Monday, June 22, 2009

Daniel, chapter 1

Over the next few weeks I wanted to step back into the Old Testament for a bit and write about the book of Daniel. Daniel is a book that has a lot of hope during a very dark time for the people of Israel. It takes place during the Babylonian exile, yet it centers on Daniel’s faithful service to God in a time where he was captive by a completely different culture. In this book, Daniel is tempted many times to abandon his faith, but he stays faithful to God through it all. At each turn, God rewards his faith with continued guidance.

8 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. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your [c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men 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. – Daniel 1:8-14

This is an example of how our response to God in difficult situations can make all the difference. It would have been easy for Daniel to go along with the Babylonians and accept the gifts given to him, but he took a stand. He asked for a test and God gave him the strength to pass said test. Not only that, but God also gave him the ability to interpret dreams and visions. This resulted in Daniel having an even higher place in the king’s court during the Babylonian exile.

So how does this carry over to today? Sometimes, we don’t find ourselves in the best of situations. When there, the temptation to take the first way out is strong. Sometimes this isn’t always the best way. It can lead to an even worse situation because we took the easy way instead of the way God wants us to go. There are lessons to be learned even in suffering. Discipline can be one of them. We would do right to learn from Daniel’s discipline and devotion to God shown here.

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