Week 1: Introducing Daniel
What does it mean to be loyal to someone?
What makes being loyal difficult?
What makes it hard to be loyal to God?
Story - Daniel 1 (International Children's Bible)
Daniel Taken to Babylon
1 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. This happened during the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah. 2 The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar also took some of the things from the Temple of God. He carried them to Babylonia and put them in the temple of his gods.
3 Then King Nebuchadnezzar gave an order to Ashpenaz, his chief officer. He told Ashpenaz to bring some of the men from Judah into his house. He wanted them to be from important families. And he wanted those who were from the family of the king of Judah. 4 King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only healthy, young, Israelite men. These men were not to have anything wrong with their bodies. They were to be handsome and well educated. They were to be able to learn and understand things. He wanted those who were able to serve in his palace. Ashpenaz was to teach them the language and writings of the Babylonians. 5 The king gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day. That was the same kind of food that the king ate. They were to be trained for three years. Then the young men would become servants of the king of Babylon. 6 Among those young men were some from the people of Judah. These were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 Then Ashpenaz, the chief officer, gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar. Hananiah’s was Shadrach. Mishael’s was Meshach. And Azariah’s new name was Abednego. 8 Daniel decided not to eat the king’s food and wine because that would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.
9 God made Ashpenaz want to be kind and merciful to Daniel. 10 But Ashpenaz said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, you will begin to look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this. And he will cut off my head because of you.”
11 Ashpenaz had ordered a guard to watch Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 12 Daniel said to the guard, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then after ten days compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier. Then you judge for yourself how you want to treat us, your servants.”
14 So the guard agreed to test them for ten days. 15 After ten days they looked very healthy. They looked better than all of the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard took away the king’s special food and wine. He gave Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah vegetables instead. 17 God gave these four men wisdom and the ability to learn. They learned many kinds of things people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
18 The end of the three years came. And Ashpenaz brought all of the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked to them. He found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. So those four young men became the king’s servants. 20 Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed much wisdom and understanding. He found they were ten times better than all the fortune-tellers and magicians in his kingdom. 21 So Daniel continued to be the king’s servant until the first year Cyrus was king.
Have a watch of this YouTube video to 1:38 minutes to help explain this first part of the story of Daniel.
Does your name have a special meaning? How would you feel if someone gave you a new name especially if it was one you didn’t like? It would probably make you feel uncomfortable and not like you. Nebuchadnezzar probably changed their names to try and make them forget about the country where they had come from and from the true God who they worshipped.
Daniel and his friends didn’t want to eat the royal food they were offered because it was probably food that, as Israelites, was considered unclean or unhealthy. Do you find it hard to refuse when nice food is offered to you? Do you think Daniel and his friends found it hard? The passage says the guard let them try for 10 days and see what happened, but I think he was quite worried about it as if the test didn’t work the King may have killed them all; but that not what happened. Because of Daniel and his friends’ loyalty to God, God made them wise and clever – clever enough to understand many different languages and sciences. Daniel could even understand special dreams.
Try and think about when it is hardest to stay loyal to God like Daniel and his friends. How can you keep trusting God? Because of their loyalty, God gave Daniel and his friends special gifts – what might God enable you to do if you stay loyal to him?
God gave these four men wisdom and the ability to learn. They learned many kinds of things people had written and studied. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams. Daniel 1:17
Ask God for help to remain faithful to him, even in difficult circumstances when it seems like God just isn’t there.
Next time you go to the supermarket see if there is a free food magazine. Why you get home try and cut out pictures of food that only has fruit or vegetables in, like Daniel and his friends ate. Stick them onto a paper plate.
Think of ways you could eat more fruit and vegetables e.g. grate carrot into bolognaise (you’ll not even know it’s there!)
(Some of the ideas and questions on this page have been taken from Youthworks Bible Study Series: Old Testament - Daniel: Loyalty Under Pressure by Luke Thomson.)