Key Verse: “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8 NKJV)
Importance of Message: We should spend less time wondering when future events will happen and more time learning how we should live now.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:4)
The common language of Babylon was Aramaic.
While the language of scholarship included the ancient and complicated Babylonian language.
The academic program would have included mathematics, astronomy, history, science, and magic.
These young men demonstrated not only aptitude but also discipline.
This character trait, combined with integrity, served them well in their new culture.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:7)
Nebuchadezzar changed the names of Daniel and his friends because he wanted to make them Babylonian – in their own eyes and in the eyes of the Babylonian people.
New names would help them to be assimilated into the culture.
Daniel means “God is my judge.”
In Hebrew, his new name, Belteshazzar, means “Bel, protect his life!” (Bel, also called Marduk, was the chief Babylonian god.)
Hananiah means “The Lord shows grace”; his new name, Shadrach, means “under the command of Aku” (the moon god).
Mischach, probably means “who is like God?”; his new name “who is like Aku?”
Azariah means “the Lord helps”; his new name. Abednego, means “servant of Nego / Nebo” (or Nabu, the god of learning and writing).
This was how the king attempted to change the religious loyalty of these young men from Judah’s God to Babylon’s god.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)
Daniel resolved not to eat this food, either because it was forbidden by Jewish law, such as pork (see Leviticus 1:1), or because accepting the king’s food and drink was the first step toward depending on his gifts and favors.
Although Daniel was in a culture that did not honor God, he still obeyed God’s laws.
Key Verse Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)
Daniel “was determined” to be devoted to principle and to be committed to a course of action.
When Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself, he was being true to a lifelong determination to do what was right and not to give in to the pressures around him.
We too, are often assaulted by pressures to compromise our standards and live more like the world around us.
Merely wanting or preferring God’s will and way is not enough to stand against the onslaught to temptation.
Like Daniel we must resolve to obey God.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:8)
It is easier to resist temptation if you have though through your convictions before the temptation arises.
Daniel and his friends made their decision to be faithful to the laws of God before they were faced with the kings delicacies, so they did not hesitate to stick with their convictions.
We will get into trouble if we have not previously decided where to draw the line.
Before such situations arise, decide on your commitments and what you will do. Then when temptation comes, you will be ready to say no.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:9)
God moved with an unseen hand to change the heart of this Babylonian official.
The strong moral conviction of these four young men made an impact.
God promises to be with his people in times of trial and temptation (Psalms 106:46; Isaiah 43:2-5; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
His active intervention often comes just when we take a stand for him.
Stand for God and trust Him to protect you in ways you may not be able to see.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:10)
Anything short of complete obedience meant execution for the officials who served Nebuchadnezzar.
Even in such a small matter as this, the official feared for his life.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:12)
The Babylonians were trying to change their thinking by giving them a Babylonian education, their loyalty by changing their names, and their lifestyle by changing their diet.
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 to rebel, Daniel suggested an experimental 10-day diet of vegetables and water instead of royal foods and wine the king offered. (The Daniel Fast)
Without compromising, Daniel quickly thought of a practical, creative solution that saved his life and the lives of his companions.
As God’s people, we may adjust to our culture as long as we do not compromise God’s laws.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:17)
Daniel and his friends learned all they could about their new culture so they could do their work with excellence.
But while they learned, they maintained steadfast allegiance to God, and God gave them skill and wisdom.
Culture need not be God’s enemy.
If it does not violate His commands, it can aid in accomplishing purpose.
We who follow God are free to be competent leaders in our culture, but we are required to pledge our allegiance to God first.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:20)
Nebuchadnezzar put Daniel and his friends on his staff of advisers. This staff included many “magicians and enchanters.”
These were astrologers who claimed to be able to tell the future through occult practices. They were masters at communicating their message so that it sounded authoritative – as though it came directly from their gods.
In addition to knowledge, Daniel and his three friends had wisdom and understanding, given to them by God.
Thus, the king was far more pleased with them than with his magicians and enchanters.
As we serve others, we must not merely pretend to have God’s wisdom. Our wisdom will be genuine when we are rightly related to God.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:20)
How did the captives survive in a foreign culture?
They learned about the culture, achieved excellence in their work, served the people, prayed for God’s help, and maintained their integrity.
We may feel like foreigners whenever we experience change.
Alien cultures come in many forms: a new job, a new school, a new neighborhood.
We can use the same principles to help us adapt to our new surroundings without abandoning God.
Reflection: (Daniel 1:21)
Daniel was one of the first captives taken to Babylon, and he lived to see the first exiles return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C.
Throughout this time Daniel honored God, and God honored him.
While serving as an adviser to the kings of Babylon, Daniel was God’s spokesman to the Babylonian Empire.
Babylon was a wicked nation, but it would have been much worse without Daniel’s influence.