Do you go along with the crowd and do what others tell you to do? Do you have set behavioral standards in life? Would you do what Daniel did? ◊
Daniel was only a teenager (most scholars place him between 15 to 18 years of age) when he was one of the Hebrew people taken captive in 605 BC.
He and his homeland of Jerusalem, capital city of the Southern Kingdom (referred to as Judah), was overrun by King Nebuchadnezzar and the fierce Babylonian empire. The city was attacked in 3 siege waves over 20 years with Solomon’s beautiful Temple (built 400 years earlier) and the entire city being destroyed in 586 BC.
The first attack in 605 BC involved the taking of several thousand (estimated to be upwards of 7,000 to 10,000) of wealthy Hebrew elites in captivity directly to Babylon (an estimated route of 700 to 900 miles).
Daniel is one of the young nobles, handsome and educated, taken directly into the Babylonian palace for training and service to the king.
Historical and Biblical Context
For historical and Biblical context, recall that 117 years earlier, the Hebrews’ Northern Kingdom (referred to as Israel) with its capital city of Samaria was sacked in 722 BC by the ruthless Assyrians. Now in 605 BC the Babylonians were the world power, after freshly defeating the nations of Assyria and Egypt.
And 25 years before Jerusalem’s captivity, the prophet Jeremiah was a young 20-year-old Hebrew called to be a spokesperson for God. His prophecy was a stern and harsh warning of the coming destruction of a flagrantly disobedient Southern Kingdom, their devastating exile and then national restoration after 70 years of captivity. Despite a short period of reform under good King Josiah, the people did not repent and change their evil ways in disregarding God and worshiping pagan idols.
Their nation’s fate was played out exactly as prophesied.
Additionally, the prophet Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel, roughly the same age when he was exiled and then later called to be a prophet of God around the age of 30. His prophetic writings while in exile are about the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, and ultimately its enemies, and future rebuilding and restoration as a nation under God’s mercy and grace.
Daniel – Chapter 1
The Book of Daniel begins with King Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Jerusalem and his removal of some articles directly from the temple of God:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. (Daniel 1:1-2)
Then some of the best and brightest of Jerusalem are hand-picked to undergo a Babylonian boot camp training to serve the king’s palace:
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. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service…. (Daniel 1:3-7)
But Daniel and his friends (commonly known as Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego) resolve to stand on faith and obedience and not consume the diet of the palace.
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. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your 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.” – Daniel 1:8-10)
Daniel makes a creative offer to his captors.
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 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.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. (Daniel 1:11-16)
Daniel and his friends’ obedience is rewarded by God:
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. (Daniel 1:17-20)
Daniel’s Impressive Obedience
Daniel shows courage here but also impressive loyalty and obedience to God and His principles and precepts. Particularly impressive for a young teenager. Many Hebrews most likely buckled under pressure from their capturers – as do most people under the heavy, and even light hand of appointed leaders and authorities.
Certainly it’s more convenient to go along to get along. Particularly when without guiding principles and standards. And then again, whose standards?
It’s easy to justify compromise when one does not stand up for or even understand the ways and Word of God.
Daniel’s obedient faith and discipline, even in the midst of an abrupt upheaval of life and world, was rewarded with gifts by God, spiritual/natural gifts that would serve him and God well. His life of commitment and devotion was transformed to a life of purpose and impact.
The rest of Daniel’s life, as we will see, is a testament to God’s hand on those who, with devotion, follow Him no matter what.
Would you do what Daniel did?
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. – Daniel 1:17
Categories: Abundant Living, Books of the Bible, Calling, Devotion, Discipleship, End Times, Evidence, Evil, Faith, Fathering, Forgiveness, Israel, Jesus, Manhood, Marketplace, Old Testament, Prayer, Prophecy, Purpose
The March 3, 2023 and this March 10th article are so very valuable to me. My grandson in law is Jewish. David’s parents were born in Tel Aviv ( Heritage of the tribe of Benjamin)
David age 36 and Amy my granddaughter sge 37 and two children live in Los Altos CA.
Before Covid, David and his parents and David’s sisters’ family celebrated their first Christmas with Amy’s family, my wife and me, too.
Hopefully I can stir up a conversation with David and Amy. Amy is a Christian and was brought up in Sunday School and Awana’s.
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Thanks, Ken. Yes, a study of Daniel should be of interest to anyone of Jewish descent. And Gentiles too!