state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism; a social-political phenomenon
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, there have been many casualties, deaths and separated families. Although Eastern Europe is thousands of miles away, we have been able to follow the developments through digital news outlets and social media.
Closer to home, we may have witnessed conflict on social media due to the 2022 elections here in the Philippines. While candidates publicize their vision and planned policies, some citizens debate passionately about who would be the best candidate for a specific position.
Amidst all this chaos, how should we behave? How should we face the present-day socio-political uproar?
Let us look into the book of Daniel to see how God’s people responded to the challenges and pressures of social and political turmoil. This was when Judah experienced the darkest period in their history; they were invaded and were exiled to Babylon.
Sometimes, it's easy to categorize world events as non-religious, and view politics as worldly and unbiblical. However, the Bible is full of political events and God's people faced many socio-political uproars.
When Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, God gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God (Daniel 1:1-2).
The people of Judah could have concluded that God had left His temple, considering how Nebuchadnezzar managed to remove the temple's treasures from the Holy of Holies, which is supposed to be accessible only to a High Priest after he had gone through many rituals. The vision of the prophet Ezekiel confirmed their conclusion (Ezekiel 10). They may have interpreted this as the end of their covenant relationship with God.
But the book of Daniel shows us that it is possible to stay faithful to God even when it may seem like God is absent, because He stays faithful to His covenant promise. True enough, the Holy Spirit may have left the temple, but His presence was with the exiles.
In Daniel 1, we read that selected Jewish youth– including Daniel–were handpicked to join the king’s service. They were to eat what was served to the king.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. (Daniel 1:8, ESV)
Life's trials are meant to test our faith. Daniel and his friends chose to remain faithful, believing that God was still with them even though they were no longer in the Promised Land. And God honored their faithfulness.
At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. (Daniel 1:15, ESV)
Likewise, our faith should thrive when challenged by the world. It is never a question of "God, are you with me?" because amidst war, or political turmoil, God remains faithful to His promise that He will be with us.
Do you want to change the nation? Start with the next generation.
It is a custom for empires to educate the next generation about the ruling empire’s cultural identity so that younger ones will embrace a culture that is different from the one they grew up in. This would then destroy and eradicate an entire race and culture.
This was the same with Nebuchadnezzar who brought selected youth into his service. But because of God’s faithfulness to Israel, and the obedience of some of the exiles, the Jewish culture lived on and birthed Christianity, which has greatly influenced the morality of many nations of the world today, as God promised through King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a rock, not cut out by human hands, that shattered great empires to pieces.
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever… (Daniel 2:44)
It is crucial that we reach the next generation by preaching the gospel to them, discipling them with the Word, and guiding them to see the world through the gospel’s lenses. And as we touch the lives of our youth today, we can see a change in our society, politics, and eventually in the world.
A political view can be an idol.
This is not new. Since Old Testament times, nations have exerted their political power to conquer neighboring countries, instead of practicing over love, peace, and justice.
Nebuchadnezzar was so intoxicated by power that he had a tendency to destroy nations by will, or kill a group of people overnight because he was grumpy. Worshiping political ideology is a formula for disruption and chaos.
But when people groups come to believe that there is only One worthy to be worshiped, we will have a better country not just for this generation but even for many to come. And this can only be achieved when we pray.
Throughout the book of Daniel, you would read that Daniel and his three friends prayed daily. This was a group of people who responded with prayer and intercession against the unjust, wicked and inhumane rule of Nebuchadnezzar.
Our world and nation need people who will fight corruption, poverty and injustice through prayer and intercession, and by responding in faith. While we need action to bring about change, that action should be birthed out of prayer and meditation on God's word.
Let us come together to effect change in our nation and the world by allowing God to be the King over our lives, submitting to His authority, and eagerly listening to Him.
Why are our votes so valuable? God holds all things together, but why should we still think through the impact of our choice for the next six years? What is really at stake in this election?
We feel scared for our country. We are anxious about election results. Why do we feel so strongly about this particular election? How can we move forward in faith?
Many Christians are increasingly involved in fighting injustice and corruption. But some say this can potentially distract us from proclaiming the gospel and helping each other follow Jesus Christ. Are these really opposing ideas or can they work hand-in-hand?