We have a very wonderful scripture today and I think one of the sweetest stories in God’s Word. This is about some 14-year-old teenagers in the first chapter of Daniel.
Daniel himself was about 14 years of age, and here he is standing out against all of the conformities of that day. I want to read you a part of this. It is such a long story here, written in the first chapter, that I couldn’t possibly read it all. Doubtless, most of you know the story.
These young men, four of them, were chosen to stand, as God’s Words says, before the king. For the king had asked for certain of the children of Israel that should be kings’ seed (the seed of kings and princes, that is), and who would have no blemish. They were to be well-favored and skillful in all wisdom and cunning in knowledge and understanding science, God’s Word says.
So it wasn’t so easy to find young men like that, who even understood science, and such as had ability to stand in the king’s palace. Then it goes on to say that they were to teach these young men the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. In other words, they were going to take these Israelite boys in their teens and they were going to brainwash them to make them real Babylonians.
Now Nebuchadnezzar was a very cruel king and was much given to the cruelest atrocities in that day. So here are these young men whom they were going to try to change. They even gave them names of heathen gods!
God’s Word goes on to say that the king appointed them a daily portion of the king’s meat and of the wine which he drank, so nourishing them three years, and at the end they would stand before the king. Then it goes on to tell you the names of the heathen gods that were given to these young men.
These young men were Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. By the way, I might say that these names amongst the Jews had real meaning, wonderful meanings, but now they are going to change even their names, and as I said, they are going to try to brainwash them and make them over into Babylonians.
But young Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with a portion of the king’s meat nor the wine. Therefore, he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said to Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse than the children which are of your sort?” (Daniel 1:8-10) Then you know the story, how Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made up their minds that they would not partake of the king’s dainties.
So Daniel asked if for ten days they could just eat their own food, pulse. And at the end of the ten days, then the eunuch was to appear before them and take them before the king. And God’s Word goes on to say that at the end of that time, “As for these four children whom God gave knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams,” and when they came to stand before the king, their countenance was fairer than all the rest. (Daniel 1:17)
They were so wonderful to look upon! God’s Word says here in the fifteenth verse that “their countenance appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” (Daniel 1:15)
Therefore, as Daniel wouldn’t compromise, Daniel wouldn’t partake of the king’s dainties, he in the long run was exalted above all the others. It’s a wonderful story, but the thought that I want to bring out is this: How fearless these young men were of death. Everything was to be theirs if they became conformed to the Babylonian way of life.
And oh, how much there is a conformity today amongst our young people! Here at the end of school and coming near the time of the graduation when there will be so many parties and the different affairs that take place at the end, so many Christian young people are wondering about just what they are going to do. They want to belong; they want to be accepted. That is the case with teenagers so much today: there is a conformity. It’s pitiful, but that is true.
But this shows here how a small decision will bring about great repercussions in the years to come. Because if Daniel had compromised here early in life, he would not have stood his ground later. There would never have been the wonderful story of Daniel in the lions’ den and how the lions’ mouths were shut and Daniel’s life was spared—that wonderful story that almost everyone knows. (Daniel 6)
There never would have been that sixth chapter of Daniel if Daniel had not stood in this particular place. Everything in the world could have been his according to his world at that time, if he would have just become conformed to the Babylonian way of life; but instead he looked to God and he stood his ground fearlessly.
If you can’t stand now, how will you stand in the coming days? Our nation is being confounded right now before other nations. We are being embarrassed before other nations; we stand confused somewhat before our enemies. Great nations today like ours have ruled God out.
So many lives have ruled God out of their lives and their thoughts and their programs, and there has been somewhat of an apostasy in our churches and schools and our colleges, in our universities: destructive criticism of God’s Word, the repudiation of God’s laws, the refusal to submit to God’s sovereignty, the rejection of Christ’s deity and the adoption of the vagaries of rationalism, evolution, and materialism, and all this has produced a demoralizing effect upon our nation.
The confidence of some of the people has been shaken and there have been produced anti-Christian attitudes which find their fruit now in uncertainty in our political stand, and confusion and unrest and fear and hate. The course of the world that the church has been pursuing in recent years plays its part in the present crisis. They’ve been producing some chaos in the midst of all of this world confusion. These blind the souls of men, and organize their campaigns of hatred against our country, and against truth, and against the Bible, even against God’s people. And so I say we are facing critical times.
We are facing things that are going to be frightful to bear in coming days if we can’t stand now. All these things are roots of the systems which men have built: the sources of all these new ideologies now contending for supremacy.
How are you going to stand amidst it all? That’s the question that faces each one of us right now. I look at Daniel’s stand and I will say that it was a difficult place that he was in, but we feel even today the result of his decision. He was face to face with a problem which everyone faces.
At the entrance to any line of action that calls for a change to a higher sphere of conduct there stands this decision: Whether or not you’re going to stand out and out for Jesus Christ—if you are going to stand true to God’s Word. Because that is the only standard! The only real standard there is today is the Word of God. Or whether you are going to do that which is expedient, and compromise.
There’s an allegiance that is one and undivided in the Christian life. It’s a devoted, dedicated life, a surrendered life to the Christian ideal. And therein lies its power. You ask, “Where is the power of the Christian life?” In its dedication and its consecration! And right at the entrance, as I say, to this higher ground there comes this decision. It’s very easy to let some things go, but there are other things that it is not so easy [to let go of].
It is a bitter struggle! Some things involve loss and involve embarrassing explanations, and we have to stand out against the world. The question is, How are you going to stand? Are you going to take a definite stand for the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you going to be willing to witness for Him? Or are you going to cut the corners of bedrock principles and make dim and shadowy the Word of God which says “Thus saith the Lord”?
The kingdom of God is founded on absolute things: absolute truth and candor and sincerity. And ever across there is the kingdom of evil that is no less absolute in its falseness. But the question is whether or not you are going to see that the issues of Christian living and Christian duty are sharply defined.
You have to take a definite stand today. You can’t conform to these things. It’s a transformed life and not a conformed life! I want to read you just a little bit of this Psalm 27, and then you’ll read it when you get alone with God.
God’s Word says here, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:1, 5)
Then in Psalm 22:5 is a verse that tells you that you will not be confounded if you stand out right for the Lord, “For they cried unto the Lord and were delivered; they trusted in the Lord and were never confounded.” And you will not be if you really trust in Him fully and never compromise and never conform.
He’s still on the throne and prayer changes things.