Psalm 142:7 “Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me.”
Throughout history there have been people who were exiled. To be an exile is to be barred from one’s native country, typically for political or punitive reasons. Cain would have been one of the first obvious exiles, after murdering his brother Abel the Lord exiled him from the land. But we must go back further, to the garden, where Adam and Eve once lived in righteousness and purity. In each case, sin was the culprit that drove people from what they knew and loved to a place of hardship and difficulty.
The world has a long history of people losing the places they called home and being exiled to lands that were not their own. Nearly every major country has stories that depict the subjugation of people losing their property and being evicted, causing immense suffering—yet out of the fires of trial hope arises.
For those who have endured the trials, they have left a legacy we can look back on and examine with interest. Not all have succeeded, but for those that have we can gain knowledge of what it takes to excel in the midst of trial.
In 605 B.C, Daniel as well as a host of other Israelites were conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon. The faithfulness of Daniel and many others left a lasting mark in history.
Daniel the Faithful
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine. So he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself.”
Of all the attributes of people who are found faithful under trial, certain qualities are revealed by those who trust in the Lord.
1. Daniel remained pure.
The world reveals it’s ruler, Satan controls the wicked and brings with him temptation. Sin is not understood by those who lack God’s laws, they can’t know them because they are spiritually discerned. As Daniel dwelled in a foreign land, we too are sojourners in this world of darkness, we are called to be separate and set apart as holy unto the Lord. Daniel understood the need to remain steadfast in purity, even in the midst of captivity he remained steadfast in his commitment to God.
2. Wisdom came through godliness.
Daniel 1:20 “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.”
The patterns of godliness are the patterns that God’s people are identified by in this world. Godly living is to live wisely and in truth. Walking in His counsel will guide you in learning beyond your own abilities. The Lord instructs His people regardless of how simple or wise they have become. Daniel showed wisdom in the way He lived, honoring God first in all he did was the way he gained honor himself.
3. With knowledge came Discernment.
Daniel 2:20-21 “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”
The way to knowledge is through obedience to the Word of God. This avenue of Truth is directed and administered by the Holy Spirit. For all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as evidenced by the Spirit, they are given opportunity to grow. A believer is one who has been redeemed from slavery to sin and accepted the purchased price of redemption found in Christ alone. The price was paid upon the cross, His life He laid down for you and me. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between truth and error. The Word of God is instructional but to understand it and apply it comes by way of faithfulness.
4. Standing on God’s principles.
Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Daniel wasn’t the only one facing the trials of exile. He also wasn’t the only one found faithful.
When an exile is thrust into a culture that is far different than their own, the environment of beliefs will prove to be much more obvious. When the conflict of principles are those of righteousness or idolatry, the contrast becomes much clearer. This reality of worldly rage against biblical values has been consistent throughout time and culture. Listen to those who use very little restraint and their words reveal the blasphemous nature of their hearts. Have you ever heard anyone use Buddha or Mohammed as a swear word? Of course not, they enemy who controls this world is not threatened by a false god or belief system, he is threatened by the King of kings.
The inevitable conflict of those who strive to exemplify Jesus and those who do not is a constant reminder of the spiritual war waged every day.
5. Righteousness is always relevant.
Daniel 6:5 “Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
The satraps in Daniels day were grieved against him and sought to ruin him. The only venue for attack was in regards to the righteousness by which he lived. The moral law is, was, and will always be relevant and Daniel lived by that standard. The moral law is reflective of God’s character and His character never changes. Daniel lived by the principles of God’s Word and the moral law (10 commandments), is the embodiment of those principles. How does an exile shine in the midst of darkness?——live by righteousness.
The Kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom….it will have no end. When the end of the church age occurs the only people who will remain are those who are citizens of this Holy roll call. Before God, all who have rejected His Kingdom have been alienated by virtue of sin and consequently judgement, while the world is in a constant state of enmity before the Judge. As an alien is exiled from his homeland, so the world remains alienated from God—- unaware that they are being held captive by the deception of Satan. Pride is at the root of this scheme and the hope they have built for themselves will eventually be exposed.
Household of Faith
Ephesians 2:19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”
Those who have been adopted into God’s spiritual household have been made heirs according to the promise. They have been redeemed from death unto life. They live by a different mantra, moving from one of humanism to one that has been captivated by God’s love.
How now should we live?
Even though true believers dwell in this world, they are called to be separate from it. They live as exiles in a land that is ruled by an evil magistrate, bent on self-adulation and incorporating a creed that is an affront to God’s Holiness. The downfall of Satan has already been set, the followers of his masquerade will soon follow him to the grave.
The world lives in false humility. The believer lives humbly before God and exalts the Savior.
The believers creed was established by Jesus.
Mark 12:39-41 “Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
This creed is the summation of God’s righteousness—It is the crux of Christianity and it is the standard of living that separates true and false believers.
We can take a lesson from the exiles who have gone before us and see what happens with those who live faithfully.
*God delivers the one who stands for Him.
*Miracles happen when true faith is lived out.
*Living by the Principles of God’s Word brings honor.
–There are many ways to exhibit the character of Christ but His principles are always on display among the faithful.
A trusty saying is this: Methods are many—-Principles are few—-methods may change, but principles never do.
Join the ranks of God’s exiles, join the ranks of the redeemed and live victoriously, knowing that citizenship in God’s Kingdom will never end.