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Daniel’s Diet


The Daniel Diet!

Text: Daniel 1:1-21

Jerusalem had fallen. The implication was obvious to Nebuchadnezzar – my gods are more powerful than your God, for he has been defeated. But READ: Daniel 1:2 It was God himself who had handed over his own people to the Babylonians, and in this study we shall discover why.  

1. Life in the University of Babylon. V3-7

Nebuchadnezzar would take the brightest and best of the youth of each captured nation, and he would reeducate them, and remove all traces of their upbringing, their religious and cultural education. They would be fully assimilated into the pagan culture and lifestyle of their captors. In that way, Nebuchadnezzar could control all the diverse national identities and ethnic cultures in his kingdom. Four young men were selected from among the Hebrews. READ V4. Let’s say that these boys were in their mid teens when they began their three year course.  Let’s see how the course curriculum would be planned for them:-

  • Three years of intensive study in the practices, culture, literature and language of the Babylonians.  V4. They will be steeped in paganism, thoroughly immersed in its ideas, its writings and books and learn its language, new terms and definitions.
  • They were given new names. All of these boys had names that reflected their Hebrew faith and religion. So they are given new names, names that point to pagan gods, Daniel became, Belteshazzar (a servant of  Bel) Hananiah became Shadrach (inspired by the sun god) Mishael became Meshach (who is what the moon god is?) And Azariah became Abed-Nego (servant of the pagan deity Nebo).
  • They are given a new diet. V5 They were to be fed with the very best of food, the same food that was served in the royal palace and eaten by Nebuchadnezzar himself. It was an enormous privilege, for no-one outside the king’s favoured circle would have food like this. Others in the kingdom might starve, but these boys would be well fed. Now this is where the challenge lies, – the critical point in the story, and we must come back to it.

Our higher education system, run in this country by the state, is infested with anti-christian paganism, cess-pits of post-modern thought, denial of biological facts, – to use wokeness to wring any vestige of Christian faith out of those who attend, and bring them into conformity with pagan society. That’s what lies ahead for young Christians entering college. They need to know that, and they need to be prepared, and they will need courage and faith to stand up for Christ, for they will often find that they are standing completely alone.

2. Daniel Says NO. V8  

Wouldn’t you think Daniel would be grateful? He’s gone into a strop over getting fed what he didn’t want! The people appointed to educate and nourish the Hebrews must have been more than a little frustrated with Daniel’s refusal to eat. And it’s not as if all the food served in the King’s restaurant would be contravening the Hebrew food laws. Wine for example, was not forbidden under the food laws. But Daniel said NO. But there’s a very deep principle at stake here.  The food served at the King’s table was offered to idols before it was put on the plates. Every meal began with a sacrifice to one of the pagan deities, – it was idolatry, READ Exodus 20:4 -6  And that is EXACTLY why Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar. Although Daniel was a teenager, he knew his history and he knew his God and he wan’t going to make that same mistake. Daniel said NO, even though he was alone. But let’s briefly note HOW Daniel made his refusal to co-operate known to his mentors..

  1. Politely – 1:8b. He was respectful to those who were over him.
  2. Prayerfully.  We know that Daniel was a man of prayer, and he must have sought the Lord’s help, and that help was provided in 1:9. 
  3. Persistently – Dan 1:10-11. He did not give up after the refusal by the chief of the eunuchs. He tried something else, going to the steward directly over them. 
  4. Practically. He was willing to allow his faith to be tested – Dan 1:12-15.  He asked the steward to give him and his three friends just water and vegetables for ten days.

So Daniel and his three companions were fed on nothing but salad and water for ten days. There must have been some  teasing comments from the others. But look at the results in V15-16  They were fitter, and fatter and healthier! This is not a Christian diet plan – it is an act of Christian faithfulness and obedience. Daniel didn’t set out to lose weight, he set out to please God.

3. Assessment and Graduation. V18  

Daniel’s had a final oral assessment before the king himself. How would that go? READ V19-20  They were the top students, not only smarter than their peer-group, but smarter than their professors, and smarter than the leading officials in the land. The king was so impressed that he appointed them right away to high office in the civil service, a post that Daniel remain in for 70 years. V21  The young man who was faithful to God in his mid-teens worked productively until, he was 85, and he remained faithful throughout that entire lifespan.

What can we learn from Daniel 1?  1. When we honour God, he will honour us. 1 Samuel 2:30   2. We are never too young to stand up for God and the gospel. 3. When we honour God in small things, he will trust us with more important things. What did it matter what Daniel ate? Those false gods aren’t even real! Yet just taking a stand in that small issue, laid down a marker for obedience to God for the rest of his working life. Luke 19:17  4) When we do take a firm stand, and refuse to compromise, the Lord is with us, even if everyone else is against us. 5). Just take your stand. It may well encourage others to join you. It was Daniel who spoke up – but the other three were encouraged to stand by him. And lastly, just be politely persistent.

Daniel’s career might have been short lived, for the king, on a whim, decided to cull all his special advisors… Next time!

From → Daniel

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