Second, the Exile is a tragedy par excellence, prompting the prophets of Israel like Jeremiah and Ezekiel to ask a series of difficult questions: such as, has God abandoned us? How is it possible to be faithful to God when we have lost it all? Will there ever be a day when life will return to normal?
The book of Daniel addresses these questions and looks to help people who are disoriented, dislocated, and disillusioned. It seeks to ask the question that we asked two weeks ago, what is God up to? What does it mean to trust God in a day when no one else is living out that trust, when allegiance to the God of Israel has fallen on hard times, even among God’s people? In Exile, Israel is down to a faithful few – to a remnant. Are we?
That’s Daniel’s situation: he is away from home, in a land he doesn’t like, with a ruler who wants to pressure him to go against his faith and conscience.
To be sure, this all might sound odd, of how faith and food come together. But if we understand how allegiance to God is symbolized by food, we can realize something very important when Nebuchadnezzar offers Daniel the royal rations: Will he eat what Nebuchadnezzar gives him or not? Where does Daniel’s true allegiance lie? Daniel has a choice to make. He can eat the defiled food of the king and become unhealthy, or they can eat their own vegetables and remain healthy.
It seems like a clear choice. But it is also a choice that comes in many different ways, each and every day? How do we share our faith in God when others do not? How will we offer ourselves to God’s purposes when others go a different way? There is always a challenge to live according to God’s faithfulness.
Pastor Andy Kinsey