Daniel and his three friends were taken captive by the Babylonians. Yet this was not an ordinary captivity behind bars. They were put into the University of Babylon to be educated to fill the highest positions in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
Imagine the first day when they were ushered into the Babylonian cafeteria. It featured the finest gourmet cooking and fine-dining experiences from the chefs of the king himself. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8).
It cannot be overstated that there would be no book of Daniel had the Hebrews eaten of the decadent delicacies of the king. The four Hebrews were found to be physically superior to the other students as a result of their habits of temperance. However, the chapter points to another principle that is connected to temperance—one that is beyond the physical dimension: “Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Dan. 1:17).
Daniel 1 brings out a correlation between Daniel’s remarkable temperance stance and his remarkable spiritual understanding. Furthermore, the chapter brings out a causation between Daniel’s temperance and his academic excellence when the king found them to be ten times wiser than everyone else. Indeed, the emphasis of the chapter in terms of temperance is its connection with spiritual understanding: “As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill of all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Dan. 1:17). In other words, temperance has natural, physical, intellectual, and spiritual benefits. Temperance for the glory of God has supernatural benefits that are added.
The book of Daniel is a prophetic book. Chapter 1 begins with a temperance test and ends with unprecedented spiritual understanding. The lesson is apparent: In order to understand the prophecies of Daniel, we must practice the temperance of Daniel.