Introduction: A famous preacher mentioned in a sermon that God helps
him find good parking spaces. As I listened my reaction was to agree.
God does small kindnesses for me. I pray for small kindnesses for
others – like finding their car keys. Some strongly criticize this
idea. Why would God trouble Himself with your parking spot when
people are dying of cancer? There is a false assumption in this
criticism. It assumes that God has limited resources and finding your
keys means someone else will suffer loss. I believe in an unlimited
God! Our lesson this week is about God’s attention to small details.
Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Keeping Track

    1. Read Daniel 1:1-2. We have studied this tragedy in the
      past. What two things are lost? (God’s people are lost to
      captivity. The articles in God’s temple are taken by the

      1. Should Daniel not have mentioned the temple articles
        and simply focused on the human tragedy? (Those of
        you who know this story know that God sanctioned this
        defeat because His people had been unfaithful to

    2. Read Ezra 1:7-11. Are you surprised that the Babylonians
      kept such detailed records of what they took from each
      conquered nation?

      1. Is there a theological lesson here? (If something is
        important to humans, who have very limited abilities,
        why would we think it was unimportant to God, who has
        unlimited abilities?

      2. When my son was very young, he lost his most
        important toy, a teddy bear, at Disney World. We
        prayed about it and I walked straight to the place
        where it had been lost. My grandson’s most important
        toy, a puppet, was lost for days. They prayed about
        it and God led his mother to where it was located.
        Are those important or unimportant events? (We talk
        about the found teddy bear thirty years later! My
        grandson sings praises to God for his recovered
        puppet. These are major faith events for a child.)

    3. Read Daniel 5:1-4. What does this teach us about reasons
      why the Babylonians would keep careful records? (It was
      not about the articles, it was about theology! It about
      how their gods defeated the God of Heaven.)

    4. Read Daniel 5:13-14 and Daniel 5:26-28. How does God view
      the issues here?

      1. What does this teach us about finding good parking
        spaces and our car keys? (The issue is not what needs
        to be found, the issue is who we worship.)

      2. What about those who are suffering or dying from
        cancer? Is it the same issue? (I believe it is the
        same issue. Who is your God? This shows us that the
        issue is not about us, but about God.)

      3. What about the charge that people who involve God in
        minor matters treat Him like a vending machine? (If
        you had a good friend with you, would you ask your
        friend to help you look for your keys? I would.)

  2. Trusting God

    1. We learned that King Cyrus returned the articles taken
      from the Temple in Jerusalem. Did he include
      transportation back to Jerusalem?

    2. Read Ezra 8:21-22. The answer to the previous question is
      “No.” What dilemma did Ezra face? (He had been bragging
      about his God, so why should he need soldiers to guard
      them as they brought all this treasure back to Jerusalem?)

      1. What would you have done? Do you trust God and carry
        a gun? Do you trust God and purchase insurance on
        your home? Do you trust God and lock your doors?

        1. Where does trust cross over the line into
          presumption? Can it ever cross that line?

    3. Read Ezra 8:23. How did Ezra answer this question? (He
      fasted and prayed. He did not answer the question, he
      asked God to answer it.)

      1. Did God answer? (The Bible says that He did.)

      2. Would you be able to tell whether God was answering
        you, and what answer He gave?

      3. Will God shout if necessary? (The major decisions in
        my life have been pretty obvious. In college my wife
        to be sat right next to me when I was the only one in
        the room and there were 99 other empty seats. God has
        been clear in His direction for my legal career, even
        being very specific about where I should teach. God
        was clear when we started these lessons.)

      4. Sometime after the terrorist attack on New York and
        Washington, D.C. in 2001, I had the very strong
        impression that I should move out of the Washington,
        D.C. area. I thought there would be another attack,
        this time nuclear. Although I ended up moving in
        2013, my impression was wrong. I don’t trust myself
        when God is less than obvious.

    4. Read Ezra 8:24-29. Why does Ezra weigh the temple
      articles? (It proves the amount with which they were
      entrusted. This has to do with honesty.)

      1. How do you think the twelve priests and their helpers
        transported this fortune? It would have been worth
        millions today! (I have the sense that they
        distributed everything among themselves. They did
        not put it in one big wagon and transport it.)

    5. Read Ezra 8:30-33. If we are right to understand that all
      this wealth has been distributed, is it fair to say that
      Ezra was depending on stealth and deception for protection
      against bandits, and not relying solely on God? (Reliance
      on God does not mean you stop thinking. That is one reason
      why I have insurance on my home and I lock my doors.)

    6. Read Nehemiah 11:1-2. How do you understand this – did the
      people want to live in Jerusalem or not? (The commentaries
      that I read uniformly understand this as requiring people
      to live in Jerusalem. Most wanted to live in the country.)

      1. Look again at Nehemiah 11:2. If people who “won” the
        lottery got to live in Jerusalem, why would those who
        volunteered to live in Jerusalem be “commended?”
        (This makes the matter clear. The leaders agreed to
        live in Jerusalem, brave volunteers agreed to live
        there, and then they cast lots to see who else would
        be required to live in Jerusalem. An important reason
        for requiring this was to have an adequate defense
        for Jerusalem.)

    7. Read Nehemiah 11:3. Why would people prefer to live in the
      towns instead of Jerusalem? (Read Nehemiah 7:6. This shows
      that they claimed their historic family property. They
      wanted to live in the places that had historically been
      assigned to their tribe and their family.)

      1. What other reason might they not want to live in
        Jerusalem? (It is the point of attack for their
        enemies. From my perspective, thousands of years
        later, I would prefer living inside the walls if the
        attackers were outside.)

      2. Now the hard question. If they trusted God, why would
        they need to have a certain amount of people inside
        Jerusalem to help defend it?

        1. Is this a failure of faith? (This reinforces
          the idea that God wants us to use common sense.
          We are partners with Him to further the Kingdom
          of God.)

      3. Many years ago the leaders of my local congregation
        found a wonderful piece of land to build a new
        church. Nothing was wrong with our old church, except
        that we wanted to grow. When everything was in place,
        the question was whether we should agree to buy the
        new property before the old church was sold. Was that
        a test of faith? (The leaders decided not to take the
        risk. Shortly thereafter, property values plunged.
        Had the leaders gone forth on “faith,” the
        congregation would have been legally responsible for
        the now overpriced new property and they would have
        been unable to sell the old church for an adequate
        price. It would have been a disaster. God could have
        worked out a solution, but I think we would have
        needed a clear message from Him before we purchased
        the new property.)

    8. Friend, God cares about us in both the small and large
      matters of life. He wants us to be His partner in living.
      He expects us to consult with Him. When we are not clear
      on His will, we should use the wisdom that He gave us.
      Will you ask God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to help
      you work more closely with Him?

  3. Next week: Worshiping the Lord.