Daniel 1:3–5, 8–10, 12–15, 17–19 comment (0)
July 24, 2014
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Daniel 1:3–5, 8–10, 12–15, 17–19
Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
DRAW THE LINE
Daniel 1:3–5, 8–10, 12–15, 17–19
Disasters come even for followers of Jesus. Attacks occur, church buildings are burned, young people are kidnapped and family lives are turned upside down. Nations are in turmoil in the midst of political, economic and military chaos. Just ask believers in Egypt, Sudan or Nigeria on any given day. People are placed in forced subjection with new homes, new dietary laws, new official language, new literature and new values.
When Nebuchadnezzar’s emissaries took the young men of status from Jerusalem to Babylon, their world changed. Instead of rabbis as their teachers, they were instructed by magi.
They studied Babylonian mythology rather than the Torah, their names were changed to reflect the gods of Babylon (Nego, Aku, Bel) and their diet was initially altered from kosher to the king’s menu. Hananiah, Meshael, Azariah and Daniel were among the young men whose faith would be tested by fire in a foreign land.
Evaluate Demands of Others (3–5)
Without a doubt temptations come. The apostle Paul tells us temptations are common to man. John explains three basic characteristics: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Through His own experience in the wilderness, Jesus teaches us how to overcome all three types of temptation (Matt. 4:1–10).
For the four Hebrew men, their temptation would be to sit, soak in and settle for a new set of personal protocols. They were chosen for their heritage and for the potential influence they would have over their countrymen as more and more people from Jerusalem and Judah were relocated. For three years they would be trained to serve in the royal court before they would be entrusted with that responsibility. Would they compromise their convictions in order to gain personal status?
Act Boldly (8–10)
Daniel acted decisively. When faced with dietary temptations, he determined he would not defile himself. What was the issue? Was it because a Gentile prepared it? Was the wine not acceptable? Was the king’s meat from an animal sacrificed to one of the false gods of Babylon? The text does not reveal answers to these questions.
Early Christians wrestled with dietary issues as well. Can Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah eat “unclean” food? Peter struggled with this (see Acts 10 and Gal. 1). Must Gentile Christians follow the dietary laws of Leviticus 11? Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 addressed this and other issues of Gentile practices. Can a Christian eat meat from an animal that has been sacrificed to false gods? Personal convictions and brotherly consideration both play a part in this decision (see Rom. 14:19–23; 1 Cor. 8).
Prepare for Testing (12–15)
In his boldness Daniel demonstrated wisdom. Rather than a wholesale boycott of the king’s choice fare, the young Judahite requested permission to eat a vegetarian diet. When the royal steward feared the king’s reprisals, Daniel convinced him to test the plan for 10 days. As it turned out, God granted the men from Jerusalem favor with the steward and favor with the king. This, however, would not be the only test of their faith.
Trust God (17–19)
Daniel and his countrymen honored God, and in turn, God granted them His favor. They devoted themselves to their studies, learning imperial Aramaic and becoming fluent in the literature of the kingdom. God also revealed truth to Daniel by means of visions and dreams. At the conclusion of their accelerated schooling, Nebuchadnezzar interviewed them and found them to be far more prepared for service in the court than anyone else. The four men trusted the Lord, and He entrusted them as His representatives to another people group.