The great controversy of Daniel 1 was not over the curriculum (Change 1), it was not over the change of name (Change 2), it was over diet (Change 3), and it is deliberately recorded for us that we may sense in these last days the ultra-importance of temperance, not just what we eat, but how much we eat. Those boys had such a solid foundation in the Hebrew Scriptures that they could sustain anything else to which they were exposed and see the error and the flaws. What Nebuchadnezzar chose and to him it must have been an act of kindness to these boys to give them the very highest that Babylon had to offer with regard to diet. But the very best of this world is not good enough for the child of God! Christ won that victory over appetite for us and for Himself, when the Devil tempted Him in the desert. So, Ellen White writes, “Intemperance, failure to control appetite whether for food or sensual urges lies at the foundation of all moral evils known to man” and “the controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands who if they had conquered on this point, would have had the moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation”.
The Great ControversyOpening prayer-
Let us bow our heads and prayer
Father in Heaven, as I prepare to deliver this message I ask you dear God in the name of Jesus to help me. This is a spiritual subject and I am not naturally spiritual and so I pray Father that you would grant your Spirit to me. He is the Spirit of Truth. Let him speak through me dear God as I humble myself in your presence. I ask that the self-same Spirit will touch every mind of every person listening that at every level in every heart the truth may triumph, that we may leave this place knowing that we were blessed by the revelation of divine truth. Bless not only as us dear God but wherever your people are worshiping you right now, bless them I pray in Jesus name, let all God’s people say amen and amen.
Our subject for this evening, The great controversy, what did I say? The great controversy. How many of you have heard of the great controversy, may I see your right hand or your left? Alright. Very familiar subject the great controversy, but I have a different controversy to present to you this evening.
Let’s go to Daniel chapter 1 Daniel 1 we shall begin reading at verse 1, we’re reading from the King James Version of the Bible. Daniel if one of two books that really when they studied and understood they give us all the information we need to get ready for the coming of Christ, and to live a victorious life in this sin socked, sin-sick world. Daniel chapter 1 reading from verse 1 the Bible says,
1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. 3And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.5And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so, nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. 8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
The great controversy. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah of which Jerusalem was the capital city. The Babylonians came three times, 605, 598 I believe it was and then in 587/586, and each time they came they took some captives with them to Babylon. Among the captives were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Ezekiel was also taken I believe when the Babylonians came in 598. Nebuchadnezzar hatched a plan and the plan was to take the most intelligent, physically flawless of these young men and train them to be administrators in the kingdom of Babylon. But Nebuchadnezzar being a crafty and a clever leader he realized that he had the challenge of turning Hebrews into Babylonians. And he proceeded to do that by introducing three changes.
Change #1 -a change in curriculum
Let’s look at change number 1, verse 4 of Daniel 1:
4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar chose these young men and one of his intentions was to teach them, to educate them in the knowledge the learning of the Babylonians who are also called the Chaldeans. The first area of change that Nebuchadnezzar instituted was a change in curriculum, are you following me? They would go from a Hebrew curriculum of which God was the centerpiece to a Babylonian curriculum of which all kinds of gods were the centerpiece.
Change #2 – a change of name
Verses 6 & 7:
6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
Now Hananiah Mishael and Azariah, their names were all associated with God. You who is like God I believe is what Mishael was, he who God’s help – Azariah and who God favors was Hananiah, and of course Daniel means God is my judge. All of their names and naming in the Hebrew system was supposed to remind a person of his character and his mission in life. Naming was associated with character and so in Genesis 27 verse 36, when Esau realized he had been deceived twice by Jacob he said, 36Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
So, Esau said of his brother, he is rightly named Jacob because the word Jacob means supplanter or deceiver. In the Bible name is associated with character and with mission in life. And so, the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21, 21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: why? for he shall save his people from their sins.
Change #3 – a change of diet
Let’s got verse 5, 5And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so, nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Third changes was of diet.
Daniel chapter 1 deliberately records these three changes in the lives of the Hebrew boys as a lesson for us. But I want you to observe, if you read Daniel chapter 1 or all the way down to Daniel chapter 12;
- There is no controversy recorded in that book regarding the change of curriculum, are you following me? Those boys have such a solid foundation in the Hebrew Scriptures that they could sustain anything else to which they were exposed and see the error and the flaws. So, there’s no challenge, there’s no controversy in Daniel 1 regarding the change of curriculum.
- Change of name in verses 6 & 7, there is no controversy recorded in Daniel 1 regarding the change of names. If you read Daniel chapter 2 verse 26, the King answered and said to Daniel whose name was Belteshazzar. They called him Belteshazzar but in Daniel chapter 7 verse 15 the Bible said I Daniel was grieved in my spirit. He called himself Daniel. Throughout the Book of Daniel, Daniel calls himself Daniel and when Gabriel came to explain the visions Gabriel called him what? Daniel. So, Daniel called himself Daniel, Heaven called him Daniel, it made little difference to Daniel what the Babylonians call him. It is not what people call you it is what you call yourself.
