The setting for the first chapter of the Book of Daniel is the capture of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian army has at this point swept accross the land, taking with them the best and brighest of the empire and relocating them to Babylon. The story of Daniel tells about one young man who was among those taken. Daniel and several of his friends were also selected to be trained to be in service to the Babylonian king. This was a great honor and required great mental and physical stamina.
Eating rich foods and wines from the king's table was one of the privileges of being selected to participate in this program. Since this was enjoyabe it must have been tempting for the young men to give in to this custom. However, being devoutly Jewish meant that Daniel and his friends were governed by certain dietary laws (much too complicated to go into here). The king's food obviously did not fall within these guidelines. Surely, it took large amounts of self-control for Daniel and his friends to pass up the rich royal diet adn to eat only those foods that they could be assured were properl prepared. These foods consisted moslly of vegetables and water.
The steward wo was in charge of the wellbeing of these young men was concerned that he would be blamed for any ill health they might suffer. Even the king was angry that the men would turn down the food served at his own table. However, Daniel managed to convince both that they should be allowed to put this to a test. How surprised both the king and the steward were when Daniel and his friends ended up healthier and stronger than those who ate the richer foods. The king came to admire Daniel and his friends for their self-control and wise judgement.
Given an opportunity, what child would choose broccoli over a bag of potato chip or a helping of mashed potatoes over a double-chocolate fudge sundae? Learning to make wise choices is one the skills of growing up. Learning to choose what is right is an issue of self-control; choosing what is best over choosing what one would rather have. Young children do not have many autonomous choices allowed them. But they need to practice whenever possible so that when the time comes to make larger, more life-affecting choices, they are equipped to evaluate and choose wisely.
So, in Sunday's lesson and story, Daniel finds himself, along with many others, taken from his homeland and forced to live in another culture, one that doesn't worship the one true God. Selected to be a part of the king's own staff, Daniel had to choose to remain faithful to his dietary laws when confronted with the excesses of the palace. how diffiult this mush have been!! And yet, with great self-control Daniel stood his ground and proved himself to be the better man for it. Children are not born with self-control. They have to learn it, oftentimes by the mistakes they make. Lack of self-control often shows up as greed, something that, as Christians, we work against. God wants us to share and think of others.
Our games and activities will include Vegetable soup, scattered categories, temptations, resit and Batik, one of our friendly puppets will make an apperance and discuss what was learned today and finally the story will be good choice. When we have our snack, if we have time, I will ready Charolette's Web which is out making good and bad choices.
Let us choose what is right