About a month ago, we were in the Book of Daniel with the youth group. Daniel is an amazing book to read. Of course, the pinnacle of Daniel’s life is in Daniel 6, when Daniel shows his faith in the lion’s den. However, only thinking of this moment in Daniel’s life does each of us a disservice. Daniel’s life is filled with extraordinary bravery and trust in God from the moment that Daniel arrives in Babylon.
If you have never read Daniel, the book begins with a group of young men, stolen from their homes in Judah and brought to the exotic and wealthy land of Babylon. In Daniel 1, the young Jewish men are brought to King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in Mesopotamia where they are told to eat of the king’s own food. Led by Daniel, they decline the offer laid before them because of their desire to stay true to their Jewish diets written in the Torah. They only eat fruits and vegetables and God honors their faithfulness by miraculously making them develop even beyond the men eating the king’s protein rich diet.
It seems to be such a simple stand. Yet in how many ways could they have justified eating the surely tempting food of the king? They could have thought, “Is not eating the food ungrateful?” “God won’t care about such a small thing.” “Is this really the hill we want to die on?”
Daniel’s no-nonsense attitude towards sin is something that God honors directly in this story and that is built upon throughout all of Daniel. In Daniel 2, Daniel is faithful to interpret the dream of a crazed, blood thirsty king. In Daniel 4, Daniel has to interpret another of his dreams. In Daniel 5, Daniel faithfully preaches a doomed prophecy from God to another king before the Persians conquer Babylon. In Daniel 6, an older and well respected Daniel refuses to stop his daily prayers to God and is thrown into a lion’s den because of it.
When we only read of Daniel’s feat in the Lion’s Den, we can become discouraged. How can we ever be courageous enough to stand up for God like Daniel does in that story? When we read through Daniel’s life, we see a man who does not compromise in his obedience to God. If we are not faithful to God in the little things, how can we ever expect to be faithful to God in the bigger things? Beyond ourselves, we should all want to be used by God. If we are not willing to stay true to God by not eating of the king’s food, why would God give us the task of entering the lion’s den? May we be Christians that lead lives without comprising the things of God for the things of this world.