The history of Daniel takes place in the context of the mighty
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who came to Jerusalem and conquered
it. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon with all the spoils of
war, including the vessels of the house of God. But, Nebuchadnezzar
brought back more; he also took certain of the children of Israel,
and of the king's seed. He brought back to Babylon none other
than the royal seed of David, of which Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,
and Azariah were a part. The wicked king took these young people
in order to make them his own.
The youth were quickly drawn into the fierce struggle between
the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Daniel and
his friends were only boys who could not have been much older
than 14 years old. These boys bore the brunt of the attack, an
attack that was not by force, but by cunning. The plan was to
win them for Babylon in a gentle, easy progress. Eventually, the
boys would be completely transformed by a procedure too subtle
even to be recognized. The devil takes an interest in young people.
He knew that whoever succeeds in stealing the hearts of the youth,
will have a great victory.
The devil is working as hard today. He does not confront the members
of the covenant community with force, but often with cunning.
He seeks to seduce you and me into walking with the world. God
is our covenant friend. We are called to walk with God and to
keep separate from all evil. Young people, are you on your guard?
Adults, are you walking according to the antithesis?
REFUSING THE KING'S MEAT
I. THE HORRIBLE PLOT
II. THE ANTITHETICAL WALK
III. THE DIVINE BLESSING
THE HORRIBLE PLOT
Nebuchadnezzar placed Ashpenaz in charge of the youth. We do not
know what position Ashpenaz held in the country, but we do know
that he was the chief eunuch appointed to care for the youth.
This was a very important part of his responsibilities in this
well-organized country. This man carried out his duties faithfully
because he loved the country and king for whom he labored. Every
single particular detail was worked out so that everything could
be accomplished according to the will of the king.
Nebuchadnezzar had taken the elite of Judah back to Babylon, the
princes and sons of the kings. Nebuchadnezzar was intent on bending
the wills of these young men so that they would serve his purpose,
and therefore he did not treat these captives as prisoners. Instead
he treated them as though they were his princes, with the intent
of them becoming Babylonians in body and spirit. Eventually the
Jewish nation would be gone. Everything in the lives of the boys
was to be transformed into that which was Chaldean. Every memory
of their previous life had to be erased. These young men had to
become totally committed to the worldly ways of the Chaldeans.
In the excellent education these young men were given, everything
was laid out in minute detail. These young men were subjected
to 3 years of godless, man-centered education. These men were
taken from their covenant homes and instructed by the government.
There would be no more instruction about God, no more worship
of God. That all must come to an end. Ashpenaz had everything
included: what they were to study, what they were to believe,
and how they were to eat. No detail was passed by.
The boys were even given new names. There was something of the
name of God to be heard in the names of the four boys. Daniel's
name meant "God is my judge." That name could not be
tolerated! Instead he receives the name Belteshazzar. Hanaiah's
name meant "Jehovah is gracious." Now it was changed
to Shadrach. Mishael's name meant "Who is what God is."
Now it became Meshach. Azariah meant "Jehovah is my Helper"
and became Abednego. Each of the new names had something to do
with the heathen idol worship of Babylon. There was to be no mention
of God's name in Babylon. The leader of the youth did not miss
a trick in trying to root out forever the memory of Jehovah from
the minds of the young men. He was confident that by taking them
from their parents, changing their names, and subjecting them
to a man-centered education, he would make them fit servants of
Nebuchadnezzar, rather than of God.
What a horrible plot! The devil was behind the world powers, trying
to destroy the witness of God. The line of David was being turned
away from Jehovah toward the gods of the Chaldeans. The covenant
seed was being mixed with the world. The sin of Balaam was again
rearing its ugly head.
Babylon is a picture of the anti-Christian world. This world hates
Christ and opposes Christ. The world does everything in its power
to stop the cause of Christ's kingdom and covenant. The world
is not neutral toward God! The world hates God! We live in that
world. Our sons and daughters are members of the royal family
and household. They are raised in the church as members of God's
kingdom and covenant. Many attempts are made to secularize our
youth, to make them breathe the spirit of the world. The devil
seeks to turn them away from Jehovah toward the lusts and pleasures
of the world. The devil labors hard and long among covenant young
people trying to make them conform to the world.
How are you living? Are you keeping yourself unspotted from the
world? Or are you defiling yourself? Sometimes this devilish influence
goes unnoticed even within our own homes and families. The devil
subtly gets us to lower our guard. One thing after another is
brought, by which we gradually fall away from holiness into sin.
Christians are to be confessors of Christ's name and bearers of
His banner. We live in the last times. How are we living in the
last times? Are we keeping our lives unspotted from the world?
