Daniel: Life in Babylon, Part 3

Have you ever faced a big decision that would determine the very course of your life?  

Daniel faced such a decision! 

In my nearly 40-year professional career, I have made some difficult decisions regarding the advancement of my career. Some decisions worked out really well and others, not so much.  I’ve always had an internal drive toward achievement that serves me well when I keep that drive under the healthy constraints of the Lordship of Christ and the counsel of my bride.  Early on, I made some brash decisions that were driven more by pride. 

Making A Decision

Decision-making is a tricky business. There are so many factors to consider when large decisions loom before us.

  • Who will be affected by my decision? 
  • Will I be better off? Will my family be better off?  
  • Are my motives pure or tainted with fear, pride, or greed?  
  • Who should I seek out for advice? What if all the advice I get is the opposite of what I want to do?  
  • Should I follow my heart? Should I write down the pros and cons and follow the logical conclusion? 
  • Should I remain in the status-quo or should I take some risks? Should I take the road less traveled? Or take the easier, less-risky path? 

Four times in my career, I changed jobs (twice moving across the country) and took a cut in pay. It was scary, to say the least.  Seems crazy to me now to admit this fact, but at the time, I felt each of the moves was an important and strategic decision to advance my career. Was I being reckless and selfish and placing my career over the security of my family? Or was I positioning myself to bring more security to my family in the future? Did I make the right decision? 

Looking back, I’d have to say all four were good moves. But at the time, these were very stressful times for me and my family. 


Daniel’s Decision

Daniel had a decision of life and death before him. The consequence of his decision was much more severe than my career decisions. Should he fall in line with the demands of the king or should he remain true to the laws and customs of his religion and his faith in the true God of Israel? 

The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Daniel 1:5 

Instead of enslaving Daniel and the other young Israelite teenagers into a life of hard labor, the King treated them like princes in order to gain their devotion and use their intelligence and leadership skills to lead the imported Jewish masses into submissive work in Babylon. Daniel was a prisoner in a strange and foreign country but he wasn’t placed in a cell block. He was placed in the palace and given food and clothes of royalty. He was to be brainwashed, as such, into loyalty and servitude toward Babylon. 


Important Question: Daniel was acutely aware of the strategy of king Nebuchadnezzar. Are you acutely aware of the strategy of the king of Babylon in your life?  

Daniel is a foreigner in Babylon; where sin flourishes and his God is not honored? (America is beginning to remind me of Babylon). When making decisions in the midst of this new and foreign land, how did Daniel make decisions? How did Daniel process all of the factors to be considered and consequences to be calculated?  

First, he decided what he would do and what he would not do. His values and absolutes were non-negotiables. He decided he would humbly learn and live under the demands of the foreign king, but only within the boundaries of his own set of biblical morals and principles.  

When Daniel was commanded to learn the Chaldean culture and language, he didn’t object. His mind was sharp and he had a strong biblical foundation. Therefore, he considered learning “about” the culture an advantage that would benefit him in his preparation to be used by God within this foreign country.  

What about the food and wine of the king? When the king demanded he eat and drink the rich food and wine of Babylonian nobility, Daniel knew this would violate his faith and wage temptations on his flesh that would dull his mind.  

In Daniel’s mind, he believed the laws of God and biblical principles imprinted on his mind and heart would allow him to mentally process the Babylonian education with, what we call today, a biblical world-view. To attain a wide range of knowledge is not a sin. But to intake a wide range of liberal arts, philosophies, religions, sciences, etc., without a strong biblical foundation can be dangerous.  


First decision: Daniel chose to humbly learn and process this new knowledge through the filter of God’s Word. 

However, …Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which drank … Daniel 1:8 

It’s one thing to simply learn about the foreign culture we find ourselves, it’s another to indulge in its sinful ways. Learning can be very helpful for contributing and adding value to our society as a diligent worker, business person, entrepreneur, or statesmen. It is another matter of great danger when we expose ourselves to the vulnerabilities of our flesh while skirting the edges of our morals within this society that we live.


Second decision: Daniel decided not to eat the food or drink. 

Learning Alert: We are in this world and therefore, it benefits us to be wise, educated, and shred as to its ways. But if we cross the line and live of this world, we set ourselves up to make decisions driven by impulses of the flesh rather than using the sound and sober principles of reason and biblical logic.  

Daniel lived successfully in Babylon because his decisions were made from a sound mind prepared by diligent study and reflection upon God’s Word. So, he quietly proceeded with his education. Also, when Daniel was asked to do something that violated his religion, he approached resolution in a quiet and submissive fashion. He didn’t pout, go on a hunger strike, protest and march or demand his way. He took a different path which ultimately allowed God to take center stage, not himself. More on that next time. 


Father, there’s so much we can relate to in the story of Daniel. We also live in a foreign land where sin flourishes and God is not honored. Forge our hearts and minds with wisdom from your Word and fill us with Your Spirit to live with grace, wisdom and courage in this present darkness that we find ourselves within. Thank you, Lord, that you are always with us. Amen!