Week 8 – Daniel
The book of Daniel starts out with very little backstory for Daniel himself. We know he’s from the royal family of Israel, one of the captives taken to Babylon to be trained up in the court of Nebuchadnezzar alongside his friends and fellow Israelites. But that’s about all we have in chapter 1. Later in the book we learn that he’s clearly gifted by God in a number of areas, including through gifts of prophecy and visions. We also see him and his friends go through numerous trials for being faithful Israelites in the Babylonian court.
We see an example of this in chapter 1, when Daniel and his three friends are offered “the king’s food,” which didn’t conform to the dietary requirements of the Mosaic law. This story is about so much more than food though. It wasn’t that Daniel and co. were being offered food they technically shouldn’t eat. Really they were being invited to cast off their Jewish identity and take up a new identity as part of the Babylonian court, symbolized by conforming to the Babylonian diet. Ultimately their adherence to Jewish dietary law wasn’t a cultural practice or a result of their upbringing, it was a conscious decision to remain faithful to the God of Israel by obeying his commands, even when it put them in jeopardy. And we see at the end of this story that God blessed Daniel and his friends for taking this risk by bringing them favor with the king.
This passage might initially seem like some weird old story about food, but there’s a lot we can gain by studying and applying it to our lives. Daniel’s experience can give us hope, hope that we too can stay faithful in the midst of a society beckoning us to identify with anything other than our God. It can also give us confidence, since facing down these struggles presents opportunities to both rely on and witness God’s provision.
The Bible Project: Daniel
Questions for Discussion
The sermon was 1:8-21, but vv.3-7 will provide some helpful background.
• Let’s look at Daniel 1:3-21.
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• What did eating the king’s food seem to mean to Daniel and his friends?
• Why do you think God gave Daniel and his friends favor over this food issue?
• How does Daniel’s story relate to the Christian life today?
• Could someone to read 1 John 1:7-9?
• Since Jesus died for our sin, how do we go about addressing or avoiding “defilement”?