Introduction: The memory of September 11, 2001, is burned into my
mind. I had just walked up the stairwell to my office to find that
the Pentagon was under attack. My fellow workers reported that they
felt the shockwave from the Pentagon explosion. What world power had
the ability to launch a military attack on Washington, D.C.?
Certainly, it must involve nuclear weapons! As I sat in my office
pondering the confused reports, I concluded that I might very well
be living the last few minutes of my life. If I survived, life would
probably never be the same – at least not for a long time. Our study
today is about a young man who had those same feelings. Except in his
case, his fears were realized. Let’s dive into our study!

  1. The End?

    1. Read Daniel 1:1-2. What was the most important purpose of
      the capitol city of Jerusalem? (It was the historical
      center of worship of the true God. It contained the temple
      of God – prepared by King David and built by King

      1. What do we learn has happened to Jerusalem and the

      2. Who has been (or will be) in the most holy place of
        the temple? (Soldiers of Babylon. Matthew Henry’s
        commentary dates the destruction of Jerusalem as
        taking place 19 years later. Thus, the actual entry
        of the soldiers was probably not at this time.)

      3. What is the practical conclusion to reach seeing the
        articles of gold from Solomon’s temple being
        transferred to the temple of the god of Babylon? (The
        God of Judah has been defeated by the god of

        1. Is that true? ( Daniel 1:2 tells us “the Lord”
          caused this to happen. The true God oversaw the
          defeat of His people and His temple.)

        2. But yourself in that place. Your country has
          been attacked and defeated. What does it feel
          like to have your life completely changed?

        3. Your God has seemingly been defeated and His
          temple – the place of His visible presence – has
          been robbed and shortly thereafter, destroyed.
          What are your feelings about the future? The
          city of God has fallen to the city of the world!

    2. Is it true that God would seemingly engineer His own
      “defeat?” The defeat of His city? (Read Isaiah 39:6-7 and
      Jeremiah 25:8-11.)

      1. Why did this happen to God’s people? ( Jeremiah 25:8:
        “Because you did not listen to my words.”)

      2. Is it possible for us to have this happen to us
        today? (It happens all the time. One example: A
        husband disobeys God and is unfaithful to his wife.
        Life completely changes. Some other man takes his
        place with his wife, his children, his dog and his

  2. Lost Future

    1. Read Daniel 1:3-4 & 6. What do we learn about Daniel and
      his three friends? (They are the best and the brightest.
      They come from “high” society.)

      1. What kind of future did they have in Judah? (They
        would be the future leaders.)

      2. What have they lost? (Everything – at least so it

      3. One commentator said the Hebrew word used suggests
        that Daniel and his three friends were between 12 and
        14 years of age.

    2. Read Daniel 1:5. What kind of future do they now have?

      1. What problems do you see with becoming the
        representative of the invading country?

    3. Read Daniel 1:7. I want you to look at the change in these

      1. Daniel “God my Judge” to Belteshazzar “Bel’s Prince.”
        (“Bel” being the chief Babylonian god.)

      2. Hananiah “whom Jehovah has favored” to Shadrach
        “illuminated by the Sun-god.”

      3. Mishael “who is comparable to God?” to Meshach
        “Humbled before my god.”

      4. Azariah “Jehovah has helped” to Abednego “Servant of
        Nebo.” (Nebo was the son of Bel.)

        1. What was the purpose of their original names?
          (To honor God.)

        2. What is the purpose of these name changes? (When
          your name means something, you identify with
          what it means. The Babylonians gave the four
          Hebrew boys names that showed the triumph of the
          Babylonian gods over Jehovah. They would daily
          be reminded of this – and of their new mission
          in life.)

    4. What do you think was the not so subtle goal of all of
      this? ( Daniel 1:5: To change their views of life. To
      change their identity. To remold these young men into
      Babylonian leaders, servants of Bel, the god of Babylon.)

  1. The Test

    1. Read Daniel 1:8 & 11-12. Why would Daniel take a stand on
      vegetables? (This was not a “meat vs. vegetables” issue.
      Some commentaries suggest the problem was eating food
      sacrificed to idols. I believe the primary problem was
      that the meat was “unclean” (Leviticus 11) and improperly
      prepared ( Deuteronomy 12:21-25 – no blood allowed in the
      meat). This explains why Daniel 1:8 refers to being
      “defiled” by the royal food.)

      1. Should this have been an important issue to Daniel?
        Would it have been an important issue to you? (Read
        Ezekiel 4:13. God had predicted that part of His
        judgment against His people was that they would be
        exiled and eat defiled food in the land of exile.
        Daniel believed that this was a test of his loyalty
        to God.)

    2. Read Daniel 1:9-10. How did the chief official react to
      Daniel’s request that they should eat only vegetables and
      drink water? (He was sympathetic, but worried about their

      1. Why was he sympathetic? (God is intervening for

    3. Read Daniel 1:11-13. What kind of attitude does Daniel
      show towards his Babylonian captors?

      1. What lesson do you find in this for the time when you
        face religious freedom problems? (I have clients who
        think it is part of their witness to “punch” the
        “opposition” in the nose. Daniel shows just the
        opposite behavior. I think this is a Biblical
        principle and advise my clients to be as polite and
        as inoffensive as possible. No insults. No attacks.
        Seek religious accommodation with a kind spirit.)

    4. Read Daniel 1:14. Do you think the Babylonian official
      understood the religious nature of Daniel’s objection to
      the food? (If he did, he should have been shot by
      Nebuchadnezzar for being so accommodating. After all, this
      whole complex training system was intended to remove the
      old religious beliefs and retrain these young men to the
      new religious order. I doubt this official understood the
      real issues at stake. This was not a nutritional issue,
      this was a loyalty contest. Daniel was literally defying
      the new order by his loyalty to God.)

    5. Read Daniel 1:15-16. Is this proof that a vegetarian diet
      makes you healthier and better looking? (I wish! I’ve
      been a vegetarian for over 40 years. If you can notice a
      distinct difference in 10 days, imagine what I should look
      like after 40 years – some sort of god! Unfortunately, I
      think I’m going to have to wait until the Second Coming
      for my “make-over.” Obviously, God intervened and rewarded
      Daniel’s loyalty to Him with a miracle.)

    6. Step back a minute. God allows the destruction of their
      nation, the destruction of their home, the destruction of
      their place of worship, the destruction of their way of
      life and their captivity. Yet this same God performs small
      miracles in working on the heart of the official and with
      their looks. How would you explain God succeeding in the
      unimportant things and “failing” in the important things?
      (God is being consistent when we look at the larger
      picture. The disloyalty of the Hebrew leadership in big
      things causes the big “failures.” The loyalty of Daniel in
      the “small” things of his life causes the “small”
      victories. Unfortunately for Daniel, he is caught up in
      the larger unfaithfulness.)

      1. What lesson is there in this for your life?

    7. Read Daniel 1:18-21. What is the outcome for those who are

      1. What do you say about them still being captives?

      2. How important is it that Daniel and his friends
        surpass all of the Babylonians? (Can you see the new
        battleground? The leaders of Judah were unfaithful,
        so the city of evil defeats the city of God. It is an
        apparent defeat for the true God. But, our God then
        takes the “remnant” who are faithful and through them
        “defeats” all the Babylonian leaders and the
        spokesmen for Bel.)

    8. Friend, how about you? Will you determine to be faithful
      to God in even the “small” things of life? Will you let
      God show His power through you?

  2. Next week: Nebuchadnezzar’s Image.