Over the course of the last 8 weeks or so we have spent time in the first half of the book of Daniel. Looking into the life and faith of Daniel and his friends during their time of exile in Babylon, and later Medo-Persia, has raised this central question for us: how do we, as Christians, remain faithful to our God while in exile.
Perhaps the first lesson that we all need to learn is this: we must remember that we are, in fact, in exile. We are strangers in a strange land, awaiting the day when the kingdom to which we belong does away with the kingdom of the prince of the power of the air as Paul calls it in the book of Ephesians. Knowing that we are not at home in this place raises our awareness and sense of expectation for what is to come. It helps us to understand that we should not expect to find our viewpoint echoed in the culture we live in, and we should be suspicious of our own faith if it looks too much like the faith popular in this world.
Once we come to understand that our lives are lived in exile here, we can begin to take the lessons of Daniel and apply them to our own situation. What do we do when pressed into service for a foreign king? We give our all for the betterment of the world around us, all the while pointing those around us to the God we serve and the kingdom we ultimately belong to. How do we respond when our culture pressures us into abandoning proper deference to our God for the sake of social acceptability? We give no ground, not even small ground for a short time, whatever the cost might be. What do we do when we are tempted to place our faith in the cosmic tree of our government, our institutions, our leaders? We remember that it is not these that are sovereign, but that it is “the Most High [who] rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”
In all of this we take courage, knowing that in the end God will vindicate His own, saving them from the fiery furnace and the lion’s den, whether now or in the end when “every knee will bow.” Whatever this world promises us, whatever pressures it places on us, whatever authorities it puts over us, we can know that our God reigns. And though we are in exile, God’s power is not limited by foreign kingdoms.
So, let’s take courage. Let us face the enemy with confidence and faithfulness. Let us seek the face of God in a foreign land and place our hope in Him. Then we will know that He is the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria!