Sabbath School Lesson for February 8-14, 2020
The popular story of Daniel and the lions’ den is familiar to adults and children alike. Our study of it is told in this sequence…
- what prompted Daniel’s enemies (Sunday)
- what plot did his enemies devise (Monday)
- what did Daniel do after the king’s decree (Tuesday)
- what happened when Daniel was thrown to the lions (Wednesday)
- what resulted from Daniel’s deliverance (Thursday)
This last story (Daniel 6) that documents Daniel’s experiences as a captive of Babylon aptly illustrates the final deliverance of God’s people when the Lord appears again the in the clouds of glory at His Second Coming.
So far, Daniel has shown us…
- that following God’s commandments are necessary for our good (when he and his friends refused to eat at the king’s table)–Daniel 1
- that God desires us to know what the future holds (when the king’s mysterious dream of an image was told and interpreted by Daniel)–Daniel 2
- that God expects us to worship only Him (as did Daniel’s friends in refusing to bow down to the king’s image)–Daniel 3
- that God gives us ample opportunities to choose Him, and wants to see our total restoration (as Nebuchadnezzar found after living like an animal for seven years)–Daniel 4
- that God will ultimately destroy those who refuse His salvation (which happened to Belshazzar, following the handwriting on the wall which predicted his doom)–Daniel 5
- that God will save those who remain faithful to Him (like Daniel, when he was safe after a night in the lions’ den)–Daniel 6
Memory Text: “So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” Daniel 6:4 NKJV
Keep in mind that they could find no fault in Daniel, not because he was perfect, but because Christ’s blood was covering his mistakes so well that no fault could be seen by others. It says here it was “because he was faithful”.
Sunday: Jealous Souls
It’s not difficult to see jealousy as the prime motive for the plot against Daniel. Similarly, Lucifer’s jealousy was the motive that propelled him into his unfortunate rebellion against God in the beginning.
The last of the Ten Commandments deals with covetousness, or desiring something that isn’t yours, and is an emotion which easily leads to jealousy along with other more overt sins, such as lying, stealing, adultery, and murder (commandments #6, 7, 8, and 9).
But why were the government officials so jealous of Daniel? There are several possibilities:
- Daniel was already in a high position of authority, but the king was thinking about promoting him (Daniel 6:3).
- The nature of Daniel’s duties, that of giving an account of their actions to the king (Daniel 6:2), may have made him a stumbling block in their efforts to take advantage of their public office and profit themselves.
- There may have been ethnic reasons for their jealousy, as they were careful to mention that Daniel was a Jew, a captive from Judah (Daniel 6:13)
Read Genesis 37:3, 8-11 and Matthew 26:15. What did Joseph’s brothers later do to him, and how do these examples compare with the experience of Jesus while He was on earth?
Read Daniel 6:1-3, 5:12, and James 1:5. What kind of spirit was in Daniel, and why did it cause him to have appeal with more than one king?
Read Exodus 20:17 and Ephesians 5:3. Why is fornication (or sex outside of marriage) listed with covetousness here? How are they related?
Monday: The Plot Against Daniel
Wisely, Darius and other kings of these ancient empires divided their governments into provinces for better control and oversight. Darius had chosen three governors to rule over 120 satraps, or officials who ruled locally over financial, judicial, and military matters.
Daniel had been chosen as one of those three governors, but the king was thinking about promoting him over the whole realm. See Daniel 6:1-3. This meant he would be in charge of the three governors, which would have given him authority over the whole Medo-Persian Empire.
Since Daniel’s jealous colleagues could find no infractions or imperfections in Daniel, they planned a scheme to entrap Daniel by encouraging a new law of the land involving prayer.
King Darius, feeling flattered by their suggestion, signed a decree that no one in the kingdom was to pray to anyone but the monarch for thirty days. This, they suggested would further his attempts to solidify loyalty to himself and ensure no rebellious outbreaks in the provinces.
History informs us that Persian kings did not claim divinity; therefore, the decree they had in mind may have just made people address their prayers through the king, making them feel obligated and subservient to the throne.
Read Daniel 6:4, 5, Job 1:8, and Psalm 32:1. What made these individuals sinless, or appear sinless?
Read Revelation 14:4, 5. Why is it important for God’s final remnant to be sinless, as Daniel and others were?
Read Daniel 6:6-9. Although the decree might have unified the kingdom, what was it about their statement that “all the governors, of the kingdom…have consulted together to establish a royal statute” that was not truthful? What is the danger of mingling truth with lies?
Tuesday: Daniel’s Prayer
Thanks to Daniel’s careful documentation of when these incidents occurred, we know that the decree that led to his being thrown to the lions happened in 539 B.C. By this time, Daniel had already had the two visions described in chapters 7 (in 553 B.C.) and 8 (in 551 B.C.).
These faith-building visions may have given him the spiritual courage to resist the king’s decree and continue his devotional habits of praying three times a day facing Jerusalem.
- Psalm 55:17 mentions praying evening, morning, and at noon.
