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How To Change A Country

Daniel 1:1-7

1. Isolation, v. 3-4

“There is one thing a professor can be a absolutely certain of; almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative…Relativism is necessary to open-mindedness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness- and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings- is the great insight of our times. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.” -Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

2. Indoctrination, v. 3-5

Four things about this indoctrination process…

a) comes disguised as “education”

b) starts with changing a persons worldview- a worldview is a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world

c) the goal is to train them to think like Babylonians rather than Israelites

d) the ultimate goal is to instill in them a total dependence upon Nebuchadnezzar for everything they need.

“So this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators- parents, sibling, etc- in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this? While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse and remain a concern in this no walls environment, I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality. And while conservative parents are my chief concern-I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia-how much do we want their classmate’s parents piling on?”

-Matthew Kay, English teacher, Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, PA

3. Incorporation, v. 5

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” – Romans 12.1-2, The Message

vv. 8-21

4. Identification, v. 6-7

Hebrew names Babylonian names

Daniel: “God is my judge”Belteshazzar: “Lady protect the king”
Hananiah: “Yahweh is gracious”Shadrach: “I am very fearful of God”
Mishael: “Who is what God is?”Meschach: “I am of little account”
Azariah: “Yahweh has helped”Abednego: “Servant of the god Nebo”

Two things to notice…

a) people over place

b) they maintained their status as exiles

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” stick- 1 Peter 2.11-17

Mental worship…

  • How has not gathering for public worship affected you and what does that say about the role of weekly public worship? About you?
  • What are some ways that your faith informs and affects how you see the world?
  • Is there any water in your boat today and if so, how did it get there?
  • Do you live as an exile or have you learned to fit in with this world?
  • In the passage today, Daniel was creatively bold. What could you do right now that would be considered creatively bold?