Monday, June 9, 2008

Purpose of the Heart

Daniel is a complex character. In the book of Daniel it says that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat. The back story has to do with the historical over throw of the kingdom of Judah. The neo-Babylonian Empire had conquered Judah. Daniel, a boy probably about Luke’s age at the time, was from the royal household. No one knows for sure, but he was probably a nephew of the king, Jehoiakim. The politics are interesting enough, but suffice it to say that the Babylonian king, a lovely guy named Nebuchadnezzar, conducted a policy to insure his kingdom’s power over the far flung empire. He would take young kids from the royal house holds, take them to Babylon, and turn them into Babylonian clones. In this case, he wanted Daniel to be Jewish on the outside, but Babylonian on the inside. Then he could send him back to rule over his own people. Accepted by the people, acceptable to Nebuchadnezzar.
One way to do this was by opulence. He would give the boys everything they could dream of! The best wine, the choicest cuts of meat, the most decadent desserts. Fine things, finer women, feather beds, and a heard of servants. Who wouldn’t be indebted to Nebuchadnezzar? Well, Daniel. The meat that was set before him would have been offered to idols. This was a small and trivial point, because Daniel himself didn’t do the idol worship. But it broke the rules none the less, and Daniel simply couldn’t break the rules. So he purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat. So he went on a diet of pulse and water. What is pulse you ask? That’s easy...grits! The Hebrew word Zeroa’ translates basically as “anything that is grown in the ground.” So it was vegetables.
Here is the point, the world offered this teenage boy anything he wanted, and he chose to honor God. Maybe one of his ancient relatives had a part in his understanding. Solomon once said that if you raise a child according to the truth, when they are “old,” (the term means “coming of age,”) they will do what is right. (See Proverbs 22:6) It is obvious that Daniel was raised right.
What about me? What about you? When the world offers us opulence, do we honor God? When we are given a heap full of grief, do we honor God? The man I want to be on the outside wants to purpose in my heart. However, the Jonah sometimes raises his head.
To be continued…..

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