Following Jesus in the 21st century means learning the way of the exile. See how the experience of Daniel offers wisdom for navigating the tension of living in exile.
The Way of the Exile
If followers of Jesus are to give their total allegiance to God’s Kingdom, how should they relate to the governments and power structures of their own day? In this video, we’ll see how the experience of Daniel and his friends in Babylonian exile offers wisdom for navigating this tension. Following Jesus in our modern age means learning how to live in the way of the exile.Video Details
One of the most difficult issues facing Christians of any culture or time is how to support, resist, or participate in the governing power structures of their day. Should followers of Jesus endorse any political movement? What are the dangers of joining our allegiance to Jesus with loyalty to any nation or government? Religion and politics are highly-charged topics in most cultures, and many of us want to know if the Bible has any wisdom to offer as we navigate this tension.
The Bible offers an interesting perspective on this tension.
The Bible doesn't give us black and white answers for navigating the world, but we can learn a lot from the Bible’s story. The biblical story is about God’s plan to rule the world through his image-bearing creatures. The picture of humanity’s "home” is a garden-mountain-temple in Eden, where we are to steward God’s world and further its beauty in harmonious partnership with our Creator. And this all sounds awesome, but humans continuously rebel and elevate their wisdom over God’s.
The Israelites rebelled against their God so much that they eventually ended up in exile. This image of humanity trapped in Babylonian exile becomes a dominant theme in the Bible. Abraham and his family are called out of this region to journey to the new promised land, but his later descendants end up back in Babylonian exile after a long history of rebellion. But many biblical books were written from the content of exile and focus on this experience of living apart from the home God intended for his human partners.
Resistance vs. Submission
So what's the solution? Should humans withdraw and cloister in a holy huddle, or should they participate in Babylon’s culture to become God’s agents of blessing? The books of Jeremiah and Daniel offer a surprising perspective with stories of Israelites who were both loyal and subversive to Babylon. They offered their best efforts to seek the well-being of Babylon, while also critiquing and resisting its idolatry of power.
Jesus calls us to live like Daniel.
When we turn to the New Testament, we find Jesus adopting this same posture and mindset toward the power structures of Rome and Israel in his own day. And he taught his disciples to do the same. This is why Peter in his first letter calls followers of Jesus “foreigners and exiles.” He says that the “church is in Babylon” (1 Peter 1:1), and when he talks about how Christians should relate to the governing powers of their day, he describes a way of life that is similar to the stories of Daniel and Jesus (1 Peter 2:13-25).
Followers of Jesus offer their ultimate allegiance to their risen King, and they are to critique any kingdom that exalts its own values and power to the place of God. But at the same time, they are to seek peace and offer their best efforts to the communities in which they live. This is loyalty and subversion energized by the hope that one day King Jesus will return and conquer our Babylons.
While the Bible doesn’t give a simple answer to this complex set of issues, it does give us a story to live by as we seek to be loyal to Jesus and his Kingdom.
Continue Your Learning Journey
The Hebrew Bible is full of references to exile, but what does it mean for God's people to be in exile? Understanding this tragic fate can bring the whole biblical story into new light.
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Related Podcast Series
Faithfulness in Exile
5 Episodes •
A five part sermon series on the book of Daniel.
Faithfulness in Exile Episode 1
Dreams & Idols
This episode begins a new series. This is the first of a five part series exploring different parts of the book of Daniel in the Hebrew scriptures.
Faithfulness in Exile Episode 2
The National Idol
In this episode, we are continuing to explore the Old Testament book of Daniel.
Faithfulness in Exile Episode 3
Super Beast & the Son
In this episode, we continue to explore the Old Testament book of Daniel.