Bible Reading: Daniel 1
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 like to begin a relationship with Jesus and find the hope that He offers?