Daniel Fast 2023

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Message Text

Daniel 1:3-16 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

Message Notes

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah had been selected to serve in the king’s palace. This would require a reeducation from their traditional Israelite culture to a pagan Chaldean culture. Names, language, religion and food would all be altered to reflect their new home and culture. Daniel in the midst of this intentional culture shift would seek out opportunities to display his devotion to God and reveal God’s faithfulness.

1. Pick your battles.

...teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.

Daniel did not resist the reading assignments or the language classes. He did not go on a hunger strike to show how passionate he was for his God. He did not curse Ashpenaz and refuse every directive. He chose something that God could prove himself in and not jeopardize his relationship with those over him.

You must decide for yourself what battles you are called to fight. I can tell you definitively it is not all of them.

17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Obedience to God does not end obedience to the state. Is the church fighting the fights that will bring God glory or that will advance a position? Many political/religious fights have been waged, and God was never exalted by the outcomes.

2. Favor comes first.

9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,

Daniel wasn’t supernaturally given favor in spite of being a jerk. God gave him an excellent spirit which produced favor from the people he was around.

If we are going to take a stand for something, being a jerk will compromise everything you are standing for. Gaining favor with people requires us to see them as people first, not representatives of some opposing position. Know people enough to have a conversation.

Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, 2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Genesis 39:3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.

Scripture highlights working hard and treating people right and then you will find favor with God and men. Don’t disqualify yourself because of your work ethic or family life. If our personal life is exposed will it void the stand we are deciding to take?

3. Ask with understanding.

Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.

It is dangerous and counterproductive to believe everyone that disagrees with you is scheming with the devil to destroy you. Stop being so dramatic! We live in a post-Christian world. People are naturally following the culture. Part of introducing people to the goodness of God is understanding their reality.

“I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.”

Never assume people grew up in church and later rejected it on purpose. Your stand may be their first introduction. Be kind and understanding. There are times we have to realize the impact our stand can have on someone else.

4. Let God prove himself.

“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Are we encouraging people to test God’s faithfulness and leaving the results to Him, or are we demanding obedience to a rule? Rules never provide relationships. Daniel realized the chief eunuch had given him favor and didn’t want to do anything that would put him in harm’s way, so he offered him a way out. If this doesn’t work, you get to decide. God is big enough to fill the void.

God desires people to experience His goodness, not capitulate to rules that make us look like we have a relationship with him when we don’t. Rules might produce obedience but never devotion.

When we take a stand, we have to allow the process to happen in the lives of others. It’s never the stand that convinces people but the results, and results take time. Christians want to get everyone’s attention because we are taking a stand against something ungodly; everyone else is waiting for the results. Stand quietly and let God provide the results - then you will have to take fewer stands.

16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.