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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 37 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 6: An Ancient Death Decree *
Introduction: Remember last week that Daniel was promoted to the
number three position in the Babylonian empire just minutes before it
all collapsed before the military onslaught of the Persians? "Number
two" (Belshazzar) was immediately killed by the Persians. Imagine
being Daniel. No wonder he told Belshazzar he could keep his
promotion! How do things turn out for Daniel? Is God still looking
out for him? Let's jump into Daniel 6 and find out!
- Bouncing Back
- Read Daniel 6:1-2. Daniel survives the Persians! Why did
Darius reorganize the kingdom?
- Has your company been purchased by another company?
How did you feel when a reorganization was announced?
- How does Daniel end up in the new reorganization? (He
loses some "rank" (from number three), but he
certainly has a very powerful position.)
- Read Daniel 6:3-4. Why would the king plan to promote
Daniel while his fellow administrators and subordinates
plot against him? (Their interests were just the opposite.
The king wanted the best person in the position and the
others wanted to personally be in charge.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 4:4. Adam Smith, a very famous
free-market economist, argued that when people are
left free to promote their own best interests, they
end up benefitting everyone. Would Solomon agree?
- Is there good envy and bad envy? (If you work
hard because you want to keep up with your
neighbor, that seems to be the positive use of
envy. If you plot to harm your successful
neighbor, as is happening to Daniel, that is an
example of bad envy.)
- Notice that the king set up three administrators, one
of whom is Daniel. The other two administrators plot
against Daniel. Has anything like this ever happened
to you at work?
- How is work going for Daniel when the administrators
vote on what to do? (The vote would be two to one
against Daniel's ideas I would guess. Perhaps the
king has noticed this problem and that is his motive
for promoting Daniel.)
- Would your fellow workers be able to say the same of you
as was said of Daniel "he was trustworthy and neither
corrupt nor negligent?"
- Does what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:4 apply to
Daniel? (Read Ephesians 6:5-8. The world may work
hard and produce goods out of envy. However, God's
people work hard and produce goods out of their
allegiance to God.)
- Read Daniel 6:5. How did the other leaders know about
- Do you think Daniel's race had anything to do with
- The Trap
- Read Daniel 6:6-7. Is this "all agreed" a true statement?
(Obviously not! Daniel is one of the administrators and
he surely did not agree to this.)
- Read Daniel 6:8-9. If the administrators knew about
Daniel's religious beliefs, do you think that King Darius
knew about them? (Since he planned to make Daniel his
number one assistant, I would be shocked to hear that he
did not know about Daniel's religious beliefs.)
- If Darius knew about Daniel, why would he issue such
a decree? (Review Daniel 6:7. Do you see the evil
track of the minds of these other administrators?
They attack Daniel based purely on his religious
beliefs. They persuade the king to enter this decree
by appealing to the king's ego.)
- Should the king have remembered the problem this
would create for Daniel? (Our lesson, Monday, points
out that King Darius might have been focused on the
Babylonian priests who acted as mediators for their
gods, thus the reference to worshiping "man" in verse
7. This may have been presented to him as a plan to
encourage "religious patriotism" in the newly
conquered people. Thus, the king may not have thought
of the impact on Daniel at all.)
- Daniel's Response
- Read Daniel 6:10-11. Now read Matthew 6:6. If the New
Testament had been written, would Daniel have acted
- Read Matthew 17:27. Jesus advises a course which
avoids giving offense to those who do not share our
- Read Romans 14:22. When it comes to debatable matters
of food and drink, Paul tells you to keep your views
"between yourself and God."
- The point of Daniel's prayer was the prayer and not
the position of the shutters. Should Daniel have
prayed with his shutters open?
- If being thrown in the lions' den was on your
mind, how would you have decided this debatable
- What argument can you make for Daniel's
- What argument can you make against Daniel's
- Notice in Daniel 6:10 the phrase "just as he had done
before." What point is being made by Daniel in
writing this? (Daniel was not going to change his
worship routine because of this new law.)
