Lesson 45: “If I Perish, I Perish”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 211–15


Purpose

To help class members have the courage to live according to gospel standards.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Daniel 1. Daniel and his friends refuse to defile themselves by eating King Nebuchadnezzar’s food (1:1–16; note that pulse was a food made of grains and edible seeds). The Lord blesses Daniel and his friends with good health and wisdom (1:17–21).

    2. b.

      Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (3:1–12). King Nebuchadnezzar casts them into a fiery furnace, and the Lord saves them from death (3:13–30).

    3. c.

      Daniel 6. King Darius’s men persuade the king to sign a decree that for 30 days all petitions must be directed to him rather than to any other man or to God (6:1–9). In spite of the king’s decree, Daniel prays to God (6:10–13). As punishment for disobeying the decree, Daniel is thrown into a den of lions (6:14–17). The Lord sends an angel to protect Daniel (6:18–23).

    4. d.

      Esther 3–5; 7–8. Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman (3:1–4). Haman persuades King Ahasuerus to prepare a decree calling for the death of all Jews in the kingdom (3:5–14). Esther learns of Haman’s plan to kill her people and risks her life by going to the king for help (4:1–17). The king receives Esther and grants her request to come with Haman to a banquet (5:1–8). At the banquet Esther reveals Haman’s plot to kill the Jews (7:1–6). The king hangs Haman (7:7–10). The king honors Mordecai and grants Esther’s request to reverse Haman’s decree (8:1–17).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Daniel 5; Esther 1–2; 6; 9–10.

  3. 3.

    If you use the attention activity, ask two class members to prepare to tell briefly about a time when they or someone they know had to show courage to obey the Lord.

  4. 4.

    If the following pictures are available, you may want to use some of them during the lesson: Daniel Refusing the King’s Meat and Wine (62094; Gospel Art Picture Kit 114); Three Men in the Fiery Furnace (62093; Gospel Art Picture Kit 116); and Daniel in the Lions’ Den (62096; Gospel Art Picture Kit 117).

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Ask the assigned class members to tell briefly about a time when they or someone they know had to show courage to obey the Lord.

After the class members have shared their experiences, explain that this lesson is about six people in the Old Testament who showed great courage in obeying the Lord.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Daniel and his friends refuse to eat King Nebuchadnezzar’s food; they are blessed with good health and wisdom.

Teach and discuss Daniel 1.

As a young boy, Daniel was carried captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. He and other promising Hebrew youths—including his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were trained in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.

  • What did Daniel and his friends propose when they were given the king’s meat and wine? (See Daniel 1:8–14.) What blessings did they receive for obeying the Lord’s law of health? (See Daniel 1:15, 17, 20.) How are the blessings they received similar to the Lord’s promises to us if we obey the Word of Wisdom? (See D&C 89:18–20.)

    Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “I have come to know … that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else that disturbs your health. … If someone ‘under the influence’ can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 28–29; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 20).

  • What can this story teach us about how to respond when we feel pressure to do something we should not do? (See Daniel 1:5, 8.) What situations today require courage for us to obey the Lord’s commandments? How can we develop the courage needed to obey in such situations?

2. The Lord saves Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from death in the fiery furnace.

Teach and discuss Daniel 3.

  • King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that anyone who would not worship his idol would be cast into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1–6). How did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego respond to the decree? (See Daniel 3:12.) What did Nebuchadnezzar do when he found out that they would not worship his idol? (See Daniel 3:13–15, 19–20.)

  • What did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego say when the king threatened to throw them in the furnace? (See Daniel 3:16–18.)

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “We will [not] always be rescued from proximate problems, but we will be rescued from everlasting death! Meanwhile, ultimate hope makes it possible to say the same three words used centuries ago by three valiant men. They knew God could rescue them from the fiery furnace if He chose. ‘But if not,’ they said, nevertheless, they would still serve Him!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 45; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 35).

  • What can the response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego teach us about obeying the Lord’s commandments? (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to obey the Lord whether he protected them or not. Our obedience should not be conditioned on whether or not the Lord gives us an expected blessing at an expected time in return.) What are the dangers of obeying the Lord only because we expect him to give us a certain blessing in return?

  • What happened when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the furnace? (See Daniel 3:21–27.) Who was in the furnace with them? (See Daniel 3:25.) How does the Savior help us when we turn to him during our trials?

  • What effect did the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have on Nebuchadnezzar? (See Daniel 3:28–30.) How do our actions affect our neighbors’ attitudes toward the Church?

3. Daniel prays in spite of the king’s decree and is thrown into a den of lions. The Lord sends an angel to protect Daniel.

Teach and discuss Daniel 6.

King Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Belshazzar. When Belshazzar was slain, “Darius the Median took the kingdom”(Daniel 5:31), and Daniel rose to a position of great prominence. (Note: Darius the Mede is not the same King Darius who ruled the Persian Empire after Cyrus and to whom the Jews appealed while rebuilding the temple. See Ezra 4–6; lesson 47; and Bible Dictionary, “Darius,” page 653.)

  • Why did the king’s presidents and princes want to find fault with Daniel? (See Daniel 6:1–5. They were jealous that the king preferred Daniel, and they were worried that the king might give him more power.) What decree did these men convince the king to sign? (See Daniel 6:6–9. Knowing that Daniel prayed regularly, they persuaded King Darius to sign a decree that for 30 days all petitions must be directed to him rather than to any other man or to God. Those who disobeyed the decree would be thrown into a den of lions.)

