Daniel’s Diet

How could I give this up?
How could I give this up?

First off-apologies for my absence from posting. I usually post during the week, but I have been ill since Monday afternoon. I may still be a carrier, but such things do not transmit via the internet. You should be safe.

In reading the first chapter I was reminded of something I had heard of a while back that some churches were doing (and there is even a book associated with it), that is the “Daniel Diet.” I’ve seen it also called the Daniel Plan, the Daniel Fast, etc. Upon reading this passage folks thought, “why not?” So churches and other groups have tried it.

While I cannot attest to its health benefits I like the idea of seeing something in Scripture–something simple–and trying to do it. We sometimes can see something simple, turn it into something complicated, change it in all sorts of ways as we try to translate it from centuries ago to today’s culture, and in the end it is something altogether different.

We do at times need to do such translations. For example, not many of us are tempted to set up wooden totems devoted to foreign gods within our homes, but we are just as susceptible to idolatry today as God’s people were in the past. On the other hand we sometimes make things over complicated like when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor. Surely we learn from that story that we can’t exclude people. Neighbor can be applied to anyone. Yet neighbor still does mean those people who live right next to you. In all of our attempts to understand “love your neighbor” we sometimes neglect our next door neighbor.

So I like the simple approach to the Daniel diet. I may not agree with all of its tenets*, although there probably is variety among the different types, but they’re trying it. They see something do-able and do it.

This may not be the thing for you, but what else does Daniel do that we could imitate? Prayer three times a day? I think that is simple, do-able, beneficial. How about a Daniel Diet of Prayer? Three square meals of time talking with God? I bet that’ll do our body good.

*In just a brief reading I saw one sight equating the mind to emotion, which I don’t think is right.

Daniel and Friends in a Foreign Land

rembrandt lion
These friendly felines are in his future.

When you open Daniel you may think you’ve gone back to our history blitz since 2 Chronicles finishes in a similar way to how Daniel begins. Not only has Judah been attacked, but they have been brought into exile. Daniel is among some of the elite that are chosen to train in the king’s palace. But don’t let the sound of that invitation fool you since only eight verses in we see a problem. Daniel does not want to defile himself with the food he is offered and has his guard give him and his three fellow exiles vegetables and water.

The end of this is that God softened the guard to be permissable and blessed Daniel and company. But it is just the tip of the iceberg in relation to how exiles are to maintain their worship and their faith in a hostile, foreign environment.

So much of worship in the Old Testament is very localized and geographically bound. Without the temple or the priests doing their jobs, how are they to offer up praise or sacrifice to their God? How can they keep themselves from being overwhelmed by this opposing culture of the Babylonians?

Think of the difficulties you might have trying to celebrate Thanksgiving in a country that doesn’t do the same? Or how about Christmas? You could do something, but it wouldn’t be the same. The Fourth of July that we kick off with grand fireworks and big bands would be hard to muster if you are an alien living abroad all alone. But these examples would be nothing compared to what is on the line for the people of God taken in to exile. They must look at their history and their relationship to God and figure out ways in which they can carry on. God’s promise was for a promised land, so what does it mean if they are taken away? God had them make for himself a temple, but that was left behind. Now what?

One thing they turn to and we see in Daniel is prayer, but even that will eventually get him into trouble with his new land.