Daniel – The Way of Exile

Today’s post is a link to a video by the Bible Project on the Way of Exile. In this video is a fantastic point about the decision Daniel and his 3 friends made while living in a Babylonian culture. We today are still living in a Babylonian culture.

The Bible Project – The Way of the Exile

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Daniel – The Sovereignty of God

The theme of the book of Daniel is clearly that God rules…PERIOD. I encourage you to take a scan through the book of Daniel, or even just read through the book. Whether or not you can understand all the visions and symbols, one thing is plain in every single chapter of this book – God is on the throne, and He always will be.

He rules the future. God knew that Babylon would be followed by Persia which would be followed by Greece and then followed by Rome. Daniel, through God’s inspiration, foretold of the time of Israel’s return from captivity, the coming of the Messiah, and when Rome would destroy Jerusalem and persecute Christians.

He rules the kingdoms of men, and puts on the throne whomever He wishes. Babylon existed for a purpose and for a season, and then God moved them out of the way to bring in Persia as He continued to accomplished His divine plan.

He rules the spiritual realm. Look at how much is said about angels and the spiritual realm in this book. God is sovereign over the unseen domain, too.

He rules nature. 3 men are thrown into a super-heated furnace and come out not even smelling like smoke. An arrogant king is turned into a grass-eating beast for a time and then returned to human form. Daniel is thrown into a lion’s den, and God shut their mouths.

He rules over the hearts of men. Daniel’s heart was well known to God, as well as the hearts of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar. In fact, God put visions in each one of their heads so that later He could tell them what they dreamed and what it meant!

He rules from everlasting to everlasting. In Daniel 7, He is called the “Ancient of Days.” His kingdom is one that will reign forever. Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome are gone, and the same will be true of the U.S. one day. But God’s kingdom is forever and ever!

By the way, all these qualities of God in Daniel…it sure sounds a lot like Jesus in the New Testament, doesn’t it?

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.”
(Daniel 2:20-22)

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)

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
(Daniel 4:3)

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
(Daniel 6:25-27)

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
(Daniel 7:27)

Daniel – My Reason Returned to Me

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
(Daniel 4:34-37)

Isn’t it fascinating that God allowed Nebuchadnezzar’s writings to be part of Scripture. Daniel 4 is the personal record of King Nebuchadnezzar and how he was humbled before Almighty God. Because of his arrogance, he was reduced to a dumb beast eating grass for seven periods of time. At the end of that period of time, his “reason returned to him.” He gave glory and honor to God instead of to himself.

I wander if ole King Neb knew his reasoning was gone during that time of eating grass in the pasture. A lot of times we don’t know that our reasoning is flawed, but when we actually begin to use reason we realize how poor our thinking process was before. There are tons of folks in our culture who think they have a lot of brains and are the smartest people on the block. Yet, their reasoning is so upside down and perverted. And they point fingers our way to criticize the Christian’s foundation for reasoning, saying we are leaning on a crutch of blind faith.

Paul was accused of being “insane” or “mad,” but in reality he was the one speaking words of truth and reason (Acts 26:24-25). Because his foundation was squarely on God and His word, Paul’s thoughts were sound and his conclusions were valid. When we leave God and take the glory and honor for ourselves, our reasoning is turned into madness (Romans 1:18-32; Ephesians 4:17-24). This is the story of our culture and of any culture that walks away from God. When we are lifted up in our own pride, our thoughts lead ourselves and others into total darkness and destruction.

However, when we humble ourselves before God, our thinking becomes clear and enlightened. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, Proverbs teaches us (Proverbs 1:5). When your mind is set on God’s word, it doesn’t make you less intelligent. Being a believer in God doesn’t make you backward and stupid, it makes you the smartest guy in the room (don’t go around saying that, though).

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
(Psalm 119:98-100)

The apostle Paul was very concerned about the brethren in Colossae and Laodicea because they were being cheated by man’s philosophy. Here are two final passages for your encouragement. Man’s reasoning may seem smart at first, but when you come to the light of God’s word, your reasoning will return to you.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
(Colossians 2:1-4)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
(Colossians 2:6-8)

Daniel – No ground for complaint

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
(Daniel 6:3-5)

Isn’t this just like today? Somebody gets a promotion and everybody else wants to knock the guy off the ladder! The king of Babylon wanted to set Daniel over the whole kingdom…it doesn’t seem like there could be a higher position except for the king himself. Daniel was increasing in favor with the king, and the other officials were envious, to the point that they wanted to destroy him. You know if they put half as much effort into their jobs as they did trying to destroy Daniel, they might have been promoted, too!

In their attempt to bring Daniel down, they looked into everything to see where they could find a fault with him. He has to be doing wrong somewhere, and we are going to find it. But what happened? They couldn’t find anything!