Are we seeking the things of the world and living no differently
from the wicked? We are called to live by faith and not be fearful.
This does not mean that we lower our guard. The day may very well
come when our children are taken from us and subjected to a man-centered
education. We will not be able to teach them any longer. The names
of our children will be changed from covenant children of God
to children of the devil. What are we doing to prepare them for
this terrible plot?
THE ANTITHETICAL WALK
We read in verse 8: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that
he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat,
nor with the wine which he drank." Daniel was a hero of faith. We do not read his name in the record of
but we do
read of those who stopped the mouths of lions. Immediately Daniel
comes to mind. What a man he was! What an example he set in his
strong faith and confidence in God's promises. Here, much earlier
in his life, when he was only a young boy, Daniel showed a similar
heroism. In the dining room of the king's palace, Daniel was on
guard. His mouth was watering, his stomach famished. The king's
food was placed before the young men in all its lavishness. But
Daniel was on guard. How could he be faithful in a great matter
if he was not faithful in the little things first? Through this
event we see Daniel's courage to put his godliness into practice.
What was at stake if Daniel would eat the meat of the king? If
we judge the matter lightly we will quickly conclude that Daniel
was being childish. What could be wrong with eating such fine
food? What would be more holy about being vegetarians instead?
It would seem that Daniel was being a bit like the Pharisees.
He was making up precept upon precept and viewing himself more
holy than the others because he was willing to sacrifice.
We must remember that Nebuchadnezzar's intention was to make the
Jewish youths forget about all the customs and regulations of
their fathers. The food was an important aspect of the new way
of life. For Nebuchadnezzar, the new menu was no minor detail.
Daniel agreed with him on this point. Nebuchadnezzar viewed this
as an important part of their religion. The Babylonians believed
that the whole of life is permeated by religion. The foods eaten
at the meals were first offered to the idol gods. Every meal took
on the character of a holy meal, a kind of idolatrous sacrament.
Whether you were eating or drinking, you were doing it all to
the glory of Babylon's idols. The meal was but one way in which
the whole of the life of an individual was lived for the gods.
All the strength, wisdom, and understanding that the young men
displayed would be attributed to the idol gods who had given those
gifts through the food the young men ate. Had Daniel and his friends
eaten this meat, they would have been recognizing the idol gods
to be their gods and not Jehovah! They would have been showing
that the whole of their life and strength was from the gods to
whom their food was offered. They would have been worshiping idols
rather than Jehovah!
The Babylonians were more serious about their gods than we often
are about Jehovah! Their lives were permeated by their idols.
Is your life permeated by Jehovah God? How many of us acknowledge
God as a host at our table? Do you really eat and drink and work
to the glory of God? Do you devote your entire lives into His
service? Do you pray for grace to use the strength derived from
you meal for God's honor?
Daniel and his friends were not being Pharisees! They had to resist
this idol worship from the outset. If they joined in Babylon's
meals, they would begin the process of cutting themselves off
from Jehovah. Daniel knew that he had to maintain the antithesis.
Daniel proceeded in a very wise manner. He did not create a big
scene. He did not act stubborn. Daniel was acting in harmony with
his calling, a calling given to every child of God, to live an
antithetical walk. The antithesis is the battle of light over
against darkness. The antithesis calls the child of God to keep
himself unspotted from the world, and to live as a pilgrim and
stranger of God.
Daniel gave evidence of true life when he refused to eat the king's
meat. Daniel began with a friendly inquiry, and yet a firm demand.
When the chief eunuch turned down his request on the grounds that
this favor could cost him his life, Daniel did not laugh or joke
about that. Daniel put himself in that position and let Ashpenaz
know that he appreciated his difficulty. He then went on to make
the same request of a steward, asking for a 10 day trial period.
This sensible approach was the means by which Daniel and his friends
maintained their walk with God over against the plot of the enemy.
Are you standing firmly on the side of Christ over against the
plots of the devil in your life? Are you refusing to partake of
the king's meat? That is the question each of us must face this
evening and every day as covenant friends of God. Our covenant
friendship with God is exclusive! By faith we are united to Christ
and called to live out of His life. There is no room for an alliance
with the devil. God demands everything of us; that the whole of
our lives be permeated with obedience to Him and living in His
service. Are you living according to that antithetical walk, saying
yes to God and no to the ways of the devil? Or are you eating
the king's meat in your life? That is not my question to you.
That is God's question to you and to me!
