This morning I was reading the first chapter of the book of Daniel. As a young man Daniel was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jerusalem had fallen to this King when Daniel was a young man, probably in his teens. He and other Jewish young men, along with young men from Babylon were taken into Nebuchadnezzar’s palace to be trained as servants to the King. This was a 3 year training period.
During that time the king wanted all the young men to be on a special diet of rich food and wine. Daniel asked for permission to be excluded from such a diet because some of the food that they were to eat would make him unclean according to Jewish law. At first the man who was responsible for the well-being of the trainees was resistant. However, he was persuaded to allow Daniel and three others a 10 day trial and if they continued to look well-fed and healthy he would allow them to continue with the foods that Daniel considered clean. Daniel’s diet worked and so for the rest of the training time they were allowed to eat the way they requested.
I know, I know; nice story but…what’s that got to do with everyday living. Daniel and his friends had plenty to complain about. They were young men taken from their home town of Jerusalem. They were prisoners, captives in a hostile nation. However, they were singled out to be trained as servants for the King, a high position for a slave.
They could have possibly written letters home asking for a rescue team to be sent in or maybe even plotted to overthrow their guards and at the very least they could have walked around complaining about their circumstances and the hopelessness of their future. (Sound familiar)
How many people around you are complaining? Talking about how awful everything is – “this is the worst it’s ever been. Woe is me! What are we to do? Christians are being singled out for their beliefs and no one is speaking up for them.” You hear it all the time.
Is there a comparison on how rough it was for Daniel and how it is today? If there is then we should be looking at what Daniel did. Daniel continued to serve His God! He didn’t compromise the teachings that he had received in Jerusalem.
“So the guard agreed to test Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days. 15 After ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard continued to take away the king’s special food and wine and to give only vegetables to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
17 God gave these four young men the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the three years of training, Ashpenaz brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked to them and found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So these four young men became the king’s servants. 20 Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed great wisdom and understanding. The king found they were ten times better than all the magicians and wise men in his kingdom. 21 So Daniel served the king until the first year that Cyrus was king.” Daniel 1:14-21 ERV
How long are we “imprisoned” in some way before we start to complain? How long do we go before we start to compromise what we know is God’s will and truth? These young men were in training, in captivity for 3 years and they showed great wisdom and understanding and the King came to rely on them. They were godly men living a godly example in a very ungodly nation.
I tried to figure out from an historical perspective how long Daniel actually served the King of Babylon. Based on the first and last verse of this chapter, I figure it was about 65 years. That’s correct – and in all that time Daniel kept his integrity, served God and didn’t complain! Now that’s an example to follow.
Complaining only changes the heart of the person doing it; it embitters them. Standing for godliness and righteousness keeps us usable and influences kings. Let God be magnified in what you do today!