The Book of Daniel, Promotion is of the Lord, Daniel 1:17-21 - Lesson 6

 

Daniel and his friends are in the kingís court ready to attend school with the purpose of being developed for service in the government of King Nebuchadnezzar.

All is well except for the diet that has been ordered for these men for the diet consists of food and wine that Jehovah has commanded Danielís people not to eat.

Daniel knew that food served at the kingís table would not have been chosen or prepared in accordance with the standards of clean and unclean given in the Law of Moses.

The blood may not have been properly drained from the animals when they were slaughtered and prepared for eating.

The food may also have been associated with some heathen sacrifice or worship ritual.

We have seen that Daniel did not outwardly rebel against those over him and outwardly refuse to eat this food but he purposed in his heart that he would not.

Instead of taking a position that would have pinned his superiors to a wall and forced them to take drastic action against him, Daniel proposed an alternate plan.

This is what Daniel did.

Daniel proposed to his immediate superior, Melzar, an alternate eating pattern for a ten day period of time for himself and his three friends.

He knew from his conversation with Ashpenaz that the goal of the Babylonian authorities was peak mental and physical performance and that eating the kingís food was not a religious exercise.

So he proposed that a control group of four people be established that would, at the end of a ten day period be compared to the remainder of the Hebrew trainees.

The menu for the control group was pulse and water.

Pulse means something that results from that which is sown which would fit the vegetable group of foods.

It also includes herbs and edible seeds which are cooked, as lentils, beans, chick peas, and so on.

So Daniel proposed that he and his friends be allowed to eat a simple meal of vegetables for ten days and then their condition compared with the rest.

Note also that this is an act of faith on Danielís part for he gives God an opportunity to intervene on his and his friendís behalf.

Every time you take a step of faith you are giving God an opportunity to act on your behalf.

It is clear that God loves to act in his childrenís behalf for God is always pleased when faith is exercised by his children.

Moses acted in faith believing Godís word and lifted up his rod and stretched out his hand and God honored that and parted the Red Sea.

Now Ashpenaz had feared that the faces of those who had eaten food other than that which the king provided, would communicate to the king a fretful spirit and a noticeable difference between their faces and those who had eaten the kingís food and wine.

Daniel simply proposed a test of that hypothesis.

Daniel knew that most fears result in nothing.

If Danielís group could match or surpass the others, then the goal of the Babylonian officials was met, yet in a way that did not defile the Hebrew young men.

Also this was a controlled test for a short time, the king not even being involved.

There was no reason to deny the test for it was all done between the four Hebrew children and Ashpenaz and Melzar.

Danielís proposal shows his submissiveness because it seeks the permission of the one directly in charge; it seeks to fulfill the purposes of Danielís superiors, although not by their means.

The proposal made sense and therefore was accepted.

We read of this in verse 14-16,  So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.  And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the kingís meat.  Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

From the results of this test it would seem God divinely intervened not only making the condition of Daniel and his friends noticeably superior, but in a very short period of time.

Danielís obedience to Godís word was rewarded.

This is no surprise to a believer.

Obedience to Godís word always leads to reward.

It happens every time, for obedience has, built-in to it blessings from God.

Danielís proposal not only preserved the purity of these four Jews, but it did so in a way that benefited their superiors.

Ultimately when these four young men were brought before the king their superiority was obvious and no doubt he would give the credit to those who were over them.

So Danielís wisdom was revealed even at this early age for what he proposed was not limited to his and his friendís benefit but also for the benefit of his superiors, Ashpenaz and Melzar.

It is always good to propose solutions which will also benefit those who are given to approve the proposals.

And we see this benefit clearly revealed in the next passage,

Daniel 1:17-21,  As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.  Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.  And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.  And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.

Had the book of Daniel ended here we would say that it ended with a very happy ending.

Danielís life does have a happy ending but God will lead him though many difficult and challenging circumstances during his long life.

But this passage tells us of the foundation that God has given to these four children and it is clear that it is God who has done this.

For it is God who has given them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.

My, how we must remember that all that we are and all that we have, are from God the Father.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself and God was there to use this undefiled man for his purposes, and in order to carry out his purposes he gave him knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.

