You hear about it every day: Someone’s come up with a new diet, and—we’re serious this time, no, really we mean it—it’s a miracle! Eat no bread or starches, only meat. Only drink prune juice. Only eat things that are naturally grown.
If you’ve read the Scripture reading from above, my segue was painfully obvious. King Nebuchadnezzar finally captured Jerusalem as the final jewel in his crown, and he set about making changes. He took the best of the best, the crème de la crème, and claimed them for his own court. No one who wasn’t handsome, bright, educated, and quick-thinking need apply. Of course, these young men didn’t apply for this job. They were forced into it at the point of a sword.
But even in these darkest of days, the Lord is working behind the scenes to accomplish his purposes. His choice servants, at least the ones who prominently enter this story, are four young godly men: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. You already see his sovereignty at work a few verses into the book: He gave his servants favor in the eyes of the chief official in charge of them. In other words, the Lord—working in perfect sync with human will—made the official more positively disposed towards them.
Now we come to the diet part. What exactly was Daniel and co.’s problem with the food and wine? Does God expect all of us to become vegetarians? Of course not. Our Savior had no problem eating meat while on earth. But the problem mainly was the food itself. I promise you, the restaurants in Babylon didn’t have a kosher section. What exactly was the problem with the wine isn’t as clear, but apparently Daniel and co. had an issue with that as well.
So he made a proposal to their guard: Give us vegetables and water for ten days, and let the other boys eat the rich food and wine from the king’s table, and we’ll see which group is better.
But now we have a need for clarity. The diet I’m talking about is not a nutritional plan. It’s a spiritual one. Eating vegetables and drinking water wasn't Daniel’s formula for success.
What was Daniel’s formula for success? What was his priority? Doing things God’s way. There’s nothing wrong with eating meat, and the Bible itself doesn’t command teetotalism. And as N.T. believers we don’t have any food taboos. No, the first and only priority on their mind was pleasing and obeying God. And that should be ours as well.
That also means sacrifices for the sake of God’s kingdom. It means that your Father might call upon you to give up something that as a believer you normally wouldn’t be forbidden. Let’s take money for example. There’s nothing wrong with making money in and of itself. Just because a believer’s wealthy doesn’t mean he's disobedient. But our Savior, when he called people to follow him, commanded some of them to give up everything they owned, while others he didn’t, like Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
But the point here is that he has the right to do so. Please get it into your head: You don’t belong to yourself. You belong to your Lord, twice over—once because he made you, and twice because he bought you. And part of that package deal is that he reserves the right to ask that you give up whatever needs to be sacrificed for the Kingdom.
Something else we need to notice here: Our Lord doesn’t call upon us to make sacrifices because he hates to see us prosperous or happy or well-fed. He calls for them because they fit into his plan to glorify his Name among the nations. In Daniel and co.’s case, this was to put them to the head of the pack. The Lord used their sacrifice to advance his Kingdom purposes, and of course they made out pretty well out of the deal.
If the Lord asks you to give something up, trust him and do it. He’ll take that small thing you give up, and in the end you’ll be glad you did. Remember, no one in the history of mankind has ever done things God’s way who ended up regretting it.
What are you waiting for? Try it out.
Father whatever you ask of me, the answer’s “Yes.” What else could it be?
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