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)

The Calling and The Walk

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,”  Ephesians 4:1

I’ve been listening to a series of lessons by Andy Cantrell on the letter to the Ephesians.  I’ve provided the link below if you’d like to take a listen.  Among other things, Andy did a tremendous job in identifying and simplifying the structure of the letter.  I believe that if you can get an overall picture of a book it allows you to understand, and apply, the more specific instruction in a powerful way.

Andy looked at chapter four verse one as the pivot point in the letter.  Paul implores the Christians to “walk…worthy of the calling.”  Chapters one through three describes the “calling” and chapters four through six describe the walk.

When you think about the “calling” of the Christian, what do you think of?  Do you think of our behavior, our language, our attitude?  Do you think of being kind and generous and loving?  Maybe you think of the things we are not to do, avoiding sinful behavior.  That is how I used to think but in reality I was thinking of the walk.  Paul implores us to walk worthy of the calling, meaning the walk and the calling are two different things.  The calling is the “why” behind our walk.  In other words, our behavior, our language, our attitudes, avoiding sin is because we have been called.

So how does Paul describe our calling?  Well, we’d have to discuss all the amazing things in Ephesians chapters one through three and we don’t have time for that in this short article.  I’d like us to consider one of the recurring themes or phrases from the first three chapters.

“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  1:6

“to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”  1:12

“who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” 1:14

In addition, notice how often God’s glory is referenced.

“the Father of glory” 1:17

“according to the riches of His glory” 3:16

“to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” 3:21

One of the essential attributes of our calling is God’s glory.  The Greek word for glory (doksa) literally means “what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth.”  The mercy and grace and kindness and love that God has lavished upon us should result in praising God’s glory.  The planning and execution of our redemption should result in praising God’s glory.  Our entire purpose is to generate praise of His glory.

So why do I walk a certain way?  Why is my behavior and language and attitude different than the world around me?  Why are my relationships with my wife and kids and co-workers and neighbors different?  Why should I try to live up to a certain standard, trying to understand what pleases God?  Because I’ve been called to bring praise to the glory of God.

This understanding of my purpose, of my calling changes things.  All that I do in my walk is not about me.  It is not about being better than those around me.  It is not about avoiding eternal punishment or securing my place in heaven.  My walk is about God’s glory and when I conduct myself in a worthy manner I will help generate praise to God.

As we get up and get ready to go out and face the world this morning, let us consider what our walk says about our Father in heaven.  Do our lives praise the glory of God?


5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Take the test, if you have not already, to see your love language. This is really important to learn because we all communicate in different languages, and I may want to tell my wife that I love her through acts of service or gifts, but what she may really be looking for is words of affirmation.

Words of Affirmation

This is truly a Biblical concept. Here are a few passages to show the Biblical basis for learning this love language.

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Proverbs 15:23)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

There are many other verses we could use, but these two set the stage for how important it is to learn to speak words of affirmation to our wives.

A good word spoken at the right time, Solomon said, how good it is! Take that into consideration in your own life. Can you think of times that someone said just the right words of encouragement just when you needed them? It just makes our day!

Take some time today to think of some encouraging words that you can say genuinely to your wife. Praise her appearance. Find great traits about her character and personality and point those out to her.

Gary Chapman recommends that we also do this in front of friends, family and co-workers. We all hear things through “the grapevine,” so how wonderful will it be that your wife hears that you are praising and complimenting her behind her back?

Find creative ways to affirm her. Think outside the box.

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:23-24).

The 5 Love Languages

Last week in response to the article about Valentine’s Day, I received a note from a friend and brother, Geoff, who emphasized the importance of the 5 Love Languages. He made the personal observation that his wife could care less about the gifts, but really appreciates acts of service, like cleaning the kitchen while she is away from the house.

If you are not familiar with the 5 Love Languages book by Dr. Gary Chapman, it would be a great book to read. We all speak different love languages, according to Dr. Chapman, meaning we all communicate and receive love in different ways.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Gift Giving
  5. Quality Time

Here is a short trailer on Gary Chapman’s YouTube channel that illustrates the 5 languages.

Learn your love language – Use this link to take the quiz to learn your love language.

This is so important because we sometimes are trying to speak our own language to our spouse when that is not how she communicates love at all. A simple example would be if a wife wants words of affirmation, but a husband is giving gifts or acts of service, she is not receiving what she really needs. He can give gifts all day, but if his words are not affirming her preciousness and value, then the gifts have no value.

Have you ever had someone buy you a gift for Christmas or your birthday, but the gift was really something that person likes, not what you like at all? They didn’t really consider your interests and personality, they thought of what they would like to receive. This is that very same concept behind the love languages. Am I considering how my wife communicates and receives love, or am I trying to demonstrate love based upon how I communicate and receive love?

Paul makes this point in Philippians about considering the needs and interests of others above our own. Let’s meditate upon this in our marriages today, men.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3-5).