Summary: The most powerful of God’s men have often stood alone to become a testimony to the world.
A PURPOSE IN THE HEART
TEXT: Daniel 1:3-8
Daniel 1:3-8 KJV And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;  Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.  And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.  Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:  Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.  But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
I. THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE TEXT
-The writings of Daniel open up with, as one might say, “the hammer falling.” Judge after judge, priest after priest, and finally prophet after prophet had preached with dire warnings that all went unheeded. Finally, the hammer fell.
-Israel had ignored the cries of their prophets and judgment finally came (as it ultimately always does), no one can escape judgment. Judah and Israel had backslidden and began to pursue other gods with an intensity that was both surprising and sad.
-Manasseh’s sin was the most troubling as he offered small children and babies on the fiery altars of Molech (the fire god of the Ammonites) in the city streets and groves of Jerusalem. Even though Manasseh would repent, what he had started coursed through the soul of his children who never made it back into a right relationship with God.
-So God looks about the Kingdom and finally determines that the idolatry and wickedness can no longer go unpunished. Therefore, he very uniquely takes the most powerful man in the earth at that time and uses a heathen king to bring them down.
-The hammer fell when Nebuchadnezzar left Egypt and traveled north into the land of Judah and assaulted the throne of Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar violated the throne of the country. He violated the Temple by removing the choice vessels that were intended for worship to Jehovah.
-These two aspects are always affected by judgment that comes from God.
It is ruinous to the relationships around us.
It is woeful to our worship.
A. Four Young Men Stand Firm
-Daniel 1 gives us a picture of a large group of young men who have been captured and brought to Babylon to serve the new king. Before the conclusion of Daniel’s book one finds that there are four who really stand out in their service to God.
-The Babylonians were the nation who ruled the world. There was no other superpower at the time who could rival their hold on this world. A later vision in Daniel would show that this empire was the greatest that had ever ruled. None would compare to their holdings throughout world history.
-They were tempted away from home in a faraway land. This is how the enemy always tries to plot the demise of a man, he isolates him in a faraway land. It is the call of the faraway land that often times destroys the heart of a man.
The prodigal was destroyed in the faraway land away from his righteous father.
The failure of Lot came in distant land away from his godly uncle.
Peter, lost the battle at a strange fire, that warmed his body but chilled his soul.
Amnon, isolated himself in a sick seclusion, as he plotted to destroy Tamar’s life.
-These young men found themselves captives, surrounded by an overwhelming enemy, and under pressure in the far land.
-Most of us will never find a faraway land where we are under the pressure of an enemy and captives against our wills. Our temptations are probably much more common and even benign compared to what Daniel and his comrades faced. But Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy and warned him of something:
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
-The majority of those who serve the Lord will frequently be able to recognize the outright error of the doctrine of devils. . . . but it is those little wooing voices and callings of the seducing spirits that upset so many and create a shipwreck in their lives. You have to be vigilant in your walk with the Lord.