2018-01-03 / Religion

Sincere faith in the Word of God

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Daniel 1

Many people in our world settle for a “plastic” — even “phony” — life-style. If a person reveals his or her true intent or attitude, this fact becomes confusing to some members of society. When one reads the Word of God — the Bible — accuracy and truthfulness is the expected standard.

In a self-centered society, social pressure and personal acceptance have become the standard by which many lives are governed. Thus, there is not “real standard” by which actions and attitudes are measured. This “anything goes” picture become confusing to the individual, and the people who live around them.

The person who lives by the Word of God has an eternal standard by which all actions can be measured. These standards apply to personal lives, and become a “measuring stick” for all actions — public and private.

The kingdom of Judah was captured by the Babylonians. The victors carried many of the Israelites into captivity. These conquerors were selective in gathering their captives. The Record tells us that the army of Nebuchadnezzar “carried away Jehoiachin [the king] to Babylon, and king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty men of the land…And all the men of might…and craftsmen and smiths…all that were strong and apt for war…” 2 Kings 24:15, 16.

Those who were carried to Babylon were, further, screened for use in that kingdom. The person in charge of these captives was given a royal directive. He was to “bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Daniel 1:3b, 4.

The Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21) selected four of these captives as special examples of commitment to God — Jehovah. “Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” Daniel 1:6. These four were given Babylonian names — “he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar, and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.” Daniel 1:7. The best evidence shows these four Hebrew captives were teen-agers at the time of their being snatched from their homeland.

The Babylonians had devised a system of study that would prepare these young captives for service in the kingdom. This governmental plan included the diet of their students. These young Jewish captives had been well-versed in the Old Testament Law. They understood dietary laws that had become engrained in their society — and their personal lifestyle.

The food that was offered to these captives would have been considered the “best in the land.” However, much of this food would have been offered to idols, as part of their worship. The Record states, “But Daniel purposed (settled; resolved) in his heart that he would not defile (desecrate; pollute) himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…” Daniel 1:8a, b.

Singular focus of life knows no boundaries nor time-frame. These young men had been taught the fundamentals of the Law, and specific applications in daily life. This fact prompted Daniel to make a request of the officer who was in charge of the welfare of these selected youths — “therefore he requested (asked) of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8c.

Even though the heathen officer did not know Jehovah, the power of God was at work in his personal life. “Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:9. However, this special position of Daniel was not enough to make the officer immediately grant the request — “And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink…” Daniel 1:10a. This heathen man did not desire to put his own life in peril — “for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.” Daniel 1:10b.

Daniel and the other three proposed an experiment — “Prove (test) thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse (vegetables) to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.” Daniel 1:13. The officer consented to this plan. Daniel 1:14. “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter of flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” Daniel 1:15. Their request was granted. Daniel 1:16.

At the end of the time of their training, these young men were “tested”, as were their fellow slaves. “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom…” Daniel 1:17a. The Record adds, “and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel 1:17b.

These young men excelled in all of their areas — “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:20.

Today, many young people — and, sadly, older ones as well — have little or no knowledge of the Bible — and even less regarding the application of its teachings. In a land that has easy access to the Word of God, there is “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord…” Amos 8:11.

May each of us put forth the effort to know the Word of God, and learn to apply it to our daily lives.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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