ON DANIEL - LESSON 1
Happens But God Provides
Daniel 1 and 2
wind-whipped sand stung his face like a hundred needles pricking at
his skin. Daniel paused and wiped the gritty sweat from his forehead.
The past six weeks seemed a long blur of sandals crunching on sand,
a harsh sun beating down on his beet-red neck, and eyes squinting through
stinging perspiration and the shimmering heat. They kept saying Babylon
was just ahead. He hoped so; he wanted this nightmare to end.
During more than one
cold desert night, as he lay wrapped in his blanket under the star-swept
sky, he must have jolted awake, shaking with fear, imagining what Nebuchadnezzar
might do to his friends and family. In a few short months horrifying scenes
would occur. King Nebuchadnezzar's vast Babylonian army would sweep into
Judah. Soldiers would lay seige to Jerusalem. The Hebrews would succumb
to gnawing hunger, fear, and despair. Battering rams would slam against
the city gates. Wave after wave of soldiers would pour into the city after
they crushed the main gate into splinters. The terrible screams of friends
and families of the captives would be heard and their bodies sprawled
along Jerusalem's streets.
These images haunted
Daniel as he marched along with other captive Israelites on their way
into exile. Every morning as the roosters crowed in neighboring villages,
buglers roused their Babylonian escort. Daniel would have to struggle
to his feet, shove his feet into worn, dew-covered sandals, and prepare
for another fifteen-mile desert trek, knowing there would be many more.
It was a thousand-mile journey to Babylon.
Above all the thoughts
running through Daniel's mind, must have been the questionwhy? Why
this tragedy? What had he done to deserve it? What possible purpose could
God have in Israel's utter humiliation? Back home in Judah, Daniel had
belonged to a loving family who gave him the best life had to offer. He
faced a bright future as one of Jerusalem's elite. Now he had nothing.
The future seemed dark. Would he ever again see his country, his home,
his mother and father? Would he spend his days as a slave to a treacherous
king in a foreign country?
chapter 1 before
1. The two countries involved in the war in which Daniel was taken captive
Judah and Greece.
Judah and Babylon.
Judah and Rome.
2. Why were Daniel and his friends taken captive? (Daniel
They were able to pay a large ransom.
They were carrying out armed raids against the enemy.
They were filled with wisdom and knowledge, physically unblemished,
teachable, and able to serve their new master.
Daniel and three
close friends were assigned to Nebuchadnezzar's royal college to be trained
for key positions in the Babylonian Empire. The young men were also given
the rare privilege of eating food from the king's menu, prepared in the
king's kitchen. For three years they would receive instruction from the
best scholars in the land in order to serve their new king. If Daniel
had to be a slave, at least his life would be better than those of the
captive Hebrews sweating in the fields or at construction projects.
3. The names of Daniel's three friends who taken captive with him were:
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Azariah.
Isaiah, Haggai, and Azariah.
4. What new names were Daniel and his friends given in Babylon? (Daniel 1:7.)
Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Hosea.
Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Obadiah, and Hosea.
The names of Belteshazzar,
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were based on the names of Babylonian
gods. King Nebuchadnezzar was attempting to get the three young men
to forget their religious heritage and become loyal servants in
the Babylonian system. It was easy to suppose that if they were given "the royal
treatment," the king would soon have their hearts and minds; he
would soon have some of the best minds in the world!
Daniel soon discovered,
to his dismay, that the food on the royal menu was unhealthful and contrary
to the guidelines given in Scripture.
5. What decision did Daniel make regarding King Nebuchadnezzar's commands?
He would not defile himself by eating or drinking the king's food or wine.
He would eat the food and wine the king provided even though it had been
offered to heathen idols.
