Daniel 1

These small group studies of Daniel contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Daniel 1 Inductive Bible Study

Daniel 1 Key Principle – Stand uncompromisingly on the truth even in the face of strong pressure to give in to the world’s way.

Outline:

I. The background: Defeat to Babylon (1-2)
II. The subjects: young men with no blemish (3-4)
III. The plan: brainwashing (5-7)
IV. The resolve: No compromise! (8)
V. The request: A test (9-13)
VI. The result: Success (14-16)
VII. The verdict: These men were wiser than all the rest of Babylon (17-21)

Background Discussion Questions:

Why was Jerusalem being attacked?
What happened to Judea after this?
Who won the battle? Why?
What do you know about the empire of Babylon?
What did Nebuchadnezzar do after he defeated Jerusalem? Why?

Cross-References

2 Kings 24-25 – History of the Babylon assault three times after continued rebellion.
Isaiah 39:6-7 – Everything you have will be carried off to Babylon one day.
Ezekiel 14:20, 28:3 – Daniel was mentioned by Ezekiel as being extraordinarily wise and righteous. A real person.

Teaching Points

For decades prophets had been warning Judah that God was going to punish her for her gross sins and rebellion against the Lord. In recent years, these warnings reached a fever pitch. However, Judah did not listen. The prophets were ignored, or worse, thrown into prison and cut in two. God planned to use a 70 years captivity to bring the people to their knees and turn them back to Himself. Although His judgment was severe, He still never forgot His promises to David and always preserved a remnant of the nation and a remnant who was faithful to himself.

His chosen instrument: Babylon (The Lord gave Judah into his hand.) In the book of Habakkuk, the writer (Habakkuk) is confused how God, who is infinitely holy, could use an evil kingdom like Babylon to punish Judah, who though sinful, was still better than Babylon. God’s answer was that He would one day to knock down Babylon. When you look at the history of Babylon, it is easy to see God’s sovereign hand. They were just a small group of people with little influence and a little kingdom. But somehow, they suddenly popped almost out of nowhere to take over much of the known world. Their rise was fast and amazing. Their downfall was equally fast. Right before the seventy year exile was up, they were miraculously defeated and conquered in one night. It is clear that God raised them up just for the purpose of punishing Judah and once their purpose had been complete, tore them down again. This is what God does with earthly kingdoms. Germany rose up suddenly to accomplish God’s purpose to get Jews back to Israel. The United States rose up at the same time to provide a protection and ally to Israel. Etc. etc.

Babylon conquered Jerusalem and Judah three times. Each time he took away more of the people and after the first two times Judah rebelled again only to be once again defeated. Daniel and his friends were taken in the first group. At that time, only some of the nobility was taken.

Neb took the temple treasuries to his own temple as a kind of war prize to show the superiority of his gods, when actually the one true God gave him the victory. On a sub-note, discuss how critics are proven wrong again and again. A statement/inscription has been found saying that Nebuchadnezzar practiced this very thing, when for decades critics said he never did this kind of thing.

The Subjects:

What kind of people did Neb take back to Babylon? Why?

A group of Judean youths were taken. No one knows the exact number, but it was apparently a good sized group. The word “youths” is normally viewed to denote young men between 14-18 or so. This makes sense because we know Daniel lived at least 75 or so years longer than this and because young men would be more moldable and would more easily leave behind their homes to serve willingly in a foreign place. We learn that they were physically and mentally the cream of the crop. They are handsome, fit, strong, with good posture and good bearing. They are good in all kinds of academics as well as wisdom to solve problems. And they are very good socially. Neb took back the best and brightest for his own uses.

The plan:

What was to happen after they were taken?
Were they allowed to keep their Jewish identity?
In what ways did Neb try to brainwash them?
Are there any parallels to the brainwashing going on then to what society does now? (Schooling system.)
Do you think most/many people could have resisted this brainwashing?
Do you think many can today?
What did the names mean that were given to Daniel and his friends?
Why do you think the other Judean youths are not mentioned?

These were not to be prisoners. They had great potential. The Babylonian kingdom needed people like this to serve as sub-rulers over their people and areas, administrative puppets if you will. They were going to go through a three year assimilation program at the University of Babylon. They were to learn the language, the history, the literature, and the religion of the Chaldeans. And they were also to develop the lifestyle and habits. This plan was ingenious:

A. Take the young, who are moldable.
B. Remove them from their authorities, who could influence them for right.
C. Isolate them in a foreign environment.
D. Give them a free education, teach them, train them; make them feel indebted.
E. Give them good food and tempt them with the riches and power that could be theirs.
F. Wipe out all vestiges of their past belief and practice by giving them new names.

This plan was well thought and well executed and normally must have worked to perfection. This would have allowed the Babylonians to make use of not only the natural resources of other countries, but also the human resources, and turn the leaders of those countries slowly in favor of Babylon. It is the same type of information propaganda practiced by Germany, Russia, and countless other countries. If you can change their minds to accept you, then you don’t have to fight them.

