Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. – 1 John 5:1-5
Kind Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies were expanding their empire west, and tiny Judah was swallowed up almost without resistance. The Babylonians were fairly generous as conquerors and only took a few of the brightest young men from the Judah’s most prominent families as captives. One of them was Daniel who would have only been a teenager at the time.
Having seen his nation conquered, temple desigrated and taken off into captivity (v2) it would have been easy for Daniel and the other young men to be demoralised and give up on God and to accept the gods and ways of their Babylonian conquerors. The Babylonians did everything they could to change these men from narrow minded Israelites who worshiped the Lord God into sophisticated Babylonians who worshiped the victorious gods of Babylon. They took Daniel over a thousand kilometres from his family and religious community and changed his name from Daniel (which means “God is my Judge”) to Belteshazzar (“May Bel (a Babylonian God) preserve the king”). He was trained in a new tongue and studied the science, religion and politics of Babylon instead of the law of God.
But despite all this pressure to conform to their new environment, Daniel and his companions resolved not turn their backs on God. It would not have been easy for them. The first crisis for Daniel came when he had Babylonian cuisine set before him to eat – there was a bigger problem than pork chops and other foods prohibited under the food laws in the Old Testament. The animals killed for the king’s household were first offered as sacrifices to pagan idols and therefore if he and his companions were to eat them they would be participating in idolatry – the sin that had brought God’s judgement on his people in the first place. So Daniel, politely refused to eat and offered his hosts a wise alternative plan – feed us vegetables for ten days and if we look any thinner or sicker than those who ate the king’s food, they would join them at the banquet table.
Here and throughout the book of Daniel we see how his faithfulness in following the Lord’s commandments are rewarded. These passages should help inspire us daily to faithfully grab hold onto the Lord’s commands despite the cost as we face the pressures of a hostile world. So like John and Daniel we can also testify “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Stay faithful daily readers