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Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land Participant Handout Guides
If you are working with a class or small group, feel free to duplicate the following handouts at no additional charge. If you’d like to print 8‐1/2” x 11” or A4 size pages, you can download the free Participant Guide handout sheets at:
www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/daniel‐lesson‐handouts.pdf
Discussion Questions You’ll typically find 3 to 6 questions for each lesson, depending on the topics in each lesson. Each question
may include several sub‐questions. These are designed to get group members engaged in discussion of the key points of the passage. If you’re running short of time, feel free to skip questions or portions of questions. Suggestions for Classes and Groups
Individuals who are studying online can probably complete one full lesson per week, though they’ll need to be diligent to do so. But some of the chapters just have too much material for a one hour class discussion. For example, you might decide to separate some of the chapters I’ve combined from one lesson into two.
Lesson 3. The Fiery Furnace and the Lions’ Den (Daniel 3 and 6) Lesson 4. Humbling the Proud (Daniel 4 and 5) Lesson 6. A Vision and a Mighty Prayer (Daniel 8 and 9:1‐19) Feel free to arrange the lessons any way that works best for your group. Because of the length of these handouts – and to keep down the page count so we can keep the book price lower – they are being made available at no cost online. www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/daniel‐lesson‐handouts.pdf Introduction 1. Four Hebrew Youths in Babylon (Daniel 1) 2. Nebuchadnezzarʹs Dream and Danielʹs Interpretation (Daniel 2) 3. The Fiery Furnace and the Lionsʹ Den (Daniel 3 and 6) 4. Humbling the Proud (Daniel 4 and 5) 5. Four Beasts and the Son of Man (Daniel 7) 6. A Vision and a Mighty Prayer (Daniel 8 and 9:1‐19) 7. Danielʹs Vision of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:20‐27) 8. The Kings of the North and the South (Daniel 10:1‐11:35) 9. Antichrist, Resurrection, and the Last Days (Daniel 11:36‐12:13) Appendix 2. The Medo‐Persian Empire. www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/app2_medo‐persian‐empire.htm Appendix 3. The Case for a Sixth Century Dating of Daniel. www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/app3_early‐date‐of‐daniel.htm Appendix 5. The Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles. www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/app5_exiles.htm
Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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Introduction to Daniel

Themes
1. Faithfulness in persecution 2. Faithful prayer 3. Spiritual warfare 4. The Antichrist 5. Evil will not ultimately prevail or last forever.

Date and Author
Since ancient times, Daniel has been accepted as an authentic part of the Jewish canon of Scripture, and by Jesus (who called Daniel a “prophet”), the early church, and the Church Fathers. Many modern scholars see Daniel’s visions were “pseudo‐prophecies” circulated in Daniel’s name around 168 to 165 BC to encourage the Jews who were suffering greatly under the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175‐163 BC). In spite of arguments to the contrary, an excellent case can be made for a sixth century dating of the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel seems to have been written in Babylon by Daniel near the end of his life, about 530 BC – or compiled in Babylon from Daniel’s writings by his disciples shortly thereafter. See “The Case for a Sixth Century Dating of Daniel” www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/app3_early‐date‐of‐daniel.htm

Apocalyptic
Dreams and visions in Daniel belong to the genre of prophecy termed “apocalyptic, characterized by rich symbolism, a deterministic view, and a violent in‐breaking by God to establish his kingdom. See Zechariah and parts of Ezekiel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament.

Structure and Language
The first six chapters consist primarily of stories about how Daniel and his friends adapted to life in the Babylonian court (scholars call these “court tales”), including the great faith with which they handled persecu‐ tion. The final six chapters consist of apocalyptic visions given to Daniel, several related to future persecution facing the Jews during the intertestamental period, and a couple that look forward to the Last Days. Though the Old Testament is written in Hebrew, Daniel has a section written in Aramaic section (2:4 to 7:28).

