Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to a consistently moral and ethical standard.
Daniel and his friends were certainly men of integrity and good character and their boldness in the face of adversity is a trait each of us should aspire to.
God had made a covenant with the people of Israel, promising that He would care for them and bless them if they obeyed His laws, but if they disobeyed, He would chasten them and scatter them among the Gentiles.
Leviticus 26:33 “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”
Instead of Israel being a light to the Gentiles and revealing the glories of God, they became more like the Gentiles and worshiped their false gods. This is probably the reason for God giving the Israelites into the hands of the Chaldeans. Babylon was the home of idolatry so the Jews were sent there so they might learn to loathe the idols they had loved.
Daniel was barely more than a boy when the Babylonian axe fell. Daniel was transformed from near royalty to iron rule captivity. His ministry spanned the entire period of the prophesied seventy-year captivity of the Jews in Babylon, so he couldn’t have been much more than a teenager when Nebuchadnezzar came on the scene.
The approach of the Babylonians had been watched closely in Jerusalem and Judah. Nobody could have been ignorant of what their arrival meant. Jeremiah had been proclaiming it for years – The “Time of the Gentiles” was about to begin.
So Daniel, and his mates are captured and taken into exile in a foreign country. The king’s policy was to train the best people of the conquered nations to serve in his government. He could benefit from the knowledge of their own people and could use their skills to strengthen his own administration.
As a part of this transition,, the old Jewish wisdom had to go; from now on they would learn the wisdom of the world, the wisdom of Babylon. Not only do they have to learn the wisdom of Babylon but also the language of their captors (the world has a different language). The king hoped that this brainwashing would make them better servants.
For the next three years, the four youths were supposed to eat the king’s diet, which, of course, was contrary to the dietary laws of the Jews. No doubt the food was also offered to the idols of the land, and for the Hebrew youths to eat it would be blasphemy.
It’s amazing how the world doesn’t like to recognise God’s name. Each of these four boys had “God” as part of their name. The Babylonians would give them new names, new gods, and new prospects. Each of the four new names exchanged the name of God for the name of a Babylonian idol.
Daniel (which means God is my Judge) was changed to Belteshazzar (Who Bel favours)
Hananiah (God is gracious) was changed to Shadrach (Illuminated by the sun god)
Mishael (Who is as God) was changed to Meshach (Who is like Venus)
Azariah (The Lord is my help) was changed to Abednego (The servant of Nego)
Maybe the Babylonians thought that these new names would help the youths forget their God and gradually become more like the heathens they were living with and being taught by.
The king wanted to force the Jews to conform to the ways of Babylon. We face the same problems today. Satan wants us to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)
God’s people resist the pressures that can “squeeze” them into conformity with the world. According to Romans 12:1-2 “conformers” are people whose lives are controlled by the pressure from without, but “transformers” are people whose lives are controlled by the power from within.
Daniel and his three friends were transformers.
The Babylonians could change Daniels home, his education and his name, but they could not change his heart. Daniel “purposed in his heart”. meaning, his heart was fixed!
Paul and Barnabas urged the early Christians in Acts 11:23 that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord. This is the only way to keep from buckling under pressure, and it is that same purpose that is still relevant today.
He vowed that the standard would not be lowered, that obedience to his God demanded the same life of integrity whether he lived in Babylon or Israel.
Daniel was not rude, obnoxious, or demanding. He requested … that he might not defile himself. Having made up his mind to remain pure, Daniel pursued his objective in a respectful, submissive manner. Verse 9 tells us that God had caused the prince of the Eunuchs to look favourably upon Daniel. It could be that God used Daniel’s attitude to win him that respect.
The Eunuch feared to let Daniel have his way because he would be held responsible for any physical deterioration in the four young men.
The four Jewish students didn’t threaten anyone; they didn’t stage a protest, or try and burn down a building. They simply excelled in their studies, acted like gentlemen, and asked Melzar to test them for ten days. Having heard his superior’s objections, Daniel proposed a reasonable alternative. The test Daniel proposed was long enough to obtain the desired results, but short enough to protect the interests of his superiors.
God’s ways only need a short time to prove their worth. Ten days were all it would take to prove that God’s dietary laws were superior to those of the court. To try to do what God suggests demands only faith in Him. His ways are the best ways.
Melzar, the chief steward, would determine for himself the success or failure of the test. Daniel promised to abide by Melzar’s decision. Each of these acts demonstrated a great faith in God to be in control of the circumstances.
