When Everything Changes
Wednesday - June 2nd
Scripture to Read Today: Daniel 1:1-7
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah
were four of the young men chosen,
all from the tribe of Judah.
The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
According to the Social Security Administration, the most popular names for newborn baby boys in 2020 were Liam, Noah, Oliver, and Elijah. Parents chose Olivia, Emma, Ava, and Charlotte more than any other names for baby girls born last year. As a casual on-again, off-again genealogy researcher, these names feel like historic names I usually find on Ancestry.com while researching generations of my family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Few babies have been given these top 2020 baby names in the last generation or two. Don't get me wrong. I think these names are great.
I remember when Lesli and I were going through the process of naming each of our three kids -Jonathan, Katie, and Megan. We worked hard to make sure their initials did not spell out something embarrassing, their names would not prompt teasing from their classmates, and they meant something to us as parents. When you think about it, expectant parents put a life-long label on their children as they settle on the name for their baby. Naming a child has lasting consequences.
My only sibling, my brother Troy, told me he would give me a thousand dollars to name one of my daughters "Jezebel" or my son "Judas." Troy playfully argued that Christians regularly use names from the Bible for their newborns, but they ignore names like these two well-known names. Of course, I didn't even bring up his tongue-in-cheek offer to Lesli. What parent would put their child through a life of "Jezebel" or "Judas?"
The Old Testament book of Daniel opens with four young Jewish men (including the titular Daniel) being taken captive and dragged off to Babylon by the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar. He places them in a three-year training program of education and cultural adaptation to add them to his wise advisors. Nebuchadnezzar uproots the four from their families and their home in Judah. He changes their diet, provides them the world's luxuries, gives them a new education, and even has their names changed. Wait. What? Their names changed?
According to Daniel 1:6-7, their four original Hebrew names, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were changed to the Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their original Hebrew names all referred to the one true God, Jehovah. The new Babylonian names they were given in exile as captives of Nebachudnezzar all referred to the pagan gods of their captors. Quite the name change!
As the rest of the book unfolds, we see all four of these men become advisers to the emperor. They live in Babylon. Whenever others hear or call their names, those people connect the Jewish men to pagan deities - not their God. Everything changed about their lives. They never returned home. They never heard their birth names again. But, they remained faithful to God and found their courageous hope in Him!
No matter what has changed in your life recently, look to your God for courageous hope!