Friday, June 9, 2017

God Values Character

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led two campaigns against Jerusalem. The second one led to the total destruction of the city. Especially heart wrenching was the destruction of the Holy Temple. It’s believed that old Neb ran off with all the treasures of the Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant. The year was 586 BC.

We don’t hear a lot about the first campaign, but we do know some of the things that took place. The year was 605 BC. Nebuchadnezzar, had just conquered Pharaoh Necho at Carchemesh, then turned his eyes on Judah. 

As he was besieging Jerusalem, word came that his father, Nabopolassar had died. To secure his rightful place as heir to the throne, he hastily returned home. But before he did, he appointed Jehoiakim as the puppet king of Judah. Then, to secure the new king’s loyalty, he took some hostages, among them Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah. Here’s how it was described in the Bible:

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. . . . Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah [Daniel 1:3-4, 6].

His plan was to train the hostages in all the ways of the Chaldeans, then put them in service as his representatives to the Jews. Scholars estimate about 75 hostages, young men; handsome, keen intellect, educated, and with good social graces.

To be named in that elite group could easily have led to pride. But, evidently, it meant nothing to those named Hebrew boys. Their goal was to serve the Lord. While Nebuchadnezzar could train them in the ways of the Babylonians, and offer them influential positions in his kingdom, he couldn’t incite their pride or curb their allegiance to the Lord.

We have a modern Babylon of sorts. It’s a culture captivated by physical beauty and human ability. My encouragement to you this morning is to focus on your character. Whatever gifts and talents God has given you, use them for His glory, not your own. 

Modern Babylon values physical beauty and superior human wherewithal. God values character.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16.7

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