The Choice Young Men
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.
8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
I found two things interesting in this passage. Number 1 - "The Lord gave Johoiakim king of Judah into his hand". Nothing happens on this rock spinning around the sun without God's knowledge. He knows, He sees, and He is capable of preventing, but He does not. At least, not always. I often wonder how many things He does protect us from that we never even find out about? And yet why do so many terrible things happen? Does He just allow them, or does that fact that He could prevent them but chooses not to mean that these things are from Him? "He gave Johoiakim..." Does He give us hard things to teach us, stretch us, mold us, or does He simply use things that happen to His good purposes? This verse would tend to indicate the former. Or is it both? This is so hard, so very, very hard to wrap our human minds around when we hear and see terrible things happen and can't understand the reasons for them. He knows and sees all. Nothing happens that he doesn't know about, allow, give permission for, or however you want to say it. For me, what it boils down to is how much do I trust Him? First, do I trust that when things happen that I don't understand or can't see any possible way that this could have been part of His plan that He will work it together ultimately for good? And second, do I trust that no matter what my circumstances are He is with me and will help me, even if I can't see how until later?
The second thing I thought interesting was that Daniel sought permission from the commander. Human nature would normally say that one would have to be sneaky and devious or go behind the commander's back. Sneak food from the kitchens, hide the fact that he's not eating the king's food or drinking the wine, etc. Not Daniel. He sought permission. I sometimes wonder what we miss out on because we don't ask? From God, first of all, but also from others? Okay, so the manager at your job isn't a Christian. Does that mean you can't ask not to be scheduled to work Sunday mornings? Just an example, but I think you see what I mean?
Anyway, so sorry for the lateness of my post. I didn't have a chance to check out the sermons on this passage, but I'm sure they have some excellent insights to impart. Happy almost-Friday!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Daniel 1:9-20