Reading Text – Daniel 1-2
Recently, I shared the passage from John 17 where Jesus is praying to the Father. In this passage, we read about being ‘in the world’; ‘out of the world’; ‘not of the world’; and ‘hated by the world.’ Jesus paints a clear picture of our place in Him, which shows us that we are ‘in the world’ but ‘not of the world.’
In thinking about this truth, let’s consider Daniel as a biblical example of living in the world but not of the world.
Daniel and his three Judean friends were likely born into noble families. They were “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand” (Daniel 1:4). At around the age of 16, his life was going pretty well in Jerusalem, when the King of Babylon came and besieged it. The word besieged means a place surrounded by armed forces aiming to capture it or force surrender. This was a difficult time for the Israelites, and the conditions became horrible. They would remain in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.
When taken, the adolescents were given the best training in the Babylonian schools to serve as the liaison between the Jews in captivity and the Chaldean rulership. The King instructed Ashpenaz, the master of the Eunuchs, that they would receive a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and wine, which he drank so that at the end of three years, these captives would serve the king.
In Daniel 1:8, we see that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies nor with the wine he drank; therefore, he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now, God had brought Daniel into favor and goodwill with the chief, who was afraid that by allowing them to refuse the food, they would become pale looking, and the king would be upset.
Daniel asked him to allow them to try for ten days eating vegetables and water and that their appearance would be examined. The chief consented, and at the end of ten days, their appearance was better and fatter in the flesh than all the young men who ate the delicacies. When the Hebrew boys were brought before the king, Nebuchadnezzar found none of the other captives were like these, finding them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers. Isn’t it interesting that ten days of healthy eating made them ten times better than the others?
When the Hebrew boys were brought before the king, Nebuchadnezzar found none of the other captives were like these, finding them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers. Isn’t it interesting that ten days of healthy eating made them ten times better than the others?
This is a great illustration of being in the world but not of the world you are in. How many of us are in a culture contrary to our beliefs? Because you are in Christ, you can exist in ways not of the culture to demonstrate God’s goodness.
Let’s continue with Chapter 2. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream that he couldn’t remember. He called all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans to tell him the dream and interpretation. They kept asking Nebuchadnezzar to tell them the dream and that they would interpret it, but he could not. They told him no man on earth could tell the king’s matter, and King Nebuchadnezzar became angry and commanded all wise men to be put to death. When Daniel heard it, he asked the king for some time that he might tell him the interpretation of the dream.
So, Daniel went to his house and made the decision known to his companions that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret so that they might not perish. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel, who blessed the God of heaven.
Daniel recognized that his relationship with God was greater than the culture he was living in. He trusted the faithfulness of God. God gave a dream to a pagan king that could only be interpreted by a Hebrew. This allowed Daniel to be promoted into a place of influence. Does God have you in a place that, in looking at your natural circumstances, could look bleak without hope? Perhaps He is using you for influence in a corrupt culture.
Ask God to get His perspective of your situation so that you might see from His vantage point, and that you would be encouraged in a situation that the world says is terrible but that God will use it to promote you for His purposes.