“The King assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the King’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the King’s service. Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazaar, to Hananaiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.” Daniel 1:5-6
I am chosen! I am chosen to… wait, WHAT?!
If these four men were all just face, muscles, and brain cells, they would see this opportunity as a great and undeserved favor. Who wouldn’t want to work at the King’s courts or at the President’s office? Everyone must have considered that as a very fine job.
However, that’s not the case. If we read and understood it from the context, these Jews just faced one of the greatest exiles they had in their history. So I assume they were broken, sad, and regretful. The Babylonians took their women, their children, burned their houses, and they created division among the people. Families were broken, livelihoods were ruined.
And for Daniel and his friends to hear the news that they were chosen to be trained to work for the King, I’m pretty sure they would have died rather than serve the one who destroyed their cities. They must have wished that they don’t have any talent or skills that these insidious people would only use for their gains. If they only have a choice, they wouldn’t pack their bags and ride away towards the training centers. If only.
These men are MEN OF GOD. They aren’t just a bunch of talents; they are rare individuals because of their CHARACTER and FAITH. And those three years of training is meant to erase and replace who they really are as Jews and as God’s followers. Even the change of their names symbolizes that they are to live not as who they WERE but as who the King expects them to be. They were expected to act and behave like the Babylonians. Pretty much like a makeover, but for them, is a ruin-over.
Chosen by God, not by the King
So yeah these four classmates went through college called the Babylonian University where they learn the Babylonians’ weird and pagan customaries, and master the art of pleasing and bowing to King Nebuchadnezzar. I can imagine their beards growing and some fancy make up in their faces.
On the eyes of the people, they were chosen by the King. But on the eyes of the One who controls everything, He chose these four. God is so jumping with joy to see that the more his children were trained to become like the rest, the more they set themselves apart! I think we have the same institutions right now that tell you to LIVE like the rest, that you must have what the others have, and that you should be like what your neighbor is like! Just look at these game changers. We need more of them! These four didn’t just excel academically on this training, but they were also trained spiritually. How that happened, only them and God knows. They were just… amazing!
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, regardless of how you call them – by their Jewish names, mommy-gave-me-this-name, or the Babylonian name – in the eyes of God they are still the same person. And that is because of their unwavering faith and strong convictions that many others could just wish for themselves. They are something that not any kind of name can ever describe.
There’s no other way they could have done it except through careful maintenance of their SECRET and PRIVATE lives. The Babylonian empire must have control over everything, but there’s one thing they cannot have access or control over: their hearts. Hearts that belong to God and is soaked in His presence produce an uncommon kind of peace that overflows and overlaps through any menacing outward circumstances.
And when we have the right hearts, we are giving the world a hard time to penetrate our walls of faith. People who take care of their private time with God and nurture their growth thru His word will always end up winning the war that wage outwardly. And the right heart is what Daniel and his friends have:
- A heart that doesn’t lose hope despite the brokenness they felt
- A heart that will obey and submit to the most outrageous calls of God, regardless of the situation
- A heart that will not abide in this world no matter how hard they try to recruit you
- A heart that beats worship, thanksgiving, and excellence for God alone
Of all the succeeding wonders and miracles in the book of Daniel, everything started with the RIGHT HEART. Daniel has proved and will continue to prove to us that even if he lived most of his life in pain (exile), glory (King’s favor), and humiliation (den of lions), it’s still possible to be deeply rooted in God.
And so what the evil meant as harm for them, what the seemed to be a curse for them became a DIVINE FAVOR that led them to their DIVINE APPOINTMENTS. All because they have the right heart, the right attitude, and the right character.
Malayo talaga ang mararating ng isang pusong babad sa presensya ng Diyos.