Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Daniel 1:3-4
Daniel opens with Judah being defeated by the Babylonians. The last of the Israelites sovereignty as a nation gone. The city and even the Temple were plundered and the king’s family, along with the strongest, smartest, and best-looking Jews were exiled to Babylon. Daniel was among this group.
The Babylonian king had a plan. He wanted to reprogram these Jewish men and make them true Babylonians. He would give them the finest food and wine, new literature, a new language, a new value system, a new way to think and act. A three-year training program. The Jewish men would have a choice: remain God’s chosen people – obedient and set apart – or conform to the new culture they found themselves in.
Daniel draws boundary lines immediately. He refuses to defile himself and asks permission from the attending servant to abstain from the king’s food and wine. He wanted a meager meal of vegetables and water.
At the end of their three-year training program, all the men were brought before the king. None were found to be a match for Daniel (and his three friends who joined him in establishing boundaries) in terms of appearance, wisdom, and understanding. God had given them all they needed for the position they found themselves in before the king.
Like Daniel, culture is trying hard to influence us as well. We are bombarded with enticing messages and tempted with choices that are contrary to God’s Word. It’s a slippery slope and we too need to learn to draw cultural boundary lines.
Questions: Why do you think it was important for Daniel to draw the line immediately as to what he was willing to do? Are there lines you need to draw in the cultural surroundings you find yourself in?