But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank (Daniel 1:8, ESV).
The book of Daniel is known for a lion’s den and a fiery furnace. For those interested in end-times prophecy, Daniel is a go-to book, with its depiction of a latter-day-type Roman empire that will usher in the antichrist.
The book of Daniel has something for young and old – inspirational, but also theologically sophisticated.
But often, readers of Daniel miss the key point of the book.
Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food.
The history of the Israelites after they entered the Promised Land was one of defilement with pagan sacrifices and immorality, often centered around feasts. Contrasting this history of Israel, when Daniel entered the Babylonian kingdom as a captive – he determined to not defile himself.
When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, they never again worshipped idols.
Abraham is the Nation-of-Israel Father of Israel, but Daniel is the Faithful-to-Yahweh Father of Israel.
Why is this important?
The ultimate point of all scripture is the first coming of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus.
To accomplish the first coming, God called forth a people, culture, and language with monotheistic beliefs into which a savior could be born. If the nation of Israel had continued the practice of accommodating pagan practices – it would have assimilated itself out of existence before Jesus was born.
The Babylonian captivity cured the Israelites of idol worship and preserved the nation for the first coming of Jesus.
The book of Daniel has this prophecy:
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place (Daniel 9:24, ESV).
There are a lot of inferences so let me clarify with an OGV paraphrase of this verse.
For seventy years the Israelites will remain in captivity in Babylon. During this time, they will stop sinning or missing the mark with their idolatry. When they return, they will righteously worship only the Living God. Through purified Israel, all the prophecies and visions of the coming Messiah can be fulfilled. The Messiah will come to the Holy Place or Temple.
Now back to a more sophisticated version…
The command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler – the Anointed One – comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times (Daniel 9:25).
Many of the prophecies and events of Jesus’ life centered around the temple. If the Jews hadn’t returned free of idolatry – again, there would have been no people, no culture, no language, and no temple.
One of the ultimate fulfillments of prophecy was Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His entrance into the temple. Churches now celebrate those events as Palm Sunday.
Following the example of Daniel, and in preparation for the second coming of Jesus – will Jesus find us undefiled and faithful?
This is the point of the book of Daniel!