The Wine of Babylon
Jeremiah 29:4-7 4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Daniel 1:6-16 6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The (Babylonian) chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.” 11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
There is a subtle irony in the fact that Daniel, the Nation of Israel, and most of the world, at this point, is brought together under the iron rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in the Land of Babylon. Why? This Babylon is the same location the people of earth gathered and unified to build a monument of human worship called the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel was designed to be a symbol of humanism and the virtues of man. Which in fact, is exactly the culture established and type of worship performed within the nation of Babylon. Sure, there were plenty of pagan gods that the Babylonians bowed down to as their deities but the actual premise of their worship consisted of self indulgences. They built large looming structures in honor of the men, these so-called god’s appointed to rule in this domineering nation. As we discover later in the book of Daniel, this region of the world, Babylon, is entrenched and covered by a spiritual power or entity (A principality called a spirit prince in Daniel 10:13). This power or spiritual influence causes this geographic region to be persuaded to this type of faith-in-humanity and self worship.
Babylon was then and still is today, a spiritual power as much as it was a location in the ancient world. This spiritual influence, over the generations, has been empowered to deceive nations to not only prosper materially, but also to build cultures and national institutions that lead people away from God. This principality's primary assignment is to deceive people into trusting in the works and power of man as a means of salvation for themselves and the earth. The spirit of Babylon will continue to drunken people with immorality and deceive the world until Jesus’s Second Coming, where through Him all things are made new in Him (Revelation 18). Tragic, I know. Though the spirit and wine of Babylon is intoxicating to the nations of earth, there is hope! There is a divine strategy found within the book of Daniel to fight against this influence, and bring seasons of renewal and spiritual awakening to pagan nations such as Babylon. The strategy, as laid out in the book of Daniel and it can literally change the spiritual landscape of a nation overnight. This strategy can humble kings, change laws and reveal the saving power of Jesus to governments in an instant. What is this strategy you ask? Well, like all of the principles of the Gospel it’s simple, but difficult to apply to your life. The strategy requires two key components that cannot be faked; they must be lived out as a lifestyle and not just a statement. They are humility before men and whole hearted faith in God. Daniel and his crew had every reason not to like or approve of the royal court God had sent them to serve. The Babylonians were pagan oppressors that had completely destroyed Israel and disregarded the Hebrew way of life. The culture and way of life in Babylon represented everything Daniel and his crew were raised to stay away from. Daniel is determined not to defile himself by partaking in the indulgences of Babylon, he is also not willing to forsake honoring the people he is called to serve. Despite the conflict in cultures and beliefs Daniel humbles himself and graciously asks his superiors for permission to stay devoted to the diet prescribed in the law of Moses. Daniel doesn't use passive aggressive tactics, debate, retaliation or subversive behavior to get what he wants. He humbles himself before his captor and puts his faith solely in God. Essentially, Daniel understands and leans into the words of the prophet Jeremiah, noted above. He understands that his well being is found in serving and fighting for the people, and not against the people and land God has sent him to. Daniel is confident in God, therefore he can be humble before men. True humility is a fruit of walking in true intimacy with God. You don’t have to fight for God or yourself, He is very much capable of that Himself. When the opportunity arises, you just need to be willing to walk in uncompromising intimacy with Him, and be ready to reveal Him to the world around you. This central theme in Daniel's life, while being held captive in Babylon, causes pagan kings to make national decrees that Daniel's God, is the One True God. On numerous occasions in this story Daniel and his friends' lives are put in real peril, but never once do they take matters into their own hands. Faithfully they continue to exhibit the two keys, humility before men and absolute faith in God. In this way they reject the influence of the spirit power of Babylon. This act of trusting in God over self, positions them to break the power of the spirit of Babylon in the places they have been sent. Like clockwork the results are always the same, wicked people in places of power are revealed to the saving grace of the One True God, as they are sobered from the influence of the wine of Babylon.
What would happen if the Church grabbed hold of these keys of authority the same way Daniel did? What would happen if we went to the business, education, and political arenas with the same intention and wisdom as Daniel? What if we daily reminded ourselves that we are not fighting against people, but the powers of darkness that are influencing nations and cultures? What would happen to our cities, our workplaces, our nation if we committed to fight for and not against people who don’t live as we do? What if we boldly lived as God called us to, not as an act of defiance to the world but as an act of devotion to God? I think we would see the same fruit Daniel and his crew saw – a confused nation restored to a loving and saving God.