In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.Nebuchadnezzar placed these youth into comfortable surroundings - surroundings where they lacked nothing. They were afforded every luxury. Every need and desire would have been satisfied. They were to learn the language of this culture in place of the native language of their native Judah. They were to be taught new literature, in place of their traditional books, which would have been the Torah, the word of God. It isn't hard to believe that the plan of the king was to bribe them, in a sense, to forsake their former values, with all the luxuries of his court.
Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Daniel 1: 1-8)
I see a parallel with the culture of today; especially (being the curmudgeon that I am) in our youth. The enemy has taken advantage of prosperity to give us a life lacking nothing, generally and comparatively speaking. He has lured us, as a society, away from the Word of God and into everything the supermarket newstands and the internet can lure us with. He has taken our eyes off the values of our past and laid enticing temptations before us; temptations of sexual freedom, of self indulgence, of self-centeredness. Temptations that enable us to satisfy every physical and material desire. Many have arrived at a point where they consider it their "right" to fulfil every personal whim, both physical and emotional.
But not all the youth in Nebuchadnezzar's day fell for it. Some may have, because as it says, among them were Daniel, etc. There obviously were others taken captive in addition to the four specifically mentioned, so we might assume that there were other young people who actually were seduced by the king's, "dark side." But Daniel, in this story, and the other three in a later event, resolved not to defile themselves. They stood for what they inew was right.
And so it is, thank God, with today. Not all our young people have been seduced by television programs lik Glee, or video's like those of Katy Perry, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
Let us pray for a remnant of our youth who will not succumb to the enemy's schemes; that they may stand firm in the face of temptation and ridicule from the world at large that sees them as outside the mainstream. Pray for today's young generation, and the next and the next.
Thus endeth the rant.