Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faithfulness rewarded

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
Daniel 1:8

This is an intense instance of spiritual bravery. Daniel and his friends had been taken away from Jerusalem in the first wave of captives that Babylon hauled away to Chaldea. And these noblemen's sons were educated in the king's court. The had no other choice in the matter. They could train to be royal courtiers in Babylon, or they could die. One did not simply refuse king Nebuchadnezzar!

But Daniel wanted to keep the dietary restrictions of the Law. He wanted to practice his faith, and without a doubt the food served in the king's court would not be kosher. There would be the issue of forbidden meats. There would be the bigger issue of being served meat that had been offered to idols. It was a messy situation for a young observant Jew. But Daniel had resolve. He did not want to make himself ceremonially unclean, so a brave plan formed within his mind, and he approached his superiors with a helpful suggestion.

Daniel worked politely within the system and asked the chief of the eunuchs to give the Hebrew program participants a chance to prove themselves. Daniel proposed a vegetarian diet for the Hebrew captives. This was a shrewd solution. Daniel knew there would be no worries about violating the Law with a simple vegetarian diet. And a ten day trial period tested his faith and showed the chief of the eunuchs respect. He made it a temporary challenge and not a permanent demand.

God blessed the shrewd, polite, and wise plan of Daniel. At the end of the dietary trial, everyone was impressed with the health and the appearance of the Hebrew program participants. God blessed their resolve and obedience. And in the end they were able to practice their faith and also enter Babylonian culture with full acceptance and respect. This actually was quite an accomplishment when you consider it.

It takes courage to obey God in a pagan culture. It takes wisdom to also find that culture to be respectful of that kind of faith. And that challenge is before us like never before today. In a post-Christian, post-modern environment like we live in today, we could learn a lot from Daniel's story.

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