The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Daniel 1:5-8)
Are you working in a company or industry that is agnostic or perhaps even antagonistic to the things of the Lord? The book of Daniel reminds you that God can use your position in powerful ways for His glory. In this four week series, we will study how Daniel leveraged his long career as a public servant to glorify God through his exceptional work.
Today’s passage sets the scene. After the Israelites were conquered by the Babylonians, Daniel finds himself in exile, forced to train to serve the Babylonian king.
Right off the bat, Daniel’s new masters command him to eat defiled food from King Nebuchadnezzar’s table and thus violate God’s law.
What will Daniel do? What are we to do when our employers or the gurus in our industry ask us to do things that are contrary to God’s Word? After all, in Ephesians 6:5 Paul instructs us to “obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”
But as Daniel’s example shows us, we are only to obey earthly authorities up to the point in which their directives clearly violate God’s law. You hear Peter echoing these same sentiments in Acts 5:29 when he says, “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
Eating the food from King Nebuchadnezzar’s table would have violated God’s law. Thus, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself” and respectfully “asked the chief official for permission” to abstain.
Daniel understood what we must understand as we work in a fallen world: that our citizenship is ultimately in the Kingdom of God, not in the kingdoms of this world (see Philippians 3:20). While Scripture clearly commands that we obey earthly authorities, we do so only to the point that those authorities demand that we contradict our ultimate allegiance to King Jesus.
Daniel was prepared to face the consequences of his decision. We must be prepared to do the same.
Where is your employer asking you to contradict God’s Word? How can you winsomely and respectfully push back on those commands in a way in which God would be glorified?
If you’re an entrepreneur, in what ways is the status quo of your industry leading you to subtly violate the Lord’s commands? How might you, like Daniel, step out and courageously seek to redeem what’s broken in your space?
I pray we’d all meditate on those questions this morning and, like Daniel, choose to honor King Jesus over the kings of this world.