The next step was to change their names. Here are their previous names and the meaning and their new names and meaning.

Belteshazzar –From God is my judge to Bel, protect the king.
Shadrach – From The Lord is gracious to Command of Aku
Meshach – From who is like the Lord to who is what Aku is
Abed-nego – From the Lord is my helper to servant of nebo

The resolve:

At what point did Daniel draw the line?
Why did he draw the line here?
What does this tell us about his character?
What does this tell us about his relationship to the Lord?
Do you think most kids growing up in Christian families today would take that kind of a stand?

Psalms 119:106, 115 – Taking an oath or making a commitment to do what is right.
Proverbs 23:3 – Do not crave the king’s food; it is deceptive.

Verse 8 tells us what we will see about Daniel’s character again and again throughout this book. He might up his mind that he would not defile himself. He made up his mind to do what was right without compromise and without offering excuses. Even in the face of overwhelming pressure, he stood on the truth and wouldn’t budge. Scores of people I have met, if they were in that situation would have said “I have to do it.” There is no choice, right? You are all alone in a foreign country under the rule of pagans. They hold your life in their hands seemingly. It seems like resistance is futile. But it’s not. Daniel had a choice. We all have a choice. We never have to wrong. Wow, the world desperately needs this kind of believer! We need to ask ourselves what would we do if we were in Daniel’s situation. Would we have given in? My biggest goal through studying the book of Daniel is that his example will be an inspiration to all of us to stand uncompromisingly on the truth even in the face of strong pressure to give in to the world’s way.

The Request:

How did Daniel handle this issue? What was his attitude?
What did he propose?
What do you think the other Israel youths would have thought of his chances for success?
What are some “reasonable” excuses or justifications could he have come up with for why it was fine to compromise?
Was he successful on the first try? What did he do when his first try failed?
Daniel didn’t offer excuses or justifications for eating the food. He could have made a lot. Like what?

Possible excuses include:

A. God abandoned me to this foreign country. Maybe He isn’t real or maybe I don’t need to serve Him anymore.
B. I have no choice. If I don’t eat it, they will kill me.
C. Perhaps I am willing to die for it, but if I don’t eat it, they will get angry with all of us Judah boys, and then I will be responsible for the punishment the rest of them receive.
D. It’s not really that big of a deal. It’s only food. God knows my heart.
F. God must have brought me here for a reason. He wants me to be an influence for Him. If I don’t fit in, I will never have the position or the chance. Once I get to power, I can use my influence for Him.

Let’s look at how he handled the situation. Although he made up his mind, he didn’t just flaunt it in the official’s face and proudly/arrogantly declare that he wasn’t going to do it. He didn’t say, “Old neb can stuff the food in his own fat face for all I care, I’m not going to eat it.” He displayed:

Humility – He asked for permission.

Wisdom – He proposed a test. He knew how the world works. It is geared towards results. He proposed a solution that would be acceptable on all sides.

Faith – He had faith that God would make the test work.

Perseverance – When the first guy rejected him, he didn’t give up, but went and asked another guy.

We can learn a lot from this passage about how to solve problems. When the world wants us to wrong too often we simply just give up and do it or flaunt it in their face. Instead, we can try to think of a proposal that will work out to all side’s satisfaction. We can try to stand firmly on the word of God without offending others. Sure, this will not “work” every time. If they won’t listen to reason, we still do what is right even if that is offensive. But if we take this humble, respectful attitude and ask for permission or propose another solution, many problems will be solved before it reaches the “I quit” or “just kill me” stage.

Proverbs 2:6, Luke 21:15 – It is the Lord who gives wisdom.

God gives wisdom to solve problems. Go to Him for it.

The result:

Why was he successful in the end? Is there medical reason that would make them look more healthy in only ten days?

Genesis 39:21, Psalms 4:3, Proverbs 16:7 – God will bless those who belong to Him.
Haggai 1:6, Matthew 4:4 – It is God’s grace that gives health and wealth.

God miraculously made them appear healthier after ten days. If we stand firm on His Word and take a “leap of faith” He will honor that. That doesn’t mean, every time we will get what we want. Sometimes persecution or trouble will still come. Nonetheless, the Lord is with us and if it is His will for us to succeed in the matter, He will bring it about no matter what. God looks out for those who belong to Him.

The Verdict:

What position did they get after this education period was over?

Amazingly, doing what seemed like political suicide from man’s perspective actually brought about power and political position. What seemed likely to kill their careers jumpstarted them. Not everything is always what they seem. I think we can learn from this that we actually don’t have to do things the world’s way. People think doing things as culture does them is the only way to get results, but it is a lie. Being bold and truthful and full of integrity often times brings more results long term. Give Victor’s example of being honest instead of lying to companies. Many times bosses/customers will appreciate it when they realize they are dealing with a person of integrity who will not cheat them or compromise his beliefs.

Study Daniel 2

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