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A Nation Taken into Captivity

Last Tuesday I wrote “Election Tuesday” on my personal blog.  I had no idea what the outcome of the election would be as I wrote.  It was pretty clear that I, with the majority of Evangelical Christians, was hoping for a different outcome.  As I wrote that blog, this line stood out to me: “I would suggest our faith in Him is tested most when things don’t turn out as we think they should.”  With the results in, I have seen a growing fear concerning the future by conservatives and Christian’s alike.  I say this without trying to undermine the real issues we as a nation face.  They are real.  They are closing in around us and something will have to give one way or another sooner, rather than later.  Even in the worst case scenario, I still believe we Americans live in one of the greatest countries and have the highest quality of life as I reflect on humanity throughout history.  We have much to be thankful for lest we loose sight of the larger picture.

In the last 48 hours, the biblical story of Daniel keeps surfacing in my mind.  Israel had wandered from their God over and over again.  God had warned them through numerous prophets like Isaiah, Habakkuk, and others that discipline was coming.  They did not care (neither do we).  The book of Daniel opens with this prophecy coming true.  Daniel 1:2 states, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…”  This was huge.  The Northern Kingdom had already fallen captive to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and now the Southern Kingdom was taken captive by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.  The nation of Israel existed no more.  It would not come back as a nation until May 14, 1948.  Clearly the situation presented in Daniel chapter 1 is worse than anything we are going through right now.  It is worse than anything we could imagine.  Period.

Here Daniel, a young man, was taken as a prisoner by a ruthless people who hated and destroyed the nation of Israel.  Daniel was exiled to Babylon to be indoctrinated into the Babylonian way for the purpose of eroding any remnant of Judaism.  Did I mention this was a really bad situation?  I wish I could review every story recorded in Daniel, but time and people’s attention spans are limited.  In light of this, I would like to fly over the Book of Daniel and draw out some practical principles from the life of Daniel.

Daniel’s God was bigger than all his problems.  Nation taken captive?  Being deported to a foreign land to be indoctrinated into a godless system?  No problem, my God is bigger than these problems!  I don’t know about you, but I hate the emotional roller coaster my emotions are capable of.  As I walk with God and come to know Him with greater intimacy, the less moved I am by the ups and downs of life.  I pray that we all would walk in a way that brings true grounding like Daniel had with God.

Daniel was most concerned with his own relationship with God.  As he was faced with an opportunity to go with the flow of his culture, he faced a critical decision.  Daniel could have very easily slipped into the things that would have led him away from God, but he stayed focus on the priority of his relationship with God.  This internal focus ultimately led to others noticing that Daniel was different.  God honors Daniel over and over again because his passion for God was second to none.  I believe revival starts with the individual, with you right where you are.

Daniel was a gracious as he could be when the outworking of his faith was infringed upon.  In the first chapter Daniel was faced with his first dilemma–eat the food that went against his convictions, or rebel against his captors.  What would he do?  How would I handle this if I was in the same situation?  I love the graciousness and trust in God as Daniel makes his request to honor his convictions.  True class.  I love that God granted Daniel favor and compassion as he live at peace with all men so much as it depended on him (Rom. 12:18).

No Compromise.  Daniel 3 develops into a intense story about Daniel’s close friends.  Daniel was not here.  We don’t know where he was, but I am convinced that Daniel would have been right there with them.  Daniel’s friends would not bend at the threat of their lives to bow down and worship an idol.  They stood firm.  There comes a place where the believer must draw the line.  I’m not sure where this is in today’s context, but clearly they would not bow down to worship anything other than God.  I see no rebellion in Scripture like this that relates to taxes or other things that bug us.  This sort of rebellion seems limited to the place of comprising true worship or a restricting of the Gospel (Acts 4:19-20), or possibly in the defense of another.

