Are You Able To Remain Faithful To God Under Oppressive Situations?
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
We can learn much from the Book of Daniel. One of the biggest teachings is about faith and how God is faithful to us when we remain faithful to Him. It also gives us insight about remaining faithful to God under oppressive situations.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem. Besieged means to surround. The Lord gave King Jehoiakim into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar, along with some articles from the house of God which King Nebuchadnezzar placed in the treasure house of his god. He brought the survivors back to Babylon which is known in Jewish history as “The Babylonian Captivity” and “the exile”. The king then commanded Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel, the king’s descendants and some of the nobles to the king’s palace. They had to have the following qualifications:
- no blemishes
- good looking
- gifted in all wisdom
- possessing knowledge and quick to understand
These youth had to have the ability to serve in the king’s palace as the king wished to teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans who were priests, magicians or astronomers. The objective of King Nebuchadnezzar was to convert the exiles into Babylonian culture by destroying all traces of their religious and cultural identity and creating dependence on the royal court. This is why the names of Daniel and his three friends were changed from names that were linked to their God to names that were linked with Babylonian deities (gods) as we see in verses 6 and 7:
6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
For the next three years, King Nebuchadnezzar assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. However, Daniel had resolved in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine and asked the chief of the eunichs not to allow himself to be defiled. The chief admitted to Daniel that he feared the king would see that Daniel would be in worse condition than the others and feared his own head would be endangered by the king. Daniel then replied in verses 12-13:
12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”
God gave favor and compassion to Daniel in the sight of the chief, and the chief agreed to Daniel’s request. There is something important to note here. Though Daniel was in captivity and the objective of his captors was to remove every trace of his identity to his culture, religion and God and to convert him and the others to their culture and religion, Daniel’s integrity remained intact. Though our every instinct would be to fight back, Daniel remained humble and respectful in his request. This helped his situation. Under his difficult situation, he presented himself in a godly manner. God is always looking for this in His children no matter what situation they are in as we represent Him as ambassadors of Christ.
At the end of ten days, the chief saw that Daniel and his three friends looked better and were fatter in the flesh than the youths who were given the king’s food and wine. During the three years, God gave Daniel and his friends learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the three years when all of the youth were brought before Nebuchadnezzar, the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. As they stood before the king, he found them ten times better in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, than all of the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
Though Daniel and his three friends came under captivity and were forced to change their names which linked them to a foreign god, in their hearts they remained faithful TO God. They refused to conform to the ways of their captors. Because Daniel had decided in his heart not to eat anything that would defile him, God brought favor upon him and his friends in the sight of those who were trying to convert him and they agreed to his requests. Spiritually this could even mean not believing or listening to anything that could defile us as in negative thoughts or consuming people’s negative words or actions which will cause us to become bitter and angry. God provided for Daniel and his friends not only physically and spiritually, but He bestowed upon them more wisdom and understanding than the king’s magicians and enchanters which glorified God and no doubt strengthened the faith of Daniel and his friends.
What we need to understand is that there are going to be times when our faith is challenged and others may want us to conform to their ways that go against God’s commands. We see from the example of Daniel and his friends, that when we decide in our heart that we will not defile ourselves with the ways of the world or situations that go against God’s commands, God will be there for us. He will honor our faithfulness to Him. This doesn’t mean we will be exempt from hard times. It doesn’t mean we will be exempt from painful situations. What it does mean is that He will give us what we need to endure the situation until it is over. We must remember Philippians 4:13:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
People may be able to change your outside circumstances, try to make you become like them and even try to change your name/identity of who God has made you to be, but when you remain steadfast on the inside, they will be unable to change your faith in God. God used Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in mighty ways throughout the book of Daniel, using them in ways that glorified God.
No matter what you are going through, resolve in your heart not to be defiled in thought, words or actions that go against God’s commands. Resolve in your heart to remain faithful to God and He will remain faithful to you. Ask God daily to give you great faith and endurance to continue moving forward no matter what is happening around you. He will hear your prayers and provide the wisdom and understanding you need to help you through your situation which will bring all of the glory to God.