- Religion and Philosophy
Book of Daniel - No Compromise
Chapter 1 - No Compromise
Daniel is one of the great heroes of faith; a man “highly esteemed” by God (Dan 10:11,19). He was taken captive from his home in Judah and was deported to Babylon, some 800 miles away when he was a teenager at the age of 15. His life story is amazing: from being a captive, he became a trusted leader and counselor to 4 pagan kings- Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, then Belshazzar, and subsequently Darius and Cyrus of the Persian Empire. He lived to about 90 years old. From young to old, Daniel lived out his faith in an uncompromising way and he remained true to his beliefs and convictions.
We study the book of Daniel to learn :-
- Godly principles for Christian living
- God's plan for human history
- The sovereignty of God
We live in a society where the majority of the people do not share the faith and values. We are often challenged about our belief, and are constantly subjected to the pressure to conform to the ways of the world, and to compromise our values and convictions. So, we can draw from Daniel’s life and experience many useful principles as we seek to live godly lives in an ungodly world and to make a difference. Daniel provides us a positive model of faith & obedience, courage & wisdom.
The second part of Daniel (Chapter 7 to 12) consists of a series of dreams, visions and prophecies concerning the future of the nation of Judah and the Gentile nations, as well as the future of the world. We live in a world that is filled with turmoil, wars and disasters. Many people feel as if the world is spinning out of control. There are all kinds of false teachings, weird theologies and wild rumours circulating around. Therefore, it is important for us to know what the Bible says about the last days, so that we will not be misled or become fearful, so that we can live confidently trusting God for our future.
The most important lesson of the book- the sovereignty of God- God is in charge. He is in charge of nations, families and individuals. He is in charge of the past, the present, and the future. He is in charge of the good times and the bad times, victories and defeats. Studying this book will therefore increase our confidence in a God who is faithful to His people and who has the power to do what He promises.
Daniel’s Test: Pressured to compromise
Nebuchadnezzar was a smart political leader. His policy was to choose the best captives and train them to work for his kingdom. Daniel and his 3 friends were among the brightest and the best- they were of royal birth, young, strong, healthy, handsome, intelligent and talented. It was an honour to be selected for the intensive 3-year training programme, but it was a difficult trial for these Jewish youths for they were pressured to compromise their beliefs and convictions.
- New Home
First of all, they were given a new home. These boys had been brought up in and around Jerusalem. There they were constantly reminded of God- the Temple was there, the priests were, their parents were there teaching and guiding them in the ways of God. But now, they lived in a foreign land, surrounded by pagan worship and ungodly people. The pressure for them was to just go with the flow, join the crowd and follow what everybody else was doing.
We face the similar pressure today. It is easy to be spiritual in church on Sunday; it is easy to be godly around godly people. However, when we are out there in the marketplace, when we are surrounded by worldly values and culture, will we compromise our godliness and conform to the ways of the world?
- New Education
Secondly, these young men were re-educated. All their lives, they had been exposed to Jewish wisdom. Now, they were being taught the wisdom of the Babylonians- their language, literature, culture, commerce, religion as well as astrology and sorcery. The purpose was to “brainwash” them so that they would think, speak and live like Babylonians.
We face the similar pressure today. We are constantly being brainwashed by the worldly culture. We are often told that our biblical worldview is outdated, intolerant, narrow-minded, judgmental. We are told to change and to be more open-minded, more tolerant, and more permissive.
- New Diet
Thirdly, these young men were offered a new diet, the royal food. All their lives, these youths had followed strict food laws handed down by Moses. Now, they were faced with
1. Food that was unclean by Jewish standards
2. Meat that had probably been sacrificed to idols
Therefore taking this food would defile them, making them unclean before the Lord.
For us Christians we too are daily faced with choices to either do or not do certain things that can cause us to be defiled or corrupted. The choice of entertainment, the movies and TV shows we watch, the music we listen to, the websites we serve, the personal relationships we engage in.
- New Name
Furthermore, these young men were given new names. Their Hebrew names contained references to the God of Israel but were replaced by the names of the gods of Babylon:
- Daniel (God is my judge) became Belteshazzar (Bel will protect)
- Hanniah (God is gracious) became Shadrach (Command of Aku)
- Mishael (God is without equal) became Meshach (Belonging to Aku)
- Azariah (God is my helper) became Abednego (Servant of Nebo)
The changing of their names was to undermine their identity and erase their past. It was systematic brainwashing.
Nebuchadnezzar had a brilliant plan and it worked for most of the exiles but not for these 4 young men. For these 4, living in a new home, exposing to new worldview and even receiving new names were not really a problem; but taking the food was because by taking it would mean disobeying the holy Law.
