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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.”—Daniel 1:5-7 (NKJV)
Growing up in any generation is a challenge. Young people today, in various ways, have it more difficult than my generation—the Boomer generation. Yes, there were pressures. Boomers were exposed to the onset of the sexual revolution, drugs, the war in Vietnam, increased divorce rate, and an early breakdown of the family.
Today, the breakdown of families has increased, as well as the opioid crisis, the identity crisis, and the slippery slope of decaying moral values in our society. Threats from terrorists inside and outside our country are having affects among our youth, all causing greater anxiety and increased depression.
The culture in Babylon was not easy for any foreigner to live, especially as a captive from an enemy country. Death could come at any time and on any uncertain terms. King Nebuchadnezzar’s law stood. The king’s purpose was to indoctrinate them to disown their Jewish heritage, their culture, and most of all their trust in Almighty God. The king wanted full allegiance, and he would wear them down through a false belief system over a three-year training period.
John Calvin wrote that King Nebuchadnezzar knew the Jews were a stiff-necked and obstinate people, and that he used sumptuous food to soften up the captives. David Guzik writes, “Satan uses a similar strategy against believers to indoctrinate us into the corrupt world system. He wants to identify us in reference to the world, feed us what the world offers, and educate us in the ways of the world.”
Although these four teenagers were at the mercy of King Nebuchadnezzar, God’s hand was upon them. Where the evil world system purposed to completely change and alter their thinking and identity, God was protecting them.
However, the faith of these boys was strong in God who gave them hope and encouragement. These youths show us how to stay pure. We need to believe that God is with us and He will protect us in the most extreme of danger (Psalm 121; Romans 8: 31-39).
Consider the God-given names of these young men:
Daniel means “God Is My Judge.”
Hananiah means “Beloved by God.”
Mishael means “Who Is as God”
Azariah means “The Lord Is My Help
Consider how His Name is written upon you for His name’s sake.
“He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.”—Psalm 23:3 (NKJV)
“For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me.”—Psalm 31:3 (NKJV)
"Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake…”—Ezekiel 20:44 (NKJV)
DIG: Like these young men, what does the devil use to tempt you away from God’s goodness? How does the Lord help you against the wiles of the devil?
DISCOVER: Read Psalm 121. Your identity is in Christ. He promises to cover and protect you and keep you pure.
DO: You may have a biblical name. Look it up to see how that applies to your life. The Lord’s name is upon you. Follow Him closely.