Daniel 1:1-21




[Note: The idea for this sermon came from a message I heard Dr. Ed Young  

of Winning Walk preach]


When I was growing up, the New York Yankees had one of the most   

dominant baseball teams ever.

Yankee teams played in the World Series fifteen times in the seventeen years  

between 1947 and 1963.



They won the World Series five years in a row between 1949 and 1953.

Some of their most famous players were Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson,         

Roger Maris, Hank Bower, Moose Skowran, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford,         

Tony Kubeck and Phil Rizzuto.



Mickey Mantle stood out as a slugger.

He was a switch hitter with power.



He led the American League in home runs four times,

He was Most Valuable Player in the American League three times,



He hit eighteen home runs in World Series games.

He also had great speed;



Great enough to play center field in the big park at Yankee Stadium.

The team was NOT just famous ON the field.



It was also famous OFF the field.

Many of the players were famous for drinking and womanizing.



The media lapped it up.

They called these players the “Party Crowd.”



And Mickey Mantle was one of the “Party Crowd's” main members.

He loved alcohol and women.



Bobby Richardson was different.

He played second base.



He was a league all-star;

A committed Christian.



While the “Party Crowd” was drinking and womanizing Bobby Richardson  

was playing ping pong,

Attending prayer meetings,



And little league ballgames

He was determined to remain faithful to God.



That's the way Daniel was.

He was a Jew.



It's not known exactly when or where he was born.

But most scholars think he was born about 620 B.C. in Jerusalem.





That would make him about 13 or 14 years old when king Nebuchadnezzar   

destroyed Judah.

He was just a teenager when he was captured and carried to Babylon.



The first two verses of his book read, “In the third year of the reign of          

Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto  

Jerusalem, and besieged it.”

“And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand:”



1st---I want you to notice that, “the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into   

king Nebuchadnezzar's hand.”

The fall of Judah was God's doing.



The people went their own way for hundreds of years.

God asked them to repent again and again.



They refused to do it.

Finally, God got tired of the situation.



He showed His displeasure by having the nation destroyed.

This tells us something about the patience of God.



He is very patient because He put up with their rebellion for hundreds of       


But there is a limit to His patience because He finally destroyed the nation.



If we have sin in our life, God will probably put up with it a long time.

He will probably give us many chances to repent.



But if we refuse to repent, a day of reckoning will come.

And that day of reckoning will not be easy.

God knows how and when to apply the rod of correction.

2nd---I want you to notice some things about Daniel.



Notice, verses 3-4.

“And 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;”



“Children in whom was N4 blemish, but well favoured,”

“And skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding      




“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.”



Womanizing wasn't a problem for Daniel.

The king had him emasculated.



But Daniel was a member of the royal family.

He was in excellent physical condition,



Very popular,

Very intelligent,



Trained in many subjects including wisdom and science;

Wise beyond his years.



We ask, “Why did king Nebuchadnezzar want highly qualified young Jews    

like Daniel in his court?”

He wanted people he could indoctrinate,


People he could place in positions of authority over other Jews.

He thought he could take these young Jews, Change them,



Make them loyal to Babylon, Put them in high positions,

And use them to control his Jewish captives.



3rd---I want you to notice some things about king Nebuchadnezzar's tactics.

Notice, verses 5-7.



“And 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.”



“Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael,          

and Azariah:”

“Unto 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.”



Most captives would be lucky to receive just a little bread and water.

But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego received food and wine from

the king's own table.



Most captives would be lucky to receive any kind of education.

But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego received the finest education  

money could buy.

Nebuchadnezzar even commanded that they should receive these things for a          

period of three years.

Then, he wanted them to receive good jobs,



Positions of honor and trust in the Babylonian kingdom.

He also changed their names.



Daniel whose name means “God is my judge” was renamed Belteshazzar      

after the pagan god Bel.

Hananiah whose name means “God is gracious” was renamed Shadrach after         

the sun god Shad.



Mishael whose name means “God is great” was renamed Meshach after the  

love goddess Shach.

And Azariah whose name means “God is my helper” was renamed Abednego         

after the fire god Nego.



These Jewish names would make a great sermon about God:

          God is my judge,

          God is gracious,

          God is great, and

          God is my helper.



