Let’s turn in our Bible’s to Daniel chapter 1. I thought tonight, as I mentioned this morning, that we would look at a portion of the scripture that deals with the issue of an uncompromising life in a compromising world. Nobody illustrates that better than Daniel. And we’re just going to have a good time kind of going through a few verses here in the first chapter that will set I think indelible ink the reality of an uncompromising life. I suppose you’ve heard it said – it has been said enough times – every man has his price. And your price is whatever point you sell out your so-called convictions, moral standards for some personal gain, some personal fulfillment, some personal desire. Every man has his price. I suppose it’s true of the world that it ought not to be true of believers. It ought to be true of us that there is no price which will make us compromise what we know to be true and what we believe to be the divine standard.
Martin Luther, before the Diet of Worms, they demanded him to recant or lose his life, and so he lost his life. He would not recant what he believed. There was Latimer and Ridley standing before the stakes where they were to be burned to death. Their executioners demanding that they deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They refused and were consumed in the those flames. I remember reading the story of a Dr. Hong who watched the Japanese cut his father’s thumbs off in North Korea not long ago, because his father would not deny Jesus Christ.
I have enjoyed the exhilarating experience of reading about the Covenanters at a time in the history of England when the government demanded that the King be recognized as the head of the church. And there were a group of people, Scottish people for the most part, who refused to recognize the King as the head of the church because they said Jesus Christ is the head of the church. One of the most notable was a preacher by the name of Richard Cameron. And one day a knock on the door of Richard Cameron’s father. He went to the door to find a messenger there who opened a box and in the box he had the head and the hands of his son. And his father responded by saying “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” There are those who have paid immense prices to stand their ground and not compromise no matter what the cost.
We hear all the time on the other hand about people who boast of their moral standards, who talk a good game, who like to extol the righteousness of their character, their great set of convictions and yet for some expedient purpose they sell out – compromise. People say they believe the Bible but stay in churches where it’s not taught. People claim convictions about sin and convictions about punishment until that sin is committed by their children. People say they must speak out about dishonesty, and they must speak out about corruption until it refers to their boss and they might lose their job. People have high moral standards until their lusts released from the bondage of a holy conscience, they enter into an unholy relationship, and then begin to rationalize their compromise. People are honest until just a little dishonesty might save them a lot of money or gain for them some great advantage. People know something to be definitely wrong, but for the sake of peace they will cover it. People will do an act against their claim to convictions when asked by someone they admire or fear or from whom they seek a favor. People won’t say what should truly be said if they feel they might lose face. And so goes the compromise.
Adam compromised God’s law, followed his wife’s sin, and lost paradise. Abraham compromised the truth, lied about Sarah and nearly lost his wife. Sarah compromised God’s word, sent Abraham to Hagar who bore Ishmael and lost peace in the Middle East ever since. Esau compromised for a meal with Jacob and lost his birthright. Saul compromised the divine word, kept the animals, and lost the royal seed. Aaron compromised his convictions about idolatry, and he and the people lost the privilege of the Promised Land. Samson compromised righteous devotion as a Nazarite with Delilah, lost his strength, lost his eyes, and lost his life.
Israel compromised the commands of the Lord, lived in sin and when fighting with the Philistines, lost God. David compromised the divine moral standard, adulterated Bathsheba, murdered Uriah, and lost his child. Solomon compromised his convictions, married foreign wives, and lost the whole kingdom. Ahab compromised, married Jezebel, and lost his throne. Israel compromised the law of God, enter to sin and idolatry, and lost their homeland. Peter compromised his convictions about Christ, denied him, and lost his joy. Peter compromised the truth of the one church for acceptance with the Judaizers and lost his liberty. Ananias and Sapphira compromised their word about giving, lied to the Holy Spirit, and lost their lives. Judas compromised his opportunity and supposed love for Christ for 30 pieces of silver and forever lost his soul.
There are some, we remember them well, who didn’t compromise. Moses before Pharaoh; David many times; Paul before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, but no one is a better illustration of an uncompromising life then Daniel. He provides for us the clearest illustration of what it is to live without compromise. Let’s look at Daniel chapter 1 in our Bibles, and just glimpse the uncompromising life of this amazing young man.
While you’re turning to Daniel chapter 1, I read one time about an eminent naturalist who had written a textbook about marine plants. And he was particularly interested in marine plants which grow from a depth of 150 to 200 feet in the ocean and float on the breakers when they get washed up to shore. He writes that the stem of this plant is less than an inch thick, yet it grows and thrives and holds its own against the fierce smitings and pressures of the breakers. It grows somewhere between 150 and 200 feet which means near the shore it feels the pounding of the breakers.
