Introduction: Last week we discussed real people who were caught up
in the cosmic conflict between good and evil. In the cases we studied
(David, Samson, Elijah) we found people of faith who gave in to
sinful impulses. This week we look at real people who suffered
through no apparent fault of their own, but remained faithful. Let’s
jump in.

  1. Daniel

    1. Read Daniel 6:1-3. What position did Daniel hold in the
      kingdom of Medo-Persia? (Daniel had a remarkable career.
      If you look at Daniel 5:29 you will discover that Daniel
      was promoted to “third highest ruler” in Babylon the night
      it fell to Darius the Mede. However, when Darius
      organized his new kingdom, he made Daniel one of the three
      top administrators that reported directly to King Darius.)

      1. How good was Daniel at his job? (Verse 3 tells us
        that Darius intended to further reorganize and make
        Daniel the number one administrator. He would be
        second in charge to the king.)

    2. Read Daniel 6:4. What does “at this” mean? What is
      motivating these leaders to plot against Daniel? (When
      they learned that the King intended to promote Daniel over
      all of them, they were jealous and plotted against him.)

      1. What was the problem they faced in plotting against
        Daniel? (He was “neither corrupt nor negligent.”)

    3. Read Daniel 6:5. What is their only angle of attack
      against Daniel? (A potential conflict between the law of
      God and the law of the government.)

      1. Friend, can this be said about you? There is nothing
        in your work that others can attack? The only way to
        attack you is to find a conflict between your
        obligations to God and your obligations to the

    4. Based on this only approach, a plot is hatched. Let’s read
      on: Daniel 6:6-9. While Daniel’s “weakness” was his
      allegiance to God, what is the weakness of King Darius?
      (Pride. Maybe a little mental weakness too, since one of
      his principal advisors was missing from this group — the
      one who prayed to a different God.)

    5. Let’s read on. Daniel 6:10-11. To whom does Daniel turn
      for help? (Verse 11 says he was asking God for help.)

      1. Wouldn’t a little “self-help” have been appropriate
        here? For example, why not close the windows? Nothing
        requires you to pray with the windows open! Indeed,
        Jesus said ( Matthew 6:6) to pray behind closed doors.

      2. Read the story in Matthew 17:24-27. Was Jesus’
        approach to this “governmental regulation” the same
        as that of Daniel? (It seems not. Jesus was willing
        to compromise (not give offense) as much as possible
        without compromising the principle (which was who
        Jesus was).)

      3. Why do you think Daniel refused to change anything
        about the way he prayed to God? (I think he viewed
        this as a test of his allegiance to God. It was an
        open challenge to his faith. The context of Jesus’
        statement to pray behind closed doors was to those
        hypocrites who were praying just to be seen by men.
        Since they were doing this only for self-glory, you
        can be sure they would have closed the door if death
        were the reward for public prayer.)

      4. Why did the other administrators (v.11) go “as a
        group” to find Daniel violating the law by praying?
        (These guys were schemers and cowards. Since the King
        liked Daniel, if just one reported this, the King
        might have ignored the report and punished the one
        who gave the report. If a whole group of the
        administrators reported this, King Darius would be

    6. Daniel 6:12-13 records that the group then reported
      Daniel’s praying to King Darius. Let’s read Daniel 6:14.
      What do you think is going on in the King’s mind right
      now? What were his views about Daniel? His views about his
      decree on worship? His views about his advisors? (He
      clearly knows he has been tricked and trapped. He still
      has a very high view of Daniel because verse 14 tells us
      that he “made very effort” to rescue Daniel. The King
      thinks killing Daniel is unfair and not in his best

      1. The advisors keep reminding King Darius that his
        edicts cannot be changed (vv. 12, 15). Consider the
        situation: the King and his most trusted advisor
        (Daniel) agree that Daniel should not be killed – yet
        Daniel is going to be thrown in the lions’ den. What
        does this teach us about relying on men for our
        freedom and welfare? (This shows why Daniel, in verse
        11, was “asking God for help.” We cannot depend on
        the state, powerful friends or any other person. We
        must depend upon God not only for our salvation, but
        for every other aspect of our life.)

