Daniel Conquers Diet
Threshing time will last until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until planting. You will eat all you want and live securely in your land.
Keeping the Promised Land
For three and a half centuries after the exodus from Egypt, Israel thrived without a king. Instead, they had a representative government within their tribes. Disputes were settled by judges who were prophets of God, and the Levites served as priests throughout the land.
Food and agriculture were directly linked to spirituality and religious life. God's plan for happiness was expressed in the levitical agricultural laws, dietary principles and systems of order. When followed, the statutes of Leviticus and Deuteronomy provided a structure intended to make Israel the envy of the planet for peace and prosperity. Like a beacon on a hill, this nation was to be the light of the world. By example, God desired to draw surrounding nations and the world to Himself.
The people, however, began to envy those kingdoms around them instead. They incorporated heathen gods into worship. They rejected their Heavenly King by asking Samuel to anoint a man to rule over them. As a result, they stopped allowing their lands and soil to rest and replenish every seventh year.
Hundreds of years before, God warned the people not to go after idols and foretold the consequences of not allowing their lands to rest. God is serious about healthy food because our spiritual perception is linked to our health. If these instructions were not followed, the people would be carried away captive to a foreign nation and their lands would be desolate and rest.
You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.
Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
70 Years Desolation
Through the prophet Jeremiah and others, God expressed that He would allow His people to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians. God's vessels of service would remain in captivity for seventy years - a year for every sabbath year the land was not allowed to rest.
After the seventy years, the people would return home to rebuild the temple and, eventually, Jerusalem and the surrounding walls. In prophecy, Isaiah names Cyrus as the king who would deliver them at the end of the seventy years.
With one exception during the reign of Hezekiah, the Israelites stopped observing rest years and Jubilees when Saul began to demand conscription and taxation. There would have been 62 sabbatical years and 8 Jubilees trespassed during this time.
Daniel Chapter 1 - Diet is First
Daniel and the King
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God... Daniel 1:1-2
Nebuchadnezzar was about thirty years of age when he besieged Jerusalem the first time. He was not the sole king of Babylon. He shared power with his father, Nabopolassar. His father died that year making Nebuchadnezzar absolute monarch of the Babylonian empire.
Although Judah had fallen into apostasy, there have always remained some remnant that held faithful to God. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were of these. From childhood, they were trained to serve God in mind and body. These four men followed Levitical dietary health laws and God blessed them with beauty and wisdom.
The king of Babylon served Marduk, the god of thunder and war. He was not acquainted with the God of Daniel, but that was about to change. Providence brought the ardent Nebuchadnezzar and the obedient Daniel together for the sake of His remnant.
Nebuchadnezzar had great abilities as a leader. More than this, he possessed personal qualities that suited him for kingship. His ambitions were not humble. He wanted to build a kingdom greater than any kingdom in history - a kingdom that would endure forever. Like the builders of the ziggurats, he planned that his kingdom would reach the heights of heaven.
God rewards ambition if coupled with His will, but the king of Babylon had some character flaws that God desired to purge from him. Success, sometimes, brings about an over-estimation of our own strength which undermines our effectiveness as a vessel of service. Nebuchadnezzar's self-importance began to crowd out concern for his subjects.
Diet and Learning
Many kings have been ambitious, but Nebuchadnezzar, like Solomon, was a diligent seeker of good counsel. He placed the best and brightest in administrative positions of service. He trained promising youth from throughout his realm and conquered lands in the Chaldean language, sciences and arts. He would feed them the very foods chosen for his own diet.
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,
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.
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.
Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
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. Daniel 1:3-7
These verses are quite revealing about Nebuchadnezzar and diet. He clearly understood the importance of diet and health in education and development. We can see that this great king was meticulous in his own diet. He may not of had knowledge of the Bible diet . His diet was the product of idolatry and ritual. However, he lived up to all the knowledge he had.
The Daniel Diet
Daniel Diet Challenge
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.
Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 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."
But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. (emphasis provided)
"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."
So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. Daniel 1:8-14
These verses indicate the simple diet chosen by Daniel was vegetables and water. Nearly all Bible translations interpret this diet using either the words vegetables, pulse or even grain. The King James version chose the word pulse. The actual word translated here is zeroa' (zeraim) (Strong's H2235 and H2232) which refers to seeds. Zera is the very same word used in the creation account and Genesis 1:29. The word pulse is used in some translations because pulse is actual edible seeds like legumes and those seeds from pods.
The Daniel Diet was not a different diet than the Bible diet passed from generation to generation since Adam. Daniel simply requested the diet he knew to be right. However, during this 10-day test and subsequent training, Daniel and his three friends restricted themselves to the the first two classes of our four Bible food groups.
Daniel did not have extra-biblical instructions to restrict his diet to, say, lentils and water. Without doubt, Daniel and his companions availed themselves of the most vibrant, colorful fruits and vegetables grown in the fertile Mesopotamian soil. For review, here is the verse from Genesis which Daniel relied upon when choosing his food:
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food. Genesis 1:29
Daniel could have chosen to eat clean animal meat and drinks other than water. These were not forbidden in the Levitical dietary laws. However, the king's meat did not meet the standards for health. The food was offered to idols. This did not make the meat unclean in itself, but offering the meat to idols made it common. The children of Israel were also forbidden to eat common foods because they were called apart for a high purpose and so are we. See Deuteronomy 14:21.
In the Bible, wine may refer to either fermented drink or pure juice. The wines of the king were likely fermented and also poured out tributary to the the gods of Babylon. The food and wine themselves became desirous idols for gluttony. Daniel was captive in a foreign land because his people had fallen into similar practices. He had no taste to be associated with idolatry in any form.
The king's food was sensual and detrimental, but fruits and vegetables with seed are cleansing. There is little doubt that a 10 day test would have revealed this. From what we know of Daniel, he faced tests and challenges with prayer. Daniel dined at the real King's table. He was not ashamed to petition God. Actually, he would rather face a den of hungry lions than to forfeit his right ask of God. If we do not ask, we do not directly receive. Daniel understood this.
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.
So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.
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.
Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar.
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.
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.
And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king. Daniel 1:15-21