He says, “What is the secret of this marvelous resistance endurance? How can this slender plant face the fury of the elements so successfully and in spite of storm and tempest, keep its hold and perpetuate itself from century to century.” Obviously there are some would die and are washed up, others taking their place and standing for quite a long period of time. He says, “The answer is simple. it reaches down into the still depth of the ocean where it fixes its grasp after the fashion of its instinct to the naked rocks beneath the sand, no commotion of the waters can shake it from its fastening.” That naturalist really gives to us an illustration of what it means to live an uncompromising life. It is to reach beneath the shifting sands of a culture and fix yourself to the rock that is below it.
Daniel was in Babylon, and Babylon was a pagan society in every sense. No regard for the true God as evidence by the fact that they had attacked the land of Israel, desecrated the true God and taken all the people captive who weren’t killed. And while Daniel was living in the breakers as it were, the crashing waves and the shifting sand of the surf, his soul was anchored on the rock. And so he was unshakable and indestructible. He was absolutely unwilling to compromise the absolutes that he believed were the law of God. And that is what anchored him to the rock of confidence even in the storms of captivity and Chaldean efforts to brainwash him.
When the Chaldeans – or Babylonians, same thing. Babylonians speaks of the nation and Chaldean the culture. When they had taken the Jews captive and when they had hauled them away – 586BC and even prior to that. Three deportations actually began about five or six years before 586. But when they took these Jews captive, they were determined that they were going to have to be able to control this captive people. It was a very difficult thing to take a whole nation captive in your own land and then try to control these expatriates. And they knew that in order to do that, they needed to get some of their own leaders. Some of their own Jewish people train them and let them be their leaders. It was very important then for them in the captivity to manage to take with them some of the noble young Jews who could rise to leadership. They wanted to select the most physically beautiful young men who could sway people as we all know by the sheer force of their looks and persona. They wanted to take young men who had unusual intellectual ability and social grace. They wanted to put them through the system of the Chaldean culture, educate them, train them, develop them into the Chaldean mindset, and yet with their Jewish linkage, use them to rule over this people that they now had in their hands.
So when they came in the first period, the first deportation around 605 and they began to take the people captive from Judah, they started by taking some young men. Among those young men was Daniel. And not just Daniel, but he had three friends. They are mentioned in verse six of chapter 1 as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Now those names may be unfamiliar to you, but those are their Jewish names, and importantly they link them with their Jewish heritage. You will notice of course that the first thing that the Babylonians did was change their names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They wanted to give them names that identified them with Chaldean culture and would be a part of the dispossessing of their Jewish heritage. They had the two other areas of attack or assault to brainwash these young men.
The first thing was to change their identity by giving them Chaldean names. And by the way those names that they gave them, those Chaldean names that are familiar to us – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – all three of those names have incorporated in those names the name of Babylonian deities. Whereas their prior names had at least in some instances in the case of Daniel and in the case of Mishael, the last two letters of Daniel’s name and Mishael’s name is the word for God. They had been associated with the God of the Hebrews. They now gave them names that are associated with the god of the Chaldeans or the gods of the Chaldeans. They wanted to change their identity. And so they started on that process by changing their names.
Secondly they wanted to change their beliefs. They wanted to change their convictions, their values. And they did that by putting them through, or they attempted to do that, by putting them through Chaldean education. They wanted these, as it says in verse 4 good-looking, intelligent in every branch of wisdom, endow the understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability to lead in the king’s court. They wanted these very, very gifted young men to be trained in all the wisdom and all the teaching, all of the Chaldean knowledge in order that they might acculturate them, in order that they might adapt them and adjust them to the new culture. And so they changed their names, and they put them through an educational process.
The third thing that they did to them was change their lifestyle. They changed their lifestyle by, verse 5 says, “The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they would have entered the King’s personal service.” So there’s the education, the name change, and the lifestyle. And the lifestyle would change by exposing them to Chaldean food and drink. Not only was it food and drink but all that went on in the social occasion of eating and drinking.
