I grew up in church, where Bible stories were plentiful. There were stories of boys defeating giants and nations crossing seas on dry ground while enemies were detained by pillars of fire. Old, crusty prophets stood their ground against entitled pagan kings and were fed by ravens. These stories were formative in my concept of who God is and what He could do. Which is why I love the stories from the Book of Daniel.
Daniel begins with Israel in captivity in the land of Babylon. King Nebucanezzar was large and in charge, and looked to the Israelites to find the best of those who could enhance his world dominion. Out of his quest came four: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These four were summonsed to begin training to be among Nebucanezzar’s elite. When they entered the corps of the elite they were introduced to a diet, which they rejected. The diet was composed of meat and wine, which people in our 21st century American culture would be standard. But the young Hebrew men were committed to their own cultural diet of vegetables, fruit and water.
Their insitence provided and opportunity to present a challenge to the Babylonians, which, as the story goes, the Hebrews famously won. After the test, their eyes were brighter and everyone looked healthier. The Babalonians conceded that the Hebrews had a beter diet.
This story represents a risky faith. We have a better way, and we’ll prove it. But the rest of the story of the Book of Daniel moves beyond a risky faith to a radical faith which claimed that the God of the Hebrews was superior to the gods of the Babalonians.
This is where we live in our culture today. Like the four Hebrew young men, modern Christians can make assertations regarding the logic of risky faith. Yes, our “diet” can be verified as better than others. But what happens when we move our competion beyond the physical realm of food and exercise to the realm of the spiritual?
Tomorrow I’ll get into the conflict between three of these yound men and the spiritual battle regarding the object of our worship. In the meantime, be well and be safe!