Loyalty

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Daniel 1:1-2:23; Proverbs 26:14

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.”

REFLECT
Why would Daniel think it a defilement if he were to eat of the king’s food and drink of his wine? Why did Daniel not consider the offering of education, changing of names and being allocated government positions by the Babylonian king forms of defilement as well? The passage is not clear as to why Daniel was particularly sensitive to the king’s food and wine. One explanation could be Daniel’s faithfulness to God’s laws on food as the Babylonians would have no qualms serving unclean animals as well as serving food offered to idols. However, this does not explain why Daniel refused the wine.

Perhaps a more viable explanation could be that Daniel and his three friends wish to preserve a sense of loyalty to God without indulging in the fellowship of the king. They wanted vegetables and water to remind themselves that they are the children of God, and not loyalists of Nebuchadnezzar. As we shall read in the later chapters of the book of Daniel; it is more than a matter of food laws but allegiance to the only King of all kings.

RELATE
Daniel’s loyalty to God in a hostile environment made me question my own loyalty to Him. Have I been loyal to the King? Or am I more loyal to the things provided by the prince of this world? If I say that I am loyal to the King, then how is my life reflecting such loyalties? Am I actually more loyal to myself than to Jesus Christ?

At one time, my friends and I discussed about being in fellowship of people who are powerful and wealthy but are morally corrupt. Would we still been fellowship with them? I thought then that it all depends on why we truly want to be in fellowship with them. Is it really to witness to them the Gospel? Then we also need to pray that in the midst of doing so, we stay strong in the Lord to resist the subtle but powerful temptations they might offer. Or are we really deceiving ourselves for the truth is that we want to get more resources from these people? The heart is deceitful but the Word of God is clear as day. May the Lord help us to choose wisely and be brutally honest to at least ourselves.

REST
Lord, may You help me to stay loyal to You; even in the midst of temptations and challenges that are ever so present in this world. Amen.

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Day 93

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Kings 13:11-31
An old prophet was living in Bethel. His sons told him everything the man of God did in Bethel that day and the exact words he had spoken to the king. When they told their father, he said to them, “Which road did he take?” (His sons had seen which road the man of God from Judah had taken.) The old prophet told his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” After they had saddled the donkey for him, he got on it. He went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak tree. The old prophet asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “Yes,” he answered. “Come home with me, and eat a meal,” the old prophet replied. The man of God said, “I’m not allowed to go back with you. I’m not allowed to eat or drink with you. When the LORD spoke to me, he told me not to eat or drink there or go back on the road I took to get there.” The old prophet said, “I’m also a prophet, like you. An angel spoke the word of the LORD to me. He said, ‘Bring him home with you so that he may have something to eat and drink.'” (But the old prophet was lying.) The man of God went back with him and ate and drank in his home. When they were sitting at the table, the LORD spoke his word to the old prophet who had brought back the man of God. The LORD also called to the man of God. He said, “This is what the LORD says: You rebelled against the words from the LORD’s mouth and didn’t obey the command that the LORD your God gave you. You came back, ate, and drank at this place about which he told you, ‘Don’t eat or drink there.’ That is why your dead body will not be allowed to be placed in the tomb of your ancestors.” After the old prophet had something to eat and drink, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. The man of God left. A lion found him as he traveled on the road and killed him. His dead body was thrown on the road. The donkey and the lion were standing by the body. People who passed by saw the body lying on the road and the lion standing by the body. They talked about it in the city where the old prophet was living. When the old prophet who had brought the man of God back from the road heard about it, he said, “It’s the man of God who rebelled against the words from the LORD’s mouth! The LORD gave him to the lion. It tore him to pieces and killed him as the word of the LORD had told him.” Then the old prophet told his sons to saddle his donkey for him. So they did. He found the body of the man thrown on the road. He also found the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had not eaten the body, nor had it torn the donkey to pieces. The old prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. He came to his own city to mourn for him and to bury him. He laid the body of the man of God in his own tomb and mourned over the man, saying, “Oh no, my brother, my brother!” After he had buried the man of God, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the tomb where the man of God was buried. Lay my bones beside his bones.

What an unusual story.
The old man lied to the man of God.
He deceived him and used the name of God in vain. He pretended to have a Word from God when there was none.

Foolishly the man of God believed him.

Sometimes we hear an excessive use of the phrase “God spoke to me …” in our faith communities.
I don’t think it is always used maliciously with intent to deceive but it’s used by people who mistakenly believe God spoke to them without the filters of checking it with theological and biblical truth, as well as running it by their spiritual leaders.

This just means that we have to be discerning.
We have to know the Word of God well and also reference our spiritual leaders to confirm if we have indeed heard correctly.

The poor man of God took the old man at his word and ended up being punished for his disobedience and carelessness.
Rather than read this text and frown upon how strict God is, readers should come away with a conviction to be vigilant and careful- watching out for false prophets in these last days.