You may well say, "Of course I'm not partaking of the king's
meat. I would never do such a thing. I keep myself unspotted from
the world. I live as a pilgrim and stranger!" Beloved, are
you really? I know my own personal weaknesses. I look at my own
life and ask myself this question: "Am I refusing the king's
meat?" To my dismay I see that too often I eat that defiled
The king's meat comes in many forms. It comes in the form of the
godless entertainment of this life. Where were you last night?
Where were you the night before? Were you celebrating the meat
of the king? The king's meat is found in the movies, drama, and
godless music of our society. Parents, have you asked your young
people lately whether they are going to movies? Have you made
sure that they are not watching movies in the home on your very
own television sets? Do you know what kind of music your young
people are listening to in their cars? Have you gotten into their
cars lately and checked to see where the presets of their radios
are? Are you partaking of the king's meat? Are you wearing the
clothes of the king -- clothes that seduce and can not be distinguished
from the clothing of the world?
Young people where are your priorities? Where is your devotion?
Is your devotion to the things of this world or to God? Are you
living your life in devotion to Jehovah or to the world? God requires
of us that we date and marry in the Lord. When we date and entertain
those who are of the world, we are eating the king's meat. God
commands us to marry in the Lord. We may not enter into a mixed
marriage with an unbeliever! This is serious business! It is serious
business because the friends of God must walk with their God!
God has called us to covenant friendship with Him. God has commanded
us to be His people and assured us that He will be our God. He
demands of us that we live separate from the world, and show both
privately and publicly our devotion to Him.
The world is offering the king's meat to us and our young people
as rapidly as we would receive it. The world says, "Partake
of my pleasures and treasures. Take a little entertainment here
and there. It won't hurt you! It is not so bad! Try a little bit
and see if you like it!"
You know from experience that as soon as you try a little bit,
you try some more and then some more until you are on a steady
diet of the king's meat. The result, inevitably, is that we forget
about our calling to walk as friends of God. We forget about Jehovah.
We grow away from our parents, from godly friends, from the church,
and we live in and with the world. We take the name Christian,
but we have no desire to live as Christ. We live as the world
and exchange our blessed covenant fellowship for a life that leads
THE DIVINE BLESSING
Daniel and his friends stood firm in their loyalty to Jehovah
God. The result was: "And at the end of ten days, their countenances
appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which
did eat the portion of the king's meat" (verse 15). God rewarded
the obedience of His children. God caused these young men to stand
out in every area. They stood out in all matters as to their intellect
and physical condition. They excelled in wisdom and understanding.
Physically, they were more healthy than the others.
Nebuchadnezzar could not take the credit. The gods of Babylon
could not take credit. God was glorified when Daniel and his friends
surpassed the others.
Nebuchadnezzar desired to have Jews around him who opposed the
very religion in which they were born. God frustrated the plan
of the tyrant and made His own name even more glorious. Man shall
not live by bread alone, but in the way of obedience. A life with
God is far more refreshing and rewarding than all the meat of
the world. The way of comfort and satisfaction is the way of keeping
ourselves pure from the pollution of sin.
God will keep His covenant. God's covenant can not fail. The reason
for Daniel's faithfulness was the power of God in His heart and
life. The power of Christ's Spirit will keep His own faithful.
None can be lost. God will keep His children faithful in the way
of their godly confession.
We raise our children and young people in the way of obedience.
We discipline our children and young people in order to lead them
in the way of godliness. We seek to lead our children by our own
godly example. We do all of this in the confidence that God's
blessing will be upon us. God blessed the godly instruction of
the parents of these young people. We pray that God will bless
our children with obedience. It is difficult to refuse the king's
meat. Do not doubt for a moment that it was not difficult for
Daniel and his friends. The tragic aspect of this story is that
there were many more from Judah who ate the king's meat! Those
who refused were in the minority.
The future of the church was and is at stake! God is faithful
toward His own! He will preserve His witness. He will give strength
to us and our children to withstand the plots of the devil and
to stand faithful in the time of trial. He will bless us richly
as we take the mockery for refusing the king's meat.
God preserves His covenant for His glory and honor. When we eat
the king's meat we give honor to the devil. God is a jealous God.
God demands honor and obedience from His children. He gives us
the power of His Spirit so that we can live obediently out of
Christ. We can face the future in the confidence that God will
strengthen us in Christ, enabling us to refuse the king's meat.
The consequences may be severe. But, remember. The consequences
of obedience will never be as great as the consequences of eating
the meat of the king. As covenant children of God, we must live
in His fellowship. May we cry out to Christ in the confidence
that He will keep us faithful as we depend upon Him for strength
in the midst of temptation.