The vegetarian diet that Daniel proposed was probably not confined to one single item but included a variety of lentils, beans, seeds and other similar foods, much more healthier than the rich, spiced concoctions, saturated with fat, that the others were offered.
At the end of the ten day period, how did God show his favour toward Daniel for taking this radical step of faith? (verse 15)
Ten days later and the result of the experiment was there for all to see. The four Jewish boys were healthier in body and better looking than all the other students.
God gave these four young men a suitable and swift reward. He “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” Here were men that God could trust with learning. They were like sponges; they soaked up knowledge with ease.
They became proficient in all of the sciences, in subjects that depend on human reasoning as the means of understanding. Daniel became proficient in dreams and visions, subjects that depend on divine revelation as the means of understanding.
Time was up and it was make or break for Daniel and his three mates. They stood before the king for inspection. Nebuchadnezzar tried the men with hard questions and it soon became evident that four young men outranked all of the others. The king asked Daniel questions that stumped even the members of his court who were themselves famous in the colleges. Daniel outshone them all. He was “ten times better” than they were.
I've spent a lot of time on the ocean over the years having been a commercial fisherman, and something you really need to be aware of, especially while you're trawling is current. Current can swing a boat around very slowly over the course of a run but when you look where you're meant to be, suddenly you're way off point. One of the best ways to avoid being caught in a current while you're dragging nets is to set a point in the distance on your radar and then constantly keep adjusting your course to counter the force of the ocean.
In the early part of this century, an American ship was wrecked off the Sicily Isles near the coast of England. The sea had been calm and the weather clear, but the vessel was caught in a treacherous current that slowly lured it off its course. Before the captain and the crew realized what had happened, the ship had crashed into the rocks.
In life, too, currents of compromise can catch us off guard and carry us to shipwreck. Spiritual drifting is usually a slow process. We only know it has occurred when we have lost the strong resistance to the evil around us and the passionate desire for truth and doing right that we once had.
Compromise is defined as:
1. a settlement of differences by mutual parties; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc.
Often, life is filled with compromises. We are given a choice as to how we will live our lives and what path we are going to follow through life. When we come to these times of decision, it is imperative that we make godly choices. The choices we make at the crossroads of life will determine our usefulness to God and our effectiveness in His kingdom work.
What we’ve learned about is about four men who came to a time of decision in their lives. They could either compromise and go with the flow, or they could stand their ground and live for the Lord. The circumstances they faced and the decisions they made set the course or the rest of their lives.
Since this incident occurred, the names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have become great heroes of the faith. And, what of Daniel? Who would have ever have heard of Daniel if he had compromised at this early stage of life?
His name would be unknown to modern man, and we would never have received this wonderful book. With that in mind, it is good to be able to say that these young men stood their test and as a result, we can all be blessed and encouraged.
As you and I go through life, there will always be times where we are going to have to make decisions to do the right thing. When these times come, and they most certainly will, we will either decide to go with God despite the cost, or, we will choose to compromise. My prayer is that we can gain the strength that we need to always make our stand for the Lord.
Daniel and his mates, they were willing to put God to the test. It will not always be the easiest thing, nor will it be the most popular thing for you to take your stand with God. It will not always be understood by those around you. However, it is always the right thing! If we will be willing to stand our ground for the Lord, He will certainly honour our stand and bless us.
The whole point of this is that these young men made up their minds that they were going to live for the Lord, and they allowed nothing to change them or to turn them from their purpose! As you follow them through the rest of their lives, you see they stuck to their guns more than once.
In chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to die rather than compromise.
In chapter 6, Daniel, an 80+ year old man, risked death in the lion's den rather than compromise in his walk with God. What about us? Do we have that same level of resolve and commitment to the Lord and His work? Would you be willing to die before compromising with the enemy? For some of us, probably not! We compromise in many ways. In our speech, in our dress, in our lifestyles, in our music, but they had decided in their hearts that they would die before they would compromise with the world, the flesh or the devil.
We need to strive for that same standard in our own lives. There are a lot of God's men who need to recommit themselves to Him today! There are many who have let down their guard and have compromised in one or more issues. Others are flirting dangerously close to doing the same thing. It is time for God's men to resolve in their hearts that come what may, they will not disgrace the name of Jesus, and they will not compromise in any area of their life!
A Man of Honour cannot win his battles without boundaries. You need to have a specific plan that you are willing to pursue. This means laying out in advance those actions that will preserve your commitment, help you practice your faith and allow you to produce the desired results you are seeking as a Man of Honour.