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Lesson 5: Exiles as Missionaries *

Introduction: Two weeks ago we discussed the Israeli slave girl in Naaman's home. What an amazing missionary adventure she started! This week we look at more captives, this time from Jerusalem. Their lives are turned upside down. But, instead of blaming God, they decide to be faithful, and they change the world. Let's dive into our Bible study and learn more!

  1. The Start of the Problem

    1. Read Isaiah 39:3-4. Why did King Hezekiah show these visitors his treasures?

    2. Read Isaiah 39:5-7. Is this prophecy a punishment for sin? (Read 2 Chronicles 32:25-26. This reveals Hezekiah's sin was pride. The destruction that came upon his people after he died was punishment for his sin of pride.)

    3. Read Isaiah 39:8. What do you think of this response? What do you think about the nature of the punishment? (All of this is troubling. Hezekiah does not seem to care that he is injuring his descendants. Why would God punish someone who is not responsible for Hezekiah's sin? The answer is that we have read just one part of the story. The promised destruction did not come for 150 years, and Hezekiah's descendants did plenty of things to deserve judgment.)

    4. Read Daniel 1:1-2. How does this look to anyone who is trying to figure out who is the true God? (The articles of worship of the true God are taken to the temple of the god of Babylonia. It looks like our God lost.)

    5. Read Daniel 1:3-5. What do you think is the Babylonian's goal in this? How would you feel if you were one selected for this special program?

  2. Witness with Food

    1. Read Daniel 1:6-8. No doubt this is the best tasting food. What is Daniel's objection? (Eating this food created conflicts with the law dealing with unclean meat, meat that had not been drained, and meat and drink offered to false gods. See, for example, Leviticus 7 & 11. "Defile" tells us this is about Daniel's religious beliefs.)

    2. Read Daniel 1:11-14. Why vegetables and water?

    3. Read Daniel 10:2-3. This tells us that later in life Daniel ate "choice food" which included meat and wine. Did Daniel become less faithful in his old age?(No. The reason for Daniel engaging in a three week "fast" later in life is that God gave him some very important and troubling messages. Later in life Daniel became an important man. No doubt he could now control the way his food was prepared so that it conformed to God's word.)

    4. Read Daniel 1:9-10 and Daniel 1:15-16. Is this the result of a vegetarian diet? (I've been a vegetarian for over fifty years and I believe I'm healthier than most. But, a change in ten days has to be the result of the intervention of God.)

      1. What about the other captives? What have they decided on this issue?

    5. Read Daniel 1:17. What is the result of the faithfulness of Daniel and his friends? (God blesses them!)

    6. Read Daniel 1:18-20. This is the close of some sort of probation period. While many would be blaming God for their captivity, what is the result of faithfulness? Is ten times better possible for you?

      1. What is the impact on their captors? (They realize that there is something different about these young men.)

  3. Witness with Dreams

    1. Read Daniel 2:1-5. How would you like Nebuchadnezzar as your boss?

      1. Is he really ornery, or do you think there is more to this story? (Read Daniel 2:9. The king thought that if they could recite the dream he could have confidence in their interpretation. Remember that Daniel 1:20 informed us that the new recruits, Daniel and his friends, were "ten times better" than the existing magicians and enchanters. Perhaps the enchanters are not so enchanting anymore.)

    2. Read Daniel 2:10-12. Do you think these enchanters claimed in the past to speak for the gods?

      1. What defenses do they raise? (This is not historically a part of their job description. They are not god.)

    3. Read Daniel 2:13-15. What would your defense have been? ("I'm not the one who failed the king! Why are you killing me?")

      1. Arioch has the authority to kill Daniel on the spot. What does Daniel's response teach us when we are in trouble? (He spoke with wisdom and tact.)

    4. Read Daniel 2:16. Compare it with Daniel 2:7-9. What is most troubling about Daniel's request? (The king thinks the enchanters are stalling for time. Daniel asks for more time. Note that Daniel asks for more time to "interpret the dream" as opposed to reciting the dream.)

    5. Read Daniel 2:17-19. What is the key to getting out of a life-threatening situation? (Prayer.)

    6. Read Daniel 2:24. Would you have told Arioch not to execute the enchanters?

      1. What would be the advantage to Daniel if they were dead?

    7. Read Daniel 2:25. Is Arioch claiming credit for this? (Probably. But, remember that he is not obeying the king. Saying that he found someone who could interpret the dream explains his failure to be out executing enchanters.)

    8. Read Daniel 2:26-27. Would you have started out your presentation to the king in this way? (This introduction is probably making the king mad. Thankfully, Daniel quickly gets to the right language. Let's read that next.)

    9. Read Daniel 2:28-30. Compare Daniel's statement to that of Arioch ( Daniel 2:25). (Daniel gives all the glory to God. When you read this and think about how Daniel saved the enchanters, we see he displays modesty and love.)

      1. Are these attributes key to being a missionary?

    10. Skim over Daniel 2:31-44 and read Daniel 2:45-47. What has Daniel done? (By turning to God in time of trouble, by giving full credit to God and taking none for himself, Daniel has both educated and convicted Nebuchadnezzar about the truth of the great God of Heaven.)

      1. This seems to be a lot of worry and stress over one dream. Is it justified? What if Daniel had been in the king's presence when he first mentioned the dream, and Daniel told him that God would interpret it? No drama, no threats would be involved. (This is one of the most important prophecies outlining the history of the world through to the Second Coming of Jesus. All of the drama focused attention on its importance.)

    11. Read Daniel 2:48. Notice that through all of this Daniel has given full credit to God, and has been very modest about his own talents. See Daniel 2:30, in which he says the interpretation comes not because he has "greater wisdom than other living men." How does that modesty work out for Daniel? (He is given extraordinary authority and power.)

      1. How should we apply this in our daily lives?

      2. Have you seen boxers or sports stars who give glory to God when they beat up their opponent? How do you react to that?

      3. If you told your boss and your co-workers that a great idea you just had was given to you by God, would that be a good or bad witness? (Read Matthew 7:6. Nebuchadnezzar and his enchanters were expecting a "god" solution. Daniel pointed them to the true God. In our secular work, I think we need to be shrewd about this. If someone is open to learning about God, we need to share. Modesty is always a good idea. The best course is to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know when and to whom to witness.)

    12. Friend, it is unlikely that your typical crisis involves the authorities wanting to take your life, but whatever the problem in life we need to seek God's help. When He helps we need to give Him credit. Will you determine today to do that?

  4. Next week: Esther and Mordecai.
* Copr. 2015, 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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