He would ask God's blessing on the king's food and wine before eating
Most teenagers find it very embarrassing to be different. Most
adults are not too fond of sticking out in a crowd either. But Daniel and
three friends "determined," "purposed," or "decided" something. They made
a decision to follow God unconditionally. Daniel believed that God would
honor his decision to be faithful. That was an important step
in his life, as we shall see. When we respond to what is right, the Holy
Spirit guides us in our choice, and He also gives us the power
to carry out that decision.
6. What did Daniel request of Melzar, the head steward? (Daniel 1:12, 13.)
He asked for an audience with King Nebuchadnezzar to explain why he could
not eat the food and wine provided.
He asked Melzar not to offer the food to idols before giving it to him
He asked for a ten-day test during which he and his friends would eat
only healthful food and drink water.
7. What were the physical results of the ten-day test? (Daniel
Daniel and his friends looked more healthy and gained weight.
Daniel and his friends got sick and decided it was better to eat
the king's food after all.
Daniel and his friends didn't look any different, but they felt
8. What were the mental results of the ten-day test?
Their memory wasn't as good as it had been; they kept forgetting
Their mental abilities were unaffected by the ten-day test.
They had superior knowledge and skill in wisdom and literature.
9. What special ability did Daniel have? (Daniel
An amazing ability to solve complicated mathematical problems.
The ability to understand visions and dreams.
He was able to memorize long lists of information and remember
them for years.
10. What were the political results of the ten-day
test? (Daniel 1:19,
Daniel and his friends were appointed to serve the king because
they proved to be ten times superior to all
the other young
men being considered for a position in Nebuchadnezzar's government.
Daniel and his friends scored significantly higher than all the
others on the examination, but they were exiled
back home to
Judah because they refused to eat the king's food that had been offered
Daniel and his friends didn't score as well as some others being
considered for position in the government, so
they were assigned
to study for another year before they could take the examination again.
was facing his biggest decision since being elected to England's Parliament
in 1780. He'd
just read a clergyman's impassioned account of the horrors of the slave
trade. What was he going to do about it? Everything in his upper-class
life of privilege might have led him to ignore this unpleasant problem
that was enriching the British Empire. But Wilberforce had made a commitment
to Christ and wanted to live out the principles of the Bible.
he decided to take a stand. He began pouring out his powerful oratory
on behalf of the black men, women, and children who were bleeding, starving,
and suffocating to death in the holds of British ships. The opposition
marshalled its forces. Many powerful people rose to attack Wilberforce
and his position. They warned that two-thirds of England's commerce
would disappear if the slave trade were abolished. And their voices
carried the day.
But Wilberforce wouldn't
give up. He distributed thousands of pamphlets, spoke at public meetings,
circulated petitions, and organized a boycott of slave-grown sugar. He
kept bringing up the slave question for a vote year after year in parliament.
He kept on fighting, encouraged by a note from John Wesley, which he kept
in his Bible: "Unless God has raised you up for this very thing,
you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils, but if God be
for you who can be against you?"
Finally, after years
of frustration, a bill banning the slave trade passed on February 4, 1807.
Wilberforce had helped to change history. He'd made a difference in the
world by sticking to what he knew was right. He'd won against the overwhelming
forces of self-interest. William Wilberforce felt wonderfully blessed
Daniel experienced the joy of seeing how faithfulness to God brings blessings.
When you choose to follow God no matter the cost, He will honor your faithfulness!
There may be difficult times. Daniel faced difficulties. There may be
heartache, pain, and suffering. Daniel experienced those. But if we keep
our eyes and hearts focused on God, He will turn our darkness into light
and our pain into joy!
This first chapter
in Daniel sets the stage for the entire book. In fact, it also sets the
stage for the book of Revelation. These two prophetic books are inseparably
linked. Both give us a big picture of the struggle between good and evil,
the conflict between God and Satan, from the beginning of sin until the
eradication of sin. The curtain rises on this great controversy in the
chapter just studied.
