Daniel was among the best and the brightest of the Israelites of his time. In the book of Daniel in the Bible, the backdrop is set: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had seized Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah, and had taken King Jehoiakam captive and overrun God’s temple.
As the victor, King Nebuchadnezzar had the power to select and “enlist” young Israelite men to serve in his Babylonian palace, and he wanted only the best. So, he chose young men from wealthy, influential families who are strong, handsome and intelligent, and who exhibited strong leadership qualities.
So, Daniel and some of his friends were “enlisted” in a three-year training time prior to entering the king’s service, and King Nebuchadnezzar appointed his chief official to be in charge of them and the other leaders-in-training.
Here’s the scenario: Daniel and his buddies — devout Israelites — are placed in a pagan palace to be trained up to serve a pagan king, a process complete with a prescribed diet of food and wine from the king’s own table. Most historians agree that the king’s menu most likely included food that had been sacrificed to idols and/or meat from unclean animals, both of which are strictly forbidden by Jewish dietary customs.
Daniel, being a winsome man of conviction, asks to eat only vegetables and to drink only water instead of what’s on the king’s menu. That request was acknowledged by (not approved by) the king’s chief official, but he didn’t want to risk Daniel and his friends looking unhealthy or frail by not eating what the other recruits ate. Since Daniel couldn’t get the king’s chief official to agree to the veggie and water diet, he asked the guard appointed to care for Daniel and his three friends instead.
It took some convincing, but Daniel’s request was granted. Here was the deal. Daniel said, “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” (Daniel 1: 12-13)
The guard agreed.
After ten days of only “pulse” — which consists of vegetables, fruits, seeds and grains — and water, Daniel and his comrades were brought before the King.
The results? Their health and appearance “appeared better than all the young men who consumed the ‘best’ food of the land from the very table of the king.”
Fast forward three years and beyond—while still eating only the pulse and water diet—and Daniel still outperformed those who ate the king’s delicacies. In fact, the king found Daniel and his buddies were “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”
Ten times better!
What’s more is that Daniel outlived the king and advised the king’s grandson, Belshazzar, roughly 70 years after the reign of Nebuchadnezzar began!
That’s the story of Daniel’s 10-day fast that turned into three years as well as how it benefited him into his later years — which brings me to the 21-day Daniel Fast that is also mentioned in the Bible
The tenth chapter of Daniel describes how he ate “no choice food; no meat or wine touched [his] lips” (Dan. 10:3) for three weeks.
At this point in time, Daniel is approximately 85 years old, well beyond the years when he was a young man in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. However, Daniel was still attentive to what God had for him to do, which was also reflected in his diet.
For example, in Daniel 10, Daniel gets a vision from God about the future plight of the Jewish people for rejecting the Messiah and the gospel, leading Daniel into a state of sorrowful mourning that leads to his 21-day fast.
In Hebrew, the words “choice food” suggest that Daniel refused desirable foods, most likely breads and sweets or at least foods which were considered tasty. Once again, Daniel trimmed his diet down to the basics — only for sustenance, not indulgence or personal satisfaction — so that he could focus on the spiritual, not his personal needs or wants.
And while there certainly are spiritual benefits to fasting, physical and mental benefits can occur as well.
Are you ready to experience the incredible benefits of doing a Daniel Fast? If so then plan out your fast and try some of these healthy Daniel Fast recipes.