“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food…” [Daniel 1:8a].
Jesus talks about a time when men’s hearts will fail them for fear. Yet he also says to his disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation, but rejoice, I have overcome the world…My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” Jesus prays to the Father, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil that is in the world.”
The king’s food is the food of this age; it is food that has been offered to the gods of this age. Success, wealth, power, sexual promiscuity, mind-numbing entertainment, fame, narcissism in myriad forms – the list is endless. It appears as if society will eat anything; it is critical that the disciples of Jesus partake only of Him as their living bread and water.
To be a Biblical Christian is first and foremost to follow Jesus Christ. This is Biblical repentance – to turn to Jesus Christ and follow Him. A person can be sorry for sin and yet not turn and follow Jesus. A person can be a faithful church attendee and yet not turn and follow Jesus. A church may have wonderful music and fine rhetorical preaching and its people may leave on Sunday mornings feeling good – and yet it may not be following Jesus Christ. Following Jesus Christ in obedience to Him is Biblical Christianity, it is the Christianity that Jesus taught. Jesus says to us:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him…Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” [From John chapters 14 and 15.]
The king’s food can be the traditions of man, it can be the amorality of the age, it can be the latest and greatest popular Christian movement, the latest Christian answer to all of our problems; but there is only one food for the disciple of Jesus Christ and that is Jesus Christ. As Jesus says in John Chapter 6, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
Yes, Daniel and his friends had a simple diet, and yet that simple diet gave them clarity of mind, purity of heart, and insight into their surrounding culture; the diet of the heart manifested itself in the diet of food – their hearts fed on the true and living God, they devoted themselves to Him alone, and such was this devotion that when questions of life and death presented themselves they were quick and firm and certain in their response – they would be faithful to Him alone even unto death.
Paul writes, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Cor. 10:21). “…what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty”” (2 Cor. 6:16 – 18).
Of course Paul is not saying that we should physically leave the world (see 1 Cor. 5:9ff); he is saying that where we go and what we do and what we set our hearts and minds upon matters (Rom. 12:1ff) because we are the collective temple of the living God and because God calls us to be holy – if we believe that the Trinity dwells within us then we ought to live like it, we ought to be holy as God our Father is holy (1 Peter 1:13ff).
Nebuchadnezzar’s food deadens our hearts and minds, the table of Jesus Christ not only revives and restores our souls, it gives us living bread to share with others. As we partake of Him, others may partake of Him in us.
Which table are we eating from today?