In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar,
King of Babylon, led a ruthless attack against Jerusalem. These two cities
represent two ideologies. Babylon, with its occult practices and pagan
gods, represents a counterfeit system of worship, rebellion against God,
and apostasy. Jerusalem, the city of Daniel, represents faithfulness,
obedience, and loyalty to God. This contrast between Babylon and God's
people is repeated in various ways throughout the books of Daniel and
§ § §
It was nearly midnight
when sixteen-year-old Adolf Hitler and his friend, Gustl Kubizek, stepped
out of the opera house in Linz, an Austrian city on the Danube River.
They had just watched a performance of Richard Wagner's Rienzi,
the fairy tale of a poor boy in ancient Rome who became the ruler of a
The two young men
walked silently through the cobbled streets until they reached the countryside.
Adolf then led the way up a hill. At the summit they looked down on Linz
glimmering in the moonlight. Adolf seized the hands of his friend and,
staring into his face, said excitedly, "Something important has
happened to me tonight, Gustl. As I watched the story of Rienzi unfold,
I seemed to be seeing my future. I, too, am a poor boy like Rienzi. I,
too, will rise to become the ruler of a great empire. You will hear much
about me in the future, my friend."
The two then walked
down the hill to separate destinies. Hitler and his friend met again thirty
years later, "Remember that moonlit night on the Feinberg?"
Adolf asked. Gustl nodded. "In that hour it began," Hitler
Hitler probably never
studied the prophecy of Daniel 2. If he had, he might have realized that
his obsession with world dominance could never become a reality. That's
because God had said so!
Sometime after Daniel's
arrival in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which troubled him
very deeply. He was haunted by it. And yet he couldn't quite remember
the details. What exactly had he seen that so disturbed him?
his "wise men." These individuals had been trained in astrology and prophetic
readings and interpretations; they knew the rituals that were supposed
to keep the gods happy. They believed that every event in a person's lifeeven
the most trivialwas determined by some natural force such as the
position of a star. They saw omens in the livers of sheep, the path of
birds in flight, and the shapes of oil on water. Their theory was that,
by understanding and responding to these forces, they could solve problems,
reverse failures, and guarantee success in life.
these wise men came up short when it came to telling Nebuchadnezzar
what he'd dreamed. They could come up with an interpretation quickly
enough. But to get inside a man's headthat was impossible. So
the king ordered them all executed. News of this reached Daniel, and
he went to Nebuchadnezzar, requesting a delay in the death sentence.
Granted some time, Daniel hurried home and gathered his friends for
a prayer session. That night God revealed to Daniel exactly what the
king had dreamedand also exactly what the dream meant.
In the king's throne
room the next morning, a court official named Arioch wanted to claim full
credit for discovering "a man of the captives" who could unravel Nebuchadnezzar's
secret. But Daniel gave full credit to God: "There is a God in heaven
who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what
will be in the latter days" (Daniel 2:28). Daniel wanted the king to know
that the God of heaven was revealing to him events that would take place
at the end of Earth's history-that is, the "latter days."
God answered the
earnest prayers of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in a dramatic
way. He was concerned about their predicament. God has the same concern
for you today. Your needs, whatever they are, matter to God. He doesn't
regard them as a small thing. When you weep over the loss of a parent
or friend, God sheds tears, too. When you feel backed against a wall because
you lost a job or can't come up with the money for this month's
bills, God feels your distress. When loneliness burns deep into your soul,
God wants to fill that void. He longs to show how much He cares about
The things God revealed
to Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel are really yet another way of showing
that He cares. We can look over Daniel's shoulder and see a spectacular
picture of history. God wants us to know where history is heading. He
wants us to feel confident and secure about the future. Let's look
at the details of Nebuchadnezzar's extraordinary dream in Daniel
11. What did King Nebuchadnezzar see in his dream? (Daniel 2:31-35.)
A ferocious animal with great, sharp teeth.
A violent storm that destroyed one-third of the earth.
A great statue or image made of different metals.
