Daniel 1 (NIV)
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But 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. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] 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.”
11 Daniel 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. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To 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.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In 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.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
Companies often spend millions of dollars to influence the public. Along with money, a lot of thought, energy, and strategy go into designing ad campaigns and public relations events that will capture people’s interest.
As believers, we’re involved in a much more important endeavor – that of capturing hearts with gospel truth through godly influence. If we are to have an impact on others, we need to present a consistent witness before them.
Having a strong conviction about God’s Word is the foundation of a godly influence; we must believe the Bible is true and practical in our daily lives. Daniel clearly did. In Daniel 1, Daniel and his friends refused the king’s food and wine. Why? Because Scripture told them not to eat anything offered to idols – a common practice of the time. We find this in the book of Exodus:
Exodus 34:15 (NIV)
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Daniel put not only himself and his friends but also the commander of the officials in danger of death over the issue of food! But he took such action because he knew that God wanted him to obey Scripture, no matter the cost.
Following the Bible’s instructions is not usually a matter of life or death. But doing so can nevertheless place us in uncomfortable situations. If we are to have a godly influence, we must be committed to our convictions. A believer’s life is often the only example of scriptural principles other people will see.
So, like Daniel, we must make up our mind to follow God, regardless of the circumstances. And like the people in Daniel’s sphere of influence, those you touch will see the work done for the Lord and glorify Him!
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.