Immersing the young Israelites in the exciting Babylonian culture began the process of indoctrination. In order to further it, each of the young men was given a Babylonian name by the chief of Nebuchadnezzar's court (see Dan. 1:6). Initially, each Hebrew boy's name contained a reference to God. But in stark contrast to their original names, each new name contained some reference to a false god.
Bible scholar John Goldingay explains: "The name Daniel means, 'God is my judge.' Hananiah means, 'Yah has been gracious.' Mishael means, 'Who is what God is?' And, finally, Azariah means 'Yah has helped.'
"Daniel becomes Belteshazszar, ('Bel will protect'), Hananiah becomes Shadrach ('inspired of Aku'), Mishael becomes Meshach ('belonging to Aku'), and Azariah becomes Abednego ('servant of Nego')" (Word Biblical Commentary, Nelson Reference).
Bel, Nego and Aku were false gods of the Babylonians. Renaming the young men accordingly was a deliberate attempt to echo constant contradictions of the truth regarding their God.
According to Goldingay, assigning new names was a common court practice in the ancient world. Its blatant intention was to change the entire identity of the bearer until the life matched the title. The new name marked new ownership and was meant to hail a new destiny.
Actually, God originated the concept. We see the practice of renaming in Scripture as early as Genesis when He changed Abram's name to Abraham. The world system with the enemy at its helm could not resist offering its own counterfeits to serve its idols.
God and the world have opposite agendas represented in their name-giving. God's agenda is always based on truth while the world's agenda—captained by Satan—is replete with deception.
Recently I had the privilege of leading a three-day conference for college-age women. At one point, my fellow speakers and I wanted to spend a few minutes speaking the truth of God's Word over them concerning their identities in Christ.
In order to clear the way, I asked any of them who felt hindered by hurtful, destructive things said over them or names they'd been called to write those statements on a piece of paper and lay it on the altar. To our surprise, the aisles were congested until the altar that wrapped all the way around the platform was completely covered in stacks of paper.
Has the world (or worse yet, a loved one) ever tried to give you a bad name or a bad identity? Daniel, Hananiah, Mischael and Azariah prove to us by their example that the world can call us what it wants, but it cannot change who we are.
Resolve to Stand
You, Beloved, are God's. We resist the world's titanic pressure to compromise in the same way Daniel did. We resolve.
The Scriptures say that when he was assigned a daily portion from the king's table, "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way" (1:8).
Daniel's resolve demanded something from him daily. Bone-deep resolve doesn't develop by going to church every Sunday morning or going to Bible study every Tuesday night.
Important opportunities like these encourage us in our resolve, but they aren't enough to create and sustain it. Daniel's brand of resolve involved something he was challenged to practice every single day. In fact, you might say he ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Don't think he wasn't tested and tempted by the sights and scents of succulent foods. Had his decision been easy, it wouldn't have demanded resolve.
I don't know any other way to say this, and goodness knows I learned it the hard way: Goodness is never accidental. Neither is victory coincidental. Both stem from upfront, daily resolve.
Counter Through Consistency
The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are—no matter who's around. When we become people of integrity, everything we are on the inside is obvious from the outside. The Latin word for "integrity" literally means "entire."
The essence of the term is wholeness and completeness. Webster's defines it as "the quality or state of being complete or undivided."
You can see, therefore, how much integrity depends on consistency. Integrity not only calls us to live inside out, it keeps the outside from coming in. Consistency in our walk and in our talk becomes a transportable cloak of protection around us, going anywhere we go. Life becomes so much simpler when there aren't so many costume changes.
We will not reach perfection in this lifetime on planet Earth, but we can certainly reach consistency. Indeed we must, or the enemy will nearly burn us alive. Never forget what a good shot he is.
Satan never wastes a fiery dart by aiming at a spot covered by armor. The bull's eye is located dead center in our inconsistency. That's where the enemy plans to bring us down.