What were the challenges this young man faced?
First of all he was a captive. He most likely was torn away from his family. He was young (about sixteen years). His homeland was now devastated. The centre of his Jewish faith the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. He was taken to a foreign land, given a new name bearing the identity of a Babylonian god (a total cultural shock), and was being trained to be part of the king’s (who was very powerful) service.
Sometimes we complain about our difficulties in serving God and taking a bold stand for him. Yes, there is cost involved. Let us see what Daniel did.
The Bible says, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” (Daniel 1:8). Possibly these food items were banned in the Law of Moses and most likely they were offered to idols too.
See, the first thing you need to do is to resolve the issue in your mind. Such a firm decision can come only out of love to God and a desire to see his name glorified.
After having settled his stand on the matter, he now takes it a step further to make it known. He communicates it to the official assigned to look after him and his three friends. I am sure that he might have struggled in his mind while doing so. Just for speaking out thus the king could have him executed.
But then God acted. God caused the official to show favour and sympathy to Daniel (1:9).
The point is the decision to take a firm stand for God came first. Then as they made an open confession of their stand God caused them to be shown favour.
Not only that, God gave them knowledge and understanding. See they were to be trained by the chief court official, but it was God who gifted them with needed skills (see 1:3, 4 & 17). And Daniel was given the gift to understand visions and dreams. No wonder when the king talked with them at the end of their training period, he found them ten times better than everyone else (1:18, 19).
This bold resolve of Daniel was so highly esteemed by God. Therefore God gave him visions and understanding of dreams about world kingdoms, the end times and the final world dominion of Jesus Christ.
This young man took a stand to keep himself pure. He no doubt inspired his friends as well. Even Jesus spoke about what Daniel has written (Matthew 24:15). You cannot understand the Book of Revelation without understanding the Book of Daniel.
But remember, all this happened only because Daniel resolved not to defile himself. And he kept that resolve for seventy years in a powerful court of the greatest kingdom of the world of those times!
Even when the Medes and Persians took over; even when he was an old man he still was valued at the court. Why? Because this man had resolved not to defile himself with the ungodly lifestyles of the most glamorous kingdom of all times!
Dear friend, what is your stand for God today? Don’t you serve the same God Daniel served? You too can experience God in extremely difficult conditions if you resolve not to defile yourself with the ways of the world. It does not matter if you are not young as Daniel. What matters most is your resolve!