By Terry Kirby
Senior Pastor, Alpha Baptist Church, Morristown
Focal Passage: Daniel 1:3-5, 8-13, 17-19
Think about it! Will anyone remember that you lived in 1,000 years? Will anybody remember that you lived in 100 years? Sad for some, only a fraction of one percent of the people who have ever lived will survive in the memories of future generations. In our world, halls of fame have been established to help remember the best of the best. How do people make it into the hall of fame? They make it because they are the best in their field.
The greatest and most long lasting “hall of fame” is the Word of God. Why? The Word of God is the living and eternal record of the lives of the best of the best of those who obeyed God’s Word and lived with an unshakable conviction of the same. Daniel, along with his three friends, are members of God’s Hall of Fame.
Daniel, a teenager from Jerusalem, along with three of his friends, found themselves in a foreign land taken from their home. Many more people from Daniel’s hometown were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon back to his kingdom to be retrained so they could benefit their new king. God had used this king to judge Judah for their sins of disobedience. These captives from Judah were living “booty” from a war that decimated the small land of Israel.
It would be easy to feel sorry for Daniel and the others because they were in captivity. Their sentence was not confinement in a barren cell living on bread and water. These handpicked prisoners were treated like royalty. They were to be trained in the culture and language of Babylon and eat from the king’s table.
The events of this story are found in chapter one of Daniel. The king ordered the chief of his court officials to pick the best and brightest of those from Israel. The king wanted to reprogram them with the culture of his kingdom. This process would take three years. This plan seemed simple enough. There was only one problem with this plan; there was a young man of conviction being asked to forsake the practice of his faith. Daniel did not mind learning the culture and language of Babylon, but he could not eat the food or drink the wine. Prior to their consumption, these items would have been used in idol worship. In verses eight through 13 we see Daniel’s boldness driven by his conviction to stay pure to God. Please note this key point in this passage. The text states that only after Daniel asked permission not to defile himself, did God grant him favor and compassion from the chief official.
Daniel proposed a 10-day trial. Daniel and his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) would only eat vegetables and drink water. At the end of that time, the four would be compared to the others eating from the king’s table. The results were amazing. These four looked better than the others and were given permission to continue this diet for the entire three years. The results are recorded in verses 17-19. God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. In addition, God gave Daniel understanding of visions and dreams. King Nebuchadnez-zar picked these four to serve in his court.
Please note that of all the young men selected for this special treatment and training who did not live with the same conviction as Daniel and his three friends are forgotten failures. Their names are not mentioned in God’s Hall of Fame, the Word of God. When people live with conviction their names are recorded in the heart of God for all time.