This week we looked at how we can stand strong in the face of adversity – Staying faithful, even in a hostile environment. (If you missed Session I, you can review the material here.)
Now, Let’s look at the Word, starting in chapter 1, verses 6 thru 9
Remaining faithful in a hostile environment
As we look at these four verses they reveal the theme of tonight’s study, as well as one of the major themes of the entire book. It reveals how to stay faithful to God when faced with an environment that is hostile to God. Or you could say – Staying faithful, when it’s hostile.
It’s no secret that we are living in an environment in America that has in many facets become increasingly hostile to Christianity, and to those who identify themselves as Bible believing Christians – Against those who say there are absolute truths.
“Who are you to say something is right or wrong?
Doesn’t the Bible say judge not lest you be judged?” And so, those who have decided to be a follower of Christ find themselves in an increasingly difficult situation.
Now, is it as bad as it is in other countries? Say, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia? Not by a long shot. We still have freedom here. Just the fact that we are able to come in here together under the name of Jesus is an amazing thing that is illegal in many countries. But we are living in an ever increasingly hostile environment and so, Daniel and his friends have much to teach us.
What’s in a name?
And so in verse 6 we are introduced to these 4 Hebrew boys. And we’re given their Hebrew names. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They are all from the tribe of Judah. The royal line of Israel. King David was from the tribe of Judah, and ultimately as to his earthly life, Jesus is descended from Judah.
Now the first thing that is interesting to note is that Ashpenaz, the chief Babylonian eunuch, changes their names. Remember last week when we talked about Nebuchadnezzar’s assimilaition policy? Well here is another aspect. He takes their name from them and gives them Babylonian names.
He takes Daniel (whose real name means “God has Judged” and changes it to Belteshazzar, which means keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel.
Now Bel is the chief god of the Babylonians. You’ll see him called Marduk in some places. One of his sacred animals is the fork tongued dragon. And he is directly related to the Canaan diety Baal that the children of Israel got in trouble for worshiping in the first place.
Now if you’re paying attention you’ll see the connection here. Bel is a demonic entity. It’s important to note that when you’re in the Old Testament and you see names like Baal, Bel, Marduk, or Ashteroph, you are seeing the manifestation of satanic forces. You are always seeing demonic activity when you see these names. And so Daniel, whose very name reminds him to fear and live for the true God. They want him to forget his true name and identify himself as Bel’s treasure.
Flip this onto the spiritual side – Satan wants us to forget who we are in Christ. He either wants us to forget or he tries to prevent us from ever learning who we are.
He is called the accuser of the brethren. He’s a name caller. Let me ask you a question? Who do you think you are? Because who you think you are determines how you behave. We’ll look at that in more detail in a bit, but first, let ‘s keep looking at this.
So he renames Daniel, and he renames Daniel’s 3 friends
Hananiah – The LORD is gracious = Shadrach – referring to the Babylonian sun God
Mishael – Resemblance to God = Meshach – Who is like Aku? (chief goddess of pleasure and beauty)
Azariah – God my help = Abednego = servant of the shining light or the servant of Lucifer
So the lesson here is don’t let the devil label you. I don’t care what tape recording you have playing in your head that tells you that you are less than. You are not less than. Because Christ is in you, you are greater than. God loves you. God has a plan for you. It’s not over!
And all God’s people said?….
Fuel is a weekly Bible Study that meets Thursday nights at 6:30 @ RockChurch – 1081, Upper Spring Bay Rd. East Peoria