Standing On Our Convictions.
“But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.” – Daniel 1:8 NLT
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has invaded Judah, plundered the Temple in Jerusalem, and taken thousands of its citizens captive. Among those transported to Babylon against their wills are four young Hebrew boys from the tribe of Judah – Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Most of them end up in a refugee camp by the Kebar River, the same camp where Ezekiel received his vision from God. Daniel and Ezekiel are contemporaries, but will find themselves living two radically different lifestyles, and being used by God in extremely different ways. Daniel and the three other young men are among a hand-picked group to be trained as servants for the king’s palace. They are chosen for their looks, intelligence, physical prowess, and good judgment. After receiving their new Babylonian names, they begin a three-year intensive training program.
Immediately, Daniel and his friends find themselves faced with a difficult situation. They are Hebrews living in a foreign land, populated by pagans who worship false gods. These found young men are obviously devout followers and Yahweh and know that the food they are being given to eat by the King is not proper for them to eat as Hebrews. If they do eat it, it will make them ceremonially unclean. Sure, it is rich, delicious and there is plenty of it, but it is not what God has commanded them to eat. So they must make a decision. They must take a stand and hold to their convictions – a dangerous thing to do considering their circumstances. But Daniel was determined not to defile himself. He made up his mind to stand by his convictions and honor his commitment to God, even if it meant risking his life. Daniel supplied the conviction and God supplied the protection. When Daniel appealed to his superior and expressed his request to refrain from eating the royal food, he found him resistant to the idea. But Daniel came up with an alternative idea and presented it to him, and his overseer agreed. Why? Because “God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel” (Daniel 1:6 NLT). God had prepared the way. Daniel made up his mind to honor God and God made sure the king’s chief of staff was predisposed to Daniel.
Daniel and his friends prospered on a diet of vegetables and water. Not because of the food, but because of their conviction to honor God. God was with them. He gave them “an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17 NLT). Their ability to learn came from God. Their health and vitality were from God. Daniel’s unique ability to interpret dreams came from God. They supplied the conviction and God did the rest. And they stood out from the crowd. We are not told this, but it would appear that the other Hebrew young men who were conscripted with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah did not stand by their convictions. They ate the King’s food. They compromised. But when the three years of training were over, King Nebuchadnezzar found Daniel and his friends to be ten times more capable than their peers. They had stood firm and now they stood out. They had remained faithful to God and He had been faithful to them.
Father, we could use a lot more Daniels today. I need to be more like Daniel – a man of conviction who refuses to compromise in the face of the pressures this world places on us as believers. We are regularly tempted to defile ourselves by compromising our convictions and caving in to the world’s demands. Give me the strength to stand firm even in the face of adversity. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men