- Both David and Solomon, kings of Judah, encouraged praying toward the temple, the place on earth where God’s presence was known to reside (David–Psalm 5:7, 28:2 and Solomon’s dedication prayer for the temple–1 Kings 8:35, 38, 44, 48).
Daniel consistently used this gesture of praying in front of an open window to demonstrate his commitment to Jehovah to all the kingdom. He didn’t hide his light under a bushel, as Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:16). But neither did he use the practice to appear prideful, as Jesus also warned against (Matthew 6:5).
Read Daniel 6:10, Psalm 55:17, and 5:7. Why would praying toward Jerusalem be so meaningful to Daniel?
Read Matthew 5:16 and 6:5, 6. Why do you think Daniel chose to pray openly, instead of in a secret place? Why are a private prayer life and our public prayers both needed, and how do we incorporate both in our lives today?
Read Daniel 6:11 and John 11:45-47, 53. How does the verse in Daniel show that these men were plotting to kill Daniel? How does this story foretell what would happen to Jesus? How are the stories similar?
Wednesday: In the Lions’ Den
It was obvious all along that Daniel was a favorite of King Darius. He was about to promote him to the highest position in the land (Daniel 6:3). His remorse for signing the decree that would ultimately lead to Daniel’s fate was profound and sincere.
He immediately sought to exclude him from the punishment which he had regretfully signed, but the devious plotters reminded him of the irrevocable nature of the emperor’s law. This feature of the law being unchangeable (as also seen in the story of Esther), was common for these ancient empires.
The situation reminds us of the unchangeable nature of God’s commands. His commandments stand the test of time, because God cannot reverse or change them. And the punishment for breaking them, being death, has been carried out for all mankind, as all of us so far have received the penalty of death.
But the story doesn’t end there for our planet. God has provided, through the death of His Son, the only way to salvation. Conditional on our acceptance of that plan and our desire to have a personal relationship with God, we can all experience resurrection morning. Just like Daniel and his champion king joyously enjoyed after Daniel’s long night in the lions’ den.
Read Daniel 6:13, 14. Why does it sound like Darius is more “displeased with himself” at first than with those who had perpetuated this scheme to kill Daniel? What does this tell us about the king’s character?
Read Daniel 6:15, Esther 8:8, and Psalm 119:89. How does the fact that God does not change His law indicate the justice of His character and the unchanging nature of the Ten Commandments? How has God also found a way to demonstrate His character of love toward those who choose to be faithful to Him?
Read Daniel 6:17, Matthew 27:64-66, and Revelation 7:3. What is the purpose of sealing in these cases? What does it accomplish and why is it needed?
In the end, Darius praises and recognizes God’s sovereignty over all kingdoms on earth and in heaven (Daniel 6:26, 27).
We are rightly disturbed though at finding the death penalty declared not just for those who plotted Daniel’s death, but for their families as well. This, of course, was not God’s way of handling justice (Deuteronomy 24:16). But it was the way of the Persians and other ancient cultures. This was, therefore, a true reporting of the story as it happened, not an endorsement of the final outcome.
There are points taken from this story that resemble end time events though…
- By remaining faithful, Daniel is miraculously saved from the lions (God’s faithful people will be delivered and taken from this earth when He comes–Psalm 91:10, 11, Revelation 22:14)
- Daniel’s enemies are punished (God’s enemies will be punished in the lake of fire–Revelation 20:15)
- Darius the king vindicates God and declares Him to be Sovereign over all (God will be vindicated before the whole universe–Philippians 2:9-11, “every knee should bow”)
Read Daniel 6:18-22, Hebrews 11:33, and Revelation 13:13. How does faith impact Daniel’s experience? Why is it important not to place our faith in signs and miracles but in God?
Read Daniel 6:24 and Deuteronomy 24:16. How do we know that Darius had a different idea of justice than God has? What is the underlying foundation for all true justice?
Read Daniel 6:26 and Philippians 2:9-11. Why is it important for all to see God’s justice in the end, even those who have opposed God and become His enemies? Why will those enemies still not be safe to save in God’s everlasting kingdom though?
Daniel’s friends experienced a miracle deliverance in the fiery furnace, as told in Daniel 3. Daniel, who was not present at the time, was also delivered by God when another king later threw him in a den of hungry lions.These uplifting stories prefigure the final deliverance from the earth that God’s faithful people will enjoy at the end of time.
But sadly, not all of God’s children have escaped Satan’s clutches. All through our earthly history, men and women of God have suffered for their faith. There seems to be no rhyme or reason why some are miraculously saved from tortuous death and some are not. Hebrews 11:30-40 verifies this observation.
But Hebrews 11:35 perhaps best describes the situation. It states that “…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Regardless of the outcome, their thoughts were undoubtedly focused in a heavenly direction…
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13 NKJV
There is something better for those who remain faithful to the end. Even our Lord and Savior, in the Garden of Eden, accepted His fate when He proclaimed, “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 NKJV
He, too, drank a bitter cup for a heavenly purpose.
Next Week’s Lesson: From the Story Sea to the Church in Heaven (Daniel 7)
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/