Daniel 1:8-16; Daniel 3; Daniel 6
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy 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."
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." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 NIV
Daniel 3 NIV
Daniel 6 NIV
How many times have you heard it said, "Kids today are bound to get into more trouble than we did. There's so much more out there to tempt them." Or "Christian or not, I have to have a social life. And, yes, there are temptations, some of which I give in to. But God knows what the world is like today. He understands. Besides, if I come off like some Jesus freak, I'll never have any friends...." Or, "I have to obey the law of the land. That's a sound Christian principle."
Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, could have said all the same things. After all, they were living in a pagan land, surrounded by a pagan lifestyle. When Nebuchadnezzar ordered that these four young men, along with a number of others, be fed only on the special food and wine, they refused (nicely, and with wisdom and discernment, of course!) on the grounds that they would be tainted by that food and wine. I'm sure that they would much rather have eaten all that good meat and drunk that sweet wine, but they chose to follow what God told them to do, so they ate vegetables and drank water instead. and God blessed them for it. When Daniel refused to obey the injunction of not praying to God, he got thrown in a lion's den! But, as we all know, God closed the mouths of the lions throughout the night and protected him. And when Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (by that time, being referred to as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Bible) refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's ninety foot tall golden idol, he threw them in the fiery furnace - a furnace so hot that it burned up the men who threw them in. but our three men were not even singed! While they were in the furnace, the King could see a fourth man standing in there with them... either the pre-incarnate Christ or an angel whom God had sent to protect them, although the pagan polytheist, Nebuchadnezzar, was content to think it was a lesser heavenly being sent by the all-powerful Hebrew God.
All four of these young men stood firm in what they knew was right. They didn't waver, even when faced with the possibility of violent and painful death. So should we stand by what we know is right. Rarely will we be faced with anything so violent if we do. Instead, we might have to face ridicule, rejection, or loneliness. But will God defend you and me any less than He did these men? No. Rather, he will stand by us in the fiery furnace of ridicule and rejection. And bring us out of it without so much as a singe. He will close the mouths of those who ridicule and reject us and protect us from harm. And, in the end, "He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday." Psalm 37:6 NIV
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