Kerrin looked at what he would consider one of the most evident and challenging of concepts that we wrestle with as Christians.
He believes that the next few weeks will help us make sense of things and help us know how to respond to life’s challenges in faith and according to God’s Word.
Kerrin was reading the book of Daniel earlier this year and noticed something!
- Daniel is a powerful man of God in the Bible. He is a hero.
- He is highly influential in the ruling of four separate kings.
- He sees the miracle power of God.
- He has spiritual gifts flowing and operating in his life and calling.
- He works a ‘secular job’ in a secular kingdom and is highly successful.
- He is a man of great prayer.
- He is a man with no recorded mistakes.
Daniel is exceptional!
He does this all while being a captive in a foreign land!
Daniel spends all of his life that we read about in scripture, captive to violent and ungodly regimes in a land far from his own, yet, despite that:
He flourishes and lives out a powerful influential life for God.
Perhaps you have noticed that not everything is perfect.
- Life isn’t always fair
- Why does healthy food taste so terrible?
- Why is it that we don’t realise how awesome it is being a kid and teen until we aren’t’? Many of us spent our youth wanting to be older and our older years trying to be a youth again. It feels unfair.
- Bad things sometimes happen to good people and good things sometimes happen to bad people.
- It was reported that a man threw an Ooshie at a bird pooing on his car – only to find out later that particular Ooshie was worth thousands of dollars. Possibly someone doing the wrong thing will pick that up and cash in.
- We face things we don’t want to. Life isn’t fair.
- We have situations arise that bring challenge, loss, grief, levels of brokenness, all sorts of stuff that none of us want.
We all know that there is a very real sense in which many of these things are serious and present huge challenges in life.
It would seem that we live in a broken world. Funny, that is exactly what the Bible talks about in Genesis. The world was created perfect, but sin broke it.
We then keep reading the Bible and have all these promises and things like healing and blessing that seem to be for us, yet sometimes it seems they are far away.
This is where the story of Daniel starts!
Daniel 1:1-2 (NIV)
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
Daniel is a Jew, one of Gods people and around 598 BC is taken captive by the Babylonians from Jerusalem, his native town.
- This would not have been a nice time:
- Babylonians were contemporaries of the Assyrians and at a time where captivity and war meant a certain level of brutality.
- It involved – mass killing of innocents, women and children.
- For example:
- It is documented that they at one defeat hung the heads of those killed throughout trees in a defeated city.
- Often times those captured were impaled and flayed alive to have their skin hung or used for display, as a warning to others.
- Likely Daniel had lost and seen brutally murdered family and friends.
- They had been stripped of everything they owned.
- Daniel was now property, like beasts or furniture.
- They were in the natural, totally at the mercy of a brutal and Godless dictator and his armies.
To just read this in a verse does not help us understand the reality Daniel was living in.
But Daniel’s reality reflects ours in that we live in a world that is captive to sin and that sin all around us constantly wars with us and also wars with God’s plans for us! We feel powerless.
We know that in eternity this is all sorted out and we become eternally set free and changed into God’s likeness, living in a place of God’s plan and purpose! We should read Revelations 21.
What about the gap between today and eternity (or death)? Some of the things people face/deal with/walk through are hard to even describe let alone understand.
Is there a way then that God’s promises/kingdom/plan/words etc… have an effect on this life, or is it all about eternity? Should we struggle and strive?
Kerrin realised that we live our lives often times with levels of captivity and circumstances outside of our control. Yet we are called to not live captive to them.
Have you ever been in the shops, but not actually shopping? There may be a time in life where the terrible affliction of being in a shopping centre is forced upon you! Kerrin thinks shopping centres are dark and horrible.
We know this is separate to God’s plan for our lives, because even Jesus refused to do the shopping – he sent the disciples! See John 4.
- Kerrin is now walking around the shops, perhaps even going in and out of some, yet he is definitely not shopping or participating!
- It may be ALL around him, others might be doing it, but it doesn’t mean he has to!
Jesus put it like this…
John 14:13-18 (NIV)
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
We are in the world, but not of the world
So let’s look at Daniel’s life and see what God can teach us, reveal to us, that can help us to live in this world that is captive to sin and brokenness, but we don’t have to be captive to it.
Let’s not so much to look at the WHY behind this:
- because we hear so many different theories, theologies and ideas around it and have found they have a level of useful but it’s not very comprehensive.
- You talk to a person who has just lost a loved one about the discouse of good and evil – doesn’t help!
Let’s look at our response! The first lesson to learn from Daniel is that there is no point in asking why.
1. Ask what, not why.
Daniel doesn’t spend the next four chapters asking:
- Why everything went wrong?
- Why Him?
- Why his generation?
- Why did he live and others die?
- What if it didn’t happen?
It is a temptation of the human soul to ask why, but we rarely if ever get the answer.
- Even if we could get the answer, due to the circumstance we are facing (the grief, anger, loss, pain etc.) we are not in a position to process the reality of the answer.
Steve Penny, who lost his son to cancer at a young age, talks about this in his book ‘Where is the Miracle?’
- Asking “WHY” is the wrong question .
- Asking “WHAT” is the correct question .
The book of Daniel is about the WHAT!
It totally ignores the idea of ‘getting to the bottom of why’ and Daniel instead makes some incredible decisions of faith which are the WHAT!
- WHAT does God’s Word say about this?
- WHAT are God’s promises for my future?
- WHAT can I learn in this season?
- WHAT will I focus on moving forward?
- WHAT can I do to help others?
- WHAT attitudes will help me through this?
- WHAT is God saying in the midst of this?
- WHAT will I turn to for strength in this?
- WHAT can God do from here?
Too many people run away from God asking WHY, instead of running to Him asking WHAT.
John 9:1-5 (NIV)
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Life happens, stuff goes wrong sometimes.
The Disciples want to ask WHY and:
- Jesus says, “WRONG QUESTION” – there is a WHAT in here – works of God might be displayed.
- Life happens.
- Stuff goes wrong.
- Don’t look to fix why – look to glorify God.
- You have been asking WHY for too long.
People have been stuck on WHY. God wants you to know there is a way out, but you have to start changing your question.
A wrong question – can give you a wrong answer!
Embrace the WHAT of the future. You have been stuck on WHY.
People get stuck in cycles.
Don’t keep yourself in the cycle of doom.
2. Don’t change your name!
Daniel 1:6-8 (NIV)
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 8 But Daniel….
Daniel refused this name change and we even see his defiance in the very start of v8…
- IF he had allowed his name to be changed he would have said, ….therefore Hannaniah.
One of the first things the captivity of this world wants to do is change our names!
- Daniel – God is my judge.
- Belteshazzar – Bel (another name for Nebuchadnezzar’s favourite God – Marduk protect the king).
- Hananiah – God is gracious.
- Shadrach—the inspiration of the sun god, which the Chaldeans worshipped – at command of Marduk.
- Mishael – Strong like God.
- Meshach—of the Babylonian goddess Shach, – he who belongs to Shach, or Sheshach. (Benson)
- Azariah: The Lord has helped.
- Abed-nego- The servant of the shining fire, which they worshipped also – servant of Nebo.
We might live in a world that is fallen and face challenges that want to try and define us and rename us, but we are not captive to the names that the world wants to give us!
Make a mistake:
- The world wants to call you failure/looser.
- God says forgiven – more than a conqueror.
Live with a challenge of anxiety:
- The world wants to call you anxious or mentally ill.
- God calls you a man or woman of faith. Gideon was anxious, but God called him a mighty man of valour.
Face something that hurt or wounded you:
- The world wants to call you broken and injured.
- God calls you SOZO – Salvation = WHOLE.
Loose all your money / born on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’.
- The world wants to call you poo, missed out.
- God calls you blessed.
Walk the valley of grief or loss:
- The world wants to call you sorrowful/depressed and unable to praise. The world takes the song out of your mouth.
- God wants to call you to a people of praise and worship.
REFUSE to live under the names that come with some of the captivity and brokenness of this world!
Whatever captivity faces your world – YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE UNDER IT OR ACCORDING TO IT!
Josh – a friend of Kerrin when he was in Bible College:
- Lost a lot of money – took him down to buy a brand new suit and clothes.
- When the devil rips you off, you go and show him you will love to bless others. Refuse to give in, refuse to live under this world.
What does God and His word say about you?
It is human to want to bring our faith in God down to the earthly level of what we see, but that will never lead to possession of things in God.
- Faith is above our circumstances.
- It instead leads to people who never possess all God has. eg: Israel in the wilderness.
- But we must choose to keep our faith centred on God’s word and promises – which exist outside of this temporary captivity on earth! Live above it.
Regardless of what:
- THIS WORLD
- THE DEVIL HIMSELF,
- YOUR PAST
- PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE
Might say, you have the power to refuse it!
If we allow it to be our name we become a servant to it.
- HOWEVER if you accept GOD’S name for you – you become HIS servant. – that is another story.
- Never take on a name that the world wants to put on you.
AS A CHURCH – the devil likes to put names on us – ‘small’ or ‘rural’…
BUT we won’t accept that!
Our Church serves a GOD of:
- Souls – we will be a soul winning Church.
- Abundance and blessing – we will walk in that.
- Healing – where we believe and see the miraculous power of God to heal the sick.
- Victory and all-conquering – and our city will find that out as we take territory from where darkness has ruled and move into those areas.
- Harvesting – people are looking for God and they will find HIM!
- A generational church – building not just for today, but for generations to come!
- Choose not to live under it and not capture to it.
- David was an incredible man.
- Choose to live free in Jesus Christ.
- The world lives captive, bt we can choose to live beyond it.
Suggestions for Discussion Questions
- What do you think of Daniel?
- Life isn’t always fair. Discuss.
- When things happen to you, can you ask WHAT instead of WHY?
- Have you allowed others to change your name?