So, Daniel and his friends had to make a choice, they could either compromise, bow to the requirement of the king or to say No. Saying No to king Nebuchadnezzar had serious implication and fatal consequences! So, what did they do?
Daniel’s Response: Resolved not to be defiled
David knew what was right and what was wrong in God’s eyes. He was familiar with the Law; and he “resolved not to be defiled” or he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself”.
He made up his mind in advance that he was going to obey God and to maintain purity, whatever the cost. He decided in advance that He would never compromise the teaching of God’s Word, it’s non-negotiable.
Some matters are non-negotiable, and they have to be decided in advance, not on the spur of the moment. As Christians, we must resolve in our hearts to say No to sin, to things that compromise our godliness- No to pornography, homosexuality, premarital sex, adultery, drugs, corruption, bribery, lying, cheating, the occult and whatever else God says is evil.
We must draw the line for ourselves and say, “This far and no farther!” “Others may, I cannot!” It is not always the easiest thing, nor the most popular or convenient thing to take our stand with God, but it is always the right thing! This decision will set the course for the rest of our life.
If we don’t, we will end up being just like everyone around us. And every time we compromise, it defiles our hearts, it corrupts our souls and it draws us away from God.
Daniel determined not to take the food and he came up with an alternative to the king’s plan. Note how tactful Daniel raised the issue with Ashpenaz:
- First, he didn’t demand anything but simply made a request in a gentle and courteous manner
- Second, his request was reasonable- it’s a 10 day test of just having vegetables and water, nothing complicating
- Third, it was easy to evaluate
Daniel was wise and tactful, and his proposal was accepted.
Issac Newton said this: “Tact is the art of making a point, without making an enemy.”
Amazingly, Daniel’s experiment worked!
Daniel’s Reward: Promoted by God
At the end of the 10 days, the 4 young men were prospered by God:
- Their bodies “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Dan 1:15).
- Their minds were sharp, they had “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Dan 1:17)
- Their spirits were in tune with God, they could “understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Dan 1:17) and after 3 years, when they stood before king Nebuchadnezzar, he found them “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (Dan 1:20).
Daniel stood up for what was right and godly; he made no compromises. So God honoured him, protected, prospered and promoted him.
It is possible to live for God in school, in college, at work, and in our career and still be successful for God! Daniel has shown us the way. Some Christians think that in order for us to get ahead in this world or to be accepted, we have to compromise our principles and values, to follow the crowd. It is not true. In fact, if we live in spiritual compromise, we will never receive God’s favour and blessing. God always honours those who honour Him!
The chapter ends with this remark: “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus” (Dan 1:21). Daniel stayed in a place of power and prominence for over 70 years! As the story goes, we will observe that Daniel not only remained faithful but exercised significant influence over the godless world around him.
The Sovereignty of God
The book of Daniel is not just about Daniel and his friends living in a foreign land and in an evil age. It is also about how God Himself worked in such circumstances, how He intervened and altered things to make them accomplish His purposes.
Verse 2: “… the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand” (Dan 1:2). What happened to Jerusalem was no accident.
- God delivered Jehoiakim and Judah to Nebuchadnezzar
- God allowed the Babylonians to take possession of His temple and His people
Verse 9: “Now God had caused the official to show favour and sympathy to Daniel”. God entered the picture again and granted favour to Daniel.
Verse 17: “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding…”
What the Babylonians meant for evil, God meant for good. He put these 4 young men in a most vulnerable spot, even allowed them to be trained in a pagan school so that they might eventually become leaders in a pagan government.
A Life Without Compromise
2,500 years have come and gone since the days of Daniel, and nothing has changed. Believers of God today still face constant pressure to conform to the ways of the world, and to compromise our values and convictions.
Jesus says in John 17:15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” God wills that His children live and thrive in the world, and He promises to protect us. We are not to withdraw from the world but to interact and impact the world with kingdom values. We are not of the world, but we are to be salt and light to the world.
God is looking for vessels which He uses to display His glory and power. To be usable to God we have to be clean; to be clean, we must live a godly life, a life without compromise.
You and I must decide in our hearts in advance that we will always honour God first. We live to please God, not men, not self. Having made that commitment, we are to remain faithful and not to compromise, no matter the cost.
When pressure mounts up against us and even when our world seems to fall apart, fear not and take heart that God is in control. Daniel’s God is our God too- and He is still on the throne. Pray that He will give us wisdom and discernment to shine as witnesses in a dark world.
Christian living is a battle. It takes courage to be a Christian. Jesus doesn’t promise us an easy, comfortable life. It is tough, but it is exciting and purposeful to partner God to influence and transform this godless world for His glory!