Self-Discipline for God’s Glory

MEMORY SELECTION: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:5,6

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Daniel 1:3-5, 8-17

THE restrictions imposed by God upon the Jewish people with respect to food were exacting. There were good reasons for these rules just from a health standpoint. Their heathen neighbors ate the blood of animals, they were not really sanitary when handling slaughtered animals, and the animals they slaughtered for food were not clean and were subject to disease.

But to the three Hebrew children of our lesson there was more to the rules laid down by God than sanitation or health. These rules were a part of God’s law given to the Israelites, and therefore the laws were to be obeyed.

When Nebuchadnezzar selected the Hebrew children for special training to serve his court, they were given a status which entitled them to share in the food provided for the king; and, of course, other privileges such as housing and special instructors were provided. But Daniel, being aware of the law given to his people by God, realized that to partake of the king’s food would defile them in the sight of God.

Daniel was able to persuade the eunuch overseer to allow the four of them to eat pulse instead of the king’s food. Pulse means peas, beans, and seeds that grow in pods. Apparently Daniel’s reasoning was that food thus grown could not be contaminated.

This type of food conceivably could have sufficient nutrients to sustain the four Hebrews in good health, but we believe that the robust health and the quickness of mind resulted from God’s blessing because of faithfulness. We read in Daniel 1:17 and 20: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. … And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”

We realize that the nation of Israel was a chosen people and that God dealt with them in a very special way. In Amos 3:2 it says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” They were not to intermingle with the heathen, their neighbors, but were to keep themselves separate. And they were to be obedient to the law that God had given them. Obedience in these things brought blessings to the nation, and disobedience brought punishments. This principle applied to individuals as well as to the nation.

This same principle applies to the consecrated Christian. The Christian’s status in the world is described by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 13:14 as follows: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” The apostle is here saying that we have renounced the things of this world, that we have no ambitions with respect to material things, and therefore we are as pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land. Our interests are heavenly, completely centered on God’s heavenly kingdom. In II Corinthians 4:18 we read: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Jesus, in speaking to his disciples in Mark 10:29,30, said: “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, … and in the world to come eternal life.” All these things are the reward of self-denial, of renouncing the things of the flesh and following after the things of the spirit in the footsteps of Jesus.

But the Heavenly Father demands obedience as a condition before he grants blessings. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. … But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”—I John 2:3,5

Dawn Bible Students Association
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