The young Jewish captives in Babylon were to be nourished with the king's meat and wine for three years.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah of the tribe of Judah were among the young captives.
The four kids were given Babylonian names, Daniel as Belteshazzar, Hananiah as Shadrach, Mishael as Meshach and Azariah as Abed-nego.
Daniel purposed in his heart not to partake any of the king's meat and wine so not to defile himself.
The prince of the eunuchs favored Daniel.
The prince of the eunuchs begged Daniel to be nourished with the king's meat and wine so that Daniel and his friends would not look worse than the others.
Melzar was the name of the prince of the eunuchs.
Daniel challenged Melzar to give them vegetables and water instead of the king's meat and wine for a ten-day trial. After 10 days, Melzar found them physically healthier than the others. The prince then decided to exclude the king's meat and wine from their diet.
Daniel and his friends were not only proven healthier than the rest but God also gave them knowledge, skills and wisdom. Daniel had the ability to understand visions and dreams.
When it was time for them to be presented to Nebuchadnezzar, the king was so pleased with them. He found them 10 times better than the other wise men in his kingdom. From then on, they became his advisers on every thing.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were forced to eat the king's meat and wine, the best diet in Babylon, to make sure they would look fit to serve in the king's palace. The verses show how Daniel must be the leader of the four being that he was the one who made the decision not to partake the king's meat and wine. The king's food was probably pork or some other food that was forbidden in Leviticus 11. It must not have been prepared according to the Jewish laws and was maybe sacrificed to idols. Daniel must have thought through his convictions well before faced with the temptation to defile himself with the unclean food in Babylon.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a goal to convert his young Jewish captives into Babylonians. Changing their diet was one way to introduce them to their new lifestyles. Changing their names was a way to get their loyalty. The names Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Asariah carried a loyalty to the One and Only Almighty God. The Hebrew words -el, and -yah refer to God. The four kids carried the name of God in their names. Daniel means, "God is my judge." It was replaced by a Babylonian name "Belshazzar", which means "he whom Bel (a Babylonian god) favors." Evidently, they want Daniel to carry the name of their god instead of the One and Only God of the Jews. They did the same to Daniel's friends. Hananiah, which means "God is gracious" was replaced by Shadrach. Mishael, which means "Who is like God?" was replaced by Meshach. Azariah, which means "Yahweh has helped" was replaced by Abednego, which means "servant of the god, Nebo." Undoubtedly, these four kids were taught the laws of the Lord by their parents. In this chapter, we see how Daniel showed his loyalty to God by refusing to defile himself with the Babylonian food. In chapter 3, we will see how his three friends display their loyalty to God.
Without compromising, Daniel found a way to live by God's standards in a culture that did not honor God. Wisely choosing to negotiate rather than rebel, he suggested an experimental ten-day diet of vegetables and water, instead of the king's meat and wine.
Daniel and his friend maintained their allegiance to God while doing their work to learn about their new nation with excellence. While the nation's wise men were authoritative in communicating their words to the king as if it sounded directly from their gods, Daniel and his friends had extraordinary knowledge and insight given to them by God. It was God who appointed Daniel to serve as a counselor to the kings of Babylon. The nation would have been much worse had not God put Daniel in it.
It is quite a challenge to be counter cultural. In a culture where there is abundance of food, it is very easy to succumb into gluttony and placing our appetite for food on the throne. Fasting and prayer is, for me, one way to show that I am not a slave of food... that I don't only live to eat. That I don't only live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. I have seen many people who are obsessed with food... be it junk food or organic food. Obsession with anything but God is sin! (While it is important to choose healthy food, I cannot put my trust in organic food. I can only put my trust in the Lord who has the power to make food clean. That's why I pray before meals... for God to sanctify what I eat.)
How sad it is that many professing Christians would not make a stand to pledge allegiance to God! They may say they are Christians but their lifestyles are no different than those of the world. A very good example of this is the recent experience I have with one of my friends. She said that she had decided to join a so-called church which accepts everything. Apparently, there is no "black and white" truth in that church. Every possible god of false religions are accepted there. It shocked and has agonized me when she made this comment because there is only one Way, one Truth and one Life and that is Jesus Christ. Christianity is all about Jesus Christ! Nobody has the right to claim to be a Christian if they do not pledge allegiance to Him! And only those who has His Spirit can say Jesus Christ is LORD!
I must not allow this culture to remake me into a person who blasphemes the name of my God. This culture subtly drill and indoctrinate that blaspheming the holy name of the Lord is okay. For instance, saying "OMG!" Another way of the world to cause the children of God to be defiled is sensuality. Fashion has a big role to play in this area. What the world of fashion calls beautiful is often sensually inspired. I am glad I have my husband to provide me "check and balances" as to what to and not to wear.
Culture needs not be God's enemy. But if it violates God's laws, a true Christian knows where to stand. A true Christian discerns what is of God and what is not. His thoughts and convictions are not clouded. Our government needs people like Daniel and his friends. People with unquestionable integrity, excellent skills, godly wisdom and steadfast allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to pray for more modern Daniels in our nation.