We should tremble at the judgment of God.

But everything will be okay for the Christian because of the grace, greatness  

and help of God.



Anyway, Nebuchadnezzar took way their godly Jewish names.

And renamed them after his pagan Babylonian gods.





What does a Christian do when he becomes a celebrity like Mickey Mantle or         

Bobby Richardson?

Do we go with the flow?



Do we join the “Party Crowd?”

Or do we play ping pong, attend prayer meetings and go to little league ball   




We know what Mickey Mantle did.

We know what Bobby Richardson did.



And we know three things that Daniel did.

1st---Daniel demonstrated conviction.



Verse 8 reads, “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:”

Celebrity status didn't change Daniel's character.



He refused to abandon the things he had learned from the Scriptures.

He knew that the food and drink that was set before him had been sacrificed

to pagan gods.



He also knew that he had been taught not to consume those things.

So Daniel made a decision right up front that he was not going to violate his  

religious beliefs.



He was willing to change many things.

But he was not willing to change his relationship with God.



That’s the way it’s suppose to be.

We can go with the flow on many things.


But we dare not go with the flow when it involves sin.

Sin will change our relationship with God.



And none of us should want to go backwards in our relationship with Him.

2nd---Daniel demonstrated common sense.



Verses 8 through 14 read, “Therefore he requested of the prince of the          

eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

“Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of          

the eunuchs.”



“And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who         

hath appointed your meat and your drink:”

“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.”

“Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over    

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,”



“Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to   

eat, and water to drink.”

“Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee,”



“And the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's      


“And as thou seest, deal with thy servants.”



“So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.”

This was a delicate issue.


Daniel used great tact.

In essence he said, “The king's desire for me to eat and drink forbidden things       

goes against my religious beliefs.”



“I don't want to defile myself.”

“I want to be faithful to my God.”



Ashpenaz replied, “I'm afraid of the king.”

“If what you eat and drink harms you, he will cut off my head.”



So Daniel suggested a test.

“Give me, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego nothing but vegetables and    

water for ten days.”



“When the ten days are up check us out.”

“Compare us to those who eat and drink the forbidden things.”



 “See who is in the best physical condition.”

Ashpenaz loved Daniel.



He agreed to Daniel’s request.

The test went forward.



A well-known poem says:

          Dare to be a Daniel,

          Dare to stand alone;


          Dare to have a purpose firm!

          Dare to make it known!




We could say:

          Dare to be a Bobby Richardson,

          Dare to ignore the Party Crowd;


          Dare to be a Christian!

          Dare to say it out loud!



3rd---Daniel demonstrated confidence in God.

If he remained faithful, he was convinced that God would bless him.



Verse 15, “And 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.”

At the end of the ten days, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were  

in better physical condition than those who ate and drank from the king's table.



Verse 17, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in

all learning and wisdom:”

“And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”



Daniel's parents had given him a godly education up until he was about 13     

or14 years old.

Then, when he became a slave in Babylon he put what he had learned into     




So God rewarded him with great knowledge and understanding.

And God also gave him the ability to understand visions and dreams.



This would be important all through his life.

It would get him out of many tough situations.



I don't know if Mickey Mantle had a godly education or not.

I doubt it.



He didn't act like it.

He joined the “Party Crowd.”



He became an alcoholic.

The alcohol ruined his liver.



He had a liver transplant.

His second liver was ruined by alcohol and cancer.


That eventually took his life.

His womanizing harmed his marriage.



His wife struggled with his infidelity.

She also turned to alcohol.



They had four sons.

They named the first one after another famous “Party Crowd” member called         

Billy Martin.



This son died a tragic death.

I don’t really know, but the last I heard, Mickey’s other three sons are still    

fighting both alcohol and drugs.



How could they grow up right when their parents set such a bad example?