12. In the metal image that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, of what metal was the
head made? (Daniel 2:32.)
13. Of what metal were the chest and arms made? (Daniel 2:32.)
14. Of what metal were the belly and thighs made? (Daniel 2:32.)
15. Of what metal were the legs made? (Daniel 2:33.)
16. Of what metal were the feet and toes made? (Daniel 2:33.)
Iron mixed with clay.
Picture King Nebuchadnezzar
as he leans forward on his throne, gazing intently at the remarkable young
man standing before him. Daniel reveals exactly what the king saw in his
dream. Nebuchadnezzar almost leaps from his throne. Yes, that's it! A
huge metallic man. It stood over him as he slept! As Daniel continues,
the king gets even more excited. This Hebrew is getting everything right,
down to the minutest detail. Not a single mistake. His God must be some
still has one big question, "What does it mean?" He doesn't have to wait
long for an answer. Daniel continues, "This is the dream. Now we will
tell the interpretation of it before the king" (vs. 36).
Daniel proceeds to
show the king how each metal, each part of the statue, corresponds to
an empire in history. He traces the history of nations, starting with
Babylon, all the way to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
17. In the metal image that King Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream,
what did the head of gold represent? (Daniel 2:37, 38.)
The future empire of Rome.
Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom of Babylon.
The United States.
kingdom of Babylon ruled the world from 605 to 539 B.C. It was centered
in the area occupied by modern-day Iraq, a distance from Baghdad. The
Babylonians worshiped one god more than any other, Bel-Marduk, made out
of solid gold. Nebuchadnezzar was surely pleased that the gold of his
Babylonian Empire was represented by the statue's head. But Babylon
would not last forever.
and Arms of Silver
18. What did Daniel say would arise following the kingdom of
Another kingdom that would be even stronger than Babylon.
Another kingdom that would last longer than Babylon had lasted.
Another kingdom that would be inferior to Babylon.
In fulfillment of
God's prediction, Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom crumbled into ruins when Cyrus,
the Persian general, overthrew the Babylonian Empire in 539 B.C. Interestingly
enough, 150 years before this happened, the prophet Isaiah predicted that
a man named Cyrus would be the one to overthrow Babylon (Isaiah 44:28
Later in his book,
Daniel named the two kingdoms that would succeed Babylon: Medo-Persia
and Greece (Daniel 8:20, 21). The Medes and Persians ruled the world from
539 to 331 B.C.
and Thighs of Bronze
19. In the image, what did the belly and thighs of bronze represent? (Daniel 2:39.)
A third world-ruling kingdom.
The last king of Babylon.
The first emperor of Rome.
The belly and thighs of bronze represent the kingdom of Greece, which
defeated the Persians at the Battle of Arbela in 331 B.C. Alexander the
Great conquered the Medes and Persians, turning Greece into the world's
third great empire. Greece dominated from 331 to 168 B.C.
20. What would the fourth powerful kingdom, symbolized by the iron legs,
do to other nations? (Daniel 2:40.)
Break them in pieces and crush them.
Protect them from barbarian invasions.
Make them pay high taxes every year.
After the death of
Alexander the Great, his empire of Greece weakened and split into rival
factions. At the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C., the "iron empire"
of Rome crushed Greece. Rome continued to rule the world through the time
Jesus carried on His ministry here on Earth. Rome came to its end in A.D.
Think about the predictions
we have just read. How could Daniel, a Hebrew living in the time of Babylon,
have any idea of how empires would succeed each other hundreds of years
into the future? We have a hard time figuring out tomorrow's weather
or the stock market closings for next week! And yet Babylon, Medo-Persia,
Greece, and Rome followed each other exactly as predicted, as any world
history textbook demonstrates today.