Interestingly enough, these four young men accepted the first, that is they accepted the new names; they accepted the second, there’s no indication that they fought against the education; but when it came to the third thing, changing their lifestyle, they refused it. Because that was the potentially devastating issue. The name change is merely an external modification. The educational process can be filtered through the law of God which they knew very well. A young man today can be raised in a family where he is given a name that identifies him in some way or another with the culture. He can be exposed to secular education as many of you have and myself as well. And we’re not so much affected by that because if we have a solid foundation in the Word of God, all that secular education passes through the grid of divine truth. The first two were not so threatening to them, because they knew what they believed and they were firmly fixed on God’s Word and they would evaluate the teaching in the light of it. They could change their names, but they couldn’t change their hearts.
But what they would not do was let their lifestyle be changed. If they had given in to the lifestyle of the Chaldeans, they would have flatly denied the Word of God, and they would have denied, in effect, the identity that they bore as the covenant people. Why? Well first of all, because the king’s food was offered to idols before it was offered to be eaten. In other words, as we read about with the apostle Paul and the time in which he lived, pagans would take meals, food and wine and whatever, and offer it to their gods. Obviously the god was an idol and couldn’t eat it. And so it would go into the hands of the priest in part and part of it would go to the one who brought the sacrifice in the first place, and then there would be some kind of a meal in which they would eat this food offered to idols. So there was the whole aura of idolatry, sort of connected to this eating and drinking.
Furthermore eating and drinking was the major social event in ancient times. The lavishness, the drunkenness, the rest of the wildness that went with such events would be against the simple purity that the Word of God demanded. And beyond that, the law of God had very strict dietary laws, didn’t it – standards. And to keep the Jews separated from the influences of pagan society, God had given those laws in the first place. And I hope you understand that the Jewish dietary laws were not primarily for health reasons. They were for separation reasons. Because most of the exchange of lifestyle occurred around the eating table, around feasts and festivals where food was consumed. And the fact that Jews couldn’t engage in such social events, because they couldn’t ever eat the food, was one way in which God intended to keep them from the influence of pagan idolatrous society. The Old Testament didn’t say anything about your name. They Old Testament didn’t say anything about education as such. But it said a lot about what you eat and drink. So that’s where they drew the line.
And you see that then in verse 8, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the King’s choice food or with the wine which he drank.” That’s the key. He could handle the name change; he could handle the educational process and filter that through the word of God, but what he would not do was alter his lifestyle. Another reason he didn’t want to engage in that was that the lifestyle of the king and the king’s food and the king’s wine would be the grandest and the most lavish in all the land if not all the world at that ancient time, since that was the supreme kingdom of the world. They would have taken him to a level of materialism and self-indulgence way beyond what would have honored God. So the Chaldeans attempted to melt down these four young men and reform them into Chaldeans. And then use them to lead the Jews and to keep peace among the Jews and to try to control these expatriated people who are now in their country.
“But Daniel,” it says in verse 8, “made up his mind that he wouldn’t defile himself with the King’s choice food or with the wine which he drank.” I suppose what is initially amazing about his stand is that he was 14 or 15 years old. You think of Daniel, you probably think of a bearded man because that’s what you saw pictured in the lion’s den in the little Christian books you read. But when Daniel arrived and took his stand, he was a 14 or 15-year-old young man under tremendous pressure, and follow this, separated from his home and separated from his family and separated frankly from all personal accountability. I mean frankly there wasn’t anybody there to watch him, anybody at least from his past. Could have lived any kind of life he wanted. Certainly wouldn’t have been any social recourse. So if you want to understand the character of Daniel, you have to see him in a totally foreign environment, under tremendous pressure as a very young man, taking an uncompromising firm stand on the absolutes of the Word of God. And all of the inducements and all of the education, all the encouragement, all the bribes, all the pressures, all the ambitions and glories of the King’s court could not make him compromise what he knew to be true and right.
They would learn the king’s language. They would study Chaldean education. They would filter it all through the Word of God, and thereby they would learn the errors of that people, and learning their errors would be better able to communicate the truth of God to them. Never, however, would they adopt their lifestyle. It was that failure to adopt their lifestyle that got Daniel in the lion’s den. Wasn’t it? And God’s Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into a fiery furnace.
