What comes to mind when you think of the book of Daniel? For most people, images of statues, fantastic beasts, and prophecies come to mind. While it is definitely true that the book of Daniel contains prophecies that shed light on end-time events, the book of Daniel also has stories of faith and redemption. If you study carefully, you can find the Gospel message in the book of Daniel! You can find Jesus Christ in the book of Daniel!
Let’s open our Bibles and read Daniel chapter 1 together.
In verse 8 Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s delicacies or wine. Have you ever thought about what it took to make that kind of commitment? This is more than simply wanting to stay a vegetarian and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Let’s consider what Daniel experienced prior to making this decision.
Daniel witnessed the destruction of his homeland and God’s holy temple (Daniel 1:1-2). He was shackled at the neck with his fellow Jewish captives (Isaiah 52:2) and forced to march over 500 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon (a trip that could be as long as 900 miles since the captives would not be able to travel directly across the desert). Daniel likely witnessed quite a few of his compatriots die along the way.
When Daniel arrived at Babylon, the Babylonians changed his name to Belteshazzar (Daniel 1:7). He was likely castrated (Isaiah 39:5-7), which meant he would never be able to have a family. Stripped of his Jewish identity, Daniel was given a chance with other young men to assimilate into Babylonian culture (Daniel 1:3-5), but Daniel would never be fully accepted into Babylonian society and would be reminded of his status by others as one of the “captives of Judah” (Daniel 2:25; 5:13; 6:13).
Yet, despite the tragedy of Daniel’s circumstances, he chose to stay committed to God. Daniel must have made a total commitment and faithfulness to God before Jerusalem fell to Babylon and he was taken captive. Daniel demonstrated his commitment to God by keeping his body, a temple of the Lord, pure and undefiled from the king’s food and drink (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The story of Daniel in chapter 1 is that of a prince so far from home, who experienced much sorrow and yet overcame worldly temptation. Friend, does this story sound familiar? Are you not reminded of Jesus, a Prince of heaven (Isaiah 9:6) who came down to earth and experienced much sorrow (Isaiah 53:3-5), yet was able to overcome worldly temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)?
The first chapter of the book of Daniel teaches us to have such faith in God that we will continue to follow Him, regardless of our external circumstances. Friend, are you willing to have the faith of Jesus Christ and follow God no matter what?