A plan to change your children’s culture
Daniel 1: 1: In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. (3) Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, (4) young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.(5) And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
There are at least four sermons in that passage because it generates four questions to be asked:
1, Why does Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon need the most influential children – the kings’ sons and the nobles? That makes controlling the rest of the population easy.
2, Why would he need to re-educate people who were already educated? They were already filled with knowledge and gifted with wisdom. You can control people when you provide their education (Remember Black people in the West and colonization).
3, Why would he change the diet of people who were already healthy? If you change someone’s food, you control their cultural influence.
4, And why would he change the names of people who already had names? Well, this last question is this sermon’s point – that such a change dovetails into a sinister plan for destruction and change of allegiance:
• Daniel’s name means, “God is my judge.” His name was changed to “Belteshazzar,” which means “Bel is my judge.” Bel is the name of one of the Babylonian gods.
• Hananiah’s name means, “God is gracious.” His name was changed to “Shadrach,” which means, “Illuminated by the sun god.”
• Mishael’s name means, “Who is like God?” His name was changed to Meshach, which means, “Who is like Venus?”
• Azariah’s name means, “The LORD is my helper.” His name was changed to Abednego, which means, “The worshipper of Nego.” Nego, or Nebo, was the Babylonian god of wisdom (Sermon Notebook.org).
Change of name equals changed purpose
Our names have the potential to influence our lives, but at the very least, they are expectations that our family and community have as to who we become. For instance, the Ashanti tribe in Africa has a tradition of naming their children after the day of the week on which they were born. The belief is the day of birth can influence character. An example of that is babies born on Mondays are mild-mannered and Wednesday babies are more violent. That sounds mythic, eh? The truth is, when Professor G. Johoda of University College of the Gold Coast, studied that community’s prison records, he found to a significant extent, there were more crimes and higher levels of violence committed by Wednesday babies than committed by Monday babies (Michael Hedrick). I am not sure that is a cause of cultural expectations, but it proves that there can be an association between name and behavior. The first thing that happened to slaves traded to the West was a name-change. When someone gives you a new name, that interferes with your original purpose (Moya Lothian McLean). Just like Nebuchadnezzar, the devils plan is to interrupt the original purpose of our children.
Children’s purpose goes beyond education and social upbringing
David says in Psalm 127, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” This metaphor of arrows is extremely important. For one thing, arrows are aimed or pointed. Arrows need a target. If you are shooting arrows without a target, bad things will happen. In the same way, parents without the right purpose for children can be breeding monsters. In many situations, the destination is lost in the Journey. We become so focused on the Job of raising children, the purpose is often lost along the way. We focus on their health, their education, their happiness. We ensure that homework is done, music lessons are attended, and they have time for sports. We raised them as well-rounded citizens, but for what purpose? What is the original intent for raising children? Are they like arrows without targets?
God’s original Purpose for children
3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” They get the latest video games. We force our children to do their homework, but when comes to the bible, we give them a choice. We force them to go to school, but we leave church up to them. The Bible becomes an option. If truth and righteousness are not the priority for our kids, what is the goal? Whose agenda are we working? If truth and righteousness are not the ultimate goals for our children, then the work of the devil becomes the default substitute. It is quite possible that we become agents of our own children’s demise. Because if our priorities are not God first, someone other than God is first. The bible declares, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man” – the whole duty of children as well. The significance of Nebuchadnezzar’s name change did not lie in that act itself but altering the life-purpose of these boys. But let us not forget that serving God is the first and most important requirement for all humanity.