According to Genesis, by the time Babel and its tower were built, mankind was fully ruined, captured, and preoccupied by the Devil. The old mankind under the headship of Adam was fully ruined by Satan and had become useless. Therefore, God gave it up. Out of that situation, God called one man, Abraham, to raise up a holy race, a new mankind. Eventually that holy race was built up as the kingdom of God on the earth. At the center of that kingdom was the temple. The temple was God’s habitation as the very testimony of God on the earth. The vessels of God’s house, signifying the riches of God’s testimony, were in the temple.
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem, captured the vessels of God’s temple, and carried them into his idol temple (2 Chron. 36:17-20; Ezra 1:7). The captivity of Israel signified that God’s testimony was spoiled. In order to glorify himself and shame the captured Israelites, Nebuchadnezzar also selected the best, smartest, and most excellent young people, especially from the royal family, and brought them into his palace to eat his food and drink his wine (Dan. 1:3-5). No doubt, he offered his food and wine to the idols before he ate and drank because he considered that it was they who gave him his great empire.
Daniel was taken into captivity as a young man. He and his three friends, who were of the children of Judah, were selected to come into the king’s palace to be taught. There they had to decide whether or not they would eat the food sacrificed to idols. That meat was no longer merely food; it had become related to the demons. To eat it was not a small thing. Daniel and his three friends purposed in their heart not to be defiled, not to have any share in that defiling element (Dan. 1:8).
For Daniel and his three friends not to eat the king’s food was to protest, to be God’s testimony, against the tide of idolatry. This was a great matter in the eyes of God and also in the eyes of the Devil. This was the fighting of a spiritual warfare. In such a situation, Daniel was one who was caught by God. From his very youth, he was called, captured, and fully occupied by God. Eventually, it was he who brought in the return from captivity. Daniel was still living during the reigns of Darius and Cyrus after the Babylonian Empire had become the Persian Empire (Dan. 9:1-2; 1:21). When he read the prophecy given through Jeremiah that the captivity would be accomplished for seventy years, he began to pray for God’s people (Dan. 9:1-19). His prayer brought in the fulfillment of the children of Israel’s return from captivity, which began from the decree of Cyrus in the first year of his reign (Ezra 1:1-3).
Young people today are also in a situation of captivity. God’s testimony has been spoiled, and the riches, the vessels, of God’s testimony have been taken captive. Everything in this age is defiling, including religion and society with its pleasures. Today all religions are in a form of idolatry. Religion takes God’s name, but worships something other than God. This is idolatry. God needs some young people to keep themselves from being defiled by the idolatrous worship. Once some young people see the situation of today’s religion, they will purpose in their heart. They will say, “Lord, from today I would never become polluted with this religion. I would stay away from this defilement.” To flee youthful lusts is to keep from being defiled.
The young people must make such a purpose in their heart. To simply receive salvation is good, but by itself it cannot satisfy completely. After being saved, many still have a hunger within and are still seeking something further and higher. What they are seeking is God’s purpose. They should realize that the background of their situation is one of captivity and should desire to come out of captivity and not remain in its defilement. The young people must pray, “Lord, help me to make a purpose in my heart not to defile myself.” If the young people would make such a purpose deep in their heart, God will use them. Each one will be much used by the Lord. Fifty years ago, I was one of many young people who made such a purpose in their heart. All of us were used by God. In the past half century, Christianity in the Far East has been much influenced by these young people. In a sense, we revolutionized Christianity in the Far East. Today also in this great Christian country, the United States, God needs so many young people.
Do not go along with the present situation. At the time of Daniel, some young people might have said, “What is wrong for us to eat the king’s meat? Everything created by God is clean. We do not care whether or not this food has been offered to idols. We will just take advantage of it.” This is a word of failure and defeat. They should rather have said, “I will never go along with this current. I will keep away from it. I protest against the present situation. Let others eat, but I will not.” If the young people today would make a purpose such as this deep in their heart, God will use them.
The young people must learn to flee. They need to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22a). Young people have a lust for eating. Most young people like to eat good things. The meat and the wine provided by King Nebuchadnezzar were surely a strong temptation to Daniel and his three friends. This food was the best food, the royal food. There was an eating lust within Daniel, but he stayed away from this lust. He and his friends were fleeing youthful lusts.
The young people need to flee youthful lusts, and they should also pursue, that is, seek after, righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2 Tim. 2:22b). Righteousness, faith, love, and peace are all Christ. To pursue these things is to pursue Christ in different aspects. Flee youthful lusts, and pursue Christ as your righteousness in your relationship with others, as your faith in your relationship with God, as your love in your relationship with one another, and as your very peace. Such fleeing and pursuing is a living for God’s testimony. It is a daily gospel life. A daily walk which expresses righteousness, faith, love, and peace is the best gospel preaching. It is the life that opens the way for the gospel to reach people.
(Fellowship with the Young People, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)