From Jerusalem to Babylon

Daniel 1
Lesson Number: 

Lección 2

De Jerusalén a Babilonia

(Daniel 1)

Copr. 2020, 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. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Has your life been radically changed at some point? How did you react to that? Last year my car was totaled in a multiple car accident. A driver who was not paying attention rammed me, and the impact caused a chain reaction with other cars. Thank God, I walked away from the wreckage. The accident could have come out differently and changed the rest of my life. Our study this week is about a life-changing event. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible!

  1. Disobedience
    1. Read Daniel 1:1-2. What is the most important purpose of the city of Jerusalem? (It is the center of worship of the true God. In it is the temple of God which was prepared by King David and built by King Solomon. It contained precious worship vessels going back to the Exodus from Egypt.)
      1. How would you feel if you were a follower of the true God?
      2. Who is responsible for this disaster? (Verse two tells us that God “delivered” this situation.)
    2. Read Jeremiah 25:6-9. Why did God make this decision? (His people worshiped other gods. They refused to listen to Him when He told them exactly what would happen to them.)
  2. Regret
    1. Read Daniel 1:3-4. What kind of young men were these? (The most talented. Those whose future was bright. They were from the nobility, the highest rank of society.)
      1. Imagine you were one of these young men. Think of all of the fun places you liked to go in Jerusalem. All of the great family events and traditions. All of your favorite restaurants and sports activities. All of your hopes and dreams for the future. How would you feel now that they are all gone and you face a future as a slave to the King of Babylon? (It could be worse. They are selected to compete for very special service.)
    2. Read Daniel 1:5-7. What problems do you see in these verses for Daniel and his friends? (Hebrews had special dietary restrictions. This food was likely offered to idols. A name change meant new loyalties.)
      1. Let’s assume that your nation is taken over by another nation that you hate. How would you like your name changed to reflect the new nation that has enslaved you?
    3. Let’s focus on Daniel 1:7 and consider the name changes in more detail. Tell me whether you would resist being called by these new names:
      1. Daniel “God my Judge,” changed to Belteshazzar “Bel’s Prince.” Bel being the chief Babylonian god.
      2. Hananiah “whom Jehovah has favored,” changed to Shadrach “illuminated by the Sun-god.”
      3. Mishael “who is comparable to God,” changed to Meshack “Humbled before my god.”
      4. Azariah “Jehovah has helped,” changed to Abednego “Servant of Nebo.” Nebo was the son of Bel.
      5. What do you think is the purpose of these name changes?
  3. Challenge
    1. Read Daniel 1:8. Recall that we earlier speculated on the potential problems involved with eating the royal food. What problem does Daniel see? (He says it will “defile” them. They would be concerned about eating unclean meat (Leviticus 11), improperly prepared meat (Leviticus 17:10-14), and food and drink offered to pagan gods (Exodus 34:15).)
      1. Should this have been a big issue? Doesn’t Jesus say (Matthew 15:11)that what comes out of a person’s mouth defiles him, not what goes in? (Read Ezekiel 4:13. God predicted that part of His judgment against His people would be that as exiles they would eat defiled food. Daniel believed this was a test of his loyalty to God.)
    2. Read Daniel 1:9-10. What is the concern of the official who is in charge of providing Daniel and his friends with food? (He is not concerned about the religious issue that troubles Daniel, he is concerned about losing his head if Daniel and his friends seem to be in ill health.)
    3. Read Daniel 1:11-13. Consider how Daniel meets this concern. He does not argue the conscience issue: that eating the meat would violate their religious beliefs. Instead, he addresses the concern of the official by arranging a test. Assume you face a challenge to your religious beliefs at work. What practical lesson do we learn from Daniel? (Daniel is not demanding or offensive. Instead, he proposes testing a potential solution that will not harm the goal of the official. In business, you should mention your religious beliefs, but you should also propose a practical solution.)
    4. Read Daniel 1:14-16. Does this demonstrate the advantage of being a vegetarian? (I’ve been a vegetarian for 57 years. If ten days makes such a difference, I should be superman now! I vote that this involved divine assistance.)
    5. Read Daniel 1:17. Remember that Daniel and his friends were not the only elite members of the Hebrew society that were taken into captivity. What lesson does this teach us? (God rewards us for being faithful.)
    6. Read Daniel 10:2-3. What does this tell us about Daniel’s dietary practice later in life? (He eats “choice food,” “meat,” and he drinks “wine.” If you read the entire chapter (especially Daniel 10:11) you will see that Daniel still enjoys God’s favor.)
      1. How does this clarify what we have been discussing? (If it is not the food that is at issue, it must be the way it is prepared and the offering to pagan gods. This makes clear that God is performing a miracle in the lives of these four young men because of their faithfulness in serving Him. God is specifically intervening in their lives.)
    7. Read Daniel 1:18. How do you think this official feels now about his cooperation with Daniel on his dietary request? (God’s blessings on Daniel turn out to be a blessing to this official as well.)
  4. Final Entrance Exam
    1. Read Daniel 1:19. What is the lesson in this for those who want to succeed in their career?
      1. How is God turning the tragedy of Daniel’s life into something positive?
    2. Read Daniel 1:20. How important is it that Daniel and his friends surpassed all of the Babylonian wise men?
      1. Consider the big picture. God’s nation has been defeated by pagan Babylon. God’s temple has been looted and destroyed. Why is it that God helps Daniel and his friends in the relatively small matter of this final entrance examination for the king’s service? (God is looking for heroes. He is looking for those who are faithful in what may appear to be small things. God will show that His way is best by blessing those who are faithful.)
    3. Read Daniel 1:21. What does this short statement tell us about Daniel’s career in Babylon? (He stayed at the center of power until the nation fell. Although Daniel would continue to live among pagans, I suspect that Babylon was a very interesting and beautiful place to be.)
    4. Friend, would you like to be blessed by God? Would you like to be ten times better than your competitors? Why not, through the power of the Holy Spirit, determine right now to be faithful to God in all things?
  5. Next week: From Mystery to Revelation.