OVERCOMING TRIALS

Today’s reading begins with Jeremiah chapters 19 and 20. In chapter 19 we read Jeremiah prophesying to the leaders of the people at the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem against the people of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. He warned them again that their persistent idolatry would soon bring down the LORD’s terrible judgment upon their people and their city. In chapter 20, he gives further prophesies against Judah saying that the LORD will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon and that the king would take the people captive to Babylon (Jer. 20:4).

The second reading for today is Daniel chapter 1 where we read of the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s judgment against Judah. Daniel and his three friends are among the first group of captives taken from Jerusalem to Babylon and chosen to be trained to serve the Babylonians.

As part of their indoctrination into “all things Babylonian” these four young men were given new names, new food, and a new education. Their new names were linked to the Babylonian religion to discourage their loyalty to Yahweh and encourage them to adopt the religion of their captors. Their new diet was also given to draw them into the Babylonian culture and religion. Daniel didn’t object to his new name or the instruction he would receive, but he did object to the food (and wine) he was expected to eat. Why? Because it would have been a direct violation of God’s word. No doubt this food wasn’t kosher and would have been food offered to the Babylonian idols. It might seem like a small thing to us, but it wasn’t to Daniel and his friends.

Here in chapter 1 we are given some principles on how to overcoming trials in our own lives.

First, Daniel purposed in his heart (1:8). Daniel made up his beforehand that he would not compromise God’s standards.

Second, he sought a positive outcome for his trial (1:12-14). He sought and found favor with his superiors. He politely requested to be excused from the king’s table and made a proposal that his superiors could accept.

Third, Daniel and his three friends were willing to accept the cost of keeping God’s word. In this instance they were rewarded for their faithfulness by the favor and the goodwill of the king’s authorities. (Later in the book they will face opposition and persecution.)
May the example of Daniel and his friends be an encouragement to us when we are faced with trials and testing!
Shalom

by Paul Schmidt, Elder

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