And I would just add at this particular point that the most corrupting influence in a society is not its philosophy; it’s its lifestyle. A lifestyle of any society is the most corrupting thing. It isn’t that we fall to the level of the philosophizing. It is that we fall to the level of the living. Isn’t it? Many of us have suffered through secular education of one degree or another. It has informed us about the thinking of our society. It has perhaps helped us to see truth more clearly against the backdrop of error by contrast. We maybe have learned how to confront it. We have learned its weaknesses and how to answer it. But what really will tear up your life is to begin to adjust to the culture’s lifestyle. That’s when the brainwashing has succeeded. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
Daniel as a young man would not compromise on the lifestyle side, and I want to show you the results of that. Let’s look at the first one in verse 8. “But Daniel made up his mind that he wouldn’t defile himself of the king’s choice food or with the wine in which he drank.” He rejected the lifestyle influence. And then this, “So he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” The first thing I see about Daniel is an unashamed boldness. If you’re taking notes, you can write that down. An unashamed boldness. Now there was a man assigned to take care of these young men, because this was the very, very important project. They were going to have three years of very important education. The King, back in verse 3, orders Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials – so it’s a very, very high ranking guy – to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and the nobles. The youths in whom was no defect. And they’re going to be, according to the end of verse 5, entering into the king’s personal service.
Then verse 7, the commander of the officials assigned new names to them. But they’re under this man named Ashpenaz, who is a very high ranking man. And what is wonderful about Daniel is when he goes to Ashpenaz to say, “Look, we can’t eat this food,” he displays a tremendous amount of boldness. He doesn’t say you know I have a real problem. You guys have different seasoning and my stomach just doesn’t handle it well. He didn’t say that. He didn’t say, you know I haven’t been feeling well. I have a chronic ulcer. I’ve had it since I was 11 you know. Or you know this is very difficult adjusting to your food. I just can’t seem to adjust to it. Or do you know that because of my own health and because of some chronic debilitation I have a special diet. He didn’t say that. What he said was, I can’t eat this stuff because it’ll defile me.
Now the man that he told that too knew he was not talking about something physical. He knew he was talking about something spiritual. Something significantly spiritual. He is saying, “I can’t eat the king’s food and I can’t drink the king’s wine because it’ll defile me.” In other words, I have a conviction against this. In fact I’m pretty confident that it would necessitate some kind of an explanation when he told Ashpenaz this was the reason. He must have had to explain something to him and so he must have gone into the Word of God and laid out God’s standard and God’s principles. All this indicates to me that Daniel was not ashamed of his God; he was not ashamed of his faith in God; he was not ashamed of his obedience. Even in pagan Babylon, he said, I won’t do it and here’s why I won’t do it, because it will defile me.
And the fact that the message might go directly to the king, a King who’s prisoner Daniel was and who had the right to kill him for disobedience and rebellion, never, ever hindered his commitment. For normal people the fear of man brings a sneer but not Daniel. But those people who have an uncompromising character have an unabashed boldness. It just goes with it. They don’t equivocate; they don’t waffle; they don’t try to give some secondary reasons. They’re willing to take a stand on exactly what the issue is. In Psalm 119 verse 46 it says, “I will speak of your testimonies also before kings, and I will not be ashamed.” Daniel had that kind of character that stands fearlessly and boldly before kings, before rulers, before pagans, and speaks the truth, that undaunted spirit of complete and utter commitment to God.
Jeremiah called it being valiant for the truth. Ezekiel said it was like setting your face like flint. First Chronicles 12:8 says it’s setting your face like a lion. Now that’s the first thing I see about the uncompromising character of Daniel. He has a holy fearless courage that knows no shame. He is glad to bear the name of God. He is glad to stand for the Word of God, and he is glad to obey God’s word no matter who he’s talking too.
There’s a second thing that I want you to see. Not only an unashamed boldness but a second thing that’s true of an uncompromising person is an uncommon standard – an uncommon standard. In the same verse that I just read it is interesting to me that it says that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank. Now this issue of wine – and I don’t want to get into a whole discussion of that tonight, but I do want to point out a couple of things. What would be wrong with drinking the king’s wine? Wine is kosher, so it’s not an issue of Old Testament dietary law with regard to wine. But there’s something about uncompromising people who go to an uncommon standard, and that’s why I made that the second point.
They are the pace setters; they set the pattern for others; they live on the highest plain. It may well be that Daniel had taken a Nazarite vow or some vow like that, which is a vow of complete abstinence. Uncompromising people like Daniel go past the crowd; they go past the minimum. They set standards for themselves that exceed the norm. They live at the highest level. They stand above the crowd. They don’t choose the good; they choose the best. Their ministries are a cut above the rest, because they choose to live at a level of commitment that is beyond the rest, to have a more faithful prayer life than the rest and a deeper study of the Word then the rest. And you could illustrate that by just this issue about wine. In fact Daniel not only rejected the king’s wine, he didn’t even carry along any skins full of Jewish wine, whatever that is.
