As we discussed last week, Daniel and his three friends were subjects of a conquering kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon attacked and messed with Judah for a few years, first making them a vassal, but after the Kings of Israel were “rebellious” in refusing to pay tribute, King Nebuchadnezzar decides he’s had enough and just destroys Jerusalem and the Temple there.
But he takes a few “choice” young men to groom and educate. It is an interesting program of indoctrination – take intelligent, good looking young men, woo them with the palatial comforts and educate them in the imperial culture, and then use them as examples of how it is beneficial for all conquered peoples to assimilate into the new culture. Daniel and his three friends went through this.
Daniel leads his friends to separate himself and keep himself pure within this program. It is such a strict program, that when he asks the stewards over them if they could do something different, the steward is afraid of royal retribution and punishment. To summarize, “I don’t think you get to do your own thing.”
Even though God had given the Jews over to the Babylonians as a punishment, Daniel felt the conviction to be set apart for God in a real and practical way.
While Daniel is known as the interpreter of dreams, we must remember that before God uses him in this way, Daniel had been intentional about seeking God and being faithful in the midst of oppression.
Daniel decided they couldn’t consume the fine foods and wine. He and his friends would eat vegetables and drink water. And he challenges the steward: if they didn’t appear healthier after ten days, then they would give up their convictions. They challenged in faith, and God blessed them for their “fast.” They did look better. As you can imagine, eating differently would mark them every day as separate from everyone else.
And that is who God used to interpret the dream of the King.
It is not biblically more spiritual to do the “Daniel fast.” That’s not the point.
But the principles are important and instructive for us today.
How are we saying “no” to the culture around us? As our government and culture adopts more of the Marxist ideology and godless ideas, this is more and more necessary for us to discuss and examine as disciples of Christ and citizens of a different Kingdom.
We will be mocked for saying “no.” That is the reality. There will be fear of standing out. Daniel had to deal with this. But if we are going to stand for the Kingdom within an increasingly godless and perverse culture, then there must be resistance and independence, ways that we show where our citizenship lies. This will threaten earthly empires and kingdoms.
The revelation for how we say “no” to our culture and stand out is up to Jesus and the Father. We must get our revelation from him, otherwise there will be no conviction, no strength of grace for endurance in that discipline. For it will require discipline.
And we must have people walking through it with us. We must have people we are vulnerable with that we can say, “Hey, God is telling me to do this,” and then they can walk through it with us or hold us accountable. Daniel had this in his three friends.
Could Daniel have done it alone? With God’s help, yes. But God has designed us to need one another, especially in the Body of Christ in the New Covenant. We will need each other more as our culture adopts more Marxist ideology (and religion … it is a religious belief and agenda, despite what they say to the contrary).
We cannot expect God to use us in powerful ways – and he is using and will continue to use many in powerful ways – unless we are willing to stand for him first. That is essential. It must come from revelation and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and it will scare us and challenge us. It will not be comfortable. But it is essential for what God has for us in the future.
Next week – Part 2 – The Dream of the Kingdom