Scripture Text – Daniel 1
Abraham called God “the Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25), and King Hezekiah prayed, “You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.” – 2 Kings 19:15. In Daniel’s day, King Nebuchadnezzar learned the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth.” – Daniel 4:32 (NIV).
The first chapter of Daniel’s book gives ample evidence of the sovereign hand of God in the affairs of both nations and individuals.
God Gave Favor To Daniel and His Friends – Continued
Please read Daniel 1:3-16 for the background to this section.
A discerning test (Daniel 1:8–16). How can God’s people resist the pressures that can “squeeze” them into conformity with the world? According to Paul’s writing to the Romans, in chapter 12, “conformers” are people whose lives are controlled by pressure from without, but “transformers” are people whose lives are controlled by power from within. Daniel and his three friends were transformers: instead of being changed, they did the changing! God used them to transform the minds of powerful rulers and to bring great glory to His name in a pagan land.
The first step in solving their problem and being transformers was giving themselves wholly to the Lord. Daniel’s heart, the totality of his being, belonged to the Lord, as did the hearts of his friends (see Romans 12:1–2). “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23. A heart that loves the Lord, trusts the Lord, and therefore obeys the Lord has no difficulty making the right choices and trusting God to take care of the consequences. It has well been said that faith is not believing in spite of evidence – that’s superstition – but obeying in spite of consequences. When they had to choose between God’s Word and the king’s food, they chose the Word of God (Psalm 119:103; Deuteronomy 8:3).
The second step was to be gracious toward those in authority. The four men noticed that Ashpenaz was especially friendly and kind to them and recognized that this was the working of the Lord. (Joseph had a similar experience when he was in prison. See Genesis 39–40.) “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” – Proverbs 16:7. Instead of expecting a pagan Gentile officer to obey the Law of Moses and get himself in trouble with the king, Daniel and his friends took a wise approach and asked for a ten-day experiment.
Throughout Scripture you will find courageous people who had to defy authority in order to obey God, and in every case, they took the wise and gentle approach. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18 (NIV).
Along with Daniel and his friends, you have the examples of the Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1), the apostles (Acts 4), and even Jesus Himself (1 Peter 2:13–25). All of them had to resist the law in order to obey the Lord, and God gave them success. They were courteous and didn’t try to get others into trouble. They had a meek and quiet spirit. They saw the challenge as an opportunity to prove God and glorify His name.
The four Jewish students didn’t threaten anybody, stage a protest, or try to burn down a building. They simply excelled in their studies, acted like gentlemen, and asked Melzar to test them for ten days by feeding them only water and vegetables. Christians have no right to ask others, especially the unsaved, to take risks that they won’t take themselves. Unconsciously directed by the Lord, Melzar was willing to accept their suggestion, and God did the rest. In the end, the four Jewish boys were healthier in body and better looking than all the other students. This is a vivid illustration of the promise in Matthew 6:33 and the principle laid down in Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; and 1 Peter 3:15.
When it comes to solving the problems of life, we must ask God for the courage to face the problem humbly and honestly, the wisdom to understand it, the strength to do what He tells us to do, and the faith to trust Him to do the rest. Our motive must be the glory of God and not finding a way of escape. The important question isn’t, “How can I get out of this?” but, “What can I get out of this?” The Lord used this private test to prepare Daniel and his friends for the public tests they would face in years to come. The best thing about this experience wasn’t that they were delivered from compromise, as wonderful as that was, but that they were developed in character. No wonder God called Daniel “greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19), for he was very much like His Beloved Son.
To Be Continued