldn’t get him to break down. “You’re a legalist,” they might have said. “Don’t you know that your salvation is not by works? God loves you just the way you are. You don’t have to worry about being so strict. What’s wrong with you and your cronies? Look, we’re getting into high positions right along with you, and we’re not so rigid. God doesn’t expect us to live like that? After all, we’re not supposed to bring a time of trouble upon ourselves.”
These unkind words are often used against God’s faithful today aren’t they? But we have to realize that they are part of the test of our faithfulness. You need those criticisms to make you strong in the Lord. You need to be misunderstood so that you can get used to not having the favor of men. That is how Daniel and his friends became strong. Listen to this statement from Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, page 23; “In later years the cares of state were heavy upon him, he was taxed to the utmost of his capacity; but he grew strong in the conflict with difficulties. He held fast by the hand of Infinite Strength, and would not be overcome. He knew that in order to do his work well, he must have help from God. He realized that amid his trials and persecutions he could not walk apart from God one hour. He prayed three times a day, and God answered his prayers. Daniel’s purpose was known to the heavenly Watcher, and as Daniel placed himself on the side of God, to keep his ways, the Lord placed himself on Daniel’s side, to keep him.”
Tragically, there are so many people today, who think that they have to compromise so that they can have the favor of the church leaders, and they won’t speak out when something isn’t right. They distance themselves from anything that is misrepresented as being fanatical, or “off-shoot” even though they know that they are faithful to the Lord. The trouble is that often the mainstream church is very compromised and quite unfaithful to the revealed will of God, so from their perspective, they view those that are faithful as quite fanatical or legalistic. This mentality only leads to further compromise when the pressure comes from spiritual Babylon. They want to be in the favor of the world-loving churches so that they aren’t considered to be strange or accused of being a cult.
While we should be careful to always have balance in our experience with the Lord, particularly in the practical things of life, we must always show a loving and charitable spirit toward all. Our reputation for kindness and thankfulness and graciousness should be impeccable. Like Daniel and his three friends, we must have that spirit of humility that wins the respect and love of those that are around us and those who have charge over us.
Think about Daniel’s mother and father for a few moments. I’m going to read from the same page in Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene; “Daniel’s parents had trained him in his childhood to habits of strict temperance. They had taught him that he must conform to nature’s laws in all his habits; that his eating and drinking had a direct influence upon his physical, mental, and moral nature, and that he was accountable to God for his capabilities; for he held them all as a gift from God, and must not, by any course of action, dwarf or cripple them. As the result of this teaching, the law of God was exalted in his mind, and reverenced in his heart. During the early years of his captivity, Daniel was passing through an ordeal which was to familiarize him with courtly grandeur, with hypocrisy, and with paganism. A strange school indeed to fit him for a life of sobriety, industry, and faithfulness! And yet he lived uncorrupted by the atmosphere of evil with which he was surrounded.”
Daniel’s parents also taught him how to pray. They gave him examples, no doubt, of how to talk to God, and how to commune with Him. They certainly would have given him lessons in prayer so that he would always be thinking about God and His love and His purpose for his life. When the siege of Jerusalem turned into victory for Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel would then automatically think about how God has everything under control and has a purpose in all of this destruction. Daniel would ask God to show him how He wanted him to live and what to do.
Do you think that Daniel’s parents efforts were in vain? Certainly not. But think about it for a moment. What if Daniel’s parents thought the way most parents think today? They often think, subconsciously that the time of comparative ease and freedom that we have now won’t change. They think that they don’t need to really worry much about the things their children eat, or the books they read, or the way they use their minds. They just feed them a spiritual diet of television including cartoons, murder and mayhem, and it never occurs to them that this is preparing their children to burn in the lake of fire. They let them browse the internet at will, or play sports and other games and listen to unholy music. All these things are not calculated to prepare them for the tests and trials of life, let alone the final test.
Parents don’t bother to demonstrate to their children the difference between the sacred and the profane much anymore. They mix religious ideas with rock music, or they use cartoons to illustrate what they think is truth, but which is really ecumenical mish mash that will no more help their children to discern the true teachings of Christ than a bar of soap. They don’t have family worship and bring the children to their heavenly father. They don’t bother to teach them how to pray. They give them examples of compromise through gluttony, entertainment and even Sabbath breaking.
