One of my favorite biblical characters is Daniel. This man not only loved the LORD but he also knew how to serve his God in the royal courts of a pagan nation. In fact, Daniel served both in the Babylonian and in the Medo-Persian kingdoms for approximately 60 years. Daniel and his 3 friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) demonstrate that God’s servants can serve Him faithfully in a strange and alien land.
Even though these 4 Hebrews were exiled from the Promised Land of Canaan at a very young age (probably around 15 years of age), their lives are testimony to the great truth that their God had not abandoned them. The LORD was with them in Babylon, and through their faithfulness, God was able to work in such a way that even pagan kings acknowledged that Yahweh is the only true and living God (Daniel 2:47; 3:28,29; 4:2,3,34-37).
The key to these God-wrought testimonies is Dan. 1:8: “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”. King Nebuchadnezzar tried to assimilate the Hebrews into becoming like Babylonians. He changed their names to reflect the gods of Babylon; he taught them the literature of his culture and; he tried to change their diet. There were certain things that these Jewish exiles couldn’t control but Daniel understood that he needed to maintain his Jewish identity and faithfulness to Yahweh by exercising godly conviction in certain areas. One of these areas was food. He chose not to defile himself by eating non-kosher food.
One is impressed with the courage and the tact with which he exercised this conviction. He empathized with the royal official’s position and proposed to this man that he merely test the kosher diet on the 4 Hebrews for 10 days (Daniel 1:9-15). This godly conviction combined with his wisdom and sensitivity explained why Daniel thrived in a pagan environment and was used by the LORD mightily for the kingdom of God.
We need Daniels more than ever today. People who love the LORD, who possess godly conviction, and who are able to live it out in a world which is hostile to godly values. The LORD not only desires us to possess biblical convictions but also the wisdom and humility to be able to live it out in the real world. Too many of us live in a Christian “bubble” without much desire or ability to live out our faith among those who think and believe differently than us. Oh LORD, fill us with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we may live lives worthy of you and which make an impact for you in this world. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John.