The Old Testament Bible records that Daniel and other young Hebrew males were taken captive by the Chaldeans. Daniel's name, which means "God is my Judge," and other Hebrew names were replaced by Chaldean names such as: Belshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Throughout the book of Daniel, Daniel and his closest peers choose to honor God rather than the words of the king, whether it be Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar or Darius. Teaching the story of Daniel to teenagers provides lessons in spiritual identity, faithfulness, the dangers of pride, and God's incomprehensible wisdom and greatness.
Ask students to brainstorm how they identify themselves as family members, learners, workers and/or citizens. Next, read Daniel 1:1-17 which reports the selection of young intelligent men who would be trained to serve in the king's palace," and ask students to reflect on Daniel's decision not to defile himself with the king's food. Examine the choices made by Daniel and his three friends and compare and contrast the choices believers make today to share their identity in Christ.
Ask students to define a faithful person through that person's characteristics. Read Daniel chapter three and examine Shadrach, Meschach and Abednigo's refusal to bow to the golden image. Examine how quickly the other leaders pointed out that "fault" and how the three Hebrews stayed true to God, regardless of the outcome. Next, discuss the fourth man in the fire and Nebuchadnezzar's response to that sight.
Ask students what they know about the dangers of pride (such as Lucifer's fall). Note the narrative in Daniel four is given through King Nebuchadnezzar's perspective. He shares his dream, Daniel's interpretation, the fulfilment of that dream's prophecy, and how the king came to his senses after seven years of living as an ox. The pride of King Belshazzar, the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, also brought the judgment of God shortly after there was the finger writing on the wall. Princes appeal to King Darius's pride to Daniel in the lion's den. The princes wanted to end Daniel's life, but they lost their own lives instead.
Listen to the teenagers' response to the question "What is true wisdom?" Highlight the times God gave Daniel both visions and dreams. This includes Daniel two where Daniel asked for time for God to reveal the king's dream and the interpretation of it. Brainstorm predictions in the Bible which have been fulfilled (such as the virgin birth of Jesus Christ) as well as predictions yet to come true. This is the focus of Daniel seven through twelve.
Group Daniel's prophecies as those which happened before Christ's incarnation, those that pertain specifically to Christ's time on earth, and those that as yet to come. For example, the vision of the two-horned ram and shaggy goat refer to the Medes and Persians versus Greece. The allusions to Christ in Daniel nine state Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the anointed one would be rejected. Finally Daniel's prophecies of the future are "rolled up and sealed until the time of the end."
Items you will need
- Old Testament Bible
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images