- Would it have been "sin" for Daniel to have
changed his routine and closed his shutters
- The Charges
- Read Daniel 6:11-12. Why did the men go "as a group" to
watch Daniel pray?
- Did they need witnesses? Would Daniel deny what he
- Why ask the king to confirm the text of the law
before reporting Daniel's violation? (These verses
give us a window into the jealous and cowardly
thinking of Daniel's enemies. They are afraid to
individually stand up against Daniel. They must
think that the king would favor Daniel, that is why
they "trap" the king by first having him affirm the
text of the new law.)
- Read Daniel 6:13-14. How is Daniel described? (He is one
of the Jews who was formerly a slave. Daniel cannot shake
this "smear." Remember last week Belshazzar started his
conversation with Daniel with this same insult. (Daniel
- Why would Daniel's enemies start out with this
particular insult? (Again, we have a window into
their minds. They are annoyed Daniel, their boss, is
Jewish, and not from their county. They want to
highlight the fact that he is "different." It is
professional jealousy, and religious and racial
- Had the king thought of Daniel when he issued his
decree? (This is something we discussed earlier. This
makes clear that the king had not considered the
impact on Daniel.)
- Compare the attitude of King Darius with King
Nebuchadnezzar? (Darius' heart was with Daniel. He
was not offended by the law violation or the offense
to his own stature as "a god." Nebuchadnezzar, as
revealed in Daniel 3:13-15, is personally insulted
that the Hebrews would not worship his god.)
- The Conflict Between Good and Evil
- Read Daniel 6:15-16. When you face trouble, to whom do
you first turn? (Daniel has tremendous personal authority.
He has the king, the most powerful person in the empire,
behind him. All the power and authority of the world
cannot save Daniel. The same is true for you.)
- Did King Darius do the right thing by ordering Daniel
to be thrown to the lions, and leaving it in God's
- Did King Darius violate his own decree? Is the last
part of verse 16 a prayer to God?
- What parallel do you see between King Darius and God?
(There is no lasting freedom without the "rule of
law." Darius "gave up" Daniel to great danger because
he upheld the law over his personal preferences. God
the Father "gave up" Jesus, because He upheld the law
over His personal preference not to have Jesus suffer
- Read Daniel 6:17-18. Is this how it was for God the Father
while Jesus was here on earth? (The answer is beyond me.
God is not like Darius in that God knows the future. In
Genesis 22:12 we find God stating that He did not know how
Abraham would choose. I have two theories. First, I think
that our lives are like a chess game. God knows every
possible "move" that you and I can take and He knows the
consequences of those moves. That allows Him to know the
future without knowing how we will choose. Second, I
believe that God can move around in time, and therefore,
He can know how choices will be made if He chooses. The
real answer is a mystery to me and these are only my
- Read Daniel 6:19-22. Why was Daniel saved from the lions?
Do you agree with Daniel's statement of the reasons why he
- Read Daniel 6:23. What reason is given here for Daniel
being saved from the lions? How does it compare with the
reasons stated in verse 22? (In verse 23 it says trust in
God saved Daniel. In verse 22 it says Daniel's innocence
(his works) saved Daniel.)
- Can both be right?
- Read Daniel 6:24. How were the accusations against Daniel
- Recall that these men worked in a group for safety.
How did that group safety idea work out?
- Read Daniel 6:25-28. Who wins? (God, again. So does
- How does God win? (Through partnership with the
- Would it have been better for Daniel to have closed
- Friend, Daniel's personal authority could not save him.
Having the king as his ally could not save him. Only God
in heaven could save Daniel. Will you keep that in mind
the next time you are in trouble? (I trust the next time
you are in trouble you can say, like Daniel, "I am
completely innocent as the source of my trouble!")
- Next week: Daniel's History Lesson.
* 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.