Prophecies of Daniel 1, Part 3
In our last installment in this series dealing with Daniel 1, we actually went over verses 9 – 13, but I want to take a bit more time in this article to zero in on them and break them down a bit more. There are some extremely valuable lessons for us that we need to note.
Because Daniel longed to please God by obeying His statutes and ordinances with respect to eating food considered by God to be clean and ignoring that which was unclean, God blessed Daniel and his friends. We see this in Daniel 1:9-10.
“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you’.”
Note that it was God who “caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.” Certainly, God is under no obligation to do this for His children, but He no doubt does it when it coordinates perfectly with His will.
As we’ll see in a later chapter of Daniel (Daniel 3), Daniel’s friends were forced into a fiery furnace due to the white-hot anger of Nebuchadnezzar. In that case, Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was certainly not inclined toward the three young men, nor did he show them any favoritism born of compassion. Yet, we’ll learn exactly how in that case, trusting God also resulted in His will being done, albeit in a way from which most of us would naturally shrink.
In this particular case with Daniel, because God had plans to ultimately lift Daniel up to a much higher position in the Kingdom of Babylon, it was God’s choice to show favoritism and compassion through the commander with respect to the food Daniel was to eat.
Even then, the official mentioned in verses nine and ten was still concerned for his own life. To disregard the king’s command meant certain death and the official understood that.
Yet, the compassion created within him by God Himself, compelled him to want to find a way to provide what Daniel was asking for by giving him the food he requested. However, it would not ultimately be through this particular official by which Daniel would be given the food he requested, but another, as noted in Daniel 1:11-13.
“Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see’.”
Because Daniel was so intent on obeying God’s instructions where food was concerned, he felt compelled to continue to ask for special circumstances in order to avoid eating King Nebuchadnezzar’s food, even though it was considered “choice” food. After trying to make his case with the official from verses nine and ten, Daniel tried again with the guard “whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.”
This particular guard would be directly in charge of the food that was to be given to the men so it was natural to go to him and explain the situation to convince him to give Daniel’s suggestion at least a shot. Notice in the verses just quoted that Daniel suggests a test. The test would only last ten days. This would allow the food to work (if it was going to) one way or another and then the guard could make up his mind as to the efficacy of the food.
Daniel’s suggestion was that for ten days, he and his friends only be given water and raw vegetables to drink and eat. As we’ve already discussed in the previous chapter, eating raw vegetables provides raw enzymes that help us digest our food and pull the nutrition from it. Foods that are cooked have no enzymes because the enzymes are destroyed in the cooking process.
Daniel likely did not understand this at all, but he did want to please God through obedience from the heart. This meant that he would need to avoid the foods offered by the king.
It was really a suggestion that made it impossible for the guard to say no to. In a matter of days, he would know whether or not the raw vegetables and water were good for Daniel and his friends or bad. If it appeared as though Daniel and his friends were suffering negatively from the vegetables and water, the guard would simply make the decision to stop feeding the men raw vegetables and water and put them on the king’s diet.
We know from science that this particular diet would have been very beneficial for Daniel and his friends for all the reasons stated in the previous chapter. Imagine being Daniel though and not really knowing for certain, but merely hoping and praying that God would bless their desire to obey Him.
I remember years ago reading these passages and not understanding why eating raw vegetables and drinking water would actually be beneficial. At the time I thought that God must have interceded in the process and blessed the men solely because they wanted to obey God by avoiding the king’s unclean food.
Now of course, with the proof from science itself, I understand what Daniel did not understand. The raw vegetables were very beneficial to his health and nutrition simply because of the availability of enzymes from those raw vegetables.
Daniel truly exercised faith since he had no ability to understand the body’s need for enzymes that come from raw vegetables. He couldn’t have understood it but God did and even though God did not take the time to explain why the Jewish people needed to avoid certain foods and eat others, Daniel simply believed God and in doing so, was counted as righteous the same way that Noah and the others listed in the “Hall of Faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 believed God and were also counted righteous.
In essence, believing God is the very start of our salvation process. Because of our belief in God, we are counted as righteous. Our faith in God creates within us the desire to obey Him. He empowers us and walks us through situations because of our faith and the resultant desire to please Him.
Daniel believed that it was very important to obey God in all things. In this first chapter of the book of Daniel, we see how quickly Daniel and his friends were faced with a challenge to their faith. They overcame because they believed God. Because they believed God, He found a way to help them over the hump so that they could actually obey and live in a way that pleased Him. This was in spite of the fact that they had been captured and carried off to a foreign land, to be dominated by a foreign king and made to adapt to a foreign culture.
Though Daniel and his friends learned the culture and language of the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, when it came time to obeying God’s ordinances with respect to the food they ate, they refused to eat the king’s food and drink because they were more intent on obedience to God.
God honored them because He had greater things to do through them. This first test of their faith paved the way for God to open the future up to Daniel. Because he was faithful to God, God used him in mighty ways not only for the Jewish people then, but for the Jewish people during the end time, the last seven years of this age prior to the return of Jesus.
God does not reward people for their faith solely because of their faith. Ultimately, He does reward us with salvation and eternal life, but He is under no obligation to have us seen favorably by others, especially, non-Christians.
In Daniel’s case (as well as his friends), God showed favor with Daniel much the same way He showed favor on Joseph. However, let’s not forget how God directed Joseph’s life, first by being nearly killed and then sold into slavery by brothers who hated him. Yet, God brought Joseph to Potiphar’s house where Potiphar also showed Joseph favor, putting him in charge of his whole household essentially. But God showed favor for a reason and the reason has to do with His plans as they related to His unfolding plan of redemption.
However, Satan used Potiphar’s wife to accuse Joseph of trying to rape her, though he did no such thing. Off went Joseph to jail and spent several years there before God reminded the butler (whom Pharaoh had released from prison, but had the baker executed, cf. Genesis 40), that Joseph was able to interpret dreams. Joseph, while standing before Pharaoh, gave all glory to God as the One who provides interpretation for dreams.
Eventually, through Pharaoh, God lifted Joseph up from slavery and prison to be the second highest official in all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. Genesis 39:21a tells us why.
“…the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor…”
What we can take away from this is that it is always better to obey God even if there are no immediate “positive” results of doing so. In actuality, the “positive” results of obeying God are always seen in greater knowledge, discernment, and strengthening of our faith.
Think of Daniel’s friends approaching the fiery furnace. They didn’t waver in their conviction to obey God. Their faith was strengthened by God Himself as their fate and upcoming death seemed sure. Yet, because God’s plan was something they didn’t necessarily count on (though they admitted it was an option), they knew that even if they did die, they would go to be in His presence and would know that they did so because they chose to believe God.