Read Daniel 1:8-21
8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."
11Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12"Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." 14So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. 20In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. (NIV)
The story of Daniel begins with his being taken captive along with some other Israelites. These 4 find themselves together and they want to live as close to God as possible in all they do. The first test is what to eat. And notice in vs 9 that the writer notes that God is already at work in helping the 4. He points out that “God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel.” Too often, we forget that God is working behind the scenes to help us in our journey – our life. God is doing things so that when we act in faith, we will have greater success.
This is what Daniel does, he trusts that God will honor his faith. He knows other Jews are eating the food provided, but he and the three others want to adhere to the Jewish laws. So they trust God will honor their act and ask to be given a different diet than the others.
The official is hesitant at first, but relents when Daniel offers a test. Now this is not a test to see if God is real or not. It is not testing God even. It is simply trusting that God will act. I think we at times want God to act, but we have doubts. Our prayers become wishes instead of prayers of faith. It is a fine line between wishing and believing God will act.
But notice what happens as the men trust in God’s ways. We see in verse 17 that God sees their faith, their actions and helps them to grow in all kinds of learning so that they can be used for God’s purposes later.
When it says that Daniel remained until the first year of King Cyrus, that is the year that King Cyrus issued an edict that they Jews could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city.
As we read this, the question that arises is have we stood our ground in our faith when others caved in and went with the consensus? This is one of the more difficult aspects of our witness, being consistent and not giving in to better our lives. Notice that Daniel and the other 3 were not in your face with their beliefs, but were respectful and courteous, almost inviting the non-believer into their space. This is important in how we show our differences to the world. It must be done in a way that invites and not offends.
Blessings and Peace