He gave Daniel understanding in all visions and dreams and we will see in later studies how this gift was used of God for Danielís advancement.

Most of us try to figure out how to advance in life when in fact the secret of advancement is found in Godís hand extended to those who purpose in their heart not to defile themselves.

You donít advance in Godís economy by taking courses, getting degrees, or going though some five or ten step program.

Getting degrees is fine but it is not that which impresses God in your favor.

You advance in Godís economy by presenting your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.

God is at the ready to give wisdom to such as these who are willing to give themselves to God which is why God created them in the first place.

God is at the ready to give wisdom to all those who seek it diligently and ask for it in faith.

Proverbs 2:1-6,  My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

These four Hebrews were not wise because they went to a Babylonian school.

They were not even wise because they may have been educated in a Jewish school.

Where did the other exiles go to school?

No doubt they had the same background and the same education in Judah but we hear nothing of them.

The difference was that Daniel and his friends were wise because they trusted and obeyed God.

Psalm 119:97-104,  seems to have been written with these four Hebrews in mind for it explains how Nebuchadnezzar said they were 10 times better than all in his kingdom.

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

I would suppose that Nebuchadnezzar thought they had presented their bodies to him in order to advance but in reality they had thought higher than his worldly kingdom.

They desired to advance in Godís economy by presenting their body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which they knew was their reasonable service.

And this Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah did.

And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

This finding of ten times better sounds like it came from the lips of King Nebuchadnezzar himself.

We will later hear from his lips the call to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

So it seems this analysis of the four Hebrew children was done by the king himself after being subjected to an oral examination by the king.

It is easy to conclude that the king had in his mind for these four Hebrews, very important and high level positions in his kingdom.

The conclusion from this examination was that Daniel and his friends were far above and superior to any other person on the staff of the king.

They not only out performed their fellow Hebrew exiles but they were vastly superior to all those who already were serving the king as magicians and conjurers.

Nebuchadnezzar himself declared it to be so and no one dared to contradict his conclusion.

Danielís stand for right according to the Law pleased God but it also resulted in a pleased king.

This first chapter of the book of Daniel is a ray of hope for Judah and for Israel.

This exile shows the hand of God in both the disobedient and the faithful.

Our God is a working God.

God was working in the lives of the disobedient to bring them to repentance and therefore the captivity.

But even in the captivity He was at work in the lives of the faithful like Daniel and his friends to bless and prosper them.

Daniel and his friends were in Babylon because of the self willed proud people from whom they came.

And yet we see from those people, humble men who faithfully serve the kings of Babylon for the entire time of captivity.

We see from this that there is no shield protecting men like this when they are part of a rebellious people.

God did not protect and exclude them from the exile but God was with them in the exile.

This is something that we ought to remember with regard to our own country.

We are not isolated from the judgment that will take place in our country but we can be assured that God will be with us through that judgment.

But Daniel and his friends were everything Israel should have been but was not.

Had Israel been what Daniel was, there would have been no exile.

For Daniel is the example that every believer should follow.

He strove for physical and mental excellence, not just for the sake of excellence, but to use that excellence to please God and to please men.

Most men and women of the world who strive for excellence do it for a vain purpose, but Daniel did it for the glory of God.

Godís word is clear when it comes to pleasing God and pleasing men.

That is to be the norm. Jesus desired to do that, did he not?

There will be times when a choice must be made and that choice must always favor God and we will see in later studies that Daniel was pure in that also.

His life seem to be patterned after Proverbs 16:7 which reads,  When a manís ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Another virtue we see in Daniel is a commitment to stay pure, but not only a commitment but a plan to see that it comes about, and a stick-to-it-tive-ness in carrying out the plan.

Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself and that purpose translated into action to see that that purpose was carried out.

He knew that God would provide a way of escape from this circumstance and no doubt he sought Godís mind in this matter.

The Apostle Paul put into words in the New Testament what Daniel had appropriated in his life.

I Corinthians. 10:13,  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Daniel could have been passive like most of the other exiles were who chose to eat the kingís meat but instead he trusted God for a way to escape the defilement of Babylon and because of this trust he was rewarded.