Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Have you ever felt different and out of place? Does it feel as if you are sticking out like a sore thumb?
The world has its views and opinions about various matters. Some views may be pragmatic and helpful, but some are not.
As Christians, our ultimate allegiance is not to the world but to our Lord Jesus Christ. It may be tempting at times to compromise on our Christian values to fit in with the world. We are often tempted to conform to the world to avoid ridicule, scorn, and even persecution.
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling
The city fell into the hands of Babylon
The captors of Jerusalem thought that they had won
The battle against the God of Jerusalem
Had God forsaken the people of His kingdom?
The kings of Judah had turned away from their Lord
Their heinous sins brought upon them God’s mighty sword
The people were unrepentant despite many warnings
Conveyed by God’s prophets to idolatrous kings
In the third year of King Jehoiakim’s evil reign
Under the mighty sword of God who was sovereign
The king of Judah was taken to Babylon
He rebelled and God punished him as he had sworn
Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon
Proudly brought back some spoils of war that he had won
The spoils were the king of Judah and the vessels
Valuable vessels plundered from the Lord’s temple
He placed the vessels in his god’s house in Shinar
He also brought some youths of Judah from afar
The youths were of royalty and nobility
Good looking, wise, smart and of high competency
In the palace, the youths were taught the literature
Language, mythologies, manners, ways and culture
Of the Chaldeans; the pagan ways of Babylon
The youths’ minds were to be influenced and ‘reborn’
Among the youths were Daniel and Azariah
As well as Mishael and Hananiah
They were given new names and new identities
Their new names were coined after pagan deities
Daniel, who was given the name, Belteshazzar
Resolved not to eat food from Nebuchadnezzar
He and his friends resolved not to be defiled
With the food and wine offered to idols so vile
He asked the chief of the eunuchs with God’s wisdom
To be given a trial of ten days and the freedom
To consume only vegetables and plain water
Their appearance was to be assessed thereafter
God granted him and his friends favour with the chief
Who, after the ten-day trial, felt utter relief
For compared to all the youths who ate the king’s food
They looked much better and fatter and very good
God granted them wisdom, skill, and understanding
They were ten times better and more outstanding
Than all the king’s magicians in the kingdom
God preserved this small remnant from Jerusalem
They honoured God as exiles in a foreign land
They possessed faith that the world could not understand
Their faith rested in God’s promise to Abraham
From their tribe would come the Christ, the Passover Lamb
As Christians, we are elect exiles in our land
We possess faith that the world cannot understand
So great is the temptation to conform
To the world and compromise our faith in the storm
But Christ has redeemed us as His holy people
His Spirit soothes and guides us in times of trouble
Let us resolve to live with sincere devotion
Set apart as people of God’s holy nation
Points for Reflection:
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.
(Daniel 1:8 ESV)
· Daniel and his friends’ ultimate allegiance was not to the king of Babylon, but to the God of their fathers.
· Despite being exiles in a foreign land, they honoured God by not defiling themselves with food offered to idols. It was tempting to blend in with the crowd to avoid trouble, but to them, honouring God was their topmost priority.
· They respected the authority of their captors, but their ultimate allegiance was to their great and faithful God. God gave Daniel wisdom in asking the chief of the eunuchs for permission to put them on a ten-day trial on vegetables and water.
· Who do you surrender your ultimate allegiance to? Are you tempted at times to blend in with the world to avoid scorn, ridicule, or persecution?
· Daniel and his friends did not turn away from God despite the difficult situation they were in. Their city, Jerusalem, was conquered by the Babylonians and they were obscure exiles in the pagan city of Babylon.
· They trusted in the promise that God made with their ancestor, Abraham. They believed that God would establish His eternal kingdom through the Messiah who would descend from their tribe, Judah. Many centuries later, Jesus Christ came to the earth to save not just the Jews, but people from every nation who trust in Him.
· When Christ came, He declared all food, that was once unclean, to be clean. Christ has reconciled unclean sinners to Himself and made them clean through His death on the cross. We can now eat food offered to idols because what is from the outside cannot make us unclean but it is our filthy hearts that need to be cleansed with the blood of Jesus Christ. But if eating food offered to idols would stumble new Christians, the most loving act would be to not partake in the food.
· Do you believe that your faith in Christ has made you clean despite your past? Are you trusting in His saving grace?