Look at verse 12, “Please test your servants for 10 days let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.” He didn’t want any wine at all. Mixed wine, yayin as it’s called, diluted with water was common in Israel. Strong drink which referred to unmixed wine was associated with paganism and drunkenness, but they drank wine in ancient times for a number of reasons. One of them was because it was the most available thing. Obviously they had the fruit and it would produce the juice and they would drink the juice. But wine would ferment; they didn’t have ways in which to freeze it or to keep it cold so that it didn’t ferment. And so they would mix it with water, so that they didn’t become drunk.
But it also acted as a purging to the water. Water in those days would contain bacteria, and without the sanitation systems of modern times we would understand that wine because of its fermentation and alcohol content could act as a purging and a purification of the water itself and thus reduce the disease potential. And so when mixed wine was used it was appropriate. Drink offerings for example were used in the worship of God. A supply of wine was kept in the temple. Wine drinking sometimes was associated with singing as in Isaiah 24:9. Wine in Isaiah 55:1 and 2 is a symbol of spiritual blessing. So there was a place, an appropriate time to drink a properly mixed wine.
But it was always a potential for evil. When misused or unmixed. So there was some who voluntarily, or in connection with God’s Word, chose not to partake at all and there are a number of passages that indicate that. “Wine is not for kings.” Remember that in Proverb 31. It’s not for rulers. Why? Because you have too much responsibility to have your thinking clouded if you’re in a leadership position. It even talks about in the New Testament how that there was a qualification for elders and deacons with relation to staying away from wine. A number of places in the Old Testament warned priests about that. And then there were those that took the Nazarite vow, which was the highest level of spiritual devotion, which was an abstinence position.
Timothy lived at that level and Paul had to say to him due to his ailments take a little wine for your stomach’s sake because if you didn’t tell him to do that Timothy wouldn’t have done it. Timothy, too, wanted to live at the level of devotion that was above the norm. The point is that there is always going to be people who choose the highest, the best, the noblest, who rise to the highest standard. And Daniel for certain wanted to be distinguished from the gluttons and drunkards of Babylon. One thing about drunkards if you’re in a group of drunkards and you’re sober, they’re not going to know it.
Daniel didn’t even want an association with it and so he wanted water only. And that’s the better par. Isn’t it? Great men have certainly fallen to the power of drink. Belshazzar lost the whole Babylonian empire because he was in a drunken stupor. Alexander the Great died at the age of 33 in drunkenness. When the Iron Duke of England, Duke Wellington, was marching his army across the Iberian Peninsula, word was brought to his headquarters that ahead of him was a vast stock of Spanish wine. He stopped his army at that point, sent some of his men ahead, and they blew it up. Then he marched on.
Some have said the reason Napoleon Bonaparte lost the battle at Waterloo to the victorious Duke of Wellington was because the night before Marshal Ney tarried too long over his favorite glass of wine and the next morning his head was clouded and his mind was unsteady. When France fell in World War II against Hitler, Marshal Pétain said, “France was defeated because its army was drunk.” And the Vichy government of 1940 said the reason for the collapse of the moral fiber of the French army was due to alcohol. A really uncompromising life doesn’t play on the edge of what is right but chooses the highest noblest standard. That’s the way Daniel was. A life of uncompromising commitment results in an unashamed boldness and an uncommon standard.
Thirdly, an unearthly protection – an unearthly protection. Verse 9 – you say, well boy, if you live like that you’re going to be under a lot of heat from men. But from God you’ll be under a lot of protection. Verse 9, “Now God granted Daniel” – what? – “favor and compassion in the side of the commander of the officiants.” You see I would rather take the uncompromising stand, have the whole society against me, and have God on my side. And that’s the point. It is actually axiomatic that even if people disagree with your convictions, they admire you when you stick by them. But more than that, God is on your side. It’s not that your integrity becomes a valued premium and they’re going to be nice to you because you have integrity. The issue is your obedient to God; you take the highest ground; and that pleases God and God will grant favor. Obviously Daniel must have had a gracious and pleasing personality or they wouldn’t have selected him. But the reason that the prince of the eunuchs, the reason that chief official in this court was good to Daniel was because God granted Daniel favor in his eyes. God predisposed him to like Daniel. Isn’t it great to know that God works in the lives of unbelievers? You say, boy if I take a strong stand, what’s going to happen to me at work? Try it and see. Put yourself in God’s hands. You don’t have to compromise to save yourself.