History of Interpretation
Over the last two millennia, the Book of Daniel has been subject to literally hundreds of interpretations. In light of the many ways that God‐fearing people have understood Daniel’s prophecies, it’s important for us to be humble as we seek to interpret it ‐‐ and loving (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Double Fulfillment of Prophecy
Direct fulfillment. Many of Daniel’s prophecies have a direct historical fulfillment (chapters 4 and 5). Howev‐ er, the fulfillment of some of Daniel’s prophecies still appear to be in the future.
Double Fulfillment. We also see prophecies that seem to have a double fulfillment, with an initial fulfillment, and then a later and final fulfillment. Example: Antiochus Epiphanes (the type) and the Antichrist (the antitype). Prophets sometimes see events through the context of events near to his own time, as if they were part of a mountain range visible beyond one close by, with no indication of the distance between the near and the far.

Historical Context
As a young man, Daniel was exiled or deported to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (605‐562 BC) in 605 BC along with a number of other youths from royal or noble families to be trained to serve in the king’s palace in Babylon. He served as a “wise man” (2:12) for about 60 years at the top rung of pagan governments without compromising

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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his relationship to God. After Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 BC, he was followed briefly by three Babylonian kings from 562 to 556 BC. Then Nabonidus (556‐539 BC) took the throne and reigned as the last of the Neo‐Babylonian kings. His son Belshazzar served as co‐regent with him from about 553 to 539 BC.
Babylon was captured without much resistance by the Medo‐Persian army under Cyrus II (“the Great”), who reigned 559‐530 BC over the Persian (and later the Medo‐Persian) Empire. Darius the Mede (5:31; chapter 6; 9:1; and 11:1) is probably another name for Gubaru, an Assyrian governor of Babylon.
Daniel is considered one of the most righteous men in history – placed by God alongside Noah and Job in Ezekiel 14:14‐20. Jesus referred to him as a prophet (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14).

The Abomination of Desolation
Daniel prophesies concerning the Babylonian, Medo‐Persian, and Roman Empires, to be finally destroyed by the Kingdom of God. To understand some of Daniel’s visions, you must be aware that in 168‐165 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes attacked Jerusalem, slaughtered its inhabitants, and replaced worship of Yahweh with the worship of Greek gods, setting up an “abomination of desolation” in the temple and sacrificing pigs on the altar. In 165 BC, members of a priestly family, led by Judas Maccabeus, rallied the Jews, fought a series of successful battles, and freed their land from Greek rule. You can read this exciting story in 1 and 2 Maccabees, two books in the Apocrypha.

Important Dates for the Book of Daniel To understand Daniel’s visions requires some understanding of the history. Here are some helpful dates and
events.

612 609 609‐598 Babylon 605
597
589 587
563‐560 560‐556

Fall of Nineveh. Effective end of Assyria. Reforming King Josiah of Judah killed by Egyptian forces under Pharaoh Neco (610‐ 595 BC) at the Battle of Megiddo. Reign of Jehoiakim, placed on the throne of Judah by Pharaoh Neco. (Jehoiakim succeeded Jehoahaz who had replaced Josiah, but Jehoahaz reigned only 3 months; Kings 23:34; 2 Chronicles 36:4). Battle of Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon defeats the combined armies of Assyria and Egypt under Pharaoh Neco, signaling the end of Assyrian might and Egyptian intervention. Nebuchadnezzar II reigns (605‐562). First wave of exiles (a small group of hostages) deported from Judah to Babylon, including Daniel and his friends (1:1). Jehoiakim began giving tribute to Nebuchad‐ nezzar in 605 BC. The Babylonians invade Syria in 604, Ashkelon in 603, and clash with Pharaoh Neco on the borders of Egypt in 601. Jehoiachin becomes king of Judah, reigns for three months (2 Kings 24:8‐17), until Jerusalem is besieged and surrenders to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin is deported and his uncle Zedekiah is made king (2 Kings 24:18). City is subjugated but not yet destroyed. Second group of exiles, a massive group, is deported to Babylon. Zedekiah rebels against Babylon and forms an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt (589‐570 BC; 2 Chronicles 36:13; 2 Kings 24:20; Ezekiel 17:11‐21). Nebuchadnezzar returns, lays siege to Jerusalem for two years until the food supply runs out. Nebuchadnezzar executes Zedekiah’s sons, deports Zedekiah and imprisons him, destroys the city, and the Third and final group of exiles is deported to Babylon July/August 587 BC. The Kingdom of Judah ceases to exist (2 Kings 25). Amel‐Marduk (Evil‐Merodach, 2 Kings 25:27‐30) is king of Babylon. Releases Jehoiachin in 562 after 37 years in prison. Jehoiachin is honored at the king’s table. Neriglissar, son‐in‐law of Nebuchadnezzar.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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556