Those of you in school, whether high school or college, your friends may call you narrow minded because you don’t do certain things, that’s what they call you, you call yourself a child of God. Those of you at work your colleagues may call you square and boring because you don’t join them in cursing and drinking and smoking, they may call you what they like you call yourself a faithful child of Christ, are you with me? We cannot control what people call us we must understand what our names are in God’s eyes and Daniel called himself Daniel and Gabriel called him Daniel.
- Changed number 3 verse 5, the change of diet and there was a great controversy over this third attempted change. Two changes went through, one attempted did not pass. Verse 8 tells us, 8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. Now the word defile is very serious to the Hebrew mind. To defile is to pollute, to render unclean. Daniel understood, that by partaking of the Babylonian diet he would pollute himself, not physically but spiritually first. Let me say that again, Daniel clearly understood, because pollution was a very serious issue and still is in the Hebrew mind, that by eating of the Kings diet he and his three friends would pollute themselves at the spiritual level and at the physical level and so the Bible says in Daniel 1:8, 8But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. In other words, Daniel comprehensively rejected Nebuchadnezzar’s dietary recommendations.
Let’s take a closer look at what he was rejecting, as we continue the subject the great controversy. Since this was the King’s diet, it was the best. You miss what I just said, ah you missed it. Let me say it again, this was royal food, did you get that? You could not be “better fed” in Babylon beside the king’s diet. What Nebuchadnezzar chose and to him it must have been an act of kindness to these boys to give them the very highest that Babylon had to offer with regard to diet. But we need to understand that the best the world has to offer is not good enough for God’s children, come on I need more amens than that. The very best the world has to offer in fashion is not good enough for us. The very best it offers in education is not good enough for us, because our system of education prepares us for service in this world and a higher joy of wider service in the world to come. The very best in amusement the world has to offer is not good enough for us, the very best of this world is not good enough for the child of God! And too often we are dazzled by what the world offers. So, lady Gaga does it so I’ll do it, so whomever does it -Brad Pitt does it so I’ll do it, some well-known rapper does it so I’ll do it. But as it comes with a glim and the glitter of a celebrity, but has not one iota of truth.
Listen to me carefully, what’s best for us is what is found in these pages (the Bible) and Daniel knew that the Bible forbade certain foods and permitted others. And so, at the risk of his life Daniel said no, Daniel in the three Hebrew boys they rejected the diet of the king and it caused consternation. Verse 9 of Daniel chapter 1 says, 9Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. 10And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: This wasn’t the recommendation of the head butler, this came from Nebuchadnezzar and the prince of the eunuchs was nervous when he heard that Daniel would not eat it, for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. The Prince of the eunuchs said, listen if you don’t eat this Babylonian food your condition will deteriorate and the king will realize you look worse than other young men. How wrong he was, how wrong he was. But what I want us to stress is the stress in verse 10, is fear for his life, that if he did not have those boys eat that food he would be beheaded.
Then Daniel recommended test us 10 days, the Bible says, 15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Obedience to God, always brings blessings contrary to what established science may say. You didn’t hear what I said. There is some study that says – I heard it years ago – two or three glasses of wine a day are good for your heart, that’s like saying two or three glasses of sin are good for your heart. The Bible says wine is a mocker, I don’t care what the Harvard researchers say, I just don’t care and I don’t want to be blunt I just want to be direct. I don’t care what they say, this (the Bible) is my research, somebody say amen! I don’t care how much fatty acids are in pork, how many vitamin D is in a lobster. The Bible says don’t eat them and I don’t have to ask God why, if God says don’t eat it we don’t eat it and God told Daniel don’t eat thus and so and Daniel said no.
Clearly then appetite, diet is ultra-important. Now where’s this story found? Daniel chapter one. Now Daniel and Revelation go together, you study Daniel then you study Revelation, one interprets the other. It is not by accident that the very first chapter of this two-volume work on prophecy begins with a story of appetite. Let me introduce something into your minds. What you eat, affects how your mind functions. There are multiple thousands of young boys, young girls in elementary schools and primary schools, who are on Ritalin for possibly no other reason than they eat too much sugar before they leave home in the morning and so they restless and hyper, simply because of what they eat before going to school. Children who if someone with insight could change their diet, would realize what they were needed was not Ritalin but a biblical diet in the morning.
