Faithlife Sermons

Daniel 1 - Faithfulness in a Foreign Land

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Today we are starting a new sermon series from the Book of Daniel. I’ve been praying about which book of the Bible to go through next and we led to this book in the Old Testament. The book was written by its namesake Daniel. He was a Israelite who at a young age was part of the exile to Babylon. Jeremiah spoke of this exile in Jeremiah 27 as he warned Israel about the godlessness happening in Israel. Other details about the king of Judah were also mentioned in 2 Kings 23. I’m giving these passages to you so that you can take the time to read the context of what happened to result in the capture and exile of God’s people. Those passages are Jeremiah 27 and 2 Kings 23.
The book of Daniel is really 2 parts. The first part, up through chapter 6, details actual events that took place between 4 servants of God and the kings of Babylon. Starting in chapter 7 through the end, we have prophecies that were revealed to Daniel through dreams. These are mostly end times prophetic events and many tie in with what is outlined in the book of Revelation. Let’s start this morning with an introduction of sorts from Daniel on how things got started for him and his friends:
Daniel 1:1–2 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.
In Deuteronomy 28, God told the nation of Israel that if they disobeyed, then a potential consequence was invasion. Jeremiah specifically warned Jehoiakim that Nebuchadnezzar would be the force to invade as result of the godlessness in Judah. As a result, Jerusalem was conquered and several artifacts were taken from the temple. In addition to those artifacts, Nebuchadnezzar also took captives back with him to Babylon.
Daniel 1:3–7 NIV
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.
Notice here that Nebuchadnezzar looked on the external and qualified these men based on man’s standards and what was appealing. Little did he know that a few of these men also possessed internal qualifications as servants of God.
Daniel 1:8 NIV
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.
Daniel had already made the decision before hand to not defile himself. In order to resist any temptation that we might face, we must made a resolution with ourselves in how we will respond. By deciding ahead of time, we will be less likely to make excuses on why something that is wrong might be ok…just this time…and then another and another…Catch what the next verse says...
Daniel 1:9 NIV
9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel,
This is the result of faith in God. God goes ahead of us in the conversation and provides a way out. Daniel was not very likely to convince this official on his own without God intervening. Daniel expresses his faith and stands his ground and God blesses it. This is the first of many instances where the faith of God’s people results in God’s glory being revealed.
Daniel 1:10–14 NIV
10 but 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.” 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.
This official has nothing to lose, but 10 days, so he agrees. What things has God called us to do that we could just test for ten days? Read our Bible morning in night for 10 days - compare our attitude and thought process to before. Eat and drink like Daniel for 10 days - see how we feel physically. Walk for 30 min a day for 10 days - how do we feel. Pray morning noon and night for 10 days…It is hard to change habits, but if we just commit to 10 days and then see what difference it makes...
Daniel 1:15–16 NIV
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.
This is like when Mama goes on a diet, the whole family goes on a diet. I can’t imagine the others appreciated losing the choice food and wine, but it was for their benefit.
Daniel 1:17 NIV
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.
Here is the first of the miracles of this book. The gifting from God in knowledge and understanding came after faithfulness was displayed. There is conflict that allows the faithfulness of the person to come forward and as a result a greater level of trust and responsibility is conferred on the 4 men. These are God fearing, God serving men living in a pagan land. They did not compromise what God had set before them and as we’ll see in a bit as well as in the weeks ahead, God shows up, goes before them and equips them to handle anything that comes their way. Look what happens next:
Daniel 1:18–19 NIV
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.
After a time of preparation, it is time for them to serve. Nebuchadnezzar sees greatness in each of them, but he does not fully know why yet. The king chose them out of the bunch to serve him directly and there is no resistance (documented here anyway) that these 4 put up in entering the kings service.
Daniel 1:20–21 NIV
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.
After a while, the king gained further appreciation for them. They appeared 10 times better than the rest. This is the summary of how Daniel and his three friends came to be in the service of the Babylonian king. Daniel wrote this introduction for us to understand a few things before we got to read about the more amazing things that are to come in this book:

God is sovereign

Daniel 1:2 NIV
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.

Daniel’s faithfulness made way for God’s favor.

Daniel 1:8–9 NIV
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,

God alone equips and promotes

Daniel 1:17 NIV
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.

God honors continued faithfulness

Daniel 1:20 NIV
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.
Over the next several weeks, we will see God at work in the life of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. May we resolve to have faith like these. A faith that trusts God in any and all circumstances. A faith that is honoring to God and His calling on our lives. May He bless you as you walk with Him in Faith.
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