Daniel 1 & 2: God's people - undefiled and wise
This follows on from yesterday's post, looking at how God went from an apparent loser to ultimate victor in the first two chapters of Daniel. How did he do it? Well, firstly he used his people.
Let’s look at God’s people first, and we’ll notice two things about them. Firstly, they are undefiled. And secondly they are wise.
In verse 3 some young Israelites were brought into the Babylonian court. What were they there for? To assimilate into the new culture, learn the language and customs. They were expected to go from being Israelites and God’s people to becoming completely loyal to their new overlords. Basically, to becoming Babylonians with new names and identities.
(Interestingly their new names all had something to do with the Babylonian gods.)
Now in verse 4 let’s notice that Daniel and his friends did not resist this. They kicked up no stink being captured, being brought in. They even submitted to the new names. They were ok with learning about the Babylonian culture – and this could have included magic and divination. On the outside, it looked like they were well on their way to getting new Babylonian identities and leaving their loyalty to God behind.
But in verse 8 we see that they are certainly not completely Babylonian. They took a stand for God. And oddly enough, what they stood against was the food!
For whatever reason, they believed it defiled them. It may have been kosher rules, may have been the possibility that the food was offered to the Babylonian gods beforehand. Commentators seem to be unsure as to the exact reason.
However, regardless of Daniel's reasoning, the fact that he stood up against it shows he and his friends still knew who they were – God’s people. Even though he appeared defeated, they still knew what he expected of them – to be pure and undefiled.
Daniel may have decided not to eat the food, but he had a few hoops to jump. And here is where we see the wisdom of God’s people.
Instead of just declaring his stand as a protest, Daniel decided to go through the right channels and ask permission to eat his veggies. But he hit a snag: the official wasn’t going to allow it. Daniel was unfazed. He found someone else to ask, with a different approach this time: “Test us and you’ll see”.
He was successful. And throughout the rest of the two chapters, we see Daniel’s wisdom in the way he deals with everyone from the king, to the guards, to his friends.
God's people were undefiled and wise, but they also had a job to do. Wait for the next post to find out what it was!