I always think of David. David was in the cave of Adullam hiding. I mean this is David. You know, greatest king in the world from certainly the spiritual standpoint and with tremendous power and influence. And he’s in the cave of Adullam. What is he doing there? He’s sulking; he did a lot of that. He was kind of a melancholy guy. And why was he sulking? Because he had just gotten back from Philistia, and he’d done a stupid thing. He got in the court of the Philistines, and he began to fear for his life. And you know what he did? He pretended like he was crazy, like he was a maniac. And he started to foam at the mouth, slobber and drool in his beard which is an indication of great disrespect in the Middle East. If you have a beard, you don’t drool in your beard basically. Beard being a sign of manliness and honor is to be appropriately kept.
David slobbered and drooled in his beard and then he started scratching the walls like he was totally bereft of his senses. To which the King replied we got enough idiots around here, get rid of this one. And they threw him out. And in effect it worked. His life was spared. But when he got to the cave of Adullam, he realized that his stupidity and his denigration of his own dignity and his failure to trust in God was just that, it was an affront against God, who would have delivered, and perhaps in a wonderfully glorious way, without him playing the fool. God put it in the man’s heart to be kind to David – I should say put it in the man’s heart to be kind to Daniel. God always takes up the defense of one who stands uncompromisingly for His truth. And when you do that, you just bring yourself under divine protection. Sometimes people will say, aren’t you worried when you take a strong stand on something? No, I’m worried when I don’t. Aren’t you worried when you speak boldly on something? No, I’m worried when I don’t. Aren’t you afraid what people might think? Not at all. What I am afraid of is what God might think. That’s the issue.
Proverb 16:7 says when a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. The hearts of all men are in the hands of God. Don’t ever compromise to gain something with men and lose something with God. Be true to God; He controls men. Basic. If you think about Joseph and Daniel, they were similar, weren’t they? They both rose in a foreign kingdom to the same high rank of prime minister through their endowment by God of personal equalities. They both possessed extraordinary prophetic powers, which served to elevate them to high places in the government. They both were able to confound all pretenders to superior knowledge of God. As in Babylon, so in Egypt the courts swarmed with every kind of charlatan. Both Daniel and Joseph came under God’s protection, were spared and lifted and elevated.
And Daniel you see, Daniel’s life portrays what God will do for the person who’s faithful, who give Him favor. And then verse 10, “So the commander of the officials says to Daniel, ‘I’m afraid of my lord the king who has appointed your food and your drink.’” I mean, the king’s in charge of this whole operation. “For why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you’ll make me forfeit my head to the king.” He says, I got a problem. I really would like to help you guys, and I’d like to do what you ask, but my head is at stake in this deal. And if we go through this whole process here, and the king comes down to check on you guys and you’re looking gaunt and pale and thin and ill, my head is at stake. Particularly when he says, “What’s going on?” And I say, well they didn’t want to eat what you provided, they didn’t want to drink what you provided and I gave them their wish. Such defiance of the king’s order could result in my death. And I don’t really want to forfeit my head to the king’s executioners simply for your sake.
He’s got a dilemma. He really does have compassion it says in verse 9. And he has tremendous admiration for these young men. But he also has some concern for his own existence. And he’s afraid that what they’re asking is going to result in poor health. So things kind of shift into neutral for a minute here. Daniel, however, doesn’t give up. Very persistent, and that’s a fourth characteristic – fourth characteristic. We could say an uncompromising life has an unhindered persistence – an unhindered persistence. Daniel might have gone back and said to his buddies, you know, I think we pushed this deal as far as we can push it. And you know at least eat one egg roll. I mean, I think if we try to push this deal any further, we’re going to be in some serious trouble here. And our good friend Ashpenaz, who’s given us this much is going to be in some real deep trouble. But that’s not the way it is in an uncompromising life. There’s no ugly obstinacy here. There’s no cantankerous spirit here. There’s no defiance or rebellion here in Daniel, but there is this unhindered persistence.
Look at verse 11, “But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please’ – I like that. Please. Here is a steward who’s been appointed by Ashpenaz. And Daniel is so undaunted in what he is going to be committed to that he goes to this man and he says, “Please sir, just test us.” I like his persistence. If you give up the first time, you don’t have Daniel’s character. You see you’re simply back to where we started. Every man has his – what? – price. And the price is at whatever point you compromise your convictions. Daniel had no price, so there was never any end to his persistence.
