“Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:3-4)
Being a Christian means being a citizen of God’s Kingdom. However, Christians are also citizens of earthly states, kingdoms, or empires. They live together with other people who might not all be believers. This can be a real problem, for the laws and customs of earthly kingdoms often clash with those of God’s. Jesus even warns his disciples: “you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).
Today’s text is about a Babylonian king who has besieged Jerusalem and now commands to take promising young people out of their home country and to bring them to his palace in Babylon. These youngsters are thus taken out of their ‘safe’ environment and brought to the palace of their enemies who have destroyed their country, ripped their families apart, taken holy vessels from the temple, and who clearly have no respect whatsoever for Israel’s God. That’s not a good environment in which to grow up!
The book of Daniel tells us how four of these young men nevertheless remain faithful to their God, and how their lives are a powerful witness to the people around them. Let’s read these stories over the next few days, and see what we can apply to our own lives as Christians in a hostile world.
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