1. IN THE COURT OF BABYLON
a. What providential decision put King Nebuchadnezzar in contact with four Hebrew captives and, later, with their God? Daniel 1:3–5.
b. What were the names of the young men chosen for that purpose? Daniel 1:6. After being approved to take part in a three-year training course, how and why were their names changed? Daniel 1:7.
“The [Babylonish] king did not compel the Hebrew youth to renounce their faith in favor of idolatry, but he hoped to bring this about gradually. By giving them names significant of idolatry, by bringing them daily into close association with idolatrous customs, and under the influence of the seductive rites of heathen worship, he hoped to induce them to renounce the religion of their nation and to unite with the worship of the Babylonians.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 481.
“When the enemy thrusts into our souls his subtle doubts and temptations, we are to close the door quickly and dispel the influence of his suggestion.”—The Review and Herald, August 7, 1888.
2. FAITHFULNESS ATTENDED WITH GOD’S BLESSINGS
a. How did God help those young Hebrews to be a shining light among the heathen during their difficult circumstances? Daniel 1:17.
“In the land of their captivity these [children of Israel] were to carry out God’s purpose by giving to heathen nations the blessings that come through a knowledge of Jehovah. They were to be His representatives.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 479.
b. What was their decision in view of the temptation surrounding them? James 1:12.
“[Daniel 1:8 quoted.] In reaching this decision, the Hebrew youth did not act presumptuously but in firm reliance upon God. They did not choose to be singular, but they would be so rather than dishonor God. Should they compromise with wrong in this instance by yielding to the pressure of circumstances, their departure from principle would weaken their sense of right and their abhorrence of wrong. The first wrong step would lead to others, until, their connection with Heaven severed, they would be swept away by temptation.”—Ibid., p. 483.
c. How did God bless their faithful efforts? Daniel 1:19.
“For three years the Hebrew youth studied to acquire ‘the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.’ During this time they held fast their allegiance to God and depended constantly upon His power. With their habits of self-denial they united earnestness of purpose, diligence, and steadfastness. It was not pride or ambition that had brought them into the king’s court, into companionship with those who neither knew nor feared God; they were captives in a strange land, placed there by Infinite Wisdom. Separated from home influences and sacred associations, they sought to acquit themselves creditably, for the honor of their down-trodden people, and for the glory of Him whose servants they were.”—Ibid., p. 484.
3. DIVINE POWER COMBINED WITH HUMAN EFFORT
a. How and why did the Hebrew youth excel? Daniel 1:20.
“At the court of Babylon were gathered representatives from all lands, men of the highest talent, men the most richly endowed with natural gifts, and possessed of the broadest culture that the world could bestow; yet among them all, the Hebrew youth were without a peer. In physical strength and beauty, in mental vigor and literary attainment, they stood unrivaled. The erect form, the firm, elastic step, the fair countenance, the undimmed senses, the untainted breath—all were so many certificates of good habits, insignia of the nobility with which nature honors those who are obedient to her laws.
“In acquiring the wisdom of the Babylonians, Daniel and his companions were far more successful than their fellow students; but their learning did not come by chance. They obtained their knowledge by the faithful use of their powers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 485, 486.
b. What did they realize—and what should be likewise considered by all who are called to represent true religion? 2 Timothy 2:15.
“[Daniel and his companions] realized that in order to stand as representatives of true religion amid the false religions of heathenism they must have clearness of intellect and must perfect a Christian character.”—Ibid., p. 486.
c. What method of successful evangelism did Jesus teach—especially since the world around us looks for something holier in us than in themselves? Matthew 5:13–16.
“While God was working in Daniel and his companions ‘to will and to do of His good pleasure,’ they were working out their own salvation’ (Philippians 2:13).”—Prophets and Kings, p. 486.
4. NEBUCHADNEZZAR GIVES GLORY TO GOD
a. Soon after Daniel and his companions entered the service of the Babylonish king, what event offered Daniel an opportunity to testify in behalf of God? Daniel 2:1, 2.
b. In response to the revelation of the king’s dream through Daniel, how did Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge the God of heaven? Daniel 2:47. What declaration did Nebuchadnezzar later make in response to the faithful witness that Daniel’s companions gave on the plain of Dura? Daniel 3:27–29.
“The three Hebrews declared to the whole nation of Babylon their faith in Him whom they worshiped. They relied on God. In the hour of their trial they remembered the promise, ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isaiah 43:2). And in a marvelous manner their faith in the living Word had been honored in the sight of all. The tidings of their wonderful deliverance were carried to many countries by the representatives of the different nations that had been invited by Nebuchadnezzar to the dedication.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 512.
c. In His mercy and patience with Nebuchadnezzar, how did God warn the monarch? Daniel 4:5, 10–16, 19–22. After explaining the king’s second dream, what appeal did Daniel make to him? Daniel 4:27. What humbling experience led to Nebuchadnezzar’s full conversion? Daniel 4:30–34, 37.
“Under the rebuke of God the proud heart of Nebuchadnezzar was humbled.”—The Review and Herald, September 8, 1896.
“The once proud monarch had become a humble child of God; the tyrannical, overbearing ruler, a wise and compassionate king. . . . Under the rebuke of Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Nebuchadnezzar had learned at last the lesson which all rulers need to learn—that true greatness consists in true goodness.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 521.
5. THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN SHINES UPON KING DARIUS
a. How was the faith of Daniel tested when he was serving under Darius, whom he had already influenced for the truth? Explain the snare prepared for him. Daniel 6:1, 2, 5–9.
b. How did Daniel respond to the decree? Daniel 6:10–13.
c. How did King Darius feel when he realized he had been deceived by the very men who pretended to be concerned for the safety of his throne? Daniel 6:14, 18–23. How did the heathen king exalt the God of Daniel as the only true God? Daniel 6:25, 26.
“From the story of Daniel’s deliverance we may learn that in seasons of trial and gloom God’s children should be just what they were when their prospects were bright with hope and their surroundings all that they could desire. Daniel in the lions' den was the same Daniel who stood before the king as chief among the ministers of state and as a prophet of the Most High. A man whose heart is stayed upon God will be the same in the hour of his greatest trial as he is in prosperity, when the light and favor of God and of man beam upon him. . . .
“Heaven is very near those who suffer for righteousness' sake.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 545.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain how subtle snares are placed before us and our youth today, just as they were in the case of the three Hebrews in Babylon.
2. What was the secret of the young men’s success?
3. When the unholy multitudes meet us, for what are many hoping?
4. What lesson taught to Nebuchadnezzar must be enshrined in every one of us—whether or not we are prominent people?
5. Give evidence of the Holy Spirit’s working in the heart of Darius.