We know the effects of alcohol on the brain, the effects of caffeine on the nervous system. What we take in affects our capacity to think and there are many people because of the way they eat, they have unbalanced minds and they are leaders in the church. I’m not talking about the Baptist, I’m not talking about the Anglicans. Who am I talking about? Seventh Day Adventists. A man or a woman with an unbalanced mind will make unbalanced decisions.
If Daniel and those three boys had eaten of that diet, there would have been guilty of intemperance. It is a lesson for us my friends, we must guard our eating, our drinking, the way we satisfy the urges of the flesh. Listen to what Ellen White says, In Heavenly Places page 194 paragraph 3, listen carefully In Heavenly Places page 194 paragraph 3, it’s also found in Our Father Cares page 157 paragraph 3, listen carefully, intemperance lies at the foundation of all the moral evils known to man. Christ began the work of redemption just where the ruin began. Now what does she mean by that? Let’s go on to find out what she meant. She says the fall of our first parents was caused by the indulgence of appetite. The quotation closes with these words in Redemption denial of appetite is the first work of Christ.
But we see that in His temptation. Satan knew. You see if you trying to get someone to fall to do something and you have three options which option do you use first? The one that’s most effective because you may not get a chance to use options one, two and three, are you with me? The most powerful temptation Satan brought was the first. Christ won that victory over appetite for us and for Himself, and so Ellen White writes intemperance, failure to control appetite whether for food or sensual urges lies at the foundation of all moral evils known to man. Maranatha page 62 paragraph 5, the controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands who if they had conquered on this point, would have had the moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation. Ah, you missed it, let me put it in the Silver Springs language – if you gain the victory of appetite every other temptation becomes easier.
A lot of people will be lost. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 17 from verse 26, 26And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, who invented eating? God, who invented drinking? God. But like so many things God has invented a given to us we have misused. So, God gave us the privilege of sexual expression between husband and wife and we use it for adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, prostitution. God gave us appetite to keep the body alive to feed it what it needs and Adam and Eve used it to sin against God. What God gives to us we abuse and what it’s one of the most devastating ways to sin against God, to take something he has given for his glory and use it to disgrace Him. Luke 17:28, 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, now that’s not a crime for which you go to prison in the United States or Uganda or Sweden, but it is a crime that could cause you to lose eternal life, if the eating and the drinking express intemperance. Many of us will lose a place in God’s kingdom because we cannot control this (out mouths).
She (Ellen White) goes on to say in Counsels for the Church page 228 paragraph 2, an amazing statement, speaking of God, He permitted that long-lived race to eat flesh for food, you know why? To shorten their lives. I don’t want to get you mad with me if you like Kentucky Fried Chicken but you need to know the truth. Ellen White our prophet in these last days said God allowed the eating of meat in order to shorten people’s lives. Now if you know that, surely you must look at the chicken leg differently, are you with me? Or a stack of ribs or sushi. The reason God allowed them to eat flesh so they will die quickly because God has never had an interest of having sinners live long, are you with me? Righteous people should live long not sinners.
Councils on Diets and Foods page 148 paragraph 3 she writes of the Israelites in the wilderness, you won’t believe this statement, listen carefully, they prefer to endure slavery even death rather than to be deprived of flesh food, but the Bible says that. Listen to Exodus 16 verse 3, 3And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots. Listen to me, somewhere I don’t recall, where Ellen White says, the demon of intemperance is a giant, strong.
Satan knows, he cannot have so great power over minds when the appetite is controlled as when it is indulged. Let me say that again, that’s not a quotation, Satan knows that he cannot have so great power over minds when the appetite is kept under control as when it is indulged and he is constantly working to lead men to intemperance. Let me say it again, smoothly Satan knows he doesn’t guess. Let me paraphrase, it is easier to tempt someone who cannot control appetite than someone who controls appetite, that’s The North Pacific Union Gleaner April 14 1909 paragraph 12.
My brothers or sisters appetite, diet and appetite means not just food, but I said the urges of the flesh, it is a matter of great concern has always been but particularly in these last days, because Satan will work through appetite and intemperance in such a way it will become more difficult for us to resist and control and once he has influence in the area of appetite, he has us in every other area. We may not be murderers, we may not be rapists, we may not be bank robbers, we may not beat old ladies over the head and take the Social Security checks, but we’re heading on a downward path because the area where Satan thrives, the area of temperance, intemperance I should say, is an area where we give the victory to him.