The Bible tells us that Daniel had “an excellent spirit.” It also says in this passage that he was “faithful, and that no error or fault was found in him.” This does not mean that Daniel never sinned, but we can see that the life of Daniel properly defines the word “blameless.”

Men, we are living in a culture much like that of Daniel’s day, and those around us are always watching us. This is nothing new. When good people are seeking to follow God, and they are moving up in the world, you can count on others seeking to find some dirt on you.

They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!”
(Psalm 35:21)

For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!”
(Psalm 38:16)

Have you ever been in a situation at work, where maybe the wrong word slipped out of your mouth or you displayed a poor attitude? Sometimes those in the world will pounce on that momentary weakness to show how you are just as bad as everyone else, or that you are a hypocrite. Not everyone is that way, thankfully. Even heathens can show grace at times! But again, you will experience many times where the people around you are just waiting for you to mess up so they can say, “Aha, got you!” Daniel lived in that world, just like we do.

That is what makes it all the more important that we seek to live a blameless life, a life above reproach. We know how others are going to respond, so we should be even more careful to watch what we say and do in the midst of non-believers.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16)

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:12)

Daniel – As He Had Done Previously

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
(Daniel 6:10)

What would you do if a law was signed in the U.S. saying that you could not pray to any god except the king for 30 days? What if the consequences were being thrown into a den of lions? Would we do what Daniel did?

I can imagine what might go through the mind of a person in such a situation. Well, it’s only 30 days, God will understand. He wants us to live a quiet, peaceable life and mind our own business. Maybe I can pray in my head and no one will know. A den of lions…that’s scary, stuff. I’ll just take a low profile for 30 days and ride out the storm.

On the other hand, Daniel wasn’t in your face rebellious, either. What I mean by that is that some Christians seem to be looking for a political fight and are trying to take it to the opposition any chance they get. Daniel didn’t do that. What did the text say? Daniel just did what he always did! He prayed three times a day.

Daniel was Daniel, and his prayers to his God weren’t hindered by changes in the culture, by his geographical location, by laws, or by any demands or pressures of life. Like Timothy was encouraged to be, Daniel was the same “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

“What he had done previously,” says quite a bit to us. If our manner of life is not one that can be characterized by consistent prayer and devotion, then let’s take a lesson from the life of Daniel. Because Daniel was consistent in his prayer and relationship with God, he could deal with any change, law, pressure, etc. in the turbulent world around him.

Daniel – Though You Knew All This

And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
(Daniel 5:22)

This article was posted earlier this year, and I decided to re-post it with several additional observations.

Do you remember the account of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5? The King of Babylon at that time was Belshazzar and he and his court decided to have a drunken party and use the vessels from Solomon’s temple to hold their beverages. They toasted and praised their gods while holding items from God’s house. The King is rattled to his core with a vision of a man’s hand writing strange words on a wall. Daniel is brought into interpret the message.

While explaining the meaning of the writing on wall, Daniel gave King Belshazzar a history lesson about King Nebuchadnezzar. For us it is only a matter of turning a page back and reading Daniel chapter 4, but this event of Nebuchadnezzar being humbled before God had happened many years before. A great king of Babylon was lifted up with pride against the Almighty God, and he was severely humbled before God.

The thing is, according to Daniel, this was not private knowledge. King Belshazzar was fully aware of what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Knowledge of historical facts was not enough was it? King Belshazzar knew the right information, but failed to learn from it. He did not humble himself before God.

Take a look at the first chapter of Daniel and notice something. Where did King Nebuchadnezzar place the articles of Solomon’s temple (God’s house)? In the houses of his gods…in the “treasury of his god.”

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.
(Dan 1:2)

That tells you where King Nebuchadnezzar ranked the God of Israel. He saw the God of Israel as just another god that was subservient to his own gods. Through his reign, however, he learned otherwise as he came to know the real God of all the earth. Again, as Daniel stated to the later king Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s journey of faith was not unknown to Belshazzar. He just failed to learn, accept and apply the lessons of his predecessors.

There are real answers in history, we can truly help change our course in life by looking back in the past. You can look at the course of people’s lives and see the good choices they made and solutions they came up with to solve problems, and you can examine their thought process to see how that can help you today. You can also look at how individuals, organizations, and nations spiraled down into a world of hurt because of a sequence of one bad choice after another. Learn from it. Learn from your own past too! We do not have to repeat history like King Belshazzar did. He was given all the tools and opportunity and information he needed to completely alter his course. But he chose to reject the knowledge given to him, and he ended up repeating history.

This is the lesson of Ezekiel 18. A son can see the wickedness of his father and make a deliberate choice not to follow that same path. That son can charter his own course with God.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise…he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he…did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
(Ezekiel 18:14-20)

This is what God expects of each of us, and it is what God expected of King Belshazzar. When you are driving on the interstate, you eventually have to get off the exit to “arrive” at the destination. Some folks keep studying and learning, but never “arrive” at the truth. Paul said there were those who were …always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Belshazzar wasn’t lacking for information, he was lacking the application of it.