Is God in control
of the future? Can we have hope on the basis of His great plan? The answer
is a resounding, YES!
and Toes of Iron Mixed With Clay
21. In the metal image, the feet and toes were
made of iron mixed with clay. This represented
the fact that this kingdom would be:
(Daniel 2:41, 42.)
sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceful.
divided-partly strong and partly weak.
sometimes ruled by good kings and sometimes ruled by bad kings.
The prophet predicted,
not a fifth world empire, but a division of the iron monarchy of Rome.
Rome would fracture into numerous kingdoms symbolized by the ten toes.
During the fourth and fifth centuries (A.D. 351 to 476), barbaric invaders
from the north poured down on the decaying Roman Empire, delivering blow
after blow. Almost twenty Germanic tribes gained the territory of western
Rome, but eventually numerous independent nations established themselves
within the boundaries of western Europe. The statue's toes of iron
mixed with clay represent the modern nations of Europe. The prophecy was
literally fulfilled, and history again harmonizes with what God foretold.
Verse 43 tells
us that efforts will be made to unite the post-Roman nations of Europe
under one ruler. God, however, says this simply won't happen: "They will
not adhere to one another." Many men down through history have tried to
unite Europe. Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin invested enormous
resources and countless lives in their efforts. But each one failed. History
can't contradict the big picture in the Word of God. It remains accurate.
And it assures us that the future is in God's hands and we can safely
trust in His promises.
After this period
in which many different nations rule separatelyas opposed to combining
into one world poweranother great event interrupts history. "And
in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which
shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people"
22. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream, a stone struck the metal statue on its feet.
What happened then to all the
kingdoms represented by the different metals
in the image? (Daniel 2:44.)
They became stronger than ever and defeated the kingdom represented by
They were broken into pieces and were completely consumed by the stone.
They weren't affected at all; only the image's feet were broken.
23. How long will the kingdom that is represented by the stone last? (Daniel 2:44.)
Until Jesus returns.
Until the end of the Roman Empire.
kingdom is symbolized by the "stone" smashing into the statue's feet
and crushing its gold, silver, bronze, and iron.
The rock cut out
without hands represents the coming of the kingdom of God. Scripture
us that Jesus is the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). At the second
coming of Jesus Christ, sin will be crushed for all eternity. Christ's
be established forever. Today, we can see that all the details
of Daniel's prophecy have been fulfilled except this final actthe
striking of the statue by the stone. We are approaching the grand climax,
return to our world. It will happen according to God's timetable,
not what some supermarket tabloid says. Jesus is about to end the long,
struggle of human history and sweep us up to live eternally with
Yes, we still live
among the clash of "nation rising against nation." The world can be a
frightening place. Ethnic conflicts keep flaring up. Pictures of children
with distended bellies still haunt the evening news. We never know where
a terrorist's bomb may strike next. Drive-by shootings rupture neighborhoods.
We continue to fall victim to age-old afflictions and new plagues like
But through all of
this we can acknowledge a fact more important than these headlineshistory
is rushing toward one climax: a face-to-face encounter with Jesus. It's
time to prepare to meet Jesus. The same hand that guided Daniel as he
condensed the millenniums of history into a few verses in the Bible, can
guide you as you try to make sense out of your life.
Does God care about
you? YES He does! Listen to these words: "Are not two sparrows sold for
a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your
Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not
fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).
Hope in a trustworthy
God can make a significant difference in your life. The world may seem
to be breaking up all around us, but we are never on our own. The hand
of God is guiding us with each step we take. If you will come to Jesus,
He will give you a faith that will see you through every storm of lifeno
matter how fierce the wind, no matter how big the waves. There is peace
in Jesus"For He Himself is our Peace" (Ephesians 2:14).
in heaven, thank You for Your interest in my personal life. Thank You
for telling me in advance the answers to my questions concerning the future
of the world. Help me each day to let You control my life. Guide me. Keep
me in Your care. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
(Note: A major
source for the historical information in this course is God Cares, vols.
1 and 2 by C. Mervyn Maxwell.)
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