home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > November 12th > WHEN CULTURE BEGINS TO ZIG IT MAY BE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO ZAG
WHEN CULTURE BEGINS TO ZIG IT MAY BE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO ZAG
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF DANIEL
¶ But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
Daniel’s world had been turned upside down. As a young well-to-do Jewish boy who grew up in a highly regarded family with parents who took their devotion to Yahweh seriously, he too would have expected that all of his training would have led him to follow in his father’s and Grandfather’s footsteps in the service of the King’s royal court. Even as a young man in his early teenage years he would have expected to one day take a wife and pass the baton of his knowledge and privilege to his son too. But then his world began to be shaken. The early stages of the disruption began when he was not yet a teen and a very upset and tearful young man from Anathoth, not too much older than himself, stood on the temple steps and denounced the wickedness of the King of Judah. Daniel would have remembered hearing this teenage prophet call the King and the people of Judah to repentance before the Lord’s wrath came upon them. This virgin prophet warned of the destruction of the temple and the invasion of the world’s most vile people — the Babylonians. The disruptions from this highly emotional priest-prophet continued until he was barred from entering the city, but undaunted, he wrote his prophecies out and his secretary, Baruch, deliver them in his stead. Despite the scorn, mocking, and eventual imprisonment, Daniel witnessed the tenacity of the one who came to be known as “the Weeping Prophet” and some seventy years after Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by Babylonian forces (just as the prophet had foretold), Daniel referred to his copy of the now late prophet’s words and turned them into a prayer.
…I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
¶ Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking Him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
THE DAY DANIEL’S WORLD COLLAPSED
The day the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem was the day Daniel’s expected world collapsed. His dreams of being a royal bureaucrat, a husband, and a father were destroyed that day. Nebuchadnezzar’s first invasive visit to Jerusalem was a humiliating one. He deposed the existing king, appointed and renamed a new king, and then took for himself the cream of the young trainee bureaucrats to enter his service back in Babylon. Daniel, at this stage could have only have feared what his selection would have entailed? Would he ever see his parents again? Would he be rescued by the new King’s military forces and reinstated to his position in the royal Judean court? Would Yahweh, the GOD of Israel, ignore his years of faithful devotion and not answer his prayers for his deliverance from this nightmare?
The day that Daniel was forcibly taken from family, his home-land, was also the last day he would never see his parents or his beloved city with its temple again. Upon arriving in Babylon as a fifteen year-old, things only got worse when he discovered that the price for entering into the King of Babylon’s service was the very essence of his manhood. As a result, he was now to submit to “the chief of the eunuchs” (Dan. 1:8).
¶ As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel’s ability to zag in the midst of a culture that was entirely committed to zigging began as soon as he arrived in Babylon. His zagging involved his commitment to worship God despite his circumstances. It involved him being faithful to God even though he had ample opportunity to do otherwise with little to no immediate consequence. It involved him choosing to ignore his very negative circumstances and to press into God to become a man attuned to God’s voice (he would late become recognised as the Prophet Daniel).
Daniel eventually realised that his dream of perhaps one day being restored to home-land was never going to happen. Rather than wallow in bitterness and disappointment, Daniel zagged by being the best public administrator that he could be. Due to his excellent work ethic the day came when he rose to the position of Prime Minister of Babylon. Along the way though his faithfulness to Yahweh led to the king of Babylon humbling himself and surrendering his own life to the God of Israel. Strange things happen when someone committed to being faithful to God (“zagging”) lives among a culture that is hell-bent on zigging!
¶ Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ZAG
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The birth of Christianity marked the beginning of a new world. The old world at the time Christ walked the streets of Jerusalem was a world where “might was right”. The new world that Jesus established was a world where humility was now among the highest virtues. It was a world caring for each other was prized. It was a world where generosity toward the less fortunate was honoured. It was a world in which the each believer valued their obedience to the One True God. Living in the new world of Christ required zagging in a world where everyone else was zigging. And I suspect that the world we now live in today also a world where zigging is what is demanded — and in Christ’s new world (which He called His Kingdom) we are still called to live our Romans 12:1-2 and zag.
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Daniel certainly had it all together and set a standard that was reachable. Keep on preaching it brother
I cannot help the Southern drawl…”Aint that a fact”. Strange things do happen when zigging is what is demanded from the masses and demanded it is…and yet …to zag can be done without bowing to peer group pressure whether that is at school, in the workplace or in any area of society, seeing as Christ is calling us to stand firm…to dare to be a Daniel. So dare to preach, continue to preach and just like the prophets of old continue on regardless Andrew!
I never realised before that Daniel was probably forcibly castrated. Thank you for adding this to my shrinking knowledge pool.
May the Christians of today, facing challenges and pressures of many kinds, follow Daniel’s lead by ‘zagging’ in a world where everyone else is ‘zigging’.