What's the Big Deal About Food?

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Daniel was not at home. Daniel lived imprisoned in land that was not his choice. It was the king of Babylon’s country. It was a rich land indeed— the wealthiest of the age—the most powerful of all earth kingdoms, but it was not Daniel’s home. No doubt Daniel’s choices were many and his accountability only personal. Daniel was a eunuch, why not celebrate?

At some point Daniel purposed to live for the God of His homeland no matter what. We cannot know but it is not without possibility that as a royal prince, Daniel had lived carelessly in his Judean homeland. At least others of the royal family did so. Such was the reason for God’s punishment of the Hebrews. Neither is it without possibility that in the 600-mile journey, naked and chained as a royal prisoner, that Daniel thought deeply about life and saw that this imprisonment was indeed a consequence of unrighteous living and the judgment Jeremiah had predicted? Is this when Daniel purposed not to defile himself? We cannot know for certain.

We do know that Daniel purposed in his heart to serve God no matter what. His resolve was tested when the king demanded that he and the other Jewish princes eat the king’s own lavish food and dine on his wine. Daniel knew that this food would displease God. The king’s servant in charge of the Jewish princes said, “I am afraid the king will kill me if you refuse this food and become thinner than the others.” It seemed the king wanted to use these young prisoners for his kingdom advancement. To have them healthy, wealthy and wise was important to his purpose.

But Daniel said, “Allow my friends and I to drink water and eat common vegetable for ten days, then see who appears better—we or those who eat the king’s food.”

The servant in charge agreed to the experiment. God took over and at the end of the agreed upon days, Daniel and his friends had received grace from their God and favor with men. Daniel’s determined purpose to obey God no matter what gave him strength to do right when tests came.

The Bible does not say exactly why Daniel refused the king’s dainties and wine. Daniel’s scriptures though gave him commands for obedience. “Ye shall eat no manner of blood” (Lev 7:26). “Thou shalt have no other God” (Ex 34:14).

Archaeological evidence shows things about ancient Babylonian culture and customs that help us understand why this food was a big deal to Daniel and a frontal attack to his purpose of heart. A Babylonian king’s food and wine was first offered to their gods as part of their religious worship. It was then served. Babylonian recipes written on clay tablets call for blood in their foods and dainties. No wonder it was a big deal to a heart that purposed to serve God.

Peter writes, you are a generation that is chosen, a royal group of priests, a people called to holiness, to be God’s own people and to show the excellencies of the God who has called you out
of sin and into His marvelous Light. A Christian’s homeland is not this world though we are imprisoned here in flesh. A Christian’s purpose is to do the will of His Father’s homeland—“Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
What is the big deal then? It was not merely the foods in Daniel’s test but a violation of purpose to serve God. The same test remains for those who are not of this world but live in it.

What is the big deal about food, Daniel? What is the big deal young man or young woman?
God and purpose that’s what!
Greencastle PA
December 2009