Prophecies of Daniel 1, Part 2
We began our journey through Daniel 1 with our last (and first) installment here. While the first chapter of Daniel might not prove to be so filled with historical intrigue and infamy as was Daniel 11, there is much to learn and benefit from in this chapter. We noted the situation and circumstances that brought Daniel from Jerusalem to Babylon after God gave Jehoiakim into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. We’ve also learned that Daniel was among those young men chosen by Ashpenaz, the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s officials, to potentially become part of the king’s group of wise men and counselors.
It was this decision by King Nebuchadnezzar that put Daniel (and his immediate friends), in the cross hairs so to speak of having to make his first extremely important decision concerning his own faith and practice. Let’s pick it up with the biblical text with Daniel 1:5-7.
“The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.”
Responding to King Nebuchadnezzar’s commands, Ashpenaz took what he considered to be the choicest young men recently taken captive from Jerusalem and put them in a program toward the king’s personal service. This included a number of things designed to change the character of these young men.
- change in diet
- change in name
- change in culture (including education and language)
These changes were meant to remove and replace the culture and beliefs of the young Jewish men taken from Jerusalem, with Babylonian culture and language in order to prepare them for service to King Nebuchadnezzar. This created the first loggerhead for Daniel because of his devout worship of the God of Israel.
As noted in the text, the program was to last three years after which they would become eligible to enter into service to the king. But the problem for Daniel began immediately with the food.
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.”
Daniel considered Nebuchadnezzar’s food unclean, irrespective of how good the food may have appeared to those who didn’t normally get to eat it. Let’s take a brief look at this situation.
The Bible says that the king’s food was “choice.” Certainly, no average person would turn it down. Daniel was not impressed though and did not want to “defile” himself with the king’s food or wine. It was extremely important to Daniel to remain faithful to the God of Israel.
Not long ago, I wrote an article about Daniel and the king’s food that he rejected. We can argue that Daniel was just being difficult or stubborn, but in reality, there was a tremendously good reason why God wanted His people to avoid the type of foods that King Nebuchadnezzar ate normally.
“Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king’,” (Daniel 1:9-10).
The very important thing to take from the above verses is that Daniel wanted to obey God and honor the Mosaic Law. It was because of this that “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials…” Clearly though, the commander of the officials was afraid for his own life if he gave Daniel what he was requesting.
Even though it took a bit to convince the commander of the officials to provide different food and drink for Daniel and his friends, it did happen (initially on a trial basis), and the benefits to Daniel was nearly immediate.
“But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see’,” (Daniel 1:11-13).
It is fascinating to me that Daniel seemed to think that within a matter of a mere 10 days, the positive results of eating vegetables and drinking water would become obvious. Scientifically, there is a wonderful reason why this would have been the case.
In short, eating raw vegetables (as opposed to cooked vegetables) allows the natural enzymes to become part of the eating and digesting process. Today, with so many processed, preserved and cooked foods, enzymes are essentially heated out of everything. However, we need raw enzymes to correctly digest foods we eat. Without these necessary enzymes, we can experience anything from mild indigestion to severe problems, including obesity, diabetes, and worse.
Enzymes are built into foods by God Himself so that as we eat them uncooked, we eat the enzymes that help our bodies digest those foods. Yes, people who are healthy can and do have enzymes that become part of the digestion process but years of eating overly processed foods and high-stress lifestyles has taken its toll. We need to add enzymes to our diets.
Medical and nutrition experts tell us that 75% of what we eat daily should be raw fruits and vegetables. If you cannot do that, then you should add supplemental enzymes to your meals. You can read the above-linked article for more information on that.
What Daniel may not have realized was that by doing things God’s way, he was actually eating a very healthy diet that would allow his food to be digested more fully. This in turn meant that Daniel would be gaining as much protein and nutrition from the food he ate as possible. He would eat less and be more full. Conversely, those who ate the king’s food would not experience those benefit because that food was probably overcooked, heavy in fats and salts.
Nowhere in the Mosaic Law referencing dietary principles did God take the time to explain all of this to the Israelites. He simply said, “do not eat.” Foods declared by God to be unclean were to be avoided.
Daniel, in desiring to obey God fully, chose to do what he could to avoid eating the king’s unclean food. Instead, because of his desire to obey God, God blessed Daniel. By eating vegetables and drinking water, the natural benefits did what they were supposed to do. This in turn created a noticeable difference in the health of Daniel and his friends when compared to the other young men who had no qualms in eating the king’s “choice” food and wine.
In essence, Daniel passed the first test here. He faced a challenge and chose to obey God. God blessed him in numerous ways because of it.
We’ll be back with more from Daniel 1 next time.