Friday, January 30, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 1, 2015

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FEARING GOD MORE THAN WE FEAR MAN
(Being faithful requires discipline and devotion)
Daniel 1

The book of Daniel was written in the sixth century by the prophet Daniel who actually lived through all of the events that are recorded in its pages. At the age of sixteen Daniel was taken captive, along with many other elite young men of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar, and held in exile after Babylon’s first invasion of Jerusalem in 605 B.C. They were then set apart and taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.
Early on, the king also sought to place this group of elite young men on a special diet consisting of food from his own table. However, most of those foods were forbidden for any of the Jewish people to eat at any time. And so, now, Daniel and his friends find themselves faced with their first religious dilemma since being forced to leave their homeland of Judah.
As far as GOD is concerned, the obverse of “love” is always “obedience”, and the obverse of “privilege” is always “responsibility”. We, as privileged Christians, are responsible to GOD to show our love for HIM, through, our obedience to HIM. In Daniel chapter 1, the young prophet, Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) are all faced with a choice of either obeying GOD, or, obeying man, and disobeying GOD. It is a dilemma that many professed Christians often face in today’s society, and perhaps, more often than not, we choose to obey man, and disobey GOD.
This form of disobedience can often be seen on our jobs, for example, where we may have been told that we must work seven days a week by the boss, and we know GOD says we must work no more than six days a week. If we choose to disobey GOD, it is an action that sends a clear message to GOD that we fear man, or, are more concerned about pleasing man, than we are about pleasing HIM, WHO is the CREATOR of man.
Daniel and his friends all made up their minds that they were going to obey GOD, no matter what happened to them as a result. They loved and feared GOD more than they feared their earthly captors. Their desire was to please GOD in all that they did, and they resolved that, even though they no longer lived in their own homeland, or culture, they were still bound by the laws of a sovereign, omnipresent GOD, whose sovereignty knows no geographical boundaries. They knew that their GOD, was and is, GOD everywhere, and rules over all things, because HE created all things everywhere.
With that in mind, Daniel boldly asked to be excused from eating and drinking the food and wine of the pagan king of Babylon. The chief official was reluctant to grant Daniel’s request because the king held him responsible for their well-being. If they didn’t eat, they could fall into bad health, and the king would perhaps, punish him severely.
However, GOD intervened and moved on the heart of the official to show favor to young Daniel and his friends, and he allowed them to eat their own traditional diet of foods, on a trial basis, for ten days. And sure enough, at the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends appeared to be even healthier than those who remained on the king’s regimen, and as a result, they were allowed to continue on with their traditional diet.
GOD always intervenes on behalf of those who obey, trust, and keep their faith in HIM, especially during difficult situations. Compromise oftentimes seems like the easy way out, and sometimes we are only too eager to fit into situations that may be rationalized as being “not that bad”. One might reason, “Why make a fuss about something as simple as a diet, or, violating GOD’s Sabbath Day law for that matter?” We can easily rationalize that “nobody will be hurt if we don’t obey that commandment just this once”.
Such thoughts may have even crossed Daniel’s mind also, however, ultimately we see Daniel did the wise and right thing and made doing GOD’s Will, his priority. No amount of rationalization can justify disobedience to GOD, no matter how small a thing we convince ourselves that it is. This is something that every Christian, who desires to live a GODly life in a secular society, must come to terms with.
I also realize that some Christians can seem totally obnoxious to others when defending, or taking a stand for their faith, and perhaps we can all benefit from this lesson by noting how respectfully young Daniel handled his situation with pagan royalty. Here in this passage, we see that he did not demand that his captors do anything, but rather, he asked permission. He respected the position of the Babylonian officials, and how his request could jeopardize the lives of himself and his friends.
In the final analysis, we should earnestly seek ways by which we can always put GOD first, and still show respect to those around us. And if there is any way to satisfy both, that would be the wise route to take. But remember, never let your obedience to man, throw you into conflict with, or disobedience to, GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander    





                                 
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