“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”
Daniel 1 is one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible. We see the young Jewish captives taken and marched to a great and powerful city, Babylon. These captives had starved and suffered under the siege of their city. They had been poked and prodded for weeks, walking in a line of other captives. Finally, they reached their destination.
Ancient Babylon was a marvel for these prisoners to behold—from the Etemenanki Ziggurat, which was a massive tower/temple, to the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. When Daniel and his friend entered Babylon, the epicenter of a tremendous world power, it must have seemed unconquerable. They were offered the best the empire could offer, education, food, clothing, etc. Everything about their new home was designed with a two-fold purpose—first, to be irresistible. Second, to remove the name of the Lord from their hearts, minds, bellies, and wallets.
The most amazing thing about Daniel 1 is that in the last words of the last verse we see the name of King Cyrus. Cyrus wasn’t Babylonian, he was Persian. Daniel outlived the imperial juggernaut, Babylon. The kingdom that seemed so large and so unstoppable didn’t even last through the end of the first chapter—“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”
In Revelation 18, as Babylon falls, we see sinners mourning the power, sex, wealth, and might they once held. Sin reduces the foresight people have to remind ourselves this life is temporary. As an example of this, we see in verse 4 that a voice calls out, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins.” The people are offered one more opportunity to repent before destruction comes. Yet, sin’s deceit caused those in a doomed city to stay put.
As we finish out Sunday sermon series, “ReFocus,” I can’t help but think that many people are having trouble letting go of the irresistible, God-forgetting, comforts of this world. The sin our culture normalizes squeezes out the call to live on mission, to practice evangelism and discipleship, and to live and serve in the Biblical community God designed for us. We need to ReFocus daily because almost everything in this life is designed to focus our hearts, minds, bellies, and wallets in this life rather than the eternity with Jesus that is to come.
I was reminded recently of a conversation with a friend from seminary who was from India. He and his wife planned to return home when he completed his education. One day we were talking, and he said he avoided using the air-conditioner in his home as well as his car. Bear in mind, we were in Dallas, Texas summer heat. He said that was one of the many things they do to prepare themselves to return to their home in India. He said that it would be very easy to get used to comforts and relationships he had in America such that he might be tempted to stay. However, that’s not what God had for he and his family. They were called to live in light of their true home, not their temporary location.
Friends, what comforts are distracting you from your true home? What is getting in the way of an eternal mind-set? Let us not focus too much on building an empire here that will face the same destruction as Babylon, but instead invest in the everlasting kingdom that is to come.
What stood out to you from today’s passage?
By: Tyler Short
So you’re saying Air Conditioning is bad!? Haha, j/k. Thanks Tyler!
I too was struck this morning by how untrustworthy even the most secure things in this world are. Like Babylon, I am tempted to trust in temporary things that don’t last. (Bank account, job, relationships, USA, etc.). Instead, God is the only one who can truly be trusted to withstand the test of time.
Sadly, sometimes I take my comforts for granted. Not only do I need not to focus on them, I need to be more thankful for all God has given me!