hc_logoHOPE Community

Message Text

Jeremiah 29:1-9 29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

Daniel 1:1-7 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

Message Notes

Un-Cancelled Pt 1

Jeremiah 29:1-9 29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

Daniel 1:1-7 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

A little history lesson: The nation of Israel, under its 3rd king, Rehoboam, grandson of King David, split because of harsh taxes and conditions implemented by Rehoboam. Judah and most of the tribe of Benjamin stayed loyal to Rehoboam, and the northern 10 tribes and the rest of the tribe of Benjamin chose to be loyal to Jeroboam. The northern 10 tribes turned away from God almost immediately and fell to the Assyrians about 50 years later, never to be established again, and are referred to as the lost 10 tribes of Israel. Judah and Benjamin stayed loyal to Rehoboam. 135 years later, fulfilling prophesy, the last 2 southern tribes were conquered by the Babylon King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was rounded up in the 1st of the 4 displacements of Jerusalem. They would make the 700-mile journey from Jerusalem to Babylon, walking for months reliving the horrific events they had just endured and managing the growing anxiety of where they were headed. Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles gave direction and hope for those displaced into a cultic foreign land. Daniel was an exceptional young man relocated to Babylon to be reeducated and enlisted in the service of King Nebuchadnezzar. At the age of 14, he enters the reeducation school of the Chaldean culture. His name is changed and at every corner he is encouraged and taught to disregard his devotion to the one true God, but Daniel, in a magnificent display of grace and truth, never compromises.

1. Waking up in a different land

The church is living in an age of dramatic educational change. In the last year, we have experienced an increase in the rate of change of our country’s education system. We are debating things that I never thought we would be talking about, like children deciding their genders and competing in sports with the opposite sex, classes on theories that certain races of people are by default racist, and the list is growing every day. Entertainment, marriage, morality, and the value of life are not what most people in here remember them to be.

Daniel was in an even worse situation. He would not experience the evolutionary change of a culture but the rapid destruction and introduction of a culture that was nothing like the one he came from.

3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah.

At every turn, Daniel was being encouraged and required to accept a new reality. He was given a new education, new language, and even a new name. This was designed to erase Daniel’s beliefs and indoctrinate him into the Babylonian culture.

2. The response was already established.

4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Holding onto your values does not require you to hate the people trying to change them.

7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

There is no indication in the book of Daniel that he harbored any hate towards his indoctrinators. The church has been convinced that it is in a cultural war with people who think differently than we do and that drastic measures against those very people are warranted to protect our beliefs.

Ephesians 6:10-12 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Satan has done a remarkable job causing the church to separate itself from the very people Jesus died to redeem on arguments over politics and culture.

Daniel and all other exiles were encouraged by Jeremiah to pray for the welfare of the people they now lived with whose culture was blatantly anti-God.

We are now not only encouraged to pray but to make disciples.

Mark 2:13-17 13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Are we a church that is praying for our community or warring with it?

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Jesus’ call to engage the people who did not meet their cultural standards. Jeremiah did not prophesy to reject the people but pray for their well-being without accepting the culture.

3. You can be uncompromising without being a jerk.

Daniel was a great benefit to the king and the people around him. Jesus healed people the religious rulers of the time wouldn’t even go near. We as the church should be a benefit to our community without compromising our values. I can engage the culture without it changing me. As soon as we turn this into a battle with other people, we lose the ability to influence other people. We would be no different than Nebuchadnezzar. We would need to defeat people in order to convince them. The church needs to reject the ideas of the last several years that we are in a fight with people who disagree with us. If we are in a fight, we are fighting for their lives not ours.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

4. If we spend our time fighting people, we may lose what we value.

5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.

The best way to change the culture is not to fight with others but to raise up a more Godly culture.

God was ensuring there would be a community that lasted longer than the one they were living in.

The church for decades has publicly screamed at the culture but then raised our children to accept it. If the exiled Israelites would have not focused on their families there would not have been anyone to return to the land after 70 years. No one can corrupt our culture except us.