Study 3 Daniel 1: 5-21 Values Clarification (April 29, 2020)
The Book of Daniel takes place in modern day Iraq, involving a small group of Jewish young men taken captive into exile there. They are not prophets, priests, or kings, just ordinary people like us. They were chosen to be trained in the knowledge of their new home. We have gone through schools, training programs, and contributed to the on going of our secular culture like the young men in the Book of Daniel. Also we navigate society on the basis of beliefs that characterize our lives and hopefully are observable to others. Today Daniel and friends face their first “values clarification” experience, when beliefs clash with the dominant cultural practices.
- Before we start, reflect on the setting? What might have been “the rub” for these young men in their new culture because of the transition from Israel to Iraq? _______________________________________________ OK, that might be hard to imagine so let’s ponder where the conflicts are for immigrants coming to the USA? Where is “the rub” when they approach life differently? ______________________________________________ Now reflect on what aspects of the USA culture grates on your nerves? ______________________________________________ Let’s read our text and see what issue Daniel & Co decided to focus on.
5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. 6 Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah. 7 The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. 9 Now God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master. 10 The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12 “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe.” 14 So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. 16 So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, 19 and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21 And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus.
- Daniel &Co chose to focus on dietary regulations of their religion. You might enjoy reviewing Leviticus 11 that deals the dietary laws for the Jews. Diets are huge fads for us too. Remember Atkins, Keto, Weight Watchers? Face Book continually advertises ways to deal nutritionally with diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and overweight. We have not even entered discussions of food allergies. Food is a huge thing and part of our identity. What diet did Daniel propose? ______________________ What are the advantages of this diet? ______________ Problems _____________
- Diets while personal decisions, create implications for the other. How did the steward respond when presented with Daniel’s request? _____ What were his problems with Daniel’s proposal?___________________
- Since we meet virtually, let me name a hypothetical issue of our day. Let’s pick swearing, the use of God’s name carelessly, breaking the second commandment. I ask my children not to swear, at least in our house. So let’s think about it. What are some of the reasoning that might support this request? ___________________________________________________ What might be some of the benefits? __________________________ How does this request impact the lives of the other? _________________
- When met by the steward’s resistance, Daniel negotiates. He proposes a trial period of 10 days. As you think of the issue that irritates you, pick one and ponder what a trial period might look like. __________________
- At the end of the trial period, what marked Daniel’s plan as successful. _________________________ What would mark success of your suggestion? __________________
The Bible mentions now that Daniel also had gifts in interpreting dreams. This will become important later but for now, Daniel got his “toe in the door” with his diet. I note there is no indication that Daniel advised it for the whole court. It seems that Daniel chose to stand up for personal integrity with his religious values. Perhaps “faithfulness in small things” resulted in opportunities for further use of spiritual gifts and resulting opportunities to witness to his faith.
- Identify an arena where faithfulness in small details, while perhaps a bit nit-picky in nature, might establish your character and open the door for sharing the faith that is foundational to your life?___________________
- Share with a friend about your thoughts and set a period of time when you will pray for each other.