I started teaching through the book of Daniel last night at our local congregation and I can see already that it is not only going to be educational but also enjoyable. When you "sink yourself" into an entire book of Scripture, studying the book verse by verse and sometimes word by word you really come away with a much better knowledge of what the text means.
Daniel was most likely a young man, not even above 20 years old, and was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. During the beginning of his "sojourn" in Babylon he was given a new name (Belteshazzar) and was told to learn the literature of Babylon. He was also given the meat of the King of Babylon to eat and the wine of the King of Babylon to drink. It is at this point that Daniel drew the line. The Scripture states (Daniel 1:8) that he had purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portions from the Kings table and thus made a request to the Kings chief official that he might not defile himself but rather be given food and drink suitable to his way of life.
Picture yourself being in a strange land, governed by a very powerful ruler, and being chosen to serve in this rulers palace. Now picture yourself being so dedicated to Yahweh your God that you refuse to eat and drink what this King had given to you. That is dedication.
You know though, Daniel did not just march in and point his finger at the chief official, he made a request of him (Daniel 1:8). His humility in the situation helped gain him respect with the chief official, and Daniel was able to eat the diet he chose for 3 years time (Daniel 1:5, 8-18).
Why did Daniel refuse the Kings meat? It is possible that the meat was unclean and forbidden for a Judahite like Daniel. The Torah gives us a menu of the animals that are permissible and that are forbidden (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). But what about the wine? The Torah does not forbid the drinking of wine, only drunkeness is condemned. Could it be that the wine had been used in worship (as a drink offering of sorts) to the many gods of the Babylonians?
However we understand Daniel's refusal we need to learn that even in our circumstances where we may think we do not have the option of remaining true to Yahweh's law we just may have to step out on faith and refuse to defile our self. Daniel did, and he was given knowledge 10 times greater than all the wise men in Babylon (Daniel 1:20). This meant that he was given a "top seat" in the Babylonian government.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.