Bible Ballistics: Whose Favor Are You Seeking??? Vol. 6#12
Often as we struggle through life we have many distractions, and sometimes it’s hard to keep our focus on the things of our Lord. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, and the temptation to please men instead of God (Including ourselves). One of my heroes of scripture had a great opportunity to succumb to the pressures that surrounded him, but he remained faithful to his God! That’s the desire of my heart—to be found faithful when HE calls me home or comes for His own.
“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.
9 Now God had brought Daniel
and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:8-9
Let’s examine Daniel’s life and see what we can learn about faithful courage.
First, let’s set the stage: Daniel was a Jewish young man, probably a mid to late teenage, who was taken as a Babylonian captive to be educated (brainwashed) for service in the ‘civil’ government of Babylon. Daniel was one of many Jewish young men from Jerusalem, who were taken into captivity and put into a 3-year training program. They were transported far from home, family and culture. Outstanding young men who were:
“……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.” Daniel 1:3b-4
They were taken because they were the “crème’ de la crème’”– from the families of the leadership and royalty of Judah, those who were good-looking and blemish-free, teachable, taken to be trained to serve in the king’s palace. They were to be ‘transformed’ into “Babylonians”! Maybe close to a hundred young men, and yet we only hear of 4 of these young men after their ‘training’.
What else do we see in Daniel and his three friends that we can assimilate into our lives? Most importantly of all, we see that Daniel was a ‘determined’ young man, he knew his own heart and mind; and what was Daniel’s mindset?
“Daniel purposed in his heart
that he would not defile himself…”
Daniel had made up his mind (And heart) that he would maintain his integrity before God; that he would “not defile himself”. A decision that might seem useless, as it is most likely that he had already been “ceremonially” defiled by the Babylonians by being castrated, a thing that would have broken his heart ‘religiously’, but it didn’t deter him in his personal devotion to God. Daniel made up his mind to be blameless before his God, much like Job:
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Job 13:15
Daniel was determined to live for God even though no one back home would be watching. He was determined to honor God in everything that was within his power. Yet we often miss a valuable lesson in this passage, Daniel was determined to not only honor his God, but to display an honorable and respectful demeanor to his captors—to all.
Daniel didn’t balk, or pout or stomp and demand his own way; instead he honored the ‘powers’ that were over him and went through the ‘chain of command’ to seek to honor his relationship with God before unbelievers.
“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
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 requested permission to be exempt from the diet that would have violated his conscience—he requested permission, and when it was denied on the first request, he then went to the one directly over him and his friends with a reasonable suggestion, that put it all on God. Daniel asked for this official to test him and his friends for 10 days and if he was not satisfied that they were as healthy or healthier than the rest of the captives, they would submit to whatever he decided. And God honored the faithfulness of his servants– because they were honoring God– God Almighty was at work in honoring Daniel and his friends. And how!!!
“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.” Daniel 1:15
WOW! Daniel and his friends were rewarded for their faithfulness—they looked better than any of the other captives/trainees. And as we continue with this story we find that God rewarded Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) with success in all their endeavors. If we jump to the end of the chapter we find them at the end of their 3-year term of training, and see that God blessed them mightily individually and before the world.
“As for these four children,
God gave them knowledge
in all learning
and Daniel had understanding
in all visions
18 Now at the end of the days
that the king had said he should bring them in, t
hen the prince of the eunuchs brought them in
19 And the king communed with them;
and among them all
was found none
therefore stood they before the king.
20 And in all matters
that the king enquired of them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians
that were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:17-20
Not only were these young men found better than their peers, but they were found 10 times better than “than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm”! Did you get that? Ten times better than the entire corps of “wise men”, “astrologers” or “magicians”!!! To repeat a cliché’, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called”. God reminds us throughout scripture of His faithfulness—HE is faithful, just determine to trust HIM:
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
“And he said unto me,
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
So??? Who is it that YOU want to please? I must join with Joshua in proclaiming:
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord,
choose you this day whom ye will serve;
whether the gods which your fathers served
that were on the other side of the flood,
or the gods of the Amorites,
in whose land ye dwell:
but as for me and my house,
we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
How about you? Who will you determine to please? Simply “choose you this day whom ye will serve”? It is your choice. But choose wisely! There is a test at the end!!!
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36 But I say unto you,
That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37