Scripture reading for September 1st: Daniel 1-3
Have you ever moved into a strange neighborhood and different culture where you didn’t even speak the language of the people around you? Have you gone on a mission trip and lived for a short time out of your comfortable culture? These kinds of experiences would help us to understand what Daniel and his three young friends experienced in their 800 mile trip across deserts from Jerusalem to Babylon for a relocation and re-education. They were probably teenagers and were the best and brightest of the Jewish people of God. They were taken into the culture to be re-programed to think “Babylonian” by being placed in the prestigious “University of Babylon” and given a rich diet from the king of Babylon’s personal chef. (Daniel 1:1-6)
These young men had had good training in their home and church community. As young men, they would have memorized the Pentateuch (Books of Moses) by the time they were thirteen. They would have read the prophets and would have begun an apprenticeship for a trade at that time. Their character was shaped by the Law of God in the ten commandments and through Moses’ writings. They also had dietary laws that were given to keep them healthy and set them apart from the nations so that they might be a testimony to the nations. As they were taken into captivity and placed in a foreign culture, this godly character helped them to walk with integrity and reap God’s blessing and favor.
We see Daniel resolving not to defile himself with the food that was not allowed by God’s law. He appealed to the one in authority over him to have a different diet. Notice that he didn’t demand his rights! (Daniel 1:6-14) Daniel listened and was understanding and agreeable and respectful to the one in authority. These wise ways came from godly character through the Word of God. The result was God’s blessing and favor. (Psalm 5:11-12) They looked better with the diet of vegetables and water than the rest who had the rich food and wine! (Daniel 1:15-16)
Honoring God brought these men lots of additional blessings. God gave them wisdom and understanding in all kinds of literature and learning in this wicked university. They excelled above all others and no equals were found! They were “10 times better” than all the others in the kingdom. (Daniel 1:18-20)
It pays to live a godly life and to purpose to honor God and not defile yourself with things God forbids! Godly character brings wisdom to live wisely in a wicked culture. It gives us guidance so we might enjoy God’s favor and blessing. We see that those who enjoyed the temporary pleasures of the rich food and wine did not profit as did the obedient Jews who ate according to God’s instructions by faith in His Word. Take time today and allow God to show you how to live separated lives in this culture. What things should you purpose not to defile yourselves with? What should you be “eating”? Remember the blessings of godly character and living by faith!