  • How did Daniel respond to the king’s decree? (See Daniel 6:10.) What can we learn from Daniel about the importance of prayer? (Prayer was so important to Daniel that he continued to pray even when his life was threatened for doing so.) Invite class members to ponder the value we place on the privilege of praying to our Heavenly Father.

  • How did King Darius feel when his men reported that they had seen Daniel praying? (See Daniel 6:12–15.) How did the king demonstrate his belief in God? (See Daniel 6:16, 18.)

  • How did the Lord bless Daniel in the lions’ den? (See Daniel 6:19–23.) What effect did Daniel’s faith and courage have on King Darius and the people of the kingdom? (See Daniel 6:24–28.)

    Elder L. Tom Perry said: “Not only did Daniel’s service benefit the king, but because of the faith that Daniel had in the Lord, it affected an entire land. The king sent forth a proclamation that all the people of the kingdom should worship the true and living God, the God that Daniel worshiped. How mighty was the power of the service of one righteous man, affecting so many, as he served ‘in the world’ in which he lived! How effective will be the results of our service if we will continue to serve in our own personal way ‘in the world’ in which we live!” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 16; or Ensign, May 1988, 15).

4. Esther risks her life to save her people.

Teach and discuss Esther 3–5; 7–8.

Esther was a Jewish woman who lived shortly after the time of Daniel. After her parents died, she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther was very beautiful, and Ahasuerus, the king of Persia and Media, was so pleased with her beauty that he made her his queen.

  • King Ahasuerus promoted Haman to be his highest-ranking prince (Esther 3:1). How did Mordecai show courage when the king commanded him and other servants to bow to Haman? (See Esther 3:2–4.) What was Haman’s reaction? (See Esther 3:5–14. He was angry and persuaded the king to order the destruction of “a certain people”—all the Jews in the kingdom.)

  • When Esther learned of the mourning among the Jews, she sent a messenger to ask Mordecai what was wrong (Esther 4:1–6). What did Mordecai ask of Esther? (See Esther 4:7–9.) Why was it dangerous for Esther to go in and speak with the king? (See Esther 4:10–11. The law allowed the king to kill anyone who approached him uninvited.)

  • What message did Mordecai send Esther when he learned of her concerns about approaching the king? (See Esther 4:13–14.) How do you think Esther felt as she contemplated the possibility that she had “come to the kingdom for such a time as this”? (Esther 4:14). How can we receive the assurance that our lives have purpose? How can this assurance help us?

  • What did Esther ask of her maidens and the local Jews as she prepared to approach the king? (See Esther 4:16.) How can the united fasting and prayers of many people help us?

  • Stating her intent to approach the king, Esther said, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). How was this declaration like the statement of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before they were thrown into the furnace? (See Daniel 3:17–18.) How did this declaration show Esther’s devotion to her people and to God?

  • When Esther approached the king, he received her and said he would grant anything she requested (Esther 5:1–3). She requested that the king and Haman come to a banquet (Esther 5:4–8). On the second day of the banquet, what did Esther ask of the king? (See Esther 7:3–4.) What did the king do when he learned that the people Haman was plotting to destroy were the Jews? (See Esther 7:5–10.)

  • Haman was hanged, but the decree to kill all Jews had already been circulated throughout the kingdom. What did Esther ask the king to do? (See Esther 8:5–6.) What blessings did the Jews receive because of Esther’s courage and faith? (See Esther 8:16–17.) What blessings have you received because of the courage and faith of others?

  • What challenges do we face today that require courage like Esther’s? What blessings will we receive as we strive to do what is right even when we are faced with difficult consequences?

Conclusion

Testify that the Lord will bless us as we have the courage to stand for the truth. Encourage class members to follow the examples of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. The ultimate blessings of courageous obedience

  • What did Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai have in common? (They all had the courage to do what was right, even when doing so put their lives at risk.) What situations have you encountered where you had to decide whether or not you would stand for what you knew was right?

Testify that as we strive to keep the commandments, the Lord will bless us. However, the blessings we receive are not always immediately evident. To illustrate this, you may want to discuss the trials that the following people endured:

  1. a.

    Sarah was unable to have children until she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:15–17; 21:1–2).

  2. b.

    Joseph was sold by his brothers and later imprisoned for a crime he did not commit (Genesis 37:27–28; 39:7–20).

  3. c.

    The Savior was betrayed by a friend, illegally tried, and crucified (John 18–19).

  4. d.

    Nephi was beaten and later bound with cords by his brothers (1 Nephi 3:28; 18:10–11).

  5. e.

    Alma and Amulek were forced to watch as women and children were burned for their beliefs (Alma 14:8–11).

  6. f.

    Joseph Smith was imprisoned and martyred (D&C 135).

  • Why do you think the Lord allowed these people to suffer such trials? Why do you think they were able to endure these trials? What can we learn from their examples?

2. Standing for the truth

Have class members role-play different situations in which they would need to stand up for what they know is right. Think of circumstances that would apply to class members. The following suggestions may be helpful:

  1. a.

    A friend