Let us take a lesson from Daniel. He purposed in his heart, how many of you were here last night – can I see your hand? Did you see the young man, brother Ben introduced to us, is he here? Oh, my good brother stand up again. Six months ago, he weighed 204 something like that, 206 – let us not cheat you of a couple pounds, 206, now you 140 something? Okay. You know how that happened? He met our health lecturer, brother Ben sitting in the back, thank you, you may sit my handsome brother, and he decided to follow the principles of temperance. Now you can pay thousands of dollars to go on those weight-loss programs and they don’t work, did you hear me? Whether it’s Jenny Craig and her cousin, whoever it is, they don’t work. This works (the Word) and here’s proof (the young man). Now that man knows if he could do that, shed 60 pounds in about six months, what is there that he cannot do? Are you with me? So, the victory in the area of temperance has educated him to know he can conquer anything else.
The great controversy of Daniel 1 was not over the curriculum, it was not over the change of name, it was over diet and it is deliberately recorded for us that we may sense in these last days the ultra-importance of temperance, not just what we how much we eat. And so tonight my purpose is not to make anyone feel badly, but to open your eyes remind you, remind myself that so many of us suffer because we will not follow the simple outline God has laid for us for good health. Exodus 15 verse 26, 26And said, if thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, where is God’s voice found? From where to where? Genesis to Revelation. 26And said, if thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in whose sight? His sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.
Now the Bible says God is not a man that he should lie or the son of man that He should repent. When God promises a thing, if it has a condition, if the condition is met God is morally obligated to come through on his part. And so, I suggest that some of us are suffering and it’s our own fault entirely not God’s and our suffering can end if we will simply obey God.
I was preaching of my home church a couple years ago, one of the sisters said to me after the service she said Randy you beat me all over the head. I said, sister I didn’t mean to, how did I do that? The sermon you preached, she said it targeted me. She said I’m overweight, I have high blood pressure, diabetes and all the associated illness that go with those things. She said I know I need to do something about it.
You know what the problem is with weight loss in United States? No scholar will say this but I’m no scholar, so I’m going to say it – the lack of spiritual power, that’s why 95% of people who lose weight gain it back. People will not acknowledge that what you’re dealing with is a demonic power, intemperance, and the only way to conquer it successfully is by a greater power and that is the power of God. And Seventh Day Adventists have a responsibility to produce results – my brother give me your name – Tim, results like that, not studies from Harvard, living people. Not some thick encyclopedia producing some high-flown university library, but Counsels from Ministry of Healing, Councils on Diets and Foods, mmm, so the world can see, wait a minute, there’s a simple way to be healthy – he used to take medication, he doesn’t anymore. Had high blood pressure, it was normalized, why? He obeyed God.
Temperance not only causes you to lose weight, that’s not my stress. Temperance equips you for a place in God’s kingdom. The great controversy – not over curriculum change, not over name change, over the change of diet. Daniel recognized the danger to body and soul and Daniel at the risk of his life said no. Is there a change in our temperance habits or intemperance that we need to make? Is there change in our eating habits we need to make – if there’s something we eat we know is harmful? Is there some decision we need to make for the sake of our health? Anyone needs to make a decision? God bless you. The healthier you and I are the more effectively we serve God, the lesser the burden we are on society and our families. Do you know how many multiplied billions of dollars are lost every year in this economy because of sick days? And if we would simply follow God’s plan, most of the diseases we deal with would not bother us, even in this polluted world because God’s principles work in any era of history, are you following me? They work.
And so, my prayer for you my brothers and sisters is that you will remember this great controversy, it was over diet, it is critical. And for us to understand Daniel and Revelation the way we should, one of the reasons why that chapter is a diet chapter in the first volume of the two volume work that explains what’s coming on this earth, to understand it we have to change our diet. And I hope you and I will make that decision to understand the mysteries of Daniel and Revelation, one of the first steps we should take is change our diet.
I would like to commit myself to God again tonight, my mind, my body for his service and I will do everything possible with his help to so take care of myself and I could serve Him as long as possible. And in caring for myself, somehow in some small way, give glory to Him as my brother Tim is glorifying God by the results in his life. How many of you will recommit your lives to God at every level body soul and spirit for the glory of God, may I see your right hand? Stand with us, let’s pray. Think of what I’ve said when you leave, read Daniel chapter 1 again and read it over and over and over, let something settle in your mind.
Closing prayer –
Heads bowed eyes closed
Our loving Father in Heaven we thank you so much for your Word, it’s direct sometimes, it’s painful, but it’s always designed to save, to heal, to restore. Thank you dear God for the story of the diet change, the attempted change and for the fervor and for the courage of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who refused to accept the best of the world and they chose to follow your spiritual guidance. Thank you for the victory they won and for the glory that came to Your Name. Dear God in Heaven, help us to do all we can to glorify You because Your Word says we are not our own, we are bought with a price. Your Word says if we defile this body you will destroy us. And so, Father, grant us a desire to put you first in all that we do, but particularly tonight in the area of temperance. Drive us home safely, watch over us, bring us back tomorrow I pray from my heart, in Jesus name and for His sake and all God’s people say Amen.