THe President of Babylon
Lesson 1: Overcoming Pain
What if we had no church to attend? What if we had no pastor? What if witchdoctors trained us? Would we be true believers?
President of Babylon
This is the story of how a Jewish slave boy became president in Iraq. (Daniel 1:1-2) Daniel was captured and taken as a slave to Babylon when he was eight to twelve years of age to be castrated as a eunuch in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. The last things he saw in Jerusalem were his family being killed and his nation destroyed.
Challenge #1 – Overcoming Pain
The Jews in Babylon had developed a prisoner of war mentality. They hated Babylon because they’d been made slaves there, and they also wrote letters back to Jerusalem complaining about the prophecies of Jeremiah who had written to them to build houses in Babylon, to settle down and pray for the prosperity of the city. (Jeremiah 29:27-28) The Jewish slaves hated this advice because they longed to return to Jerusalem. They had written and were singing Psalm 137 which ends by praising those who kill Babylonian babies. This was the wrong song! It is contained in our Bibles because it accurately shows the feelings of the Jewish slaves, but this isn’t the correct attitude or what Daniel displayed.
• Don’t Sit Down
Depression is such a subtle enemy. It causes us to internalize our pain and shuts down our emotions. It’s a mistake to just sit and cry; instead, get up and start moving again. Do something productive.
• Don’t Stop Singing Praises to God
It’s also a big mistake to hang our harps on the willow trees. Praise is one of the best ways to victory. When we stop praising, we soon begin doubting. The Babylonians asked them to sing one of the songs of Zion, but they refused. They missed an opportunity to witness for Jehovah because they were afraid they’d forget Jerusalem. What nonsense! One of the best ways to remember Jerusalem is by singing. If we don’t remember to praise, we’ll soon remember our pain. Praise is the antidote to depression.
• Don’t Internalize Your Pain
Pain makes us angry, and we want someone to pay for the wrong things we’ve experienced. By focusing on their pain, the Jewish slaves had become like their Babylonian captors. They’d become baby killers! Pain causes us to focus on ourselves, but life isn’t about us; life is about God and His Kingdom.
The Jews left behind in Jerusalem thought they were safe because they’d escaped the terrible judgment when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel. But history gives us an entirely different lesson. In reality, it was the Jews in Babylon who would ultimately survive and return to rebuild Jerusalem, while the Jews left behind in Israel would be scattered and destroyed. How many times God uses the thing we thought would destroy us to develop us. The Jews had been addicted to idolatry, but God would use the Babylonian captivity to cure them of their desire to worship idols.
The Attitude Adjustment
Daniel changed his attitude toward Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. He came to understand it was God who had sent him there. He realized God was already in Babylon when he arrived. He had to change his attitude; because we can’t save what we want to destroy. If God was to use Daniel in Babylon, Daniel had to develop a different attitude.
Daniel came to see himself as God’s ambassador in Babylon. He realized God had sent him there with the purpose of revealing Jehovah God to the Babylonians. Jehovah was already there, but the Babylonians didn’t know Him. Daniel knew Him, so it was his responsibility to help reveal Jehovah to them. Isolation isn’t the answer! We can’t help the people from which we hide.
We can’t win anyone by ignoring him. We can’t warm anyone’s heart by giving him a cold shoulder. Jesus refused to pray that God would take us out of this world. (John 17:15) God placed us here to be His representatives. It’s not God’s will that any should perish but that all may come to eternal life. (II Peter 3:9)
God so Loved the World, and that Includes Babylon!