So he goes to this less significant person. He’s not looking for an excuse. And he says to him, look, just do this for 10 days. You just work with us. Let’s not press Ashpenaz on this. Let’s not push this thing all the way to the King. We know Ashpenaz loves us, admires us, and let’s just you and the four of us work a little deal for 10 days and see how this goes. Now remember this is a three year program. So here we see that persistence of an uncompromising life, unashamed boldness, uncommon standard, unearthly protection, and unhindered persistence.
And here’s the key to everything, number five, an unblemished faith. This is great. “Please test your servants for 10 days. Let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.” We want water and a vegetarian diet. You say, why? Well because vegetables would fit within the Old Testament dietary laws. There were certain meats that did, certain meats that didn’t; certain birds that did, certain birds that didn’t; certain seafood that did, certain seafood that didn’t. And rather than try to juggle all of that he says, let’s just stick with vegetables. They’re all kosher and water. And then verse 13, “Let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” Now there were other young men in this program. Other young men who, if they were from Israel, had compromised. If they were from some other country or even if they were Chaldeans, would engage themselves in the king’s diet. He says, just compare us with the rest.
You know, there’s something so wonderful about this. And if I can give you a spiritual principle it’s this principle. Sin produces doubt. Sin produces doubt, fear, questioning, hesitancy. Righteousness produces confidence and security. And Daniel in a sense is saying, I’ll put my life on the line because I believe that if I obey God, He will honor that obedience. Now don’t go beyond the intent here and conclude that if you eat only vegetables and drink water, you’re going to be more healthy than anybody else, and you’re going to be blessed by God. That is not the point. The point is Daniel says, if I obey God and do not violate the laws and take the highest spiritual position, I believe God will honor that. That’s his faith. And people who have that kind of faith have it from a vantage point of purity. Because if there had been sin in Daniel’s life, he would never have confidently and boldly put himself in that position. He would have had a very normal fear that if he got himself too far extended, God might saw the limb off because of iniquity in his life. So here is a testimony to his holiness, to his purity.
You can operate in any trial in total confidence when you know your heart is pure. That is a very important point. I wish we had time to develop it even further. There is tremendous courage and tremendous boldness out of purity, even a sense of invincibility, because you believe God is going to honor and protect the one who is faithful. So they risked the test, because they believe God will honor them because their hearts are pure. When they could all die if the test failed, and Ashpenaz would die and the steward would die, and they would all perish. But Daniel was a man of faith and his faith’s residence was in a pure heart, and he believed God would honor his purity. By the way a little note on the word vegetables, in case some of you are wondering, from the Hebrew zarah, means to sow or that which grows from sown seed, common food. This was the food to the poor. No meat, no delicacies. And then he says, at the end of the 10 days, you pick who looks healthier.
So their unblemished faith threw them into point number six, an unusual test – an unusual test. Verse 14, “So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for 10 days.” All commitment will be tested. That’s legitimate. He must have smuggled in some vegetables and somehow disposed of the other food that was coming down to give to them. And in verse 15 it says, “At the end of 10 days their appearance seemed better, and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food.” Fairer and fatter. Now let’s not make too much out of this word fatter. You’re thinking of four little plump teenagers. No. The term has to do with being full, healthy. It has to do with being filled out and proportioned appropriately, having strength. They didn’t suffer from the substitute food at all. They benefited. Why? Because vegetables are better than the other stuff? No, because God’s direct intervention made this possible.
Don’t go back and think that you’ll be more beautiful and more muscular if you eat vegetables for 10 days and drink nothing but water. I am not hear prepared to say whether you will or not. That is not the point. My mother always told me you need a little protein. I’m not advocating a certain vegetarian diet. The point is God honored their restrictions. And worked in their physical life to make them fairer and fatter. And then verse 16, “So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink and kept giving them vegetables.” He probably liked it, because he kept getting the food the king was sending down for them and eating it and giving them the vegetables that were sent to him. They won the battle; they avoided the lifestyle, the effort to mold them into Chaldean lifestyle. They passed the unusual test. All faith will be tested. Taking an uncompromising stand on the Word of God led them to an unashamed boldness, to an uncommon standard, an unearthly protection, an unhindered persistence, an unblemished faith, an unusual test.
