A couple of weeks ago, just before I embarked upon a new journey, the Lord brought my attention to Daniel (one of my favorite books), chapter 1.
In this chapter, we see those of Jerusalem being carried off into Babylon, by Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar, as a consequence of the nation’s sin against God; Daniel and his three friends—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—were in the number.
In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring into his service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, well informed, etc., and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. The chosen group would get 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. Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. On being chosen, these young men’s names were changed: Daniel’s to Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s to Shadrach, Mishael’s to Meshach, and Azariah’s to Abednego (see verse 7).
Now, we see that Daniel and his companions were to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians, and we see that they were also given names of the Babylonians. Daniel didn’t contest those things the king did, seeking to assimilate them with the Babylonian culture (as studies show this was not in direct conflict with Jewish law); however, when it came to eating the king’s food and drinking his wine, Daniel, as we see in verse 8, outright refused that. He would not defile himself. “Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” And as we see in verse 9, “God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of eunuchs.”
So, what was it about the king’s food and wine that made Daniel feel like he’d be defiling himself if he partook of it? According to my study (of the ESV Study Bible), “Daniel and his friends avoided the luxurious diet of the king’s table as a way of protecting themselves from being ensnared by the temptations of the Babylonian culture. They used their distinctive diet [as Israelites ate very differently, according to the law] as a way of retaining their distinctive identity as Jewish exiles and avoiding complete assimilation into Babylonian culture (which was the king’s goal with these conquered subjects).” Their restricted diet [of vegetables and water only], it goes on to note, continually reminded the men that they were the people of God in a foreign land, and that they were dependent for food, and their very lives, upon Him, their Creator, not King Nebuchadnezzar.
So as we see, by Daniel and his friends’ example, just because we may be in “Babylon,” it doesn’t mean that we have to partake of the sins of Babylon. We, as Christian women, have been called, chosen, and set apart for the work of God, and to be lights pointing others to His Kingdom (and we can’t do that if we’re conforming).
Sure, we may have to spend a great deal of time in our “Babylons” (i.e., our jobs, our schools, at family functions [which sometimes turn out to be dysfunctions]), but we don’t have to partake of the sins taking place there.
God honored Daniel and his friends for remembering and honoring Him, and for refusing to compromise in a place where they could have easily fallen in with everything ungodly (see verses 10-21). And He will do the same for us when we make remembering and honoring Him, no matter where we are, our chief priority.
*Note: Verses from both the NIV and ESV translations are used within the text.