1“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim his hand…3Then king Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishaael, and Azariah… 8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself…10And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” 11So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishaael, and Azariah, 12“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishaael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.”
Peer pressure is an important issue that affects us all. It can even influence us to make life changing decisions. You may be a teenager who feels that if you don’t have sex by a certain age then you’ll be thought of as ‘weird’. You may be pressured on your job to compromise your integrity because you’ve been told ‘that’s how people get ahead in this company.’ There are countless other scenarios like these, where people of all ages feel obliged to act contrary to what they know is right. It’s during these times that God can give us strength to stand firm and not bow to what the crowd is doing. The above story doesn’t advocate that you eat only vegetables! However it does contain some important principles that can help and encourage you to live a life pleasing to God, and reap the benefits therof.
1) Don’t Compromise (Verse 8) – Daniel decided that he would not compromise. He took the initiative to make sure he didn’t. According to the Old Testament Law, God forbade the eating of certain foods. For example in Leviticus 11, God forbade the people of Israel eating animals that do not have cloven hooves (e.g. horse), or fish without scales and fins. The eating of such foods deemed a person unclean. Therefore it was important for Daniel and his friends not to disobey God’s will in this matter.
We too must have a firm stance on what we consider right and wrong. For example, if you are a teenager, you should be aware of issues such as sex, alcohol, drugs etc. Think about the consequences of your choices. Are you prepared for the possibility of an unexpected child or disease if you choose to have sex outside marriage? What are the health risks of smoking? Drugs – if you get addicted, then what? These are things that only affect you. The consequences of making a wrong move can also last a lifetime.
2) The Comparison Factor (Verse 10) – When it comes to peer pressure, people will try to convince you that if you don’t ‘go with the flow’ you won’t be as well off as those who do. You may feel left out. This is especially true in the case of sex. Daniel may have even felt under more pressure because the chief eunuch expressed fear over his own safety. However God strengthened Daniel to stand firm.
3) The Test of Time (Verses 12-14) – Daniel had such belief in God that he put Him to the test. There is great strength in living according to God’s will. On the other hand, compromise weakens. Daniel was confident that after 10 days of eating just vegetables and drinking water, he would be healthier and stronger than those eating the king’s delicacies. Similarly, I guarantee you that if you obey God and accept His Son Jesus Christ, you will be MUCH BETTER off than those who decide to partake of the sinful pleasures of this world.
God honoured the faith of Daniel and his friends. As verse 15 says, their features appeared better than those of their peers! If you put you faith in Jesus Christ, you’ll be amazed how God will bless you, showing others that His way is best. If you are a teenage or young person, stay in school, work hard, stay away from drink, drugs, and premarital sex. When you look back, you’ll have no regrets.
4) The Blessings of Obedience (Verses 17, 20) – As a result of their obedience to God, Daniel and his friends were blessed by God for the rest of their lives. Verse 17 states that God gave them valuable knowledge, skill and understanding. This caused them to be ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in the king’s realm (verse 20). Daniel’s friends Hananiah, Mishaael, and Azariah went on to become rulers over the affairs of Babylon (3:12) while Daniel went on to become the third highest ruler over the whole kingdom (5:29)! Can you imagine what these young men would have missed if they had bowed to the pressure of disobeying God? Similarly, you could miss out on a glorious future, in the quest for present pleasure or acceptance. I urge you to live for God by receiving Jesus Christ. GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!