- The four heroes. True or false: The battle to recover Jerusalem was the result of heroic action by Daniel and his fellow Jewish companions. Does God always rely on human beings to carry out His earthly purposes in combating evil? Explain your answer.
- God’s Sovereignty. How might a reporter introduce the news about what has happened to Judah after its fall to Nebuchadnezzar, starting with: “Tonight we see more evidence of unrest in the conquered kingdom of Judah…” Who really won the battle between Babylon and Jerusalem? Would you say that God had forsaken His people because of their lack of faith? What military, social or religious role did Daniel and the other three men play in this historic time?
- God’s rescue plans. Imagine what the young men’s parents thought when they learned the names their sons had been given by their conquerors. What sort of education do you think these four men had experienced at home? What evidence did Daniel have that God was leading them at this time? Give examples of how God even today causes events to happen—or restrains them from happening—as we face hardships and difficult times. How can we trust God—no matter what?
- Faith under pressure. I don’t know of any current example of soldiers captured in war and then offered a high position within the conquering nation. Do you? Why do you think the Babylonians decided to take advantage of the presence of these four well-educated and healthy young men? Were Daniel and his companions in a position where they could be useful to their new administrators without compromising their personal beliefs? How did they give their conquerors a lesson in healthful living?
- Firm resolution. The captured men didn’t seem to mind having foreign names, although Daniel apparently kept his given name. The other three men were assigned Babylonian names. But when it came to food, they wanted a simpler fare, not the unclean meat offered first to idols. How was Daniel able to persuade the officers to give them simpler fare? What gave him the courage to ask for such a favor? Are we able to choose the healthiest food God has given us to eat?
- Unblemished and wise. The king put the Hebrew men through a daunting test of their strength and health. How did the captive men do on this test? Can four strong men look better and stronger after just ten days of a healthy diet? Lessons learned: It’s true that he greater the challenges we face, the more we need to rely on the wisdom and understanding God has given us and the greater our reward will be for our faithfulness?
- Final exam. Time to step forward to be evaluated. We have to wonder how long the final examination took, but it was probably at least two or three hours. And no doubt thorough in the material covered, including a huge bloc of information about pagan beliefs. The four men pass with flying colors. What does this episode in the life of the Old Testament church have to teach us in our modern-day whirl of physical and mental ability?