Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…..
In Daniel Chapter 1, King Nebuchadnezzar (of the Babylonian empire) conquered what was left of Israel. Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were faced with a difficult journey. They were taken out of Judea, separated from their families, and forced into training to become members of the Babylonian royal court. Although these young men were raised in godly homes, they were now being placed in a worldly society were men made all the rules and God was neither honored nor acknowledged.
Daniel was being forced to live in the secular culture of Babylon, and he was also expected to become a part of that culture. He and his friend’s names were even changed and a new identity was placed on them. No longer were they received as, or even allowed to be, God-fearing Jewish men; they were expected to become Babylonians and to worship Babylonian gods. Through this process of indoctrination, the four men were placed in a 3 year training program. In this program, they were taught Babylonian law, math, science, religion, and all that this world had to show them.
Part of this training also involved eating a regimented diet. This diet consisted of high quality food (by human standards), including meat and wine taken from the king’s private stash. Unfortunately, this meat, before being offered to the students, was put through a ceremonial ritual whereby it was offered to idols in the form of a sacrifice. This is where Daniel drew the line because, according to God’s law, it was forbidden to eat meat that was once offered to idols.
The culture and society of Babylon was seemingly seductive, and had great opportunities for provision, wealth, and social status. Basically, all Daniel had to do was learn to fit in with the world around him, and he could have it all. He just had to make it through King Nebuchadnezzar’s test, and he would be a part of Babylonian nobility.
Even though it seems like it was the Babylonians who were interested in training and testing Daniel, it was God who was ultimately testing to see where he would take a stand. God had a powerful purpose and a calling on Daniel’s life, but in order to reach this calling, Daniel would have to stay true to who he was and who God called him to be. Daniel determined in his heart that he would reject the provisions of man and stay obedient to the word of God. Through this determination, he was not only able to remain righteous, but he also set a powerful example for his three friends to follow.
Romans 12:2 tells us to “be not fashioned according to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, and you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We have been placed in a worldly society where our ‘social status’ and personal possessions define us to the people around us. Even faith in God is often seen as little more than ignorance and bigotry. It is essential that we remember that we are not of THIS world… we are pilgrims here and eventually we will be going home. When we let society dictate who we are, we definitively lose who we were called to be. God has a unique purpose and calling for each and every one of us. It is important that we remember that no matter how society defines us, we belong solely to God, and we should always answer first and foremost to Him.
Because Daniel took a stand for righteousness, God gave him favor in all of Babylon. Daniel grew to be a great leader and second-in-command of two great world empires. Because Daniel determined to be great in God’s eyes, God made him great in the eyes of the entire world.
Whether it be at work, school or at the gym, let’s remember to be “Daniels”… always remaining obedient to God… and letting God decide whether we will fail or succeed.