Summary: The decisions you make about the small matters of your life pay off great dividends in your future. The bad choices you make lead to megamiseries, but the correct and good and right and noble and pure choices you make lead to megablessings.
Today we’re going to start the series through the book of Daniel “How to Turn Chaos Into Character.”
The book of Daniel is a prophetic book. The first six chapters have to do with Daniel’s life, and some of the events are practical events to us. But chapters 6-12 are Bible prophecy. The book of Daniel is much like the book of Revelation. In fact, you must understand the book of Daniel before you can understand the book of Revelation, and the book of Revelation sheds a lot of light on the book of Daniel. Today, I’m going to preach a message entitled “The Daniel Diet.”
If you know anything about Daniel, you probably know the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. There never would have been a Daniel in the lion’s den when he was much older, had there not been the story of Daniel in the dining room when he was a teenager.
Daniel 1:1-12. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah, into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his God in Babylon and put in the treasure house of his God. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and the literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that, they were to enter the king’s service. Among these were some from Judah. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: To Daniel he gave him the name Belteshazzar. To Hananiah, he gave the name Shadrach; to Mishael the name Meshach; and to Azariah the name Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. And he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel. But the official told Daniel, ‘I’m afraid of my Lord the king who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’ Daniel said to the guard, whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days. You give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.’”
Now, if you’ve got a King James Bible it says “pulse.” What in the world is that? The word actually in Hebrew is zeroim, which means food that comes from seeds. That would mean fruit, vegetables and grain. That’s what the word zeroim means.
Daniel 1:13-17, 21. “Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see. So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them fruit, vegetables and grain instead. To these four young men, teenagers, God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning and Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds…And Daniel remained there [in the palace] until the first year of King Cyrus.” [70 years and four kings later]
I want to talk about the Daniel diet, because all of us in our church needs what these teenagers can give us–the zeal and excitement that comes from a young faith in Christ. It’s no mistake that today we’re talking about a teenager who was sold out to his God, because today we need teenagers who are sold out to God.
You know what’s been in the news this week. I don’t have to remind you. You may be wondering if I prepared this message today from the book of Daniel because of the teenagers who have been killed this week in alcohol-related deaths. Not at all. You know I prepare my messages months in advance. It just so happens I think God has got the attention of every young person and every parent in East Texas. This message today is specifically addressing this issue. When I was 15, my best friend who was 16 was killed in a drunk driving accident. He was in the car alone that night. And just by some quirky twist of fate, had I not been visiting my grandmother that Friday night, I would have no doubt been in the passenger seat of that car and perhaps in the grave today, dead, not ever having pastored, not ever having married, not ever having had children. Because you see, the choices you make as a teenager have tremendous impact upon the rest of your life. And today we’re going to look at the life of a teenager and see the choices he made.