A friend of mine gave me a poem entitled “Walk A Little Plainer Daddy”


                  Walk a little plainer daddy

                   Said a little boy so frail

                   I’m following in your footsteps

                   And I don’t want to fail

                   Sometimes your steps are very plain

                   Sometimes they are hard to see

                   So walk a little plainer daddy

                   For you are leading me

                   I know that once you walked this way many years ago

                   And what you did along the way

                   I’d really like to know

                   For sometimes when I am tempted

                   I don’t know what to do

                   So walk a little plainer daddy

                   For I must follow you

                   Some day when I’m grown up

                   You are like I want to be

                   Then I will have a little boy

                   Who will want to follow me

                   And I would want to lead him right

                   And help him to be true

                   So walk a little plainer daddy

                   For we must follow you.


Author Unknown



Bobby Richardson is a different story.

He married Betsy his childhood sweetheart.



She’s also a committed Christian.

Like the Mantles they have four children: three sons and a daughter.



One of their sons is a successful businessman.

Two of their sons are pastors.



Their daughter is a pastor's wife.

A famous poem reads:


          One ship drives east

          Another drives west

          With the selfsame winds that blow.


          Tis the set of the sail

          And not the gales

          That determines which way you go.


Author Unknown                                        


We are all confronted with the temptations of the world.

Some like Mickey Mantle give in.



Others like Bobby Richardson refuse.

Temptations are set before all of us.



But its what's in our heart that determines which way we go.

Being a member of the “Party Crowd” was appealing to Mickey Mantle.



But sailing with the “Party Crowd” took him through rough seas.

It filled his life with turmoil, caused a lot of illness, and ultimately brought his

early death.



Refusing to join the "Party Crowd" was easy for Bobby Richardson.

Sailing another way took him through calm waters.



It greatly enhanced his life.

Let's look at the last four verses of chapter one.



“Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in,”

“Then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.”




“And the king communed with them;”

“And among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and     




“Therefore stood they before the king.”

“And in a11 matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of  




“He found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that    

were in all his realm.”

“And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.”



Following their three years of schooling, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and      

Abednego were taken before King Nebuchadnezzar.

He personally interviewed each one of them.



He found them far superior to all the others that stood before him.

He also found them ten times better than all the wise men who already served          




God had exceedingly blessed Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

So King Nebuchadnezzar kept Daniel in a high position all the days of his     




And when the Medes and the Persians overthrew Babylon the first thing the  

new king did was to re-appoint Daniel.

Bobby Richardson talked to Mickey Mantle four times before Mickey Mantle         




Bobby Richardson wasn't a preacher.

But Mickey Mantle asked him to preach his funeral.


It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs for Mickey Mantle when Bobby

Richardson saw him alive for the last time.

Mickey Mantle said, “Bobby, I did it.”



“What did you do,” Bobby Richardson asked?

“I became a Christian,” Mickey Mantle replied.



Bobby Richardson wanted to be sure.

He went through God's plan of salvation with Mickey.



Then, he prayed with him.

He was convinced that Mickey Mantle's salvation was real.



Mickey Mantle said he wished that he had accepted Christ many years before.

He talked about his wasted years,



The harmful effect his riotous life had on his wife, his children and his team   

mates in the “Party Crowd.”

Bobby Richardson's wife Betsy was standing by Mickey Mantle's hospital    




She asked, “If God wants to know why He should let you into heaven, what

are you going to say?”

Mickey Mantle replied, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only   

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but   

have everlasting life.”



Before he died, Mickey Mantle called several members of the “Party   


He witnessed to them.


He also gave one final television interview.

The reporter called him a role model.



“Role model,” he said.

“I'm not a role model.”



“I wouldn't want anyone to have a life like the life I've lived.”

Mickey Mantle didn't say it.



But the real role model was the ping pong player.

After his All-star career, Bobby Richardson coached college baseball.



He continues to witness to his living team mates.

He speaks to thousands about Christ.



He has influenced multitudes to accept Christ. Dr. Ed Young quotes that       

famous poem like this:

          One ship drives east (Mickey Mantle)

          Another drives west (Bobby Richardson)

          With the selfsame winds that blow.


          Tis the set of the sail

          And not the gales

          That determines which way you go.



I pray that you have set your sails right.

Quite often, the way we go makes all the difference in the world.



I’m talking about whether you are going to be a success in life.

I’m talking about whether your children and your grandchildren are going to

be successful in life.



Deathbed confessions like Mickey Mantle’s are great.

But a life lived for Christ like Bobby Richardson’s is far greater.