Wednesday, October 19 Daniel 1:3-21

In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord let King Jehoiakim of Judah fall into his power, as well as some of the vessels of the house of God. These he brought to the land of Shinar, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his gods.


Then the king commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah.


The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.


But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. Now God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master. The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe.” So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days.


At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams.


At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court.


In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus.  Daniel 1:3-21


This is a long reading with a simple message. In terms of the book of Daniel, this opening scene sets Daniel up as a special envoy of God, kind of a holy secret agent, a spy in the Babylonian king’s court.  Written long after the Babylonian exile, probably during the earliest days of the conquest of Israel by Alexander the Great, the book of Daniel functions much like Esther.  God will find a way when there seems to be no way.


But for us today, there is another message that has to do with our willingness to stand out, to be distinctive, to march to the tune of a different drummer.  From our earliest days, we are expected, even pressured, to conform, to fit in, to find our place.  But, like Daniel, there is another voice that speaks into our ears.  Perhaps it is a whisper, almost but not quite drowned out by the rushing shouts of popular culture, but still it speaks:


“I am the Lord your God.  I have created and redeemed you.  I love you and I have a purpose for your life.  Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you might know and do what is right and acceptable and good for all.  Be strong and courageous.  You are mine and I will never leave you.”


Let us pray:  In every age, O Lord, you raise up champions of the faith, people who encourage and inspire and serve with whole-hearted devotion to your cause. Number us among those whom you have set apart, that we might live to your glory and the welfare of your people.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Wednesday, October 19 Daniel 1:3-21”

  1. Mary G Says:

    I just forwarded this to my 12 year old daughter. I wonder if she’ll understand the lesson about peer pressure? If not now, maybe later.

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