But when the siege of spiritual Babylon suddenly begins, when the Sunday law suddenly pops up on the horizon, they will not have trained their children to be faithful. Their children will think that it is ok to compromise just a little so that they won’t have to come under condemnation of the beast power? They will likely have a hard time understanding what is the beast power is, so that they can resist him firmly. They certainly haven’t taught their children how to know the distinctive truths of the last generation message to the world. They haven’t taught them to recognize the Holy Spirit. They don’t even know what sin is, except perhaps the grossest of sins. Even the Sabbath is so lightly regarded in God’s church today, that many go out to a restaurant to eat after church, or go out to the beach, or even watch television. They have set them up to be the play toys of Satan, and he will use them to lead others to destruction as well.
Even older people are being lead into compromise. Often the television is on all day with Christian programming from the satellite, and they think they have their spiritual needs met. But they no longer earnestly study their Bibles to show themselves approved unto God. They no longer know the word of God for themselves. They no longer desire to go out and witness to their neighbors. They just sit and listen to a mix of good and evil spiritual programming… whatever comes over the TV. This makes them spiritually obese and lazy. They are going to have spiritual heart problems and debility. These things are a snare of Satan which feeds their shallowness and superficiality.
Daniel’s parents had no idea that there was a crisis coming during his formative years perhaps. They had no thought that Jerusalem would, during their son’s lifetime, be crushed under the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and that their precious boy would be carried off to Babylon to serve a heathen king. They had no thought that their little Daniel would face the crisis of his life while there in Babylon and that he would be thrown to the lions. They thought he would grow up like themselves, raise a family and die of old age. And this is the problem. Most of us think that there will be no change. We think that things will go on just as they always have. Like the antediluvians we will continue as always. Just like that beautiful morning sun that arose on the day that Sodom and Gomorrah were burned to a crisp, nothing seemed to threaten any crisis.
I’ll continue reading. “The experience of Daniel and his youthful companions illustrates the benefits that may result from an abstemious diet, and shows what God will do for those who will cooperate with him in the purifying and uplifting of the soul. They were an honor to God, and a bright and shining light in the court of Babylon.
“In this history we hear the voice of God addressing us individually, bidding us gather up all the precious rays of light upon this subject of Christian temperance, and place ourselves in right relation to the laws of health.”
God speaks to us through the stories of the Bible. They are types of our times. We can see that there is a great crisis coming, but we still treat it as if it will come in another generation after us. We don’t train our children to recognize the subtle evil. And there is no way that we can train our children to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s pleading on the heart. We just don’t value this as we should and we are setting ourselves up to lose them. If our children are saved in the end, it won’t be because of the training they gained from their parents. What a tragedy! What carnage will occur because so many parents don’t pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of their children!
I have chosen to share this sermon with you because I am terribly fearful for our present day families. I fear that many of our modern parents have no concern for the spiritual well-being of their children, just based on the things they give their children as their spiritual diet.
Verse seventeen says: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
I think this is important. We never hear of the other youth that were there in Babylon of having understanding in all visions and dreams, do we? Why not? The reasons is simple. It is because they had compromised their faith. It is true that they were given high positions in human government, but God did not view them worthy of a high position in His favor. He chose to give Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the privilege of cooperation with Him in the work of prophecy. They were the true church in Babylon, and they had the Spirit of Prophecy. They were the ones who were given the gift of prophecy, to understand it and to use it in the service of God. The other Hebrews could have had it, but they chose to compromise. Though they were ridiculed by the other church members in their day, at least at first, they soon developed a credibility with the worldly Babylonians for having clear minds, understanding hearts, and loving spirits. This went a long way in giving witness to the faithfulness of their God. It prepared the Babylonians for a huge lesson when they were thrown into the fiery furnace or the lion’s den. The Spirit of Prophecy guided them and helped them navigate the unique and difficult circumstances of their times. And the Spirit of Prophecy does the same today in the last church. Without it, we would have no understanding, and we would be unable to see the big picture, just like the compromising Hebrews in Babylon. The Spirit of Prophecy was given to help us be faithful to the Lord. How can we turn from it? How can we ignore it? Jesus uses the Spirit of Prophecy to unite those that love the truth together with special counsel for our times. It is really important.
