Taking a stand before you are in the battle helps you to “Prove God and Know God”
If you keep a journal, you know that when you look back you see life from a different perspective from where you are now. The past reveals much about your life, your ambitions, and your goals but it also reveals your weaknesses and strengths. Journey with the prophet Isaiah back to when King Hezekiah revealed the priceless treasures of his kingdom to the Babylonians. Listen to what Isaiah told him: “a time is coming when everything in your palace and the things your ancestors have accumulated to this day will be carried away to Babylon.” [Is 39] Fast forward to Daniel chapter 1 and we find ourselves trodding the sands of the desert on our way to Persia/Babylon as King Nebuchadnezzar’s siege brought about the first wave of deportations. Not only was King Jehoiakim captured and taken along with the vessels of the temple but in that entourage were those of royal descent (a.k.a. Daniel and his three friends). Jeremiah had reminded King Jehoiakim that the only way a person can walk in the way of Jehovah and be blessed by Jehovah is to ‘know’ Jehovah but he thought his way was better. The ways of the world are never better and often come at a high price which he will soon find out. ( He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey. His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.) Jeremiah 22.
In that entourage are four young men who had purposed in their hearts to ‘know’ God and not defile themselves. Just as God did with Esther, He was at work behind the scenes preparing and raising up His remnant for one reason: His Name may be glorified. As God has done numerable times He “will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” [1Corinthians 1]
These four (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah) had made a choice in Jerusalem to exemplify the character quality of holiness not WHEN they entered captivity but BEFORE captivity. Just like them we too do not decide to avoid temptation IN the temptation but BEFORE the temptation.
Daniel appealed to the head of the captives, Ashpenaz, to have the temptation of drink and food, which would defile him, be removed. We prove God by placing Him first believing He is true to His Word. “prove me now” saith the Lord is exactly what Daniel said to Ashpenaz: “prove thy servants.” [Mal 3/Dan 1] In essence when Daniel appealed, he was doing what Jesus said we are to do—appeal to God this way: “lead me not into temptation.” [Matt 6]
Because Daniel, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah purposed to ‘know’ God, He blessed them beyond all the rest and He will do the same for you. God’s plans include you if you will “seek Him early.”