Series on Daniel, I Context, B Brainwashing, Text: l:3-7, Title: A Babylonian PhD

Introduction


In our last message we saw Daniel facing captivity with the stalwart faith that God in His good purpose had put him there. In our text today we see how important it was for him to have that faith as he faced a Babylonian brainwashing. All the wisdom and visions that later come to Daniel in this book come because he was a faithful servant of the Lord persevering even under tremendous adversity. The book shows us this part of his life so that we will realize that he that would be faithful in great things has first to be faithful in little. We don't get to the place of being a friend of God, a mighty man of prayer, a prophet to whom are entrusted the deepest secrets of the Lord except we first grow in grace by patient attention to the small things in life. And so we see the temptations Daniel faced: isolation, indoctrination, invitation and initiation.


I Isolation

Nebudchadnezzar did not carry Daniel and others off into captivity merely because he was mean and wanted slave labor. He knew that to truly defeat a people he needed to weaken them by exiling the cream of their youth as we read in verses 3 and 4, Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. Thus their noblest and most intelligent sons should learn to live and think like Babylonians, and then Nebuchadnezzar would be truly victorious. So the first thing he does is isolate them from their people. separated from the worship and teaching of the true people of God the king supposed that their faith would be extinguished. The state run school system has in it those people who are determined to do the same to your children. In their view they are better qualified to decide what's best for your children than you are. They have them for several hours a day in isolation and in that period those that are so inclined including many at top echelons and people who write the curriculums are determined to make Babylonians of them. To destroy the faith which they are taught in church and home is their goal. We all know this goes on in colleges and universities and has been for many years. What makes us think that those who are the product of such schools of higher education will be any different. Isolation! The first principle of stamping out Christianity. Hitler did it, the communists do it and so do the humanists and socialists in our own country.


II Indoctrination

We've been talking about schools so let's continue. This you see was Nebudchadnezzar's plan too as we read in verses 4 & 5, He (Ashpenaz) was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. These youth were taught the language and literature of the Babylonians. By this they would be confronted not .just with embarrassing concepts but with a whole different world and life view. Along with a Babylonian diet they would get a Babylonian Phd. Nebudchadnezzar was not the last one to see the value of infiltrating colleges and universities to capture the minds of the coming generations. Now we Christians should be very concerned about education because it involves the fundamental purpose of life, to know God. It is necessary to the mandate God has given to rule over creation. But being educated does not lead one to the truth unless the educational process has the right presuppositions to start with because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Nebuchadnezzar's system did not have the correct presuppositions, and neither does our state supported system, nor do thousands of our colleges and universities. Therefore what we get is educated depravity, Babylonian PhDs. This is the second principle of stamping out Christianity.


III Invitation

The third is an invitation to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season as we read in verse 5, The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Here we have the seduction of Daniel and his contemporaries. The invitation to accept the lifestyle of the Babylonians came to Daniel as Moses was invited to accept the lifestyle of the Egyptians. However, the Bible says Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. That lifestyle was not appropriate for the children of God. Being invited to enjoy the king's delicacies and the king's wine, the best that could possibly be found, sounds good but there are only three options open to us with regard to delicacies: abstain, use in moderation or indulge to excess. THe Hebrews in captivity had the further problem of a restricted kosher diet prescribed in the Old Testament. In our society people indulging to excess is the biggest problem. The rule for Christians is if you cannot control your own use of it, or it is damaging to others, abstain and otherwise use in moderation. We shall see what Daniel and his friends decided to 
do in a later message, but the point here is that the temptation is there in order to make good Babylonians of us all so that we will act and think as the world does.


IV  Initiation

Verses 6 and 7 reveal to us the initiation, Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. As often in initiation people are given a new 
identity or new name so here Nebudchadnezzar says you don't want these Hebrew names anymore because you're Babylonians now. And so he had the chief eunuch give them new names. In our experience what corresponds to this? Simply how we want to be known in the world. It is how we think of making a name for ourselves, how we really want to be recognized or identified. What is our self image? Is it determined by God's Word and God's love to us, or is it dictated by the world? Only in seeing ourselves as the true children of God can we triumph over this deception.


Conclusion

You can see how in the world today the devil is doing the same thing to Christians that he did to Daniel and his associates through Nebuchadnezzar He tries to confuse our identity, to compromise our lifestyle, to color our thinking, and to counteract our contact with the Lord's people and with his Word. For the answer God gives through Daniel tune in to the next message, but for today let me conclude with the words of Hebrews 12:2-3. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Our endurance in the midst of these awful temptations cannot be assured apart from Jesus’ endurance. He endured to the cross that we might be forgiven and he endured the opposition that we might look and learn that the solid joys and lasting treasures which none but Zion's children know do not come easily. What's easy is to become a Babylonian.