And then Number 7, an unmeasurable blessing. This becomes apparent as the chapter closes in verse 17. “As for these four youths, God gave the knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.” You’re talking here about something, folks, that’s way beyond the Chaldean educational system. He not only learned all the Chaldean stuff, to add to everything else he knew back in verse 4 from his Jewish days – which tells us that 14 and 15 year olds can be educated much more highly than we might assume – now he’s educated not only in all the Jewish wisdom but all the Chaldean wisdom, and beyond that he has been given divine wisdom. Now he gets visions and dreams from God, and we take you back to the same point here. All of these attainments are gifts from God to an uncompromising life.
I really feel that the only way to come to knowledge and the only way to come to wisdom and all learning and true biblical knowledge is to come through the path of uncompromising living. Babylon was the center of knowledge, supposedly the center of advanced science, the laws of the Medes and the Persians was there, the wisdom of the Chaldeans, the great libraries of the world. The scholarship was there, and these guys graduated magna cum laude from the whole thing, or sum cum laude if you will, thanks to God. Supernaturally God helped them to learn it all and then beyond that God gave Daniel the ability to read visions and dreams.
And this prepares Daniel, of course, for the prophecies that unfold in this book. What tremendous blessing. They would know what they needed to know. They would have wisdom from God. Verse 18 says, “Then at the end of the days which the King had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before an Nebuchadnezzar.” Three years have gone by now, and they’re examined by the king, and probably they’re given some evaluation by the assistants who carry them through this and by Ashpenaz who’s in charge of it. It says there that the king specified for presenting them. In other words they came in and stood before the King. This is graduation time and these are the elite. Verse 19 says, “The King talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azaria.” Nobody liked them. “So they entered the king’s personal service.”
Blessed with wisdom and blessed with privilege in a pagan culture. What is the path to a privileged position in a pagan culture? It’s the path of an uncompromising life. It’s the path of virtue, holiness, godliness, purity. Verse 20, “As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the King consulted them he found them” – I like this – “ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.” Ten times better than the best. Why? Because they had the Chaldean learning? No, the others had Chaldean learning, but they had God who gave them wisdom. They had the wisdom of the Old Testament, and they had the wisdom that God gave by direct revelation.
How do you reach a position of significance? God will put you in the highest position that He deems for you when you’re the most uncompromising person. You don’t have to find your way there through compromise. I suppose to be absolutely honest and to descend out of the loftiness of Scripture, to the ugliness of politics, that’s why I hate politics. Because politics is a craft of compromise, and you get there because you sell your soul wherever you need too to achieve what you want, and what you end up with then at the pinnacle of the process is a whole bunch of compromisers. It’s the craft of compromise. But if you want to be where God wants you to be, you don’t compromise and let Him lift you up.
And the last point I would make about these young men, particularly Daniel, was that he had unlimited influence. An uncompromising life, unlimited influence. Verse 21, “And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the King.” Seventy years – seventy years. And probably Daniel’s last – by the way he was appointed prime minister – and his last great achievement was to negotiate the release of the captives, so they could return to their land. When you read Ezra chapter 1 verses 1 to 4 about them coming back to their land, you feel Daniel in the background.
Now there are lots of Christian people today who would like to have Christians in places of prominence, and I think most of them think that to get them there, there has to be compromise. And I would take the very opposite perspective and say, to get them there, there has to be an uncompromising godliness and a divine purpose on God’s part to put them there. But the real challenge today may not be along the line of God’s purpose as much as it is along the line of finding an uncompromising man.
An uncompromising life with unashamed boldness that calls us to an uncommon standard that depends on an unearthly protection, built on an unblemished faith that can face unusual testing with unhindered persistence, resulting in immeasurable blessing and unlimited influence. And I suppose we can say in summary: Determine not to compromise and leave to God the results. Right? And let Him put you where he wants. What you can never gain by trying, by manipulating, or by compromising, God will give you for not compromising. And that is the highest place of His holy purpose for your life. Well let’s pray.
Father thank You for our study tonight as You have unfolded for us again the wonderful story of Daniel and what a model he is to us. A man who had no price, a man who could not be bought. And it came to the place where it resulted in him being in the lion’s den and his friends in a fiery furnace, and even then there was no compromise.
Lord, we certainly bear the names of the culture, and we have all to one degree or another felt the educational influence of the culture, but Lord protect us from the lifestyle. Keep us uncompromised, pure, faithful, loyal to the truth and to You the God of truth and to Christ the living truth and to the Spirit of truth. And as we live those uncompromising lives, may You lift us up to whatever duty and task would bring You glory for Christ sake. Amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.