Today’s reading is Esther 8-10, Daniel 1-2, and Psalm 145.
Tonight is Christmas Eve. Over the last couple of days, the sweets and treats at my house have multiplied, no fault of my own. Friends have dropped of cookies and fudge and socially-distanced staff parties have produced their own set of goodies. In a few hours, I will join my parents for Christmas Eve cheese fondue and fudge for dessert.
So in reading today’s reading of Daniel 1, I felt slight twinge in my food habits this week.
I am sure by now most if not all of us have heard of the “Daniel Diet” or “Daniel Plan.” While it is taken from the book of Daniel, there is nothing “Biblical” about it and although I have not done much research on it, it seems gimmicky to me. Saying that, though, I recognize the positive choice that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego made by eating only vegetables and drinking water.
Science tells us that our bodies need protein, which can be found in meat, dairy, and plants. Science also knows our bodies need grains (in healthy proportions). Daniel’s diet of vegetables and water was not about some secret weight-loss or health crazed. Daniel’s diet was more an act of resistance.
Some of what the king gave the men probably would have fallen under appropriate and “kosher” in regards to the law. I am sure there was some meat that was not, such as pork or shellfish, and there probably were some customs of cooking meat in milk, but there was probably just normal chicken and normal bread as well. But Daniel said no.
Daniel wanted to strip down and take anything away that could possibly be defiling. Daniel was in a new place. He was being taught new things. And now he was being given new food. All of these things could defile him, but not all of these things were in his control. God had exiled the Israelites from Judah due to their sins, so Daniel had no control over where he was. The chief court official had taken Daniel, along with the others, into the king’s service. Daniel’s choice was to serve or to be killed, he had very little control over his servitude. Daniel was being given choice meats and wine from the king’s table. This he could control.
Often there are things in our lives – like global pandemics, loss of jobs, health concerns, family situations – which we have very little control over. In each of these situations we can choose to be faithful or we can defile ourselves. In the case of the pandemic, we can be faithful and loving by wearing a mask, social distancing, and quarantining when necessary. Or, we can defile ourselves and others by not wearing a mask and not social distancing, which puts ourselves and those around us at great risk to get sick. In regards to family situations, we can be faithful by loving each person, by speaking truth, and by respecting each person’s imago Dei. Or, we can defile ourselves by speaking lies to the situation, meddling where we do not belong, and disrespecting the other person’s imago Dei.
In a tough situation that Daniel and his friends really had no part in (they are not the ones who sinned and disobeyed God for hundreds of years), they chose to be faithful. They chose to not eat food that could be defiling. They chose to stay away from wine which could cause sinning. They focused on where they were and on how to best serve God from that place.
As the pandemic drones on and life continues to be thrown curve balls, we can choose to be faithful or to defile ourselves.
And sure, you can eat like Daniel to try and follow God, or you can use wisdom and look deeper at those things around us that really defile us.
Join me in finishing this year by reading through the Bible through a Psalm a Day. Find my reading plan here.
All Scripture used on Oregon Christian Girl comes from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Unless otherwise noted.