“Resolutions About Health: You are What you Eat,” Daniel 1: 1-23

Last week I read an article about why January was the worst time of year to make resolutions – “The Scientific Reason You don’t Keep your Resolutions”

  • It got a little weird – I’m not sure how scientific it really was
    • It went all the way back to ancient Rome and Julius Ceasar and all that to explain how January became the first month of the year
    • Threw out a lot of stuff about the earth’s rotation and seasons and what times would be better to bring in a spirit of newness or whatever
      • Bottom line was this – January is a terrible time to make major life changes because its cold and dark and there is a long time left before it becomes less cold and dark
        • Cold and dark make you not want to do things, better off waiting for spring

Be that as it may, January is when our resolutions usually happen

  • Not gonna force a show of hands about what resolutions were made and how we’re doing at them
  • I’m also not going to pretend like there is some biblical answer to making resolutions stick
    • Sorry if you came here for tips to make your diet work, you’ve obviously not watched me on a Wednesday night

What interests me about New Year’s resolutions is how common they are

  • How many people resolve to do similar things
  • How often the same resolutions are made year after year
  • The ten most common resolutions year after year are always about one of four things
    1. Health – diet, eat better, quit smoking, etc.
    2. Spirituality – go to church, read the Bible more, pray
    3. Family/Relationships – talk to family/friends more, end a relationship if it doesn’t progress, start dating again, etc.
    4. Finance – spend less, save more, donate to charity, etc.
      • The fact that those are the things that jump out to person after person year after year is interesting to me, and while I don’t think there’s some Biblical or Spiritual trick to keeping our resolutions I do think there is a lot for us about those four things

Week 1 – Resolutions about Health

  • Most common resolutions by far – diet, exercise, eat better, quit smoking/drinking
  • Part of scripture that jumps to the forefront of people’s mind is the story of Daniel
    • Type Daniel into Google and you’ll see results for the “Daniel Diet”
    • We heard the story already, we know the story
      • Daniel and his friends are in the king of Babylon’s court and refuse to eat his food
      • Take only vegetables and water, at the end of ten days they’re healthier and more impressive than anyone else
        • If you’ve seen the Vegietales version – the Babylonians come at Daniel with cake and cookies and pies and he avoids their temptation
          • That’s what we usually take away, and vegetables are good for you, but that’s not what this story is about. Daniel’s story is not about a certain diet, there are several reasons he does what he does and they don’t have anything to do with his figure


Political Reason – look at what has happened so far

  1. Nebuchadnezzar takes Judah’s king and things from the temple back with him and puts them at the feet of Babylon’s god
  2. Babylonians take their best and brightest back with them AND change their names
    • Think of other places where names change in Scripture – biggest examples: Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah and Saul become Paul
      • Both cases God changes the names
        • Changing someone’s name was a power move – establishes the hierarchy in the relationship
          • Still is – I let my college roommate call me Andy and that established from day one that he was in charge
          • What the Babylonians are saying – your king is nothing compared to ours, your God is nothing compared to ours. We’ve taken your sovereignty, we’ve taken your religion, and now we’re going to take your next generation and make them ours and there’s nothing you can do about it
            • See how there’s more here than just an issue of food?
          • The Babylonians are trying to assimilate these boys and take their identity away, to make them dependent on Babylon, and the food is part of that. By fighting against that Daniel is showing a commitment to his people


Social Reason – look at what they want him to eat

  • Meat and wine – used in OT to describe excess
    • The prophets talk about people throwing banquets with meat and wine while people starve
    • Points especially to wealth and excess that has come at the expense or through the exploitation of other people
      • The reason the Babylonians can feed their prisoners this well is because they’ve sucked the people they’ve conquered dry
      • By refusing to eat these particular foods and choosing a diet that a power person could have Daniel is showing a commitment to the people he represents


Religious Reason – meat and wine are the foods most associated with sacrifice

  • These are the foods most likely to have been involved in the worship of Babylon’s gods, and eating food that’s been offered to those gods is admitting that they all the claims the Babylonians might make about their gods being superior are right. The refusal to eat the food comes from the same place that will lead S, M, and A to the furnace and Daniel to the lion’s den, they’re refusing to acknowledge any God before God.


So…if Daniel and the others eat the food they’re admitting to being dependent on Babylon’s power and Babylon’s wealth, they’re admitting that they want what Babylon has to offer and they’re willing to ignore their people who are suffering to provide the wealth that gives them these opportunities, and they’re admitting that Babylon’s gods have beaten Israel’s.


Daniel doesn’t reject the royal food because of how its going to impact his health, he does it because of all the baggage and all the things that it brings with it, he realizes that there’s more to the food he eats than what it does to his body, and that’s where this passage speaks to us.


Here’s the Point: Everything we do reflects our faith

  • For Daniel something as simple as what he eats carries huge ramifications about who he is and what he believes
  • That element is any almost every scripture that concerns what we put into our bodies
    • The writers of scripture are way less concerned with our Body Mass Index than they are making sure we recognize that even a decision about what we eat can carry huge implications to how or faith is viewed.
  • So obviously our health is important, but in this time of year where we’re reflecting on what we eat and why and how much and what else we might put into our bodies we’d be wise to do some reflecting on how all the little things we do are reflecting who we are and who our God is
    • What does our diet say about God – are we gluttonous, are we wasteful
      • Are we treating our bodies and the food we eat as a gift
    • What do our politics say about God –  are we promoting the Kingdom in the people and policies we support
    • What does our spending say about God – are we too far on either side


Jesus – anyone who would follow me has to take up his cross daily

  • We don’t get to pick and choose when we won’t people to be judging our faith or what aspects God has control over
  • When we think about the things we do for our health it should remind us that everything, no matter how detached we think it is, is pointing people towards the God we serve or turning them away.
  • In 2018 let’s take seriously the task of reflecting God in all we do

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