Daniel – A Rising Tide

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.
(Daniel 2:46-49)

You probably have heard the expression, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” This was certainly true in the life of the prophet Daniel.

Because of Daniel’s faith in God and God’s work through Daniel:

  • The King of Babylon fell on his face and recognized God as the God of gods and Lord of kings (Daniel 2:46-47).
  • All of the wise men of Babylon were spared from execution (Daniel 2:12-16).
  • Daniel’s three friends were promoted along with Daniel (Daniel 2:49).

What impact can righteous people have on others around them? You need to look no further than Daniel for an example of what one man’s faith and commitment can do. Because of Daniel, and God’s working through him (and his three friends), the course of the Babylonian kingdom was changed. Decisions that affected the whole empire were made because of men like Daniel and his three friends (see also Daniel 3:28-30;6:25-28).

What about you? What is God doing through you? Look around to see how your faith and commitment to God is affecting those around you.

Here are a several other examples for your further study.

All these passages clearly indicate the impact of God’s people on the world around them. Whether or not you can specifically understand the interpretation of the following verses, you can see in each of them that God’s people had an incredible influence on others. This is because of what God does through us.

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
(1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

Thus says the LORD: “The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will plead with you, saying: ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.'”
(Isaiah 45:14)

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”
(Zechariah 8:22-23)

Rahab the Harlot’s words to the Israelite spies:   Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”
(Joshua 2:8-13)

When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.”
(Genesis 26:26-29)

Daniel – The literature and language of the Chaldeans

“…youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4).

Daniel had a job. Being a servant of God and a prophet did not mean that he just sat around, meditated, and waited for God to give him the next message. Daniel was an adviser to the King of Babylon. God specifically put him in this job so that Daniel could serve as His prophet to the king.

What training did he need to go through in order to be that adviser? He had to be trained in the “literature and language of the Chaldeans.” 3 years of training, by the way (Daniel 1:5). It was at the “end of the three years” that Daniel and the others would stand before the king. As my friend, John Sandusky, said one time, Daniel was at Babylon University.

Daniel’s heart was set on God, but he was still trained in the things of the world. In order for him even to have access to the king so that he could influence him, he had to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians. That was part of the price of admission. The young Daniel had to learn a whole new culture and a new language. He was around a lot of strange people with a lot of weird ideas, and I’m pretty sure he was exposed to a whole new world of debauchery in Babylon. But all the same, he had to be educated in these ways, and he was still faithful to God while he was doing it.

Being trained in the things of the world doesn’t mean your heart is not set on God. Devoting lots of time and energy to learning skills, trades and careers is necessary so that you can take care of your family and have money to help others in need. You are also going to be set by God in various places in the culture so that you can influence those around you. We need Christians in the medical field, in law offices, in computers, in police and firefighting, in politics, in universities, etc. But again, in order for that to be possible a person has to dedicate a lot of time, money and energy to that profession.

Daniel wasn’t just sitting around reading his Torah every day, he had books to read and classes to attend. Endless hours of training and lectures were part of his everyday life, I’m sure. Paul was a tent-maker, he had to learn that trade, and that took time. It seems that Paul also was well-versed in Greek poetry, maybe that was part of his education as a youth. Jesus was a carpenter. David and Amos were shepherds. Moses also grew up in a heathen palace and was educated in the ways of a foreign people. Luke was a physician. Lydia was a seller of purple and Tabitha was skilled at making clothing. All these things take a great deal of time and attention in order to master.

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
(Proverbs 22:29)

Daniel – His 70 year Babylonian Stay

And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.
(Daniel 1:21)

70 years is a long time, at least to us. That’s a lifetime for most people. Daniel did not spend it in his homeland. Daniel was a young man when he was taken into captivity, and it seems as if he died in captivity sometime after Cyrus King of Persia came to the throne.

He was forcefully removed from his home and safety as a youth. Think about it from his perspective for a bit. He was of the nobility. In Jerusalem, he would have been in the royal class, living in the palaces and enjoying all the perks of being nobility. It was his homeland, and he probably would have raised his kids there just like all the generations before him. Jerusalem was God’s city, and the Jews were God’s people. But now Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple were burned to the ground and God’s people were scattered throughout the world.

I’m not sure if Daniel was faithful to God before the captivity or if becoming a captive and watching the destruction of Jerusalem brought him to repentance. We may never know. Daniel 9 seems to indicate that Daniel lumps himself into the sinful behavior that brought about the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem. Whatever the case may be, Daniel did not get to enjoy living in his home city, nor did he have the privilege of enjoying the blessings of being royalty in Jerusalem. He could not go to the temple and offer his sacrifices to God. He was not able to go to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Passover, Pentecost or the Feast of Tabernacles.

