Introduction: Have you ever thought that life, as you knew it, had
come to an end? Those thoughts went through my mind early in the day
on September 11, 2001, when I was in the Washington, D.C. area and
the Pentagon was hit (we thought) with a bomb. Last year, I heard a
young man from Rwanda tell his story of losing his family and fleeing
his country as a result of the genocide there. This week we look at
Daniel, a man whose life was turned up-side down by the Babylonian
conquest of his country. It is one thing to try to convert others
when all around you is normal. What about being a missionary when
everything around you has changed? Let’s plunge into the life of
Daniel and find out!

  1. The End?

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

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

      2. Has the God of Judah been defeated by the god of
        Babylon? ( Daniel 1:2 tells us “the Lord” caused this
        to happen. The true God oversaw the defeat of His
        people and His temple.)

        1. But yourself in that place. Your country has
          been attacked and defeated. 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?

    2. Read Daniel 1:3-4 and Daniel 1:6. 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. 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?

    4. 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. The goal was to remold these young men
          into Babylonian leaders, servants of Bel, the
          god of Babylon.)

  2. The Early Test

    1. Read Daniel 1:8. 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 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. Bible-based emotional intelligence
        requires being polite and as inoffensive as possible.
        No insults. No attacks. Seek religious accommodation
        with a kind spirit.)

      2. Is God also being tested here? Would you test God
        given the circumstances?

    4. Read Daniel 1:14. Do you think the Babylonian official
      understood the religious nature of Daniel’s objection to
      the food? (No. If he did, he should have been shot. This
      whole training system was intended to replace the old
      religious beliefs with the new religious order. This was
      not a nutritional issue, this was a loyalty contest.
      Daniel was 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 45 years. 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 with a miracle.)

    6. Step back a minute. God allows the destruction of their
      nation, their home, their place of worship, and their way
      of life. Yet this same God performs small miracles in
      their healthy look. 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. Daniel is caught up in the larger

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

    7. Read Daniel 1:18-20. 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.)

  3. The Dream

    1. Read Daniel 2:1-3. Have you had a dream that caused you to
      lose sleep? Have you thought it was a message from God?

      1. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled about
        his dream? (Kings know they are important.
        Therefore, their dreams must be important. Plus,
        this was a recurrent dream. The New Bible Commentary
        tells us that in the ancient Near East kings believed
        the gods gave them messages through dreams.)

      2. What kind of experts did Nebuchadnezzar bring in to
        fix his dream problem?

        1. Read Deuteronomy 18:9-12. What is God’s opinion
          of these kinds of “experts?”

    2. Read Daniel 2:4-7. Why do you think Nebuchadnezzar
      insisted on his experts telling him the details of his
      dream? (Read Daniel 2:8-9. Nebuchadnezzar believed that
      they had been lying to him. If they could tell the future
      through a dream, it should be a small matter to describe
      the contents of his dream. This was a test of both their
      honesty and their ability to correctly interpret the

    3. Read Daniel 2:10-11. Analyze the arguments made by the
      experts to Nebuchadnezzar? (1. No person can do this. 2.
      No king should ask it of his subjects. 3. He should ask a
      god – and there is no god in the neighborhood.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:12. How does Nebuchadnezzar react to being
      told that he is unreasonable – that no proper king would
      ask such a thing?

  4. The Test and the Victory

    1. Read Daniel 2:13-15. How would you react if you heard the
      decree of the King? Would “wisdom and tact” be the way to
      describe your response?

    2. Read Daniel 2:16. How would you like to go before
      Nebuchadnezzar then? What might happen to you?

    3. Read Daniel 2:17-18. Apparently Daniel was promised more
      time by the King. Why did Daniel need to have his friends
      pray about this trial? (Daniel must have believed that
      having a group pray is better.)

      1. Do you agree that group prayer is better?

      2. Read Matthew 18:19-20. Why do you think that God
        requires two or three for His presence? (The entire
        tenor of these verses is that discussing something
        with others gives better results. It discourages
        selfish requests to God.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:19. God comes through! What does Daniel do
      after God reveals the mystery? (He praises God – Daniel

      1. Consider your prayers for a moment. Compare how
        intensely you pray for help with how intensely you
        praise God thereafter?

    5. Read Daniel 2:25-26. How would you have answered the King?

      1. What do you think about what Arioch says? (He did
        nothing of the sort – Daniel went to him. Arioch is
        trying to take partial credit for the

    6. Read Daniel 2:27-28. Notice that Daniel does not mention
      his own name even once. He says nothing about his role in
      this revelation. Why?

      1. Compare this with your “victories” at work and in the
        church. How much do you mention your role in these

    7. Read Daniel 2:29-30. Finally, Daniel mentions his own role
      in things. Study Daniel’s words in these verses. How does
      he explain his role, the King’s role and God’s role in
      this process?

      1. If you substitute King Nebuchadnezzar for your
        employer, can you learn a great deal from Daniel on
        how to be a missionary in dealing with problems at
        work? (Be tactful. Pray. Give praise to God.)

    8. Friend, are you able to be faithful to God when it seems
      that He has allowed terrible things in your life? Will
      you determine to let Daniel be a role model for you?

  5. Next week: Gifted for Service: Philip.