The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court… But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine (Daniel 1:5,8).
During June and July, I plan to highlight principles we can draw from Daniel, chapters 1 – 7 about living in a post-Christian world.
In Daniel’s day, God’s people found themselves in a world of uncertainty and confusion. In 586BC Nebuchadnezzar had sent his army into Jerusalem; the city was destroyed and the stones of Solomon’s great temple razed to the ground. Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest had devastated the Jewish people. Their national pride was in tatters and their religious faith was challenged to the core for they believed that their God was the one true living God, sovereign over all the gods of the nations.
An important part of Nebuchadnezzar’s strategy was to take the cream of the Jewish people to Babylon and give them a top-rate education and cultural program. Nebuchadnezzar expected men like Daniel and his friends to welcome the intellectual and cultural challenges.
However, Daniel drew a line when it came to the food menu. The words, Daniel resolved…, suggest that he was wrestling with his conscience about this. The result was that he made a personal determination to take a stand on a principle.
Daniel may have stood firm on the matter of food because in diplomatic circles eating a meal with someone often implied an alliance. He knew that he was a member of a nation that was bound to Yahweh, the Lord God. That loyalty came first.
And there was probably something else: Daniel was surrounded daily by dozens of temptations to turn away from his walk with God, temptations he knew might well succumb to. If he was to remain true to God he would need great self-discipline.
He could not afford to let himself be softened up by the king’s hospitality. There may have been nothing morally wrong with enjoying the delights of the Babylonian royal cuisine, but it symbolized a threat to his own spiritual commitment.
Reflect. If we are going to live as believers in a secular materialistic society we need to have the courage to be different. Pray for God’s grace to identify where you need to make a stand.
Optional. You may like to read Daniel 1; and Ephesians 4:17-32.
© John G. Mason