Charles and Norma Ellis
1In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3And 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;
4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, 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.
5And 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.
6Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7Unto 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.
8But 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: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10And 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.
11Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15And 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.
16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
The Hebrew youths who took such a strong stand in the court of the king of Babylon are a tribute to fathers and mothers who faithfully trained them in the home. They are a testimony to the keeping power of their God. Chosen to be educated in the court of the conqueror along with the children of the king himself and the children of princes! Given to eat of the delicacies of the king's table! Children outstanding in appearance, intelligent, well-educated, full of promise! They were to be taught 'the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans' (1:4).
This was a difficult spot in which to be. Not only did they experience social pressures such as our children experience in kindergarten or in college or in military service; there were, too, the powers of an unsympathetic 'administration.' This is a story to which our youth should be able to relate!
It would have been very easy to capitulate to the life style of the Babylonians. It would have been a temptation to compete for first place among the youth at the court. It would have been the easiest course to adapt to the Chaldean style of life. But God was with them. He enabled them to hold out against the ways that would have compromised their faith. Then He went a step further and enabled them to surpass all the others!
We may assume that, back home, parents were praying for God's care over these boys. They had done what they could in training them. Now the discipline had to be in the hands of the youths themselves. Away from the parental apron-strings they would have to maintain their own faith and relationship to the God of their fathers. We believe the parents prayed to this end.
So, too, must we.
We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."
Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.
Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.
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