Daniel fervently prayed for his nation.  I would encourage you to pause your reading of this blog and read Daniel 9.  The heart of Daniel’s prayer is humbling.  Did you notice his heart?  Full of awe for God.  Sensitivity and responsibility for both his sin and the sin of his nation.  Confession and cries for God’s intervention.  Daniel poured himself out so completely in prayer that he describes his state as being in “extreme weariness” (Dan. 9:21).  I don’t think I have ever prayed for my nation like this before.  What would our land look light if we as Christians prayed for our nation with this intensity instead of complaining about how bad things have become, or are going to get?  Maybe we should give this a shot?

A final word.  In looking at Daniel’s life, I believe these points should help us get back on track.  If you are not a Christian, and you find yourself deeply concerned about where we are and where we are heading as a nation, I would encourage you to turn to Christ.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is not asleep at the wheel and He will take care of you if you turn to Him by faith.  To those of us who believe, I would encourage you to examine your thoughts and the words that come out of your mouth.  What do they say about your God?  I would encourage you to turn your hope to the creator and sustainer of the universe.  He is moved by prayer and has commanded us to pray.  Let us turn our hearts and prayers to Him as our country faces difficult times ahead.  May we reflect His light in the midst of a world that is so dark.

6 replies
  1. John Verber
    John Verber says:

    Alright this a post I threw up on a facebook group touching on the same thing from Mile’s Post last week. I don’t know this all just seems so ….well horrible. The election put everyone in two camps and unfortunately being Evangelical, poor, part Black and Indian, and utterly for the poor and against the rich…I was a bit confused. But I still stand by this post, perhaps you could make sense of it:

    “Alright…so I made a post on a blog my pastor made about the election. Everyone reads it a little different but essentialy I got that he was saying that we shouldn’t be putting our faith into politicians, then making a ribbing comment that Obama was inheriting a messed up economy from himself. I took offense at this, for many reasons. Neither side from ‘my Christian’ perspective is right at all. Especially with Evangelicals. Abortion and Gay Marriage being the major issues for them and I don’t say that lightly. That’s huge and I understand it.
    But as I stated on the pastor’s blog the conservative candidate wasn’t right either. He was lying consistently during his campaign even knowing that people would be checking his facts. Conservatives were backing him even though they were only months before calling him part of a cult in the primaries. He although perhaps not quite a “total racist” ; obviously he isn’t including the minority population that in my opinion are a large part of the backbone of this country. The entire south was built by slaves not white men. The railroad was built by blacks, Irish (who used to be the minority), and the Chinese. I could go on but I’ll spare you. So his policies don’t include the people that helped make this country great. Then there is Romney’s utterly contemptible greed. There is no other way to call it other than greed. No man needs 2-3 mansions. Never mind the people he would put out of work when he would rip companies apart. That he would declare bankruptcy putting the debt of the people onto the government or other entities while he took millions for himself. So essentially the candidate for conservatives was as bad as the liberal candidate although Evangelicals seemed to lessen Romney’s evils to the evils of abortion and gay marriage.
    I spoke to someone recently about my thought that Obama was the lesser of two evils. Being that he wants to implement social reform, social change for uniform equality and yes at the expense of others. He said to me that the Bible says not to kill (abortion) and not to lay men with men etc (gay marriage). I said,.. well to God (stated many times in the Bible) that all sins are equal; as they separate us from God. Obviously killing a person is worse than cheating on your taxes but if we as a congregation are constantly setting aside morality such as being truthful, taking care of the less fortunate which seems to be completely against the conservative viewpoint, removing gluttonous greed because a political candidate is against abortion and gay marriage….what have we really accomplished? We aren’t much far off from the left in that those things will separate us from God. It’s really no different.
    So essentially I stand more confounded than I ever did on these things. I honestly believe it is not the role of the Government to make decisions for people based off our moral views (from a Constitutional standpoint). Abortion and gay marriage are part of these views. Do I believe in either…nope. But as I said to my pastor people were doing these things since way back….making laws against them isn’t going to change that. But with tax law we can help pick other people up. If Romney was in office for the last 5 years there is no way I would’ve finished school and now be staring 3 different offers from companies in my email. He would’ve set it up so that only rich folks could go to school. Then on the other side I do sometimes feel that some of the moral issues warrant some kind of law. I agree with my pastor’s point that we should not put our faith into political figures. But in the same breath so many Christian leaders would be completely singing a different tune about the state of the U.S. had Romney won the presidency. They wouldn’t be conceding and speaking about not putting faith in political leaders and saying lets pray for Obama; that perhaps God is trying to teach us something through this. They would be saying “God has spoken, the rightful candidate has won, Mitt Romney is who God chose. Everything would be alright now” (I assume). So that just freaks me out with respect to my church ….my congregation. That we would side with a man who is contemptible as Obama in many respects, but would absolutely congratulate that man had he won. But then when Obama actually did win, they say well God is in charge, teaching us a lesson, Obama has a mess in front of him. It’s hypocritical and it essentially isn’t very pleasant to swallow.
    I know man isn’t perfect, our pastors are men (or woman). But such blantant switch stance kills me. It’s Romeny all the way until he loses. Then it’s some prophetic notion that God is tying to teach us something. Both candidates are backing policies that just are low on a morality level. Couldn’t we have just started off saying that? Or do we always crawl to the ‘right’ because historically that’s what Christians do? I’m not saying either the right or left is correct….I”m saying their both wrong and maybe we should’ve realized that in the beginning and not overlooked what is essentially sinful behavior in the first place….no matter who the candidate.”

