The Controversy Begins
Don’t let the thumbnail image scare you. It’s precisely what Daniel 1 is about! We discussed Daniel 1 briefly in our health lecture for Unlock Revelation, but this study looked at the story surrounding those circumstances. We’ll touch lightly on a couple of points below:
1) The captivity was part of God’s plan.
No, not like the ideal plan God had for His people, but the plan that occurred due to disobedience on the peoples’ part. God had given them ample warning of what would happen if they did not change course but they persisted in their ways. As a result, they were given into the hands of the Babylonians by none other than God himself.
1) Naming and Identity
After Daniel and his friends were taken captive, they were given Babylonian names as part of their assimilation.
–Daniel means God is my judge and his Babylonian name Belteshazzar means Bel protects the king’s life.
—Hananiah means Jehovah is gracious and his Babylonian name Shadrach means allegiance to the god, Marduk.
–Mishael means who belongs to God and his Babylonian name Meshach references another Babylonian god.
–Azariah means Jehovah helps and his Babylonian name Abednego means servant of the god, Nabu.
These new names were supposed to help them forget their old way of life and their old beliefs. They were to become servants of a new god who they did not know, but they were supposed to learn more about. This is the beginning of a struggle between allegiances. Should the captives assimilate all the way to a different culture and a different god? Should they remain faithful even after feeling neglected and rejected by God?
Part of the culture clash involved choosing different foods. The Babylonians had no problem eating unclean meats, which were strictly forbidden by God. There were other captives we do not hear about that came from Judah and ate the king’s food. Daniel and his friends, despite different names, chose to take a risk and reject the king’s food. They chose to honor God and His commands. Can you imagine what you would do in a situation where the President offers you residency, free specialized education, and free food for your sake? It would be hard to say no. But Daniel and his friends honored their allegiance to God, despite the different scenery, language, and culture. Sure God seemed far away at this time, but they remained faithful.
3) Where/When to make decisions
Daniel 1:8 reveals that Daniel made the decision to serve God in his heart. He made the decision early on, before any conflict appeared, before his life was in danger. Friends, the decision to follow God happens now. It happens before the test comes, it happens privately before it is revealed publicly. Once you have internalized that decision, no external pressure can change it as long as you remain committed. Don’t wait till trouble comes, choose Jesus today!
In the end, everything turned out for the better. Daniel and his friends honored God, and God in turned honored them. While this scenario played out beautifully for all parties, do not underestimate the risk that they took to challenge the diet of the king. Wisdom and knowledge come from God, and if anyone asks Him for it, He will give it.