In this day and age we are OBSESSED with dieting. We are constantly on the look out for healthier living and eating. This obsession has even spilled over into “fasting” diets, with the singular focus of self health and weight loss. One particular fast that I was recently discussing was the “Daniel Fast”. The idea is to model your diet after what Daniel ate when he came under Babylonian captivity.
To setup the scenario, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken unblemished, handsome and knowledgeable youths from the Israeli captives. He brought them in as servants in the king’s court. As part of them being brought in as servants, they were assigned daily portions of food to help with their strength and development.
Daniel and his buddies, being Jewish, were very kosher. There meats were prepared a certain way and blessed a certain way. They had adhered to this standard, as set forth by God, all of their lives. To not do it would be sin. So let’s read the passage and see their response: Isaiah 1:8-16
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
We can read this passage with a dietary lens and see one thing, however if we put on our spiritual discernment we should really see something different. The point of Daniel and his buddies in denying the food were a few reasons. The first being that they did not want to be defiled as they honored God even above a king. The second that God was using their obedience to SET THEM APART.
In summary, when we do our fasts, let’s put on our spiritual lens as well as our dietary lens. Yes, let’s benefit from the dietary benefits but at the same time understand that God uses our obedience to set us apart and move us to something that will impact the kingdom far after our health fades.