I've always been fascinated by ancient history; both that of our country and the world. As a kid in school, History was one of my favorite subjects and I find it sad that kids today do not seem to understand the need to study it. They are too conditioned by this technological world to only take interest in the immediate trends or current events. Any history further back than last year does not concern them. So, sadly they will not learn the important lessons that history can teach us.
Right now, we are seeing our country undergoing a rapid cultural shift. There are many who will tell us that this is a good thing, and it's about time. But for many of us Christians, it is beginning to feel like we are living as exiles in our own land. In fact, I'm sure you have heard our situation likened to the Jewish captives who were exiled in Babylon.
I can certainly relate to that analogy; especially when you compare the story of King Hezekiah, who played his part in causing the exile. He paid tribute to Judah's enemy, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria; showing deference and submission, in the hope it would decrease the chances of attack. Can you see the picture of our current negotiations with Iran? In addition, Hezekiah opened the doors of the Temple treasury to show his enemy how great was the wealth that his people enjoyed; it only served to ensure the covetousness of an enemy that wished to capture that wealth and destroy the nation of Judah. Have we not opened the economic doors to foreign investors through our trade policies, and left ourselves vulnerable to foreign takeover and ruination?
And just like the Jewish captives who were forcibly taken into captivity in Babylon, we Christians are now finding ourselves being forced to live in a strange and foreign culture that little resembles our Christian values. We now have an activist Supreme Court who votes with the secular culture; a rush to erase our national history and traditions; and a growing movement to force the Church to ascribe to, and consent to, a secular moral relativism. In other words, the culture is telling the Church to perform as the culture does (and ignore God's commandments); or be stripped of the protection from the State (by losing tax-exempt status). This will result in forced assimilation. Christians will no longer be allowed to separate themselves from the culture; we will have to resemble the culture, resulting in our faith becoming severely compromised.
How is that any different from the choices given to the exiled Jews in Babylon? We often think that their existence must have been horrific; after all, slavery is an institution that is abhorred by all rational men. What must it have been like to be denied access to their Temple, which was at the center of Jewish everyday life? The culture would have been different; as would be the customs; the religious practices; the loss of their homes and their unique language.
We have read the stories in the Bible of Daniel being thrown in the lion's den for refusing to abandon the practices of his faith. And who can forget the fiery trial of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for refusing to bow to the statue of the pagan god? We know, that for the faithful, it was a difficult time. Yet they never gave up their hope.
But then let's not forget that when, through God's grace and mercies, King Cyrus granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and re-establish their homes, that a good many of the Jews chose to stay in Babylon. They had all but forgotten their native language, and now spoke Aramaic, which was a general language and understood by most everyone. They had become comfortable and prosperous; so much so, that a Jewish community has lasted there continuously until modern times, a period of more than 2,500 years. Remember, they had been in Babylon for 70 years. The old generation of faithful Jewish believers had died off; a new generation only knows the current culture. Sound familiar? Only if the faith in YHWH had been faithfully taught, and they refused to bow to the culture, could we expect them not to lose their identity.
So, can you see how we are similar to those Jewish exiles? If we want to maintain the true heart of Christianity, we better prepare ourselves to stand against the pressure like Daniel and his friends. We better form a strategy to pass on God's Truth to the next generation if we don't want to lose them to the culture. And we better keep our eyes on the future; never giving up hope that this exile will one day end and we can return to worshipping God as He deserves -- whether it be in this world or the eternal one.
But can you also fathom that there will be Christians in our land that will make themselves quite comfortable in this land of exile? That they will be willing to adopt this new reality as their home; agreeable to giving up some of the contentious aspects of their faith in order to blend in and be accepted? Which kind of exile are you? What about your family and friends? Because I can guarantee you that how we answer that question will determine if the Enemy wins his battle to exterminate Christianity. He is committed and unyielding. Are you?
Psalm 137:1 "By the rivers of Babylon, there we [captives] sat down, yes, we wept when we [earnestly] remembered Zion [the city of our God imprinted on our hearts]."