Not So Fast

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Have you ever been thrown into a foreign situation and thought, “Whoa, not so fast here?  This doesn’t feel, look, or seem right.”  That is how it was for Daniel and his three Hebrew friends: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  These were four handsome, skillful, and smart young men either of the nobility or of the royal family; most likely of the line of King David.  (Daniel 1: 3-5) They were taken from their home in Judah to live in a foreign pagan land by the name of Babylon ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had besieged the land of Judah and some of the finest inhabitants therein.

Besiege: to surround with troops; to harass with requests.

Do you feel besieged at times by the enemy?  Seasons in life probably will.  Christ followers will feel besieged by the enemy to carry out the desires of the flesh rather than the desires of the Holy Spirit within us. (Matthew 26:41)

Daniel and his Hebrew friends were told they would eat the finest food of the king’s.  This food was not only for these four men, but for all the men exiled from Judah and involuntarily enrolled in the king’s service.  But our hero of the faith, Daniel, quickly distinguishes himself from the pack by resolving not to “defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)

Resolve: to make a firm decision on something; to find a solution.

The next verse is important because we see it repeated throughout our text, “And God gave.” (Daniel 1:9) Throughout Daniel 1 and the book of Daniel, we see God giving: health, favor and compassion, learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, understanding in all visions and dreams, and deliverance from death-defying adversity.

Daniel and his three friends resolved not to defile themselves and in so doing God gave them what was needed for their success and His glory.

“What is wrong with a little wine and red meat?” you might say.

I am so glad you asked! Perhaps nothing at all.

It is important to note that in the beginning Adam and Eve were free to eat of any plant in the Garden of Eden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  I once heard it described this way when taking into consideration the Hebrew text, “You are free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free, free to eat. Except this one tree.”

Following the fall of man, Adam, Eve, and all their descendants continued to eat of food that came from the earth; that is no animal meat had yet been consumed.  That all changed after Noah and his family’s deliverance from the earth wide flood of judgement.  God told Noah and his family, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is its blood.” Genesis 9:3-4

Now we know why the clean animals went into the ark in pairs of seven right?

So we see that meat was not bad.  God had given his blessing to eat of meat.  What about wine?  Wine was already around in and before the days of Noah because as we read in Genesis 9:20-21 Noah planted a vineyard and got drunk!  Noah was a man whom God said, ” was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9.

Even righteous men can overindulge in a permitted thing that can lead to sin.  Further, indulging in a permissible practice before the permitted time is a sin.  Daniel may have felt this was the case.

So the above text combined with Genesis 9:20-21 lead me to believe that righteous men drank freely (with God’s blessing) yet they also sinned by getting drunk.

Considering everything we have read so far, Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were technically free to drink of the wine and eat of the meat from the king’s table in that they would not have been sinning by so doing.  That is, given that the meat was of a clean animal and prepared in such a way as laid out in the book of Leviticus chapter 11. Conversely, King Nebuchadnezzar served a pagan god (Daniel 1:2)  and could possibly have sacrificed the meat to his god and or prepared it in such a way that it would have not have been permissible for a God-fearing Israelite to eat.

We benefit from considering these words from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

The great thing that Daniel avoided was defiling himself with pollutions of sin; that is the thing we should be more afraid of than of any outward trouble. Daniel, having taken up this resolution, requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself, not only that he might not be compelled to do it, but that he might not be tempted to do it, that the bait might not be laid before him, that he might not see the portion appointed him of the king’s meat, nor look upon the wine when it was red.  It will be easier to keep the temptation at a distance than to suffer it to come near and then be forced to put a knife to our throat. Note, We cannot better improve our interest in any with whom we have found favour than by making use of them to keep us from sin.”

And now to the heart of the matter for our purposes.  We are in week two of our focus on fasting because fast is more than a speed.  Daniel fasted from all things but “pulse and water”  (Daniel 1:12) for ten days and then had his appearance and that of his fellow fasting companions compared to the other men enrolled in the king’s service and eating of the king’s food. Pulse here refers to anything which grows from a seed.  This would have been the diet of Adam and Eve.

The Daniel Fast is one that you and I can follow as a 10 or 21 day (see Daniel 10:2) period in order that we might bring God glory and grow in our relationship with Him.

Perhaps you have heard of Susan Gregory, author of the book, “The Daniel Fast.”  She has devoted her life and studies to helping fellow believers follow the Daniel fast as laid out in the Bible.  If you are interested check out her website. In so doing, I stumbled upon what I think is the most concise and effective summary of why we should partake in the Daniel fast:
“our spirit tells our soul to, “Sit down and behave. I am in charge. You can’t
have everything you want.”

In like manner, Matthew Henry writes, “For their imminent sufferings. Those that had thus inured themselves to hardship, and lived a life of self-denial and mortification, could the more easily venture upon the fiery furnace and the den of lions, rather than sin against God.”

The Daniel Fast is not to be entered into lightly.  You will get hungry and might benefit from preparing yourself with go to foods and recipes as outlined by Susan.  It is nice to practice some godly self-discipline and feel the power of telling yourself “no.”   Practicing the present challenge of “no” might make it easier to flex those self-denial muscles when you are feeling besieged yourself and say, “Whoa, not so FAST!”

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Research and partake in the Daniel Fast as the Lord leads you.
  • Add some fruit and veggies to your diet this week and marvel at our God who spoke them into being.
  • If you are more in the diet mode than the fasting mode then you should check out Lysa Terkeurst’s book, “Made to Crave.”  Her newfound self-discipline in diet is encouraging and will point you to the Father.
  • Watch and contemplate the following video:

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