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Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
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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 41 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 11: Mission in a Pagan Land: Daniel and Company *
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!
- The End?
- 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.)
- What do we learn has happened to Jerusalem and the
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.)
- What kind of future did they have in Judah? (They
would be the future leaders.)
- What have they lost? (Everything - at least so it
- 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
in life. The goal was to remold these young men
into Babylonian leaders, servants of Bel, the
god of Babylon.)
- The Early Test
- 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.)
- 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. Bible-based emotional intelligence
requires being polite and as inoffensive as possible.
No insults. No attacks. Seek religious accommodation
with a kind spirit.)
- Is God also being tested here? Would you test God
given the circumstances?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- What lesson is there in this for your life?
- Read Daniel 1:18-20. 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.)
- The Dream
- 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?
- 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.)
- What kind of experts did Nebuchadnezzar bring in to
fix his dream problem?
- Read Deuteronomy 18:9-12. What is God's opinion
of these kinds of "experts?"
- 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
- 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.)
- Read Daniel 2:12. How does Nebuchadnezzar react to being
told that he is unreasonable - that no proper king would
ask such a thing?
- The Test and the Victory
- 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?
- Read Daniel 2:16. How would you like to go before
Nebuchadnezzar then? What might happen to you?
- 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.)
- Do you agree that group prayer is better?
- 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.)
- Read Daniel 2:19. God comes through! What does Daniel do
after God reveals the mystery? (He praises God - Daniel
- Consider your prayers for a moment. Compare how
intensely you pray for help with how intensely you
praise God thereafter?
- Read Daniel 2:25-26. How would you have answered the King?
- 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
- 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?
- Compare this with your "victories" at work and in the
church. How much do you mention your role in these
- 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
- 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.)
- 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?
- Next week: Gifted for Service: Philip.
* Copr. 2008, 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.