Do you sometimes feel very out-of-place in your work environment? Because we live and work in a fallen world, we are often painfully reminded that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we just don’t fit in socially and culturally where we work. Daniel had that same experience, as he was taken to a foreign land. But there in the midst of a totally secular and pagan culture, he stayed true to his biblical principles and did not allow the culture around him to drag him down to its level.
Jesus prayed specifically for his disciples: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:15-17).
Daniel was deeply influenced by a letter the prophet Jeremiah sent to the exiles. In Daniel 9:2 we read: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” That letter, being prophetic in nature, was the Word of God.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. . . Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
Notice that they were to serve the Lord right there in Babylon, while they were in exile. They were to prosper and work and be involved in the society around them.
I believe God intends for his children to be involved in the pagan culture around us—to work in that culture and be a light in that culture and even be successful in that culture. But we’re never to compromise and adopt the sinful ways of the culture. In the world but not of the world—that is our challenge. Daniel and his three close friends were able to do it very well.
And you’ll note that they knew the Word of God as delivered by the Prophet Jeremiah. Undoubtedly that was one of the main reasons they could stay true to their beliefs, because they knew and believed the Word of God. We have it a bit easier because we have the whole written Word of God, and when we make that an integral part of our lives, it fortifies us to be strong for the Lord and stand true to his principles, as Daniel did.