But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. Daniel 1:8-16 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
Trina and her family lived in Wyoming. They were migrant workers who spoke Spanish at home, and didn’t always understand the ways of the United States. But they were trying to learn English, and Trina and her brother Jaime went to school with the American children. The family wanted to become more like the American people they lived with. When it was Halloween, Jaime and some of his friends went out to play pranks on the neighbors. Mama and Papa didn’t like this American custom, but they allowed Jaime to go out with his friends. Papa said that they would have to learn to accept the customs that they didn’t like about the United States, as well as the customs they liked.
Daniel and his friends had a different idea. They were learning all about the language and culture of Babylon, and they even had new Babylonian names. But they were determined that they’d never forget that they were God’s people, and they wanted to follow God’s law. They didn’t want to eat the food or drink the wine that the king wanted them to eat and drink. The problem was probably that the food and wine had been offered to the kings idols, and also not all of the food the king ate was clean according to God’s law. The Lord had given his people laws for what kinds of animals they were allowed to eat, and they weren’t allowed to eat pork or shellfish, for example. What they ate was part of how they were to be different from the rest of the world and show that they were God’s people. So Daniel asked for a test. He and his friends would just eat vegetables and drink water for ten days, and then they would see if he and his friends looked as healthy as the other young men who were being trained for the king’s service. After ten days they looked even healthier than the others, so they were allowed to stay with their diet.
God doesn’t ask Christians to follow the kosher food laws, but he does want us to be different from other people. Our difference isn’t in what we eat, but in how we think and act. The Bible tells us that we need to be transformed from the ways of the world, and test everything to see if it pleases God or not. God gives us his word in the Bible so that we can know how he wants his people to live, and what he wants us to do. But we don’t always follow God’s ways. We still sin and follow the ways of the world. So God sent Jesus to die for us, and because of Jesus God forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us learn and do what he wants.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to follow your will, and please forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake. In His Name, Amen.
Martin, Patricia Miles Trina Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1967.