Dan 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. Dan 1:2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. Dan 1:3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, Dan 1:4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king's court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Jehoiakim has only reigned because he was paying a heavy tribute to Egypt because they had been conquered by Necho. Jehoiakim's brother, Jehoahaz was made king after the death of their father, Josiah, at Megiddo but Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt, leaving Judah without protection. So it is that the king of the Chaldeans has now taken Judah and looks for advisors that are wise and he begins to educate them in the ways of his kingdom. Of the men of Judah, he wants only the best young men to mold to fit into his empire. Dan 1:5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king's choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king's personal service. Dan 1:6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Dan 1:7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. Nebuchadnezzar, being the king, knows enough to purchase the loyalty of his new staff and here we see a good example of his attempted bribery and to make sure of the tightest possible fit he even has their names changed to sound more like they belong. As we read we should notice that these four are not alone and I will venture a guess that they were a small minority of the youth concerned. If we will meditate on the Word instead of just reading it we see that God has always held a remnant for Himself, just as He is doing here. When Elijah, just knew he was the only believer left god had it revealed to him that there were 7,000 others hidden away and cared for. There is a life application lesson here: If we are brave enough, not strong enough but brave enough, to stand against the overwhelming majority (in numbers only) God will care for, protect and make you victorious. These young men go forward to be victorious in ways they never could have looked forward to but they were to become victors and that because they trusted in their Saviour. Watch now; Dan 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Dan 1:9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, Dan 1:10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king." Here, once more is a lesson we should be teaching our children and our youth, another life application. Daniel has trusted, completely, in his Saviour and approaches his Training Guard with a plan to remain pure and undefiled in the eyes of Father God. These four young men (teens?) are seeking to live as they know God wants them to live. Another lesson to take from this passage is the devotion of the guard to his boss, the king. Dan 1:11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, Dan 1:12 "Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Dan 1:13 "Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see." Still trusting the Saviour, Daniel lays out a plan to test these four with and God has already moved the guard to test them and so it is that the plan goes forward. Here we see another affirmation that when we look around for what God has going on and we choose to join in, He will bless us beyond, possible, measure. Watch now as God begins to bless because these youth have chosen not to eat Ham and Cheese on Rye. Dan 1:14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. Dan 1:15 At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food. Dan 1:16 So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. Dan 1:17 As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Dan 1:18 Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. Dan 1:19 The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's personal service. Noticeably, there is no mention of the level or the lack of service the majority were indentured to but of even more worthy note, these, that remained true, were drafted into the King's personal service. They were thought so well of that he kept them close to him. As we will see in this study, they had relationship with Nebuchadnezzar because they maintained their Worshipful Relationship with their Savior. Dan 1:20 As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. Remember now Moses and the Exodus' beginning, these primitive kings valued their magicians and conjurers very, very highly and yet these four youth who have disobeyed his directives but have, rather, remained faithful to their Saviour in Heaven are regarded to be more valuable than the best and most prized in all of his kingdom. When we look back at history (His Story) we see over and over that those loyal to God the Father, the Holy Spirit and to Jesus, the Saviour, are exulted. Not always in wealth but history has recorded men like King David, King Solomon, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham to be known as great men of God. Their rewards will all lay at the feet of their Saviour, Jesus one day in eternity. Every one of us can reach for and we can obtain that Royal Honor... if we remain true and holy. Dan 1:21 And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king. Daniel, it appears, remained in the Kings Service from the onset of his training period in 597bc until the first year of Cyrus the Great in 559bc. It looks like Daniel was the kings personal advisor for about thirty-eight years. He served under two kings of two empires. It should be noted that Babylon would have been located in Iraq and the ancient Persian people are found, today, in Iran and the two are, for the moment, not fighting but the war, also, is not over between them. They might be seen as united but that will be only because of their hate for Israel and thus, the United States. It is now, today, critical that we, God's People, keep our eyes on the World but our faith must remain in Jesus as our Saviour for only He can or will save us as the Day of the LORD approaches and soon will dawn.