Today we continue our rehash of Session 1. We will cover part 2 of session 1 and see Daniel’s backstory. Also, If you missed yesterday’s intro, you can read it here.
Written about 2500 to 2600 years ago, yet it’s extremely relevant to us today. It was written during the period of Israel’s history known as the Babylonian captivity. (605 BC to 536 BC). It was during this time that God set apart this man. Actually, he was a teenager at the time – possibly 15 years old. But God set him apart and used him mightily.
The lesson here is that, if we are willing to be set apart, God will use us mightily as well.
So Israel is in captivity at this time, and it’s important to understand the how and the why. How in the world did God’s people find themselves in captivity again? It’s a question that needs to be answered because in seeing the root cause of their fall, we can be empowered to avoid the same. In other words, their pain can be our gain.
Earlier in their history, God had powerfully, supernaturally, delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, and established them as his people. Eventually, He turned them into a powerful nation – first under King David and then, he continued to elevate them under David’s son, King Solomon.
But unfortunately, and as is so often the case, as God raised them up, they turned their back on Him. How often we do that as well? It’s a consistent pattern… a cycle. We go through a trial. We go through a crisis. We go through a struggle. And then we cry out to God. We say, God, I can’t take this anymore! Please help me! He comes through for us. Delivers us. Sometimes he completely changes the whole situation. You’d think we’d be whole-heartedly devoted from that moment on. But all too often our enemies – the world, the flesh, and the devil – come in, and we lose that fervency we had when we were in our struggle. Unfortunately, a lot of times it takes chastening. It takes a wake up call for us to turn back. That’s what we want to avoid, right?
We want to be consistently passionate in our love and walk with God.
So, God raises up Israel, and for a time Israel becomes a world super power. But it doesn’t last. And in 1st Kings chapter 11 we see the beginning of Israel’s decline.
Solomon turned away from God and toward idols. Israel soon followed suit. And the rest of 1st kings and all of 2nd kings we see the gradual, tragic total fall of Israel. First, there is a brief civil war and the country becomes 2 countries. The Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. And we see over the next few hundred years, God stretching his hands out to His people and His people ignoring him. There are several periods of revival in Judah, due to some godly kings coming on the scene, but all and all Israel as a whole is growing worse and worse. God sends them prophets to call them back to Himself, but instead of them responding in repentance, they reject, persecute, and even kill God’s messengers. Finally it gets so bad that God allows the Assyrians (who by the way were from the northern part of modern day Iraq) to capture the Kingdom of Israel, (also known as the northern kingdom). And they get taken captive.
The southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah is given a little more time to turn back to God. But they don’t. And some years later they also fall. By this time Assyria is no longer the world power. Another, much mightier kingdom has arisen. Babylon. (By the way, also located in modern day Iraq) With the ruthless King Nebuchadnezzar at the head.
He puts Jerusalem under siege (actually Jerusalem is under siege a total of three times) and eventually breaks through the wall. People are starving to death, the soldiers abandon the city by night. Nebuchadnezzar’s forces then burn down the temple, the palace, and every great house there. They also break down the walls. So much symbolism here. But for the purpose of our study, it’s at this time, under this circumstance, that Daniel and his friends are put into exile.
The life lesson from all this is a very clear warning. When you start feeling the tug of sin to stray from God, remember the devil’s end game is our destruction. Use this knowledge to stay on guard and keep your heart close to God. And if you blow it, come back right away. Admit it – quit it – and forget it.
So that’s the backdrop. The backstory of this great book. Israel has entered into the Babylonian captivity and the young teenager, Daniel – along with his three friends – now finds themselves exiles in the king of Babylon’s court.
Ripped from their homeland and exported to the capital of the world superpower of the day, how will these three young men fare?
FUEL meets Thursday nights at 6:30 at RockChurch,
located at 1081 Upper Spring Bay Rd in East Peoria