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I am glad that Canadian politics tends to be a little less fractious than that which is practiced by our neighbours south of the border. But this blog is not about Canadian or American politics. It’s about the experience of Christians living in a culture that has a very different ethic than our own.

For example, a recent headline told of a Toronto hospital under fire for refusing to abort a healthy twin while leaving the other alive. Gender-neutral bathrooms are compared to the days of segregation when blacks were forbidden from using public facilities. The struggle goes on as to whether health care professionals will be required to assist in patients requesting suicide. The examples are many and the trajectory is surely in the wrong direction.

To some believers, this is a sign of the end times. Surely, they reason, things cannot get worse. When will God intervene? While I understand the sentiment, my mind has been dwelling on Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient King of Babylon. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in three successive attacks, finally burning the city and its temple to the ground in 587 B.C. Daniel and his friends were taken captive some years earlier, most likely in the year 605 B.C. Furthermore, Daniel remained in Babylon until the first year of Cyrus of Persia, the year 536 B.C. That would mean that Daniel lived in Babylon for 68 or 69 years.

Furthermore, Daniel served for many of those years under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar. Since Nebuchadnezzar is known to have died in 561 B.C., we know that Daniel served under his leadership for 44 years. Now in order to picture this, we need to get a sense of this political leader. In Rabbinical literature, he is called the “wicked one.” He is known for being merciless to conquered people. He was a godless conqueror of people.

And yet, in spite of policies, Nebuchadnezzar seemed to show moments of compassion. The book of Jeremiah records how Nebuchadnezzar showed him kindness. The book of Daniel records how he showed deference to Daniel, and even acknowledged the God of the Jews as the most high God.

In Nebuchadnezzar, there is an interesting overlap between the man who would burn Jerusalem to the ground and the man who would establish safeguards for God’s people, respecting them and their God. And this has gotten me thinking: I don’t think it’s reasonable for Christians in Canada to assume that the nation will come anywhere close to adopting Christian values in the near future. What then should we hope for? I suggest four things.

1. Let’s pray and work for an acceptance of and a respect for Christians and our values in this land. To that end, we need also to pray for protections under the law that allows us to live out our values. Christian medical workers must not be forced to carry out procedures that violate their faith.
2. Let’s pray and work for a robust church that does not surrender to secular values. Here we long for a renewed commitment to scripture over the values of our culture.
3. Let’s pray and work for the growth of the church and the salvation of the lost.
4. Let’s pray and work for a conscious acceptance that we are not living in Jerusalem, but rather in Babylon. As such, our hope is not in this world, but in the one to come. Like Daniel, let’s serve the nation we live in. But like Daniel, let’s never forget to get on our knees with our faces looking toward Jerusalem, for our hope lies there.

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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