Thursday, 17 September 2015

Bible reading: Daniel 1v8-21 'In the King's service'

Daniel and his friends face pressure on every side.  Taken away from family and familiarity, isolated from others who share their faith, and an education and life designed to re-educate them in how to think.  How would they stand?  How can we stand?

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men of your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 ‘Please test your servants for ten days: give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

In verse 8 we see that there is no negotiation, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself…” it's worth us noting however that he is not obtuse as he does so.  God has caused the official to favour Daniel and Daniel wisely offers a test so that the official would not pay with his position, or life, should their stand produce adverse effects.  Daniel has a concern for others even as he stands for Yahweh.

Note that Daniel does it right at the outset of his time in Babylon not once he has had time to establish himself.  He doesn't wait and see, or get settled in, or wait and allow them to see my faith.  He knows that he must take a stand because his very identity is on the line here.  And God validates their stand as he gives them knowledge and understanding, and as Daniel can understand visions and dreams.  In fact they are top of the class, well of more than the class to of the kingdom.  Daniel trusts that God is able and faithful even in Babylon.

Verse 21 closes the chapter by giving us an overview of next 70 years, because Daniel lasts.  He serves king after king, dynasty after dynasty, kingdom after kingdom.   God is sovereign so taking a stand on his word and as his people makes sense.  Serve the King.

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