Bible Reading: Daniel 1; Psalm 101
A very well-known story and a favorite of most believers is the story of Daniel. In the very first chapter, we see this young man taking a stance for God in the midst of a troubling time, to say the least. We see in the opening verses of the book that God has given Judah into the hands of the Babylonians. The Babylonians have taken the people captive, as well as taken treasures from the temple of God. This must have a heartbreaking and troublesome time for Daniel, but it only gets worse. We see in verses three and four that King Nebuchadnezzar has a plan for some of the men of Judah.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.”
Daniel and others from his home will now be indoctrinated into the ways of Babylon. They will learn the language and philosophy of Babylonians life, and they will eventually be made to dress, walk, speak and act like royal Babylonians. This would entail a lot of training, three years worth according to verse five. In this training, the faith and righteous lifestyle that God’s people and grown up in and followed was to be totally compromised, even defiled. It is here where we begin to favor Daniel.
In Daniel 1:8, we read, “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 this way.” Daniel was resolved to not defile himself. He was determined that he would not do anything that would make him ceremonially unclean. He wanted to continue to live in a way worthy to approach the temple of God and worship. We will finish this story next week, but I want us to pause and think about what Daniel has done in this moment. Had he surrendered to his circumstances, he could have possibly excelled in his training and been set for a life of service and comfort in the palace of the king of Babylon. Babylon was a world power, and did not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Rather than ride waves of Babylonian lifestyle, Daniel has determined to maintain integrity and cleanness; his desire for righteousness exceeds his desire for temporary peace.
I must ask, are we as resolute in our faith? This world constantly beckons us to compromise our integrity of faith, and live in a way lower than God has called us to. We must remember that we, as Christians, have been called to holiness, and there is no lower standard that we should aim for. We are called to be holy as our Lord is holy. Are you willing to be “defiled” in order to have more comfort in this world? Or are you determined to stand and fight for faith in all areas of your life?
Call to Action: Can you confidently pray the words of Psalm 101:2-4? Can you say, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil”? There are a lot of things we have allowed to exist in our lives that we need to remove. There is much that we tolerate that we should eliminate. Will you be as determined as Daniel to not be defiled? I pray we would all take a stand for righteousness and holy living. May God prepare us and strengthen us to shine our faith as bright as a city on a hill. Amen.