God was going to bless these four men in Babylon. But He was going to do more than that. He was planning to use them to bless us today. Think about it. If Daniel and his friends had not chosen to be faithful to Jesus Christ on every point of His revealed will, we would not have the amazing clarity of prophetic insight that God revealed to Daniel. God was going to use Daniel to reveal some of the most important prophecies ever written in scripture, particularly those that have to do with our own times. We would not have them if Daniel had compromised. Had not Daniel’s friends joined him, we would not have their passionate testimony of God’s companionship and power in our own fiery trials. How could we have confidence in Him during the final test?
How well do you think the Holy Spirit could have used Daniel if he had compromised his principles in order to stay in favor with the prince of the eunuchs or Melzar? How well do you think Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have been able to be used by the Holy Spirit if they had acted like the other Hebrews there in Babylon?
My friend, this is an important lesson for us. As we come down to the end of time and God is about to pour out His Holy Spirit upon His people, who do you think He will favor? Will it be those that are all the time finding an excuse to watch the latest movie, or eat their flesh meats, or other intemperate foods, both at meals and in between? I don’t think so. If you want the Holy Spirit to be poured out on your soul, so that you can give the message with power under the latter rain, will it be when you are still living with besetting sin? Impossible! The lesson of Daniel and his three friends is a lesson for us today. Joel 2 says in verse 28 that there will be dreams and visions given to those who are under the Holy Spirit’s training in the last days. If you want to be part of that you will have to have an experience of holiness before the Lord.
Listen to what it says. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Think about it. Who are these people? These are the ones on whom the Holy Spirit can truly trust with His power. They too will have wisdom and understand dreams and visions just like the four young men in Babylon.
Imagine what it would be like to have so much of the blessing of God that He can trust you with the latter rain. What a privilege! You can have it you know. You can prepare yourself now for that wonderful power. But with it will come a very intense test of your faith and you will be under a lot of pressure. But Jesus promises to stand by your side if you are faithful to Him. No matter how much the heat is turned up in the furnace of affliction, no matter how difficult the decision, you can have Jesus walk by your side though it all. Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you can commune with God.
Listen to what happened to these men when they finished their training. It is found in the 18th verse. “Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”
Think about it. The magicians and astrologers of Babylon were masters of their trade. No civilization had surpassed them in knowledge of the science, astronomy, engineering, architecture, mathematics and many other branches of learning. Yet Daniel and his three friends even surpassed them, by ten times. This must have astounded Nebuchadnezzar who was very well versed in all these things too. Even with riddles and mysteries, Daniel and his friends were way out and beyond all others. No wonder they were elevated to important posts in the kingdom. And what of the other Hebrews there in Babylon? They got their positions. They had their benefits. But none of them had the credibility and confidence of the king like these four. What a lesson to those compromising Hebrews. They may have brushed it off as luck, or sheer force of mind. They could not discern that it was the powerful blessing of God on these four men. They had wasted their three years of training by beclouding their minds with Babylonian thinking as well as Babylonian food. Now the difference can be seen. They are seriously behind these faithful men.
My friends, we are coming up to the final crisis. Daniel was a sinner just like us all. But he determined in his heart not to defile himself any longer with that which was harmful whether it was what he ate, or how he used his time, or in matters of faith and prayer. All he wanted to do was honor God. Isn’t that what we are called to do today? Isn’t that what Jesus needs in these last few moments of earth’s history? O friend, plead with God to give you Daniel’s experience. Plead with Him to give you a walk with God like you have never had before. Now is the time to prepare, not down the line when things start to warm up. Let us pray and ask God to convict us of our ways, and empower us to return unto Him in humility and repentance. Learn to pray without ceasing. But learn to pray like Daniel, three times per day at least. Let us bow our heads.
Dear heavenly Father. We are greatly blessed by the life of Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. What powerful examples they were of the last generation. May we learn from their example to love and fear God more, and fear man less. Help us to learn how to be faithful in all things so that we may have Jesus to stand by our side in the coming battle with Satan and under the power of modern spiritual Babylon. We want to live with Jesus in eternity, but we pray that we may be able to live with Him now, through all the difficulties, tests and trials of life. In Jesus’ name and for His sake, Amen.
Perhaps one of the most powerful illustrations of the crisis of God’s people at the end of time is found in the book of Daniel. The greater story behind the story is the faithfulness of God to provide a way of escape, not from the trouble, but through it.