Bible Reading: Daniel 1, NKJV
Things were going wrong in his personal life. He was immersed in a society that valued everything that he stood against. He was pressured to bow down and worship things that he knew were wrong. There was constant temptation to succumb to the worldliness around him.
Sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about the world in which we live today, but rather a young man from the Old Testament who was captured and taken into captivity in Babylon. I’m talking about Daniel.
The prophet Daniel is widely considered one of the greatest men in the entire Bible. In fact, unlike many other heroes of the faith, there is nothing negative said about him at all.
In Daniel chapter 1, we see a young man who was going through difficult tribulations:
- Daniel’s home of Jerusalem had been overthrown, and he’d been carried off into a foreign and godless land as a slave of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar.
- Daniel endured a “reeducation program” of sorts, meant to brainwash Daniel and the other young men to assimilate them into the Babylonian culture and prepare them to serve the king. He was taught astrology and magic, as well as Babylon’s Chaldean language.
- He was given a new name. No longer would he be called Daniel (God is my judge), but now he would be called Belteshazzar (Bel protect my life), a pagan name.
- Daniel was expected to eat the king’s meals, which were certainly gourmet. This was an indulgence that many would have happily accepted.
New home, new education, new language, new name, new food. … All of these things were an attempt by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar to indoctrinate the young Israelites, including Daniel, into their culture. And I’m sure that many of them were more than happy to enjoy the spoils.
Daniel could have gone along with all this by compromising his convictions as well. He could have said, “Everyone else is doing it,” or “I better obey the king!”
However, Daniel “purposed in his heart” that he would not disobey God (verse 8), even amid the pressure and temptations. He even convinced the powers-that-be to allow him to eat a diet of vegetables and water rather than the king’s royal feast.
Because of his faithfulness and obedience, “God gave them [Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah] knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (verse 17).
Fast forward through the centuries to today. You haven’t been captured and carried into a far-away land (I certainly hope not!), but the society around you perhaps looks unfamiliar and troubling. Young people—like Daniel in his day—are especially being led astray by a culture that is largely opposite of the life we’re called to live as followers of Christ.
With so many prevalent temptations all around us, it would be easy to assimilate and enjoy all that the world has to offer, but like Daniel, we must purpose in our hearts to serve Jesus and Him alone. We must feast on the things of the Lord rather than the evils of this age. As we do, God will not only give wisdom and understanding, but—I believe—opportunities to share His hope with those around you.
It’s hard to find peace in this troubled world, but Christ came so “that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). Would you like to begin a relationship with Jesus and find the hope that He offers?
Scripture Reference: Daniel 1
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. 10 And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. 21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.