Bible Ballistics: Faith In The Midst of Trouble??? Vol. 6#05
Today my mind goes to a young man in scripture who gives us one of the most powerful testimonies of faithfulness and righteous living in all of scripture. Apart from Jesus Christ, whom we know is perfect, Daniel and Joseph are the only two men that I have found in scripture against whom God reveals no derogatory account.
Daniel was a young man in Judah when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered the nation, and the city of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar instructed his servants to select the fairest and finest young me of the nation to take to Babylon and instruct for ‘civil service’ to the king and his kingdom. History implies that these young Jewish men who were selected for service were probably castrated (which was a common practice of the day to keep down the intrigue in the palace). If this is true then Daniel and his three friends were ‘ceremonially’ defiled in regard to temple worship. But we find Daniel ready to stand for His God:
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. 3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. 6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. 8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:1-8
Let’s consider what we’ve read here; what God has done, what men have done and how Daniel responds to crises.
Daniel was a righteous man living under an ungodly king, and a nation who were in disobedience to God. V1
Daniel was suffering the judgment of God on his nation although he was personally right before his God. V1-2
Daniel was taken captive with others of his nation who were neither godly nor obedient. V3+
Daniel was selected among the fairest and finest of al of Judah’s young men to serve Babylon (some even think that Daniel could have even been of the royal seed). V3-4
Daniel was carried away to an idolatrous nation who didn’t recognize the sovereignty of Daniel’s God. V2
Daniel had an appointed diet and education from King Nebuchadnezzar. V4-5
Daniel was given a new name to identify him with the culture and idolatry of Babylon. V5
All of this thrust upon a young man who was probably still in his teens. This young man was taken from his family, his city and nation to serve the pagan people who had conquered his beloved land of Judah. I find it quite interesting that history suggests there could have been as many as 100 young men taken; yet scripture only gives us the account of 3 who were faithful to God. I can’t help but wonder what those other young men decided to do? Blend in? Enjoy the ride? Enjoy the worldly pleasures afforded them? We don’t know what they chose, but we absolutely know what Daniel and his three friends chose!!!
“8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank:” Daniel 1:8a
Daniel determined in HIS HEART that he would keep himself pure and right before his God, no matter what others did. Daniel chose to “not defile himself” even though he had been defiled by the Babylonians. Daniel was devoted to his God and he intended to be faithful regardless of his circumstances or the expectations he lived under. That’s wonderful in and of itself, but I think we often miss something just as important in this account, and that is that Daniel’s choice wasn’t expressed in rebellion to his surroundings, or arrogance and pride to balk at his situation or murmuring at the injustice of his situation. After all he had been and was still being faithful to his God, and this is seen not only in his choice, but also in his expression of that choice.
“therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” Daniel 1:8
Daniel “requested” permission to deviate from the required diet. He didn’t pout, complain, grumble, or throw a tantrum—he simply asked permission to be compliant to his commitment to his God. The first person that Daniel approached with his request, denied his request, yet only because he feared punishment from those over him. Then Daniel made a second request of the person directly serving him and his friends but a request with a ‘counter-offer’.
“Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. 14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.” Daniel 1:11-14
Daniel put his faith to the test. He requested a diet of produce, rather than the diet from the king, which would have included meats that had been sacrificed to or blessed by the Babylonian idolatrous gods. Then he asked another official to try it our way for ten days and if we’re not as good or better than the others we will leave it up to you. Why do you think Daniel suggested this? Well we don’t know for sure because scripture doesn’t tell us, but I think by Daniel’s life example we simply see the courage and strength of his faith in his God. Daniel knew God was with him, but we also have the record of God’s provision for Daniel and his friends.
“Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:9
God had brought Daniel into favor with the officials over him. And I don’t think Daniel came into favor with an attitude of obstinacy or arrogance, but one of humility and teachableness; and attitude of gratitude and submission to the total sovereignty of his God. What kind of attitude do we maintain and project to the world? Hopefully our life is a godly one that God can use and bless.
But we can’t drop the ball here, what is the outcome of the test for Daniel and his friends? All I can say is WOW. What a God we serve!!! God honored the faithfulness of his servants and HE had a purpose for them that they couldn’t have fully understood as they stood there on the threshold of an amazing future in God’s service—all while serving the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar!!!
“And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”
“16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” Daniel 1:15-16
Praise our God!!! He can and does provide for and use us in difficult places and circumstances. Daniel and his friends didn’t shirk their duty or relationship with God, but they stood fast before their God, with honor and integrity before men. They were respectful of those over them, and yielded to the authorities GOD had placed over them. They weren’t there by accident or chance God had a plan.
But let’s not stop there. Let’s finish up today with the powerful display of the favor of God on Daniel and his three friends– Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—better known to most as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!
“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:17-20
Don’t miss the glory here—God blessed these three men to the degree that they were not 10 times better than their peers—they were 10 times better than ‘ALL’ the ‘magicians and astrologers” of Bablyon!!! May we commit ourselves to be faithful, yielded and devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father in all we do. And we will never accomplish that unless we steep ourselves in the study of HIS Word and spend time with HIM in prayer. So what difficulty are you in today? God is still faithful and works on behalf of those who are His.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:5-6