His life, the bulk of it, was living in a land where he was a foreigner. He lived 7 decades as a captive. The kingdom of Babylon was a cesspool of sin, excess and idolatry. Of course, considering how Judah and Jerusalem were before the captivity, that wouldn’t be much different than Babylon. He could have blown a raspberry at God, and just decided to go with the flow of life in Babylon.

During Daniel’s 70 year stay:

  • Daniel made an absolute commitment not to defile himself with the sinful practices of the people of Babylon. Even when it could have cost him promotions or even worse his life, Daniel did not cave in to the pressures of the culture around him. For 70 years, Daniel kept himself blameless in the midst of a perverse environment.
  • He did not bow to the king or his idols.
  • Daniel prayed 3 times a day as he sought the counsel of God (Daniel 6:10).
  • There may have been many of the Jews who caved in to the pressures of the culture in Babylon, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not. These were Daniel’s friends, and when times were tough he leaned on those men as they sought God together (Daniel 2). Who are your friends?
  • Daniel sought to understand the Word of God and its prophecies. Daniel was an young man at the same time Jeremiah was an old man. When Daniel was an old man, he looked to the prophecies of Jeremiah and considered them as Scripture, the Word of God.
  • This man of God bloomed where he was planted. It was a horrible situation, but Daniel served God and praised him.

Think about your stay here on earth and compare it to Daniel’s. He was in Babylon as a stranger for 70 years. We as Christians are strangers and exiles here on earth. How should we conduct ourselves? Just like Daniel did!

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
(1 Peter 1:17)

Serving is Leading

26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:26; NKJV)

The disciples have demonstrated in the previous verses of Matthew 20 that we looked at earlier in the week their inability to see past the present.  This selfish and worldly perspective was in stark contrast to the Heavenly and eternal perspective Jesus had.  Further, selfish behavior of a couple cause strife and division within the whole.  In that strife, the result is brothers in Christ pushing each other way but Jesus steps in and pulls them close.  He pulls them to safety and He teaches.  He explains the err in their thinking.  What Jesus is looking for is not of the world.  What Jesus is calling us to is a spiritual Kingdom, His Kingdom, and to be a good citizen of this realm will require a change of thinking and behaving.

After explaining what good citizenship isn’t, Jesus teaches that Kingdom Greatness is service.  The word here is “diakonos” which is minister, servant, deacon.  It is an attendant or a waiter at a table.  The word may have come from dia and konis (dust) which is to say raising dust by one’s hurry in ministering (Robertson, p. 162).  In your mind’s eye, imagine a busy restaurant full of patrons.  Waiters come and go working hard to ensure all their tables are always receiving the best service.  They are quite literally trying to be in the same place at once and it is hard work.  No table is the same…different wants, different needs, different orders, different stages of dining.  It is a lot of work and that is what the word diakonos…servant…means.

There are no openings in the Kingdom for bosses, only for servants.

There it is…Jesus’ leadership model for the Kingdom… “everyone serving everyone”!

But not just that.  Jesus is not done.  Jesus makes further distinction and emphasis.  He moves on from qualifying good kingdom citizenship as service (which implies a level of freedom) into a much more severe qualification.  Jesus the Christ is telling us that if we desire to be a good citizen of importance in the Kingdom, we must be a “slave of all” (Mark 10:44; NKJV).  The disciples were seeing the world through fleshly perspective, but Jesus is talking about the spiritual.

This had to be mind blowing for them.  They wanted to be first in rank, influence or honor.  That mental picture doesn’t include them running around serving everyone but being served.  That vision certainly didn’t include them being in bondage.  In the first century, there was no lower status than that of a slave.  So, it is understandable that it would be hard for them to compute but the bottom line in Jesus’ model was that they were going to have to take the lowest status willingly and make others’ welfare more important to them than their own.   Humility was (is ) going to be the key.  Not only is Jesus teaching that everyone serves everyone, He is also teaching that “everyone is a slave to everyone”!  If we are going to rise in the Kingdom of Heaven than we are going to have to first stoop.

The beauty of all of this is that we can serve, and we can be a slave (denying ourselves and binding ourselves to Jesus and His work) in whatever role God gives us with whatever talents/abilities we are blessed with.  God gives us the talents and abilities and the opportunities.  In that, we have responsibility to sever and to glorify Him.  In serving, we are leading for the sake of Jesus.  There is no higher calling in the Kingdom of Heaven than that of service.  It is good that we aspire for greatness in His Kingdom and in doing so we will humble ourselves and serve somebody with the ability God has given us.

Ability + Opportunity = Responsibility

Leadership = Service

We have a responsibility to serve!