Just as Duguid’s book on the armor of God proved to be my favorite resource for that study, his commentary on Daniel is situated to do the same. In the following quotation, Duguid is commenting on the three-year reeducation of Daniel and his friends to assimilate them into Babylon. Even though I finished this event in the book last Sunday, I have not ceased pondering that text and its present-day implications. For instance, the fact that Daniel was taught the “literature and language” of Babylon and that our current “culture wars” continue to be over words and narratives seems to be a connection worth exploring. Nevertheless, I pray that you find Duguid’s thoughts as valuable as I did.
This provides us with a picture of the world’s strategy of spiritual reprograming. At its most effective, it consists of a subtle combination of threat and promise, of enforcement and encouragement. Those who are totally recalcitrant may be sent to prison camps or gulags if necessary, but the majority of the population are far more easily assimilated if they are well fed and provided for. After all, more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar. The fundamental goal of the whole procedure, though, was in one way or another to obliterate all memory of Israel and Israel’s God from the lips and the minds of these young men, and to instill into them a sense of total dependence on Nebuchadnezzar for all of the good things in life.
Isn’t this how Satan still operates today? He may violently persecute believers in some parts of the world, yet often he works more effectively by seducing and deceiving us into forgetting God and thinking that our blessings come from somewhere else. He wants us to forget the truths expressed in those Hebrew names, that God is our judge, as well as the one who shows us his grace. He wants us to forget the uniqueness of our God and the help that only he can provide. He wants to control the educational process, so that our children grow up immersed in his worldview and his philosophy of life. If he can further instill in us a sense of dependence upon the material comforts that make up our way of life, or certain pleasures of this world that we have grown to love, then he can far more effectively draw us away from the Lord. His fundamental goal is always to obliterate our memory of the Lord, to reeducate our minds to his way of thinking, and to instill in us a sense that all of the good things in life come from the world around us and from the satisfaction of the desires of our own flesh.
Recognizing the Babylonian strategy helps us to see and evaluate the strategy of resistance formulated by the four young men. To be sure, they did not outwardly resist the Babylonian system. They did not refuse to work for the Babylonians, perhaps because they recognized the hand of God in their situation. They understood the word that the Lord gave through Jeremiah, that those whom he had sent to Babylon should labor there for the blessing of the place in which they found themselves (Jer. 29:4-7). As far as possible these young men sought to work within the system in which they had been placed, being good citizens of Babylon as well as of heaven. They didn’t kick against the challenging providence of God, but rather accepted it as their present calling, with all of its trials, pains, and limitations. This reminds us that our calling is not to form Christian ghettoes that are isolated from the world around us. On the contrary, we should be active in pursuing the common good of the community in which God has placed us, whatever challenges may face us.Pp. 9-10