For as long as I can remember, I've been compelled by the life of Daniel, recounted in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is one of the clearest personifications of the New Testament challenge in Romans 12:2, to "not be conformed to this world." You may know the story of Daniel's resilience as he worships the God of Israel instead of the self-righteous king Nebuchadnezzar, even if it means being thrown to the lions to be eaten. A little less "popular" story in the book of Daniel is when He is called on to interpret a dream for the extremely wicked king of Babylon, and he, not only interprets the dream but, says to him, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!" This seems to be so different from what we experience today as many "Christians" spew hate-filled remarks toward some of our current political leaders. What we clearly see in the life of Daniel is a man who is held in captivity of the Babylonian empire, against his will, all while walking in obedience to God, serving his captors faithfully, and experiencing God's favor during this captivity.
I recently previewed some information about a new food justice film called "Farmageddon," and was reminded of another story in the life of Daniel. You see, at the onset of Daniel's time in Babylonian captivity, king Nebuchadnezzar ordered all the best young Israelite boys to be forcibly assimilated into the king's culture, taught the king's ways, and fed the king's foods. Verse eight of chapter one in Daniel says that he "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." I realize that we live in the "land of the free, and the home of the brave," but we seem to be facing a parallel challenge, with the rise of the industrial food system in America.
To a certain extent, we are being held captive in a food system that is "defiling" us in so many ways. Whether it be the government's blatant disregard for the health ramifications of GMO seeds, the bacteria-rich feed lots that the majority of the beef cattle are raised in, or the "SWAT" style raids taking place on small farmers for selling raw milk; the reality is we are in captivity in a broken-down, unsustainable system. Although the outlook seems bleak, there are some practical ways we can "resolve" to not "defile" ourselves. As a believer in Jesus, the first place I go is to ask Him for favor within our current system. Daniel is a great example of how this works; no matter what was going on during his captivity, it seemed really clear that God was with him. For instance, we see in verse 9 of my example it says, "and God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs." Let's remember that these weren't compliant captors; they were on a hostile take-over mission! But, the favor of God trumps man's agenda. If we follow God, in Jesus Christ, we will have His favor. From this favor foundation, we quite simply, need to just take practical steps to do what we know is right!
Let's look for opportunities to connect with local farms to provide support, let's learn to cultivate the land the way it was intended from the beginning, and let's be proactive with our passion to see things change for the good of our society. Personally, I would like to experience what Daniel did; when God's favor, and his faithfulness to God shone brightly to one of the most wicked kings in history and the result was revealed in Nebuchadnezzar's words, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries." (Daniel 2:47)
Pastor Brent Anderson