    7. Read Daniel 6:16-17. If we must depend on God, why didn’t
      God work something out before Daniel got thrown in the
      den? I am not a procrastinator. I am not a “last minute”
      guy. Is God a procrastinator or a “last minute” guy? (God
      often lets matters get to their worst point before He
      intervenes. His thinking on this is revealed in the story
      of Gideon fighting the Midianites. In Judges 7:2 God tells
      Gideon to get rid of some of his soldiers “in order that
      Israel may not boast against me that her own strength
      saved her.” God wants us to be clear on who saved us. In
      Daniel 6:16, the ruler of the empire acknowledged that the
      matter of Daniel’s life had come down to a miracle from
      his God.)

      1. What lesson do we learn from this for the problems in
        our life?

    8. Read Daniel 6:19-22. Now, what do you think about the idea
      of Daniel just shutting the doors when he prayed?

      1. Read Daniel 6:25-27.(I believe that God impressed
        Daniel that praying privately was not the right
        answer. As a result of Daniel’s faithfulness, the
        power of God is clearly displayed to King Darius and

        to the entire empire.)

      2. Did Daniel suffer just so that God would look good?
        (Daniel obeyed. If this event had not happened,
        Daniel would always have had his jealous competitors
        trying to harm him. Instead, Daniel 6:24 reports that
        they were no longer a part of Daniel’s life. Daniel
        6:28 reveals “So Daniel prospered during the reign of
        Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” This
        event also caused the King to be converted and to
        announce the empire was now “Christian.”)

  2. Esther

    1. Read Esther 3:13. Do you know why this edict to kill the
      Jews was issued? (There was a rising young star in the
      empire of Medo-Persia, a man named Haman. He was like
      Daniel in that the King elevated him above all of the
      other nobles. The King ordered all to bow down to Haman
      when he passed by them. A guy named Mordecai refused –
      probably because of the first two of the Ten Commandments.
      When Haman saw this he decided to kill not only Mordecai,
      but everyone with his same religious background. (See,
      generally, Esther 3)

    2. The Queen, a lady named Esther, was a Jew who had been
      raised by Mordecai. He turned to her for help. Read Esther
      4:12-14. What did Mordecai want Esther to do? (Intervene
      with the King about the edict to kill all the Jews.)

      1. What did Mordecai warn would happen if she did not?
        (He said she would die.)

      2. Read Esther 4:10-11. What was Esther worried about if
        she intervened with the King? (That she would die.
        She was facing death either way.)

        1. What do you think about Mordecai’s warning? Was
          this just “scare tactics?” (It is hard to
          imagine that the Queen would be killed as part
          of the decree to kill Jews. However, we learned
          about the absolute nature of the Medo-Persian
          royal edicts in the story of Daniel.)

        2. How do the problems in your life compare with
          the problems facing Esther?

      1. Let’s go back and look at Esther 4:14 again. Was
        Mordecai worried about being killed? (He says that
        God would find a way to deliver His people regardless
        of whether Esther helped.)

        1. Are the problems we face obstacles or
          opportunities? (This story suggests that God
          will have his way. The only question is whether
          we will be co-laborers with Him in resolving the
          problems in life.)

    1. Read Esther 4:15-16. What were Esther’s two approaches to
      resolving this national religious liberty problem? (I say
      “religious liberty problem” because lives were being
      threatened because of Mordecai’s obedience to God. Esther
      turned to God (fasting and prayer) and direct political
      action (approaching the King).)

      1. Are these two approaches to religious liberty
        problems still valid? (They certainly reflect the
        Biblical blueprint for any country where individuals
        have a say in the nature of the laws and individuals
        can express their views without risk of harm. Beyond
        that, this is a blueprint for individuals who can
        influence government, even at the peril of their
        life. This would not seem to be the blueprint (the
        direct political action part) for individuals who
        have no real influence on government and are simply
        risking their lives. Prayer and fasting would be
        appropriate for all situations.)

    2. Read Esther 8:11, 16-17. What was the outcome of prayer,
      fasting and courageous political action? (God intervened –
      He worked with Esther to save the lives of His people.)

    3. Friend, in these two stories we see people who remained
      faithful to God even at the risk of their lives. Do you
      face life-threatening problems in your life because of
      your allegiance to God? God calls on you to trust, obey
      and be co-laborers with Him through the most difficult of

  1. Next week: Jesus Models Victory.