I often think about the book of Daniel when thinking about the times we are living in. Often it feels like we are on the brink of being captives here or like we are living in a modern-day Babylon.
Jeremiah was a prophet who God spoke through for over 40 years. When I think of Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael I believe their parents listened to the prophet Jeremiah based on the fruit produced in them.
It seems that Scripture indicates that the parents of Daniel and his friends were killed as Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Judah.
Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes at Riblah; the king of Babylon also slew all the nobles of Judah (Jeremiah 39:6 NASB1995).
The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and he also slaughtered all the princes of Judah in Riblah (Jeremiah 52:10 NASB1995).
These were most likely the parents of Daniel and the exiles chosen to serve in the king’s court.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:3).
It's obvious that these young boys were trained to go to Babylon but not to become Babylonians.
I was thinking about what I would want to impress upon my children looking at a modern Babylon on the horizon. What did the parents of Daniel and his friends teach them? What should we teach our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? As my friend Abraham Hamilton, III often says, as Christians, we don’t retire we refire. This is not the time for laying back but a time for vigilance as we approach the discipleship of our children.
So what are some things that I would like to pass down to my children?
Be excellent – The Bible clearly lays out that these young men were excellent spiritually, physically, and academically.
Youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:4 NASB1995).
I would say to do your best in school. Be smart. Learn and get your education. Give God your minds and love Him with your minds. I would encourage them that God will use their abilities for His glory so do well in all that you do.
Matthew 22:37-39 says,
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37).
Don't be afraid to learn practical things that will advance you in this life. See how your mind, given over to God, is a great tool in His hand.
When I think of someone loving God with their mind, I think of George Washington Carver. George Washington Carver believed that Providence guided his scientific investigations and that those investigations led to a better understanding of God and His handiwork.
God's Little Workshop
The ability to discern the infinite in both the animate and inanimate objects of his very finite world was one of Carver's unique hallmarks. In an age where scientists had begun to view science and religion as mutually exclusive, Carver stood out for his insistence that science provides proof of God's existence. He was fond of paraphrasing the eighth chapter, 32nd verse of the Gospel of John, "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," as, "And you shall know science and science shall set you free, because science is truth." Or, more simply, "Science is simply the truth about anything."
Carver's chemistry laboratory at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, where he investigated the chemical properties and economic possibilities of peanuts, pecans, clay, soybeans, sweet potatoes and other substances, was filled with vials, bottles, and insect, plant, mushroom and flower collections. He often referred to his lab as "God's little workshop." He did not consider himself a scientific genius – that is, he did not take credit for discovering one or another product. Instead, he considered himself a conduit for divine inspiration and revelation:
“[I] ask the Great Creator...to permit me to speak to Him through the three great Kingdoms of the world, which He has created, viz. – the animal, mineral and vegetable Kingdoms.”
Nor was Carver reticent about how he worked. In 1924, he spoke to an audience at a church in New York City, saying "I never have to grope for methods: the method is revealed at the moment I am inspired to create something new." The New York Times, strongly disagreeing with Carver's juxtaposition of science and divine influence, published an editorial claiming that Carver's comments revealed a "complete lack of the scientific spirit."
If "scientific spirit" means excluding God from the investigation of His own creation, then, in that skewed sense, the Times was right. For Carver plainly considered God and science inseparable. He once wrote, "I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it." The Times, and many contemporary fellow scientists, simply could not understand a man who made statements such as, "I love to think of Nature as wireless telegraph stations through which God speaks to us every day, every hour, and every moment of our lives."
They would not be defiled by the king’s food (Daniel 1:6-17).
They would not bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel 3:16-18).
When faced with moments of compromise they did not compromise!
Be prayerful/keep good company
In Daniel 2 - Daniel and his friends prayed -when Nebuchadnezzar said he would kill all the wise men in the land if none could tell him his dream and interpret it Daniel got with his friends, and they sought the Lord.
Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he said to Arioch, the king’s commander, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. So, Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:14).
When things got hot, they came together and prayed Daniel and his friends had each other and they were good company for each other.
Keep yourself unstained from the world.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:26).
Don’t let this worldly system rub off on you. You are peculiar because you have placed your faith in Christ. Be alright with being different for righteousness’s sake and do the things that please the Lord.
We have to make sure that our children are ready to stand in a culture that's hostile to their beliefs and will fight and apply pressure to make them conform in every way imaginable.