This lesson is a distillation and video vignette of parts of the third audio-only Daniel lesson.
Click here for the full audio of Daniel lessons (“listen”) and access to class handouts:

We’ve seen Daniel in his commitment to be faithful to God. And apparently, as I mentioned before, that was his decision. The other three came along for the ride. Now we move into vv. 9–16, if you will. Let me read it. It says, “Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of eunuchs. Notice that while Daniel is accepting God’s Word, its authority, its guidance and direction on Earth, those decisions are having an effect in Heaven. In other words, God is blessing Daniel’s faithfulness. This is what we call the providence of God. “Now, God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, ‘I fear my Lord the King, who is appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age?’” As far as age is concerned, Daniel and his friends, when they were taken, were probably 14 years old. There are Babylonian records that say the captive slave’s training period was from the age of about 14 to the age of 17. So, they would have been about 14 years old when they were taken, and they had three years of training. He says, “why should he see your faces [as] looking worse than the men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” In other words, I’m going to be in trouble because I haven’t done what he commanded me to.

Daniel, in tremendous insight and discernment, comes up with a plan. “Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.’” As I’ve mentioned before, “vegetables” mean anything that grows from seeds. It could be vegetables; it could be fruit; could be grains—any of those things. Verse 13, “Then 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.” In other words, Daniel proposes a compromise. He proposes a test. This is the first of three lessons that we’re going to learn in the book on civil disobedience. You know that the Bible teaches civil disobedience. We see it all the way through the Bible. Daniel, of course, is one of the great books where we can actually break it down into three different principles based on chapter one, chapter three, and chapter six—the great testing chapters. We’ll see how that goes. Verse 14 (and 15), “So, he consented with them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. And 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. Thus, the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.”

One of the first parallels that I make there in your notes is a parallel between Daniel and Ezra. Ezra, of course, went through at least a part of the captivity; you’ll remember that when they returned at the end of the captivity, after the 70 years, Ezra was the priest that went back with the people. If you hold your place here, we can see the decision that Ezra made. Ezra 7:10, notice the parallel here: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and the ordinances in Israel. To me, this is a critical point for anyone who is considering going into the ministry. I want you to notice what he did. First, it tells us that he had prepared his heart very similarly to what Daniel had done. He had set his heart. In other words, he had decided within his soul. There are three things that he determined to do. And the order is very important:

  1. “To seek the law of the Lord.” In other words, he was going to get into the Word of God—he was going to dig into the Word of God and study diligently. “Study to show yourself approved unto God,” as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” You know, there’s a lot of confusion in Bible study when the Bible is not rightly divided. The word literally means “to cut straight.” You have to cut straight as you deal with the Word of God, both to separate and to synchronize various parts of the Bible. So, Ezra prepared his heart, “to seek the law of the Lord.” What does God say in Jeremiah 29:13? “You will seek Me and find Me …” when? “… when you search for Me with all your heart.” So, here’s Ezra. He’s going to seek the Law of Lord.
  2. To do it.” This is a very important step, and it’s one that we are teachers are often in danger of failing to take: “and to do it. It’s one thing to study it, it’s one thing to know it, it’s something else to teach it. But in between the studying of it and the teaching of it, there needs to be the doing of it. But at any rate, to do the things that he studied.
  3. To teach the statutes and the ordinances in Israel.” This is what made Ezra one of the unique priests in the entire history of the nation of Israel.

So back to Daniel. Daniel speaks to the steward. The word “steward” here is Melzar. It’s actually a Persian-derivative word. It’s the equivalent of the butler in Genesis 40:1 and 5; you’ll remember when Joseph was in prison. It illustrates the first step in civil disobedience. The first step in civil disobedience is that you make an appeal, and in this case, you make an appeal to a lesser magistrate. I point out in your notes a book worth getting, worth reading. It’s called The Doctrine of a Lesser Magistrates by Matthew Trewhella. It deals with going all the way back into, I think, clear back into the Middle Ages. How many places around the world, when they were under tyrannical leadership, would appeal to their local magistrates. And the local magistrates, exactly as happens here with Daniel, were compassionate toward them and shielded them from the abuse of the higher authority, tyrannical power—whatever it may be. The people who are in charge in our immediate area are so much more important many times, and Daniel proved this as he appealed to the steward.

Daniel says, “test us for ten days.” Now, this took faith on his part, didn’t it? I mean, the other people are eating rich food, and he did not want to violate the law. If you want to go back, you can look in Leviticus, chapter 11 and it’ll explain to you some of the dietary laws of the Jews. He didn’t violate those because he felt that the safest place he could be as a slave in Babylon was in the hand of God—under the protective power of God. And so, he made his decision. The other three joined him and God blessed their faithfulness. You’ll notice that after ten days, they were checked and what did they find? They found—this really goes on into our next section—they were better than anybody else. They looked better. They were healthier. They were fatter. The word “fatter” here just means “healthier.” They had a healthier complexion, healthier appearance. And again, because of the providential care of God. Daniel, trusted God to bless obedience to His Word; oftentimes, God does this contrary to what we would think is scientific methodology.

It’s amazing how God is able to bless. He did it because of Daniel’s discernment. Showing discernment:

  1. regarding historical events in vv. 1–4: while everyone else is screaming, “Why did God let this happen to me,” Daniel knew exactly why it was happening. It was happening because of the sin of his nation.
  2. He had discernment regarding faithful conduct in a hostile environment in vv. 5–9. How well would we do in a similar situation?
  3. He had discernment, in discovering the means to accomplish his goal of staying faithful in vv. 10–13. He made a very reasonable request that would not endanger the steward in any way, and God blessed that experiment.
  4. Daniel had discernment in the ways of God in vv. 14–21. You can check out a couple of other passages: Psalm 103:7 and Hebrews 3:10. It’s one thing to know God’s works; it’s a much deeper and a much more vital issue to know God’s ways. Psalm 103:7 tells us that Israel saw God’s works, but Moses knew His ways. What a great difference! In Hebrews 3:10, talking about the same generation, the Lord is quoted there as saying, “they did not know My ways.” “They saw My works.” You know, it’s like some people go through life saying, “Wow, I can’t believe God just did that” and someone else says, “Yeah, we’ve been praying for that for three years.” They understood God’s ways. They were part of what happened. Others just go, “look at what happened.”

All of this discernment, of course, had the providence of God behind it—we see that God blessed him with favor, wisdom, success. Daniel outlived all the other of the three friends, living to see the captives return after the 70 years of captivity, in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah. What an astounding and long ministry he had there in Babylon! Who knows how many he would have led to faith and eternal life? Daniel was able to take his eyes off the destruction of his nation, take his eyes off the conditions of slavery, and look vertically, and keep his eyes fixed on the faithful God of Israel. And what happened? He became a hero throughout all of history.

That’s the challenge that I leave you with tonight, because we’re living in a time of history when heroes are going to be made. There are going to be heroes in the Christian camp. They’re going to be made in the time in which we live. You don’t have to be known. You don’t have to be on the news. You know, most of the people in the Bible whose lives are on record live quiet, humble lives. They never made it into the news. Even their own generation didn’t know them. But they’re kept on record here so that you and I can read their stories.

Let’s hope and pray that we can stand among those people when we stand in the presence of Lord!