    Reply
  2. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Gunnar – I wonder what the conservative Christian community would have thought and felt had Romney won the election. I wonder if the church would have woke on Wednesday morning with a huge sigh of relief thinking, ‘Alright, we’re safe now.’ Or,’Alright, America is safe now’? I wonder if a conservative victory could have been the worst thing for the church. Our nation faces a spiritual crisis, a real spiritual problem – and a spiritual problem does not have a political solution. It seems to me that had there been a conservative victory there would have been those thinking that this would have somehow changed the spiritual climate in our nation. There would have been those thinking that the darkness had fled WA DC and light was about to break out. I’m prone to think that the church would relax because now WA DC was on her side. Man is for me, who can be against me? Many would see the moral tide about to turn. But with the conservative loss, the church is brought face to face again with the mandate of the Great Commission and what we are called to do. The loss has energized many in the church and for this I am grateful. And if a win had caused the church to trust more in man than in God, this conservative loss is a gift from God.

    John – your deconstruction of the moral Romney is welcomed. You write of both candidates as having the same low moral vision – and why couldn’t we just say so at the beginning. I like you – but I don’t know that most are ready for you. Here’s where I might have a different trajectory – for me, citing incidents and policies that place both Obama and Romney on the same moral footing is of little consequence for me. I have become a political cynic. As candidates they speak as to please me; as officials they act as to please themselves. I have come to the place where I don’t vote party; I have come to the place where I don’t vote personality; I have come to the place where I vote platform. Whichever party or candidate supports the platform that most conforms to my values – that’s who I’ll vote for. So, for me, even if the candidate who supports the platform I support is less moral than the opposing candidate, I’ll vote for the man supporting my platform though he is of a lesser moral caliber than his opponent. A moral tit-for-tat is of little consequence to me. I would rather have a man of lesser moral caliber for me than a man of higher moral caliber against me. What do you think?

    Reply
  3. Jon Langley
    Jon Langley says:

    Gunnar — great post. You mention some specific things that I normally teach when teaching the first half of Daniel. He truly is one of the best examples I can think of regarding living and serving God with faith, hope, and patient purpose in the midst of a wicked government and false religion. One of my favorite things is how he DIDN’T do the equivalent of whining on Facebook when he was about to suffer or DID suffer great injustice. Instead his pattern remained as it always was: prayer followed by wise words.

    Reply

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