Daniel and many other captives were uprooted from their homeland in Israel and relocated to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar took the cream of the crop and trained them to be leaders in his government. They were given a 3-year, crash course on Chaldean culture (Dan. 1:1-5). The goal was to make them to forget their heritage and train them to think, act, talk, and live like Babylonians.
Daniel and his comrades were in Babylon, but they were not of Babylon—they were Israelites, children of the living God. They were in exile, “a prolonged absence from one’s own homeland.” Babylon is symbolic of the world’s system that is controlled by the spirit of the Antichrist. We too are exiled in spiritual Babylon. This world is not our home. We are just pilgrims passing through.
You can trace Babylon’s rotten roots back to Nimrod (Gen. 10:9-10). Unlike his righteous great grandfather, Noah, Nimrod was rebellious. His name means “let us rebel or he that rules.” His kingdom was called Babel in the land of Shinar (where the Tower of Babel and Babylon were later built). Babylon means “confusion” and is a type of this world’s corrupt system that tries to rule without God. Satan has a five-fold agenda for the king’s seed:
1. Reprogram your mind: Nebuchadnezzar tried to retrain their brain so they would forget about their God in Israel. Public education indoctrinates our kids with evolution, humanism, and secularism. Students are taught that abortion, pornography, and pre-marital sex are acceptable, and that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal and desirable. There is confusion over what is right and wrong because biblical values are not taught. When people reject God’s truth, they are left with man’s wisdom which is foolishness. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22) and “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Satan tries to reprogram our minds with lies; God renews our minds with His truth.
2. Replace your diet: Every day the captives were served gourmet meals from the king’s kitchen—Chaldean chow and Babylonian bologna! “But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king” (Dan. 1:8, NLT). The king’s meat was unclean for one of three reasons: 1. The meat was either soaked in blood, rare or raw, common among Gentiles but forbidden to Jews (Lev. 17:11-12). 2. The meat was from an unclean species banned by Mosaic Law and avoided by kosher Jews. 3. The meat was sacrificed to idols. We also have a daily choice—we can binge on secular grub (worldly music and videos) or we can feast on spiritual things (the bread and meat of God’s Word and the water and wine of the Spirit). Daniel and his friends lived on veggies and water for three years and they were healthier and wiser than all the rest (Dan. 1:15-20). Are we feeding our mind and spirit carnal junk food or healthy soul food?
3. Remake your identity: Notice they were all renamed in Babylon. Their Hebrew names associated them with the God of Israel; their Babylonian names tied them to pagan gods (Dan. 1:6-7). Daniel means “God is my Judge.” Belteshazzar means “Prince of Bel” (patron god of war). Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious.” Shadrach means “Commander of Aku” (a moon god). Mishael means “Who is like God.” Meshach means “Who is like Aku.” Azariah’s name, “Jehovah is my keeper/helper,” became Abednego, “Servant of Nebo” (god of literature and wisdom). Despite this effort to remake their identity, the Hebrews never forgot who they were. We must never forget our true identity. We are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7, 29), sons and daughters of the most-high God!
4. Reproach your testimony: What if they had compromised? There would be no book of Daniel. When a witness testifies in court, the opposing lawyer tries to trash their credibility so no one will believe them. Daniel’s enemies spied on him and tried to dig up dirt on him to stain his reputation but couldn’t find anything (Dan. 6:3-4). Imagine a politician with no scandal. How refreshing! The only thing his enemies could accuse him of was that He prayed too much! What a testimony!
5. Reclaim your worship: It’s all a tug-of-war over worship—God wants your worship and Satan wants your worship! Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image over 100 feet tall and coerced the masses to worship it (Dan. 3:1-5). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the idol. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God protected them and promoted them. When King Darius signed a bogus bill outlawing prayer, Daniel prayed anyway and was delivered from the lion’s den. They served in the highest levels of government and made a powerful impact for the kingdom of God! Daniel and the three Hebrews never forgot who they were (Israelites not Babylonians) and who they worshipped. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom. 12:2, NLT). Friend, don’t allow yourself to be brainwashed in Babylon!
Ben Godwin is the author of five books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. You can read more articles or order his books @ bengodwin.org.