Daily Lesson for Sunday 17th of December 2023
It is never easy to be expatriated to a foreign culture. It may be difficult for us today to comprehend what the Jews faced, first under the Babylonians and then the Persians.
None of us, for instance, lives in an Adventist country where the principles of our faith are, to some degree, the law of the land. But before being deported, the Jewish people had been living in their own country, where the principles of their faith were also enshrined in the law of the land.
On one level, think how easy that should have made it to be faithful to God. After all, how much easier would it be to keep the seventh-day Sabbath if, in fact, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath were enshrined in the legal codes of the nation?
On the other hand, sacred history has shown us that whatever the decrees of the land happen to be, even if favorable to faith, faithfulness must stem from the heart, from within, or else sin, apostasy, and ruin will surely follow.
“ ‘Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men’ ” (Isaiah 29:13, NKJV).
In contrast, for those who are determined to be faithful, even the most unfavorable environment cannot keep them from obedience.
Read Daniel 1:1-12, Daniel 3:1-12, and Daniel 6:1-9. However unique each situation, what do these accounts reveal about the challenges God’s people can face living in a foreign culture?
No matter who we are, or where we live, we are immersed in an environment that to some degree, either by laws themselves or by the culture, or both, can be greatly challenging to our faith and our witness. These accounts in Daniel, though always ending “happily,” reveal that even under trying circumstances people can stay faithful to God. Even if none of these accounts had turned out well, there’s no doubt these men still did the right thing.
What are some of the challenges to your faith that you face in your own culture? How do you respond to them?