Read vs. 8-21
Looking at these scriptures we see that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah drew a hard line when it came to switching up their eating routine. They wanted nothing to do with the king’s meats and wine. They were dealt with the name change. They dealt with extending their education, but they drew the line with their diet.
There are several reasons for this. They are Jewish and the food would not have been kosher. God was noticeably clear when he created the laws on what Jews could and could not eat. He was strict with this, there are no laws on name changes. A name isn’t going to interfere with your salvation. Education and understanding other cultures are not going to interfere with your salvation.
Eating the foods of other cultures just might cause you to miss out on heaven. There must be a reason God put it as a law. After all, he didn’t just put that as a law so he could have more pages in the bible.
Here is the thing. Eating from the kings table represents embracing a pagan culture. It shows they are embracing a lifestyle that does not line up with a lifestyle of one chosen by God. God told them food is what will separate them from other cultures.
Nebuchadnezzar was not a nice man. He did not invite these men to eat the meals his personal chef prepared, because he thought they were cool. He is not being hospitable by sharing his meals with Jews. He has a plan. His plan was to get these Jewish men born into Jewish royalty, to completely turn away from their roots.
One of the ways we connect with people is over the dinner table. You go out to eat dinner with your friends to bond. You have family over for Sunday dinner to bond, to connect with them. The king is aware that if he can get these men to eat and socialize with another Chaldean, they will begin to bond with them. They will develop relationships, and those relationships will influence their decisions.
He wants them to feel obligated for all the opportunities the king has offered to them. He wants them to hunger and thirst both physically and emotionally for what a pagan lifestyle can give them. He wants them to lust for a pagan lifestyle. And that is how a meal can separate you from God, it’s the emotional connections you experience when sharing a meal. Emotional connections can cause you to make compromises in your own faith.
God is clear with his law that we are to be careful of who we are connecting with, we need to be careful not to adopt their sin filled lifestyle. We are under the new covenant, so we don’t rely of specific types of food as our reminder, but non the less, we need to be diligent in protecting our lifestyles. We need to make sure there is a marked difference in how we live versus how the world lives.
Lifestyle was one reason for Daniel to deny eating the king’s food but it’s not the only reason. The other reasons are the food was offered up to pagan gods and portions of the wine was poured over a pagan altar and it was not kosher.
Verse 8 says that Daniel “resolved”, he made his mind up, he was determined, not to defile himself with this food. This would not have been an easy decision. The king was cruel, and he could have made his life exceedingly difficult for refusing his food. But Daniel was determined to not bend on his beliefs.
He asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. The king wanted them to defile themselves, he didn’t want them to be recognizable as a separate nation. But as it says in vs. 9 God caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. This was displayed in the form of a conversation. The chief official listened to what Daniel had to say.
When you have God’s supernatural favor upon you anything is possible. People will let you move on and give you things you don’t deserve on a normal basis. I also want to point out that Daniel showed honor to the man in charge of him. He didn’t necessarily agree with his beliefs or policies, but he still honored him. He asked for permission. We could avoid a lot of hardships if we would just show honor to those who are positioned above us.
Daniel made it easy for God to grant favor to him based on the way he showed honor and integrity. Don’t expect your boss to show you favor if you are constantly muttering under your breath or doing whatever you want despite work policies. It’s just not going to happen. You must give honor to get favor from God.
We have Daniel saying the king’s food is going to defile him. That would be an insult for anybody to hear. It was so harsh to hear that Ashpenaz told Daniel that the king assigned this food and he is afraid to relay that message. He was also afraid their stature would diminish, that the four men would become weak and frail. He was afraid the king would take one look at them and see them as scrawny compared to the other men. It was the chief’s job to make sure the men grew and became strong, not scrawny, so he would be in trouble for not performing his job.
I want to point out that Daniel was not ashamed of his beliefs. He was not ashamed to admit that he would be defiled if he ate the unkosher, idol sacrificed food of the king. Most people would be ashamed, and they would make up some weird excuse as to why they couldn’t eat. Most people wouldn’t want to be made fun on, possibly being called crazy, so they keep their beliefs to themselves.
Daniel was in a tough situation and he decided to speak truth. He didn’t cover up the truth, he didn’t try to beat around the bush. He said this is my belief and therefore I am not going to eat this. He didn’t apologize, he didn’t feel guilty for not joining in. He simply stated the truth and resolved to abide by it. He set the standard that they would eat a vegan diet and only drink water. He wanted to make sure a clear line was drawn between him and the gentiles. There would be no mistaking the two and because of this God showed him Favor.
In verse 10 the chief official gave into his fear of the king, decreeing the king would have his head if he gave into Daniel’s request. He shows favor by listening, but that is where it ended. He thought more of his position and reputation with the king than he cared about Daniel’s diet.
Most people after getting a “no” answer would have given up. They would have given in and said, “well, that’s it, I gave it my best shot”. “I tried; it didn’t work”, give me the meat, I have no other choice.
Daniel then turns to the guard as a last resort. He pleads, “please test your servants for ten days: give us nothing but vegetables and water”. He goes on to agree that in in 10 days the guard could compare their appearance to the other men. If they looked worse than the other men, then he could punish them accordingly.
The guard agreed. He tested them for ten days and at the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the other young men who were eating the rich foods of the king. So, the guard permanently gave them vegetables and water for their meals. No meat, no wine.
Most of us when told no to a request, would stomp away, moan and complain about our boss and how unfair they are. We run their name in the dirt to anyone who would listen. But, instead of rebelling Daniel offered an alternative. He solved a problem in a way that both sides could win. This was a win-win situation. And God honored the men for their faith and the stand they took on the word.
God honored them with knowledge and understanding of “all” kinds of literature and learning. They were given a hunger for knowledge and I believe God gave them a supernatural ability to retain everything they studied.
It also says in verse 17 “And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds”. There are many types of dreams people have. Daniel could decipher between a “God dream” and a “pizza” dream. He could decipher between a prophetic dream and a dream that was influenced by the enemy.
All of this is important when understanding your own specific dreams. Daniel could “understand” visions and dreams and he had access to studying all kinds of literature and learning. I think the two are completely related. To begin to understand dreams and how to interpret them you first need knowledge of what dreams and visions are. God gives us vast amounts of literature written by godly men and women on this very topic. So, we do what Daniel did and begin to study the topics of dreams and visions while asking God to give you clarity and understanding of what you are studying.
At the end of the three years it was time for the four men to be introduced to the king. It was time for them to begin their service to the king. As the king talked to the men, he quickly realized they weren’t your average Joe, they stood out far above all the other Jewish men. It didn’t matter what questions the king tossed at them they answered intelligently. Not only did they stand out above all the other Jewish men, they also put the king’s magicians and enchanters to shame. They were ten times better than the kings best.