Scripture Reading: Daniel 1:1-2:23 / 1 Peter 5:1-14 / Psalm 134:1-3
Israel was taken captive by Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar selected the most promising of the young Jewish men to serve in his court. Among those selected were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. These young men showed great promise of learning and achievement.
The chief official gave all of them new names, a flattering expression of honor. Daniel’s name which means “God is my judge” was changed to Belteshazzar, “Praise of Bel”. Interestingly, Daniel is called by his Babylonian name 5 times, all by other people, but Daniel uses his real name 75 times. Daniel refused to allow the memory of Jehovah to be forgotten or overshadowed by another god. They could change his name and call him by another but it couldn’t change Daniel’s character and integrity.
Daniel had a promising future as he was destined to gain great power and position. For three years, He was to be groomed in politics, philosophy and theology. Earthly honor and glory awaited him and all he had to do was cooperate and take advantage of the great opportunity given to him. But Daniel refused to compromise his convictions and faith. He made a decision that could have possibly brought about his ruin and death.
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.” (Daniel 1:8) The royal food was sacrificial food offered to pagan gods. God had forbidden Israel to eat meat that was sacrificed to idols. The Old Testament also prohibited “strong drink”. The Babylonians did not dilute their wine but the Jews customarily diluted their wine with water. They diluted their wine by 3 parts water, others by 6 parts and some as much as 10 parts water.
Daniel defied the king’s orders and requested to eat ceremonial clean vegetables and drink only water. He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. He had the highest of standards for his life and an uncompromising commitment to God. He determined to serve God regardless of the cost, even if it meant his very life. Sometimes there is a cost for true discipleship but God always honors those who passionately and faithful pursue Him.
The head official granted Daniel’s request but only for a 10-day trial period. After the designated time, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (vs.15)
God’s favor rested upon them and He honored their faith. It wouldn’t be the last time they would have to take a stand for spiritual integrity and character but it wasn’t the last time God would favor them with deliverance and protection. Daniel became the greatest among all of the young men after a series of “God” events as The Lord exalted Daniel to a place of influence in the Babylonian kingdom. When we stand for God in the face of adversity…God stands for us.
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!