The prophets were correct - Judah and Jerusalem lay in ruins. Sacked so completely by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, these two cities went so far as to dig up the building foundations in Jerusalem during the drought. And while some Jews remained in their ravaged homeland, approximately 70,000 were taken to Babylon in three separate raids (605, 597, and 586 B.C.) to live in service to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. Among the exiles were four young men – boys really: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (a.k.a, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego). Throughout the next 70 years, these guys lived out their lives in a land and culture that was ambivalent to their faith and worldview. Despite the challenge, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah thrived. They thrived not because they were talented, perseverant and faithful – though they were – but because God is sovereign (see Daniel 2:20-21; 5:21) and just (see Daniel 4:34-37). Some of the greatest and most fantastic storytelling in history is contained in the first six chapters of Daniel. But do not allow the word “story” to confuse you. These six chapters contain reliable history, and the faithful and sovereign hand of God guides the history. As with Joseph during the first four weeks of the “Faithful” study, Daniel is a main character in this study, but he is not the main character - God is. Daniel knows, understands and counts on this truth. His faith in God is tireless and undeniable. During these six weeks, we will witness accounts of creative acculturation, powerful prayer, the problem of pride, a cow story for the ages, special writing, and toothy adversaries. Many people believe a pre-incarnate Jesus makes an appearance in Chapter 3; and some ponder if we will one day see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven. Through all of these accounts, we will see an answer to David’s question in Psalm 137:4, “How can we sing the song of the Lord while in a foreign land?” It’s because God is faithful, despite our whereabouts. He is a faithful, merciful, powerful, and just Provider. It occurred thousands of years ago but it has all the elements of a modern day drama: a dysfunctional family, a favored child, infighting, betrayal, tragedy and loss, scandal, imprisonment, prophetic dreams, famine, vindication, and an improbable rise to power. The story of Joseph is grand and complex, playing out in multiple contexts over multiple generations. Like all of our lives, Joseph’s is a tapestry of mistakes, lessons, relationships, opportunities and choices, all of which are bound together by a sovereign God who is accomplishing his purposes. Our study of Joseph will serve as part 1 of series that we’ve titled Faithful; in part 2 we’ll study Daniel. The title reflects our recognition that Joseph is a man faced with choices, the type of profound choices that set the course of one’s life. Will he choose character and humility even if leads to injustice being done to him? Will he choose reconciliation or revenge when confronted with those who have wronged him? There is only one perfect hero in scripture and it’s not Joseph, it’s Jesus. Joseph is flawed, as we all are, especially in his youth. But it is our hope that as we study his life together we will learn from his example - both positive and negative - and that we will be inspired to be faithful, courageous men and women that “shine as lights in the world”. (Philippians 2:15)