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Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 38 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 1: "To Eat or Not to Eat - That is the Question" *
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!
- The End?
- 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
- What do we learn has happened to Jerusalem and the
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- But yourself in that place. Your country has
been attacked and defeated. What does it feel
like to have your life completely changed?
- 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!
- Is it true that God would seemingly engineer His own
"defeat?" The defeat of His city? (Read Isaiah 39:6-7 and
- Why did this happen to God's people? ( Jeremiah 25:8:
"Because you did not listen to my words.")
- 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
- Lost Future
- 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.)
- What kind of future did they have in Judah? (They
would be the future leaders.)
- What have they lost? (Everything - at least so it
- One commentator said the Hebrew word used suggests
that Daniel and his three friends were between 12 and
14 years of age.
- Read Daniel 1:5. What kind of future do they now have?
- What problems do you see with becoming the
representative of the invading country?
- Read Daniel 1:7. I want you to look at the change in these
- Daniel "God my Judge" to Belteshazzar "Bel's Prince."
("Bel" being the chief Babylonian god.)
- Hananiah "whom Jehovah has favored" to Shadrach
"illuminated by the Sun-god."
- Mishael "who is comparable to God?" to Meshach
"Humbled before my god."
- Azariah "Jehovah has helped" to Abednego "Servant of
Nebo." (Nebo was the son of Bel.)
- What was the purpose of their original names?
(To honor God.)
- 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
- 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.)
- The Test
- 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.)
- 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
- 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
- Why was he sympathetic? (God is intervening for
- Read Daniel 1:11-13. What kind of attitude does Daniel
show towards his Babylonian captors?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What lesson is there in this for your life?
- Read Daniel 1:18-21. What is the outcome for those who are
- What do you say about them still being captives?
- 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.)
- 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?
- Next week: Nebuchadnezzar's Image.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.