Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Daniel 1:5 (NKJV)
And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.
Daniel and his three friends have been enrolled in the Babylon MBA program where they are treated to the best the world could offer in modern education, luxurious room and board, and job waiting for them in the highest positions of government. Keep in mind, as great as this sounds, it is in reality an indoctrination program designed to smooth the future captive population of Hebrews into Babylonian society. Daniel and his friends had already been taken away from home's familiar surroundings and given new names. They would now learn to speak a new language and learn about everything the pagan world had to offer. They even had the privilege of eating from the finest foods from the King's kitchen. How could it get any better than that?
Daniel did not complain about his new pagan name; he figured they could call him anything they wanted to. It would be difficult to prevent that. Besides, Daniel knew who he was and would never forget that. He also did not complain about the potential of collaborating with the enemy. He knew that God had delivered his people into this captivity and he might as well make the best of it.
But this food that was set before him was a problem. Perhaps it had been offered to idols. Certainly it was not prepared in the kosher way. He was between a Rock and a hard place. It would bad for him if he went against the King's orders and the food had to be wonderfully tempting. After all, so far away from home, who would know? That is the hard place Daniel was in. But God would know; God is the Rock pressing him against the hard place. Would he please God or man? It would be a decision Daniel would have to make quickly and without wavering. He "purposed in his heart" that he would not eat it without first doing what he could to be obedient to God's law.
Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Notice how Daniel showed good judgment and commonsense in handling this situation. He did not demand in a hard, obnoxious way. There is no civil disobedience here.
Daniel 1:10 (NKJV)
And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king."
Daniel is turned down, but for good reason. How could Daniel expect this chief to risk his own neck just so Daniel could obey some silly commandment of his God?
Now how many of us would conclude that there is no way out of the situation. After all, he had tried to be obedient and he was polite, giving no offense either. He is off the hook right? Daniel is not looking for an excuse, he wants to obey God. He takes another approach.
Daniel 1:11-13 (NKJV)
So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants."
Daniel goes to the steward, who had less to risk than the chief, and proposes a short trial period, one easy to say yes to. The only thing left is for Daniel to trust God to improve their appearance. It is out of Daniel's hands now. The decision is up to the steward and the results are up to God.
This book is full of stories of what God will do for those who put their faith an trust in Him. Not only did Daniel's plan work, rather than suffering punishment or experiencing any loss, they actually excelled and advanced over all the other hostages.
How would I react to a situation where I am thrust into a foreign world, indoctrinated in the worlds ways, tempted with the world's pleasures? Come to think about it, that is exactly where I am. I pray that I can be like Daniel.
James 3:17 (NKJV)
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
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