Labashi‐Marduk.

556‐539

Nabonidus is the last king. His son Belshazzar is co‐regent (553‐539) reigns in Babylon while Nabonidus is on journeys and at foreign battles.

539

Fall of Babylon to Cyrus II.

Persia

559 to 530

Cyrus II (“the Great”) reigns, founder of the Medo‐Persian Empire (Achaemenid dynasty).

538

Cyrus allows the first wave of Jews to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2‐4).

537‐520

Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1; Haggai 2:18).

530‐522

Cambyses (alluded to in Daniel 11:12).

522‐486

Darius I Hystaspes “the Great” (Ezra 5:5 ?).

486‐465/4

Xerxes I (King Ahasuerus; Ezra 4:6). His second queen was Esther. He died by the hand of an assassin. Built up Susa and Persepolis.

464‐423

Artaxerxes I Longimanus. Opponents of the Jews write Artaxerxes to try to stop construction of the walls (Ezra 4). Ezra receives a letter from the king authorizing him to take money and people to Jerusalem (Ezra 7). Nehemiah served as his cupbearer, and in Nov/Dec 445 BC goes to Jerusalem to repair its walls (Nehemiah 1:1).

423‐404

Darius II. Allows construction of Jerusalem to continue (Ezra 5‐6 ?).

404‐359

Artaxerxes II. Note: some see Ezra during the reign of Artaxerxes II rather than I.

338‐336

Arses

336‐331

Darius III

Greece 334‐331

Conquests of Alexander (“the Great”) of Macedon (331‐323) (Daniel 8:5, 21 ?). He Hellenized the lands he conquered, spreading Greek language and culture, which paved the way for the Gospel.

323

Death of Alexander, empire divided into four areas, of which the Egyptian and the

Syrian become predominant.

EGYPT

(Ptolemies)

SYRIA (Seleucids)

323‐285

Ptolemy I

312‐281 Seleucus I

285‐245

Ptolemy II

281‐260 Antiochus I

247‐221

Ptolemy III

260‐246 Antiochus II

221‐203

Ptolemy IV

245‐223 Seleucus II and III

203‐181

Ptolemy V

222‐187 Antiochus III (‘the Great’)

198

Syria took over Palestine

187‐175 Seleucus IV

from Egypt

175‐164 Antiochus IV (“Epiphanes”)

ROME

The rising power

168

Antiochus expelled from Egypt by Roman consul

(11:30).

167

Dec 25: erection of Greek altar in the Jerusalem

temple.

166‐160

Judas Maccabeus. Rebelled against Antiochus, rebuilt and rededicated the temple (166‐164).

160‐143 Jonathan Maccabeus

Table of dates, adapted from Joyce Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; InterVarsity Press, 1972), p. 73.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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1. Four Hebrew Youths in Babylon (Daniel 1)
In 609 BC, King Josiah (640‐609 BC) has just been killed in a battle with Pharaoh Neco of Egypt, a regional power that seeks to control the cities of Palestine and Judah. Josiah’s successor, Jehoahaz, reigns only three months until Pharaoh Neco removes him (2 Kings 23:30‐32), and replaces him with his brother Jehoiakim, who becomes a vassal of Egypt (2 Kings 23:34).
But Pharaoh Neco’s influence in Judah is short‐lived. Nebuchadnezzar, general of the armies of Babylon, defeats the combined forces of Egypt and what is left of Assyria in the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, signaling the end of Assyrian might and Egyptian intervention. Nebuchadnezzar II then succeeds his father as king of Babylon and reigns 605‐562 BC.
To consolidate his victory over Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar sends his troops south into Syria and Palestine to end Egyptian control of that region. Whether he actually besieges Jerusalem with his massive army, or only threatens to do so, is unclear. The bottom line is that Jerusalem seems to have surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar with minimal resistance. Jehoiakim now switches allegiance from Egypt to Babylon and becomes Babylon’s vassal.
This is the first of three waves of exiles deported from Judah to Babylon. This first group includes Daniel and his friends (1:1). Jehoiakim also begins giving tribute to Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (2 Kings 24:1). Babylonian troops remain in the area, invading Syria in 604, Ashkelon in 603, and clash with Pharaoh Neco on the borders of Egypt in 601.

Q1. (Daniel 1:1‐5) Have you ever made a rapid transition between your customary culture and a new and radically different culture? What did it feel like? Were you able to take your faith with you, or did it fade to the background during this time?

Q2. (Daniel 1:1‐7) What changes did Daniel and his friends experience? What was their status in Jerusalem? In Babylon? What do you think was the effect of changing their names to Babylonian names? What impact might it have on them to be made eunuchs? Did they make compromises? If so, why?

Q3. (Daniel 1:8‐10) Why do you think Daniel took a stand concerning being defiled by the king’s food and wine? How do you think eating the king’s food would cause defilement to Daniel’s conscience? What does this tell you about Daniel?

Q4. (Daniel 1:8‐16) What is Daniel’s first approach to eat a different diet? What does he do when his first attempt failed? What is his demeanor towards those over him? In what ways do you think God affects the outcome of Daniel’s request?

Lessons for Disciples
1. Though our lives may take wrenching turns (such as Daniel’s exile), God knows these things and works through them to achieve his purposes.
2. We must learn flexibility to live in the culture we are placed in, without being unfaithful to the Kingdom of God to which we pledge allegiance – the fine art of compromise without capitulation.
3. Daniel seeks compromise with gentleness, not confrontation. He suggests a limited‐time experiment. Finding compromise involves discerning the interests of each party (in this case, the health of the young men, and faithfulness to their religion), and then finding a way to meet the needs of all, so far as that is possible.
True education and wisdom, when aided by God, doesn’t restrict us, but can cause us to have more wisdom and breadth than our peers.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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2. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and Daniel’s Interpretation (Daniel 2)
• “Magicians” describes some variety of occultist in both Egypt and Babylon. • “Enchanters” (NIV, NRSV, ESV), “astrologers” (KJV) is some variety of occultist. • “Sorcerers,” those who “use witchcraft, practice sorcery.” • “Astrologers” (NIV), Chaldeans (NRSV, ESV, KJV) either “Chaldean” by race, or as “learned,” of the
class of Magi.
Most of these specialties would have been banned if this had taken place in Israel (Deut. 18:10‐12) The Babylonians believed that what the gods planned in heaven was knowable by direct observation on earth
by a specialist known as the bārû or “observer.” To make a determination, the baru might resort to a variety of means: (1) sheep lungs and livers, (2) abnormal births, (3) astrology, and (4) dreams. The Babylonians kept extensive dream books that would help with interpretations (Isaiah 47:13‐14).

Q1. (Daniel 2:17‐18) Why does Daniel ask his friends to “plead for mercy”? According to Scripture, is intercessory prayer important? Is it effective? How can we implement intercessory prayer in our churches?

Q2. (Daniel 2:27‐28) How does Daniel show humility in this situation? How does he use this situation as an opportunity to witness before the king to his faith in God? According to 1 Peter 5:5‐6, should we try to exalt ourselves? If we do so, what will happen?

The identity of the various kingdoms or empires in chapters 2 and 7 is controversial, but this is likely:

Chapter 2

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Interpretation

Gold

Lion

Babylon (2:38)

Silver

Bear

Ram

Medo‐Persia (8:20)

Bronze

Leopard

He‐goat

Greece (8:21)

Iron/Clay

Indescribable Beast

(Rome)

Supernatural Stone

Heavenly Court

God’s Kingdom

The coming Kingdom of God will be: 1. Temporal. The Kingdom of God will be set up or established in history (Mark 1:15) 2. Divine. God will set it up, not man. 3. Eternal. This kingdom will never be destroyed, but will endure forever. 4. Consuming. It will eventually crush all other kingdoms and bring them to an end.

See also Daniel 4:40, 44; 7:14; Luke 1:32‐33; 1 Corinthians 15:24‐25; Psalm 2:7‐9; Matthew 21:42‐44; Isaiah 8:14; Revelation 11:15; 12:10a.

Q3. (Daniel 2:44) What does verse 44 teach us about the kingdom that the God of heaven will set up? What kingdom is this? When does this kingdom come? How is this related to Mark 1:15? When will it destroy all other kingdoms?

Lessons for Disciples
1. Revealing. God can reveal to his servants through the Holy Spirit things that are otherwise unknown (1 Corinthians 2:9‐16; 12:4‐10
2. Asking for intercessory prayer is shown in 2:18. See Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Colossians 2:1; 4:12
3. Seeking God under pressure. Daniel asks for prayer, and then seeks God. 4. Thanking. Daniel offers up a psalm of thanks to God for revealing (2:20‐23). 5. Humbly witnessing. Daniel points to God’s power (2:28). 6. Exalting the humble. Nebuchadnezzar promotes Daniel to a high position. 1 Peter 5:5b; James 4:6.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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3. The Fiery Furnace and the Lions’ Den (Daniel 3 and 6)
Because the themes are so similar, we’re combined The Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3) with Daniel in the Lions’ Den (Daniel 6), even though they are separated in time by many decades and aren’t found together in the Scripture text.

A. The Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3) Nebuchadnezzar was a great builder during his reign. 15 million baked bricks were used in the construction
of official buildings. Sun‐dried bricks were easy to make, but would disintegrate in a heavy rainfall, while bricks burned in a kiln were virtually indestructible. Such kilns would be quite adequate to enclose several men.
Q1. (Daniel 3:8‐15) Why do the Jews’ fellow government officials report them to Nebuchadnezzar? Why is the king so angry? What is his motivation to have people bow to the statue?
Q2. (Daniel 3:16‐18) How do the Jews answer Nebuchadnezzar? What is their attitude? How do they witness about their God? Do they face death with resignation or defiance? Characterize their faith.
Q3. (Daniel 3:19‐27) What effect does their deliverance have on their government official colleagues? What effect does it have on the king? What kind of glory does God receive?
Q4. (Daniel 3:28‐30) How does Nebuchadnezzar sum up their faith and commitment? Are you willing to disobey a command or law to be faithful to God? Are you willing to lay down your life to be faithful to God? What might hold you back?

Lessons for Disciples from the Fiery Furnace Account
1. Disciples can’t avoid persecution. If God bless us, others may be jealous. If we stand for what is right, some will resent it. We can’t change how others feel about us. If we try to avoid persecution by compro‐ mise and flattery, we may be displeasing to God.
2. When faced with an ultimatum, we need to answer clearly and boldly, not like a politician. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered forthrightly. So did Jesus before the high priest (Matthew 26:63‐64) and before Pilate (John 18:33‐38; 19:11). So did Stephen before he was martyred (Acts 7:51‐56).
3. Our faith should be in both God’s power and God’s will. We don’t serve him just because he will deliver us. He is able to deliver, but his purposes are often beyond our understanding. We just trust him.
4. God’s angels are constantly around us. Only occasionally are they seen. 5. We need to be willing to lay down our lives rather than betray our God. That’s what Jesus meant when he
said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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B. Daniel in the Lions’ Den (Daniel 6)
Since the locus of the action seems to be in Babylon, not one of the capital cities of the Persian Empire (Susa, Ecbatana, Persepolis, etc.), Darius is probably a throne‐name for the king or governor of the province of Babylon.
As a government official – and as an employee, Daniel is: 1. Trustworthy. He tells the truth and can be counted on to be faithful to his responsibilities. 2. Diligent. He keeps up with all his duties and doesn’t let anything slip. He’s not lazy. 3. Honest. He doesn’t take money or bribes from those trying to break the rules or be preferred over others.

Q5. (Daniel 6:4) What do we learn about Daniel’s character qualities as a government official from verse 4? How do such qualities reflect on Daniel’s God? Does your employer or supervisor see those qualities in you?

Daniel is: 1. Praying privately. Daniel went to his own house. 2. Praying toward Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:30). 3. Praying regularly, three times a day (Psalm 55:17). 4. Praying while kneeling, humbling himself before God (1 Kings 8:38). 5. Praying with bowed head. “Prayed” is ṣelâ, a generic Aramaic verb “to pray,” originally, “bow in prayer.” 6. Praying giving thanks, praising. 7. Praying and petitioning God. 8. Praying seeking God’s mercy.

Q6. (Daniel 6:10‐11) How would you characterize Daniel’s prayer practices? Which of these have you adopted? Which might help your prayers if you adopted them?

Execution by being thrown to the animals was not a common form of capital punishment in the ancient Near East. It wasn’t made popular until it was introduced in the Roman Empire about the second century BC. Hwoever, the den of lions into which Daniel was thrown was perhaps part of a royal zoo. See Heb 11:33.

Q7. (Daniel 6:21‐23) How does Daniel use his experience in the lions’ den to testify about God? What might have happened if, in his response to the king, Daniel had focused on the injustice done to him? What experience in your life might you use as a testimony of God’s mercy to you?

Lessons for Disciples from the Lions’ Den Account
1. Daniel sets a standard for disciples character as a government official – trustworthy, diligent, and honest – not corrupt (6:4).
2. Daniel sets an example for disciples by praying three times a day. He prays privately, facing Jerusa‐ lem, regularly, kneeling, with bowed head, giving praise, petitioning God, and seeking mercy (6:10‐ 11).
3. God is able to send angels to protect his servants – like the angel that shut the mouths of the lions (6:21).
4. Daniel gives us an example of testifying to the king about God’s deliverance. 5. The result of Daniel’s example is Darius coming to believe in God – even if he doesn’t become a mon‐
otheist. The king also ends up promoting Daniel’s God to the nation. God can work amazingly as we testify concerning him.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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4. Humbling the Proud (Daniel 4-5)
We are combining two stories, since they both deal with arrogance and humbling.

A. Nebuchadnezzar’s Mental Illness (Daniel 4)
Q1. (Daniel 4:10‐20) Is Daniel actually afraid to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? Why? Why are we afraid to say the hard things that must be said to help our brothers and sisters? What can we do about it?
Q2. (Daniel 4:23‐26) What does it mean to “acknowledge that Heaven rules”? In what ways is this hard for a king? In what ways is this hard for us? How do we sometimes deny by our actions that God is in charge of all?
Since our God is a merciful God, his decrees are sometimes conditional upon our response (for example, 1 Kings 21:29; Joel 2:14; Zephaniah 2:2‐3).
Q3. (Daniel 4:27) What must Nebuchadnezzar do to demonstrate that he renounces and repents of his sins? What must you do to demonstrate that you repent of your sins? For us, what does it mean to be kind to the poor? That was certainly within Nebuchadnezzar’s ability to accomplish. Is it within your ability? In what way can God’s decrees be conditional?

The Dream’s Fulfillment (4:28-33; 5:18-21) Combining 4:28‐33 with 5:18‐21, we get a picture of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. • Pride in his achievements – the self‐made man complex (4:30). • Pride in his terrible power, that everyone feared him, and didn’t dare to challenge him (5:19a). • Pride in his absolute authority to condemn, execute, promote, and humble at his own whim (5:19b). • Pride that hardens his heart (5:20a). Pride distorts our perception of reality.
See Deuteronomy 8:17‐18; 1 John 2:16.
Q4. (Daniel 4:30; 5:18‐21) How does pride show itself in Nebuchadnezzar’s life? In what ways does it show up in your life? Pride is tricky. How can pride mask itself with humility?
Nebuchadnezzar learns about God that He is: 1. God is eternal (4:34a). 2. God’s kingdom never ends (4:34b) 3. God cannot be compared with human beings (4:35a). 4. God is sovereign (5:19; 4:35b). 5. God is the “King of heaven” (4:37), not just a god among gods, he is the God of gods. 6. God is accountable to none (4:35c; Job 40:2‐5)
Q5. (Daniel 4:34‐35) What does Nebuchadnezzar’s confession tell us about God? Have you ever given a public testimony of what you have learned about God through your trials? What might your testimony sound like?

B. The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5)
If the incident of Nebuchadnezzar’s mental illness took place half‐way through his reign, then we must move forward 45 to 50 years until the close of the reign of Nabonidus (556‐539 BC), last king of the Neo‐Babylonian empire. Since Nabonidus was away from the capital for much of his reign, from about 553 to 539 BC his son Belshazzar reigned in Babylon as co‐regent, acting as supreme king, except perhaps in a few areas. By this time, Daniel is an old man, perhaps 80 years old.
In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great invaded Babylonia. In June, the city of Opis (Baghdad) fell, and within days Sippar surrendered. King Nabonidus fled to Babylon and went into hiding. Medo‐Persian troops were moving toward the capital at Babylon. Yet Belshazzar, who is charged with the defense of Babylon, is throwing a party for a thousand of his friends in his palace.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land. Participant Handout Guides

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Q6. (Daniel 5:22‐24) In the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t present God as legalistic, but as holy – “hallowed be thy name.” We are to be God‐fearers. How do Christians commonly act irreverently in ways that would offend God? How have you changed your ways to conform to God’s holiness?

Lessons for Disciples
We can learn a number of lessons from Daniel 4 and 5. 1. We must live our lives with the constant knowledge that God rules, not we (4:23‐26). 2. Repentance for sin needs to be demonstrable, not with just our lips (4:27). 3. Disciples are to be kind to the poor (4:27). 4. Pride in our achievements can easily blind us to God’s enabling power (4:30; Deuteronomy 8:17‐18; 1 John
2:16). 5. Pride can harden our heart towards God and others, and distort our perception of reality (5:20a). 6. From Nebuchadnezzar’s confession we learn that God is eternal (4:34a), his kingdom never ends (4:34b).
He is incomparable (4:35a), sovereign (4:35b), the King of Heaven (4:37), and accountable to none (4:35c). 7. We must be careful not to be irreverent in our speech and our actions, and how we act towards those
things we have dedicated to God (5:22‐24). 8. God’s judgment may be delayed with time for repentance (4:29), or it may fall immediately without
further warning (5:30). We are wise to repent quickly.

Copyright © 2015, Ralph F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reprint these notes for local churches, classes, and groups. Taken from Ralph F. Wilson, Daniel: Faithful Discipleship in a Foreign Land (JesusWalk, 2015). www.jesuswalk.com/books/daniel.htm

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