“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” (Daniel 1:12-13)
Morgan Spurlock, an independent filmmaker produced a cult classic movie in 2004 entitled, “Supersize Me.” The film records a month-long period when Morgan ate only McDonald’s food. His rapid weight gain and health problems made this documentary a popular symbol of our culture’s growing struggle with obesity. Its cultural impact is so powerful that it has become required viewing for health classes across the nation.
Oddly, the issues identified in “Supersize Me” were addressed thousands of years ago in the Bible. In the book of Daniel, a small group Jewish refugees came to the notice of the royal Babylonian court. They were taken in and elevated into an elite group within the world’s ruling power. Their leader, Daniel, was a man of considerable faith and was resolved to maintain Jewish dietary restrictions as part of his devotion to God. So, he proposed the test of vegetables laid out in our text from Daniel. Please note that the bible is not actually advocating vegetarianism here. In Babylon, Daniel could not have been confident of properly prepared meat. So, he was willing to restrict his diet to vegetables.
Almost every modern diet coming out today suggests water and vegetables as an import aspect of their plan. It makes it clear that God’s purpose in giving his people dietary restrictions was to guide his children into better health, not simply as a test of obedience. Even those who reject faith in God can see this aspect of the Bible’s message. For those of us who believe, the Bible shows the love of a creator for his creatures. It lays out his plan for them prosper in good health in this life.
If this is so on a physical level, shouldn’t it be true on a psychological and spiritual level? If our physical life in this culture is facing epidemic level obesity through fast food, what is happening to our minds and hearts? What we consume through popular media is having as dramatic an impact on our souls as McDonalds had Morgan Spurlock’s body. It’s just hard to step on a spiritual scale to see the results.
Like Daniel we need to make sure that we are getting a good diet. Not just physically but spiritually. It is easy for us to see how we struggle against the sin of glazed donuts, but are we aware of what we are taking into our minds and hearts each day. Worship, prayer, Bible study, are a crucial part of what we need in our spiritual diet. God’s Word is even clearer about this than it is about dietary restrictions. And this is the underlying message of this story about Daniel. Daniel was dedicated to being a man of faith. That dedication guided many of his choices in life, even what he chose to eat.
If you’d like to find out how this test worked out for Daniel and his friends I invite you to read the book about him in the Bible. You will find it right after the Book of Ezekiel near the end of the Old Testament. Bon Appetit!
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)