Christians must live today, in many ways more than ever before, with a firm resolve to be uncompromising in holiness and in all faith. We’ll look into today’s passage to explore how we have more in common with the world of Daniel than we recognize and why we ought to follow his resolve. The truth is, we do not sometimes even see what defiles or compromises our faith.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,Daniel 1:8-9 ESV
The book of Daniel picks up where 2 Kings leaves off, with the fall of the kingdom of Judah and their exile into the kingdom of Babylon. It was the result of the disobedience of the people of God and it came to pass just as it had been prophesied. Daniel is one of the few young men of the royal family and the nobility of Judah chosen to become the ambassadors of Babylon to help assimilate Israel into a Babylon culture and identity. They would learn the language and the ways of the Chaldeans, through which they would replace their distinct identity as Israel with an identity that favors the ways of Babylon.
Exiled in Babylon & Exiled in This World
As Christians, we have become children of God, adopted as sons and daughters of God. We were once enemies of God but for all who believe in Jesus Christ to be the son of God, the full judgement of God was put on Jesus Christ when he was crucified and died on the cross. And with His resurrection, we have been born again as a new creation, no longer of this world. But while we are still in the world, we are exiles because this world is not our home.
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.John 17:14-19
Replacing Identity & The Pressure to Assimilate
It is quite clear by the Bible’s definition of children of God that the Christian’s identity and life is at complete odds with the world. Just as it was in Babylon, the world with all its influence desires to undermine the realities of God and conform everyone to the thoughts and ways of this world. Through culture, philosophy, law, and art, the values of society are defined and the boundaries are set up to put God’s Word as inferior, incompatible and irrelevant.
There has always been an attack on the faith but nothing as so subtle as the compromised Christian. We live in a world where Christians have no backbone to their faith and many who claim to be Christians are living with disregard to God’s Word and many times living outright against the Gospel. And this not just nominal Christians who may not understand or may not have heard the full gospel. There are many whose faith has become irrelevant to life. Faith seemingly powerless in the face of our problems.
Daniel’s Resolve & Our Response
I wonder how many other Israelites were with Daniel in this three year internship in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The Book of Daniel only talks about his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But the situation is clear, the people of Israel have lost their home, exiled and enslaved into Babylon, into a life that must have felt dark, bleak and hopeless. For anyone else in Daniel’s position, they might thought it to be privilege to have been chosen and in fear of losing this opportunity to live comfortably in the palace, they might have just given in to their new reality and not stir a fuss with their “old” way of life.
But Daniel and his friends knew their God. They knew God’s laws and commands. They would not eat the king’s food or with the wine that he drank so that they could continue to discipline themselves in the ways of God. They kept away from anything that would compromise their faith and identity in any way. The king’s food and wine may have easily been from the offerings to idols but even if they were not, their conviction would keep them alert to the temptation of loosening their hearts to the things and ways of Babylon.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20
Without Daniel’s resolve, it is hard to say whether God would have given them compassion, favor, learning and understanding to excel in the palace. In our fear of losing favor or opportunity in this world, we may be trading off the favor and blessings of God instead.
Which kingdom reigns over our lives? Which one defines our identity? Which one influences us more? The kingdom of this world or the kingdom of God? And accordingly, our lives and actions will show which king that we truly serve.
Let us live with resolve as Daniel did and have faith that is not swayed by the winds and waves of this age. No matter how dire and bleak our situation may feel, let us cling to the Truth. No matter what, whether we are under trial, hardship, persecution, or stricken by sickness or poverty, our promise and hope remains secure in everlasting glory in the presence and power of God Almighty.
Do not be conformed to this world,[a but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2 (ESV)
For more background, watch The Bible Project’s <Read Scripture> video on the book of Daniel, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. The story of Daniel motivates faithfulness despite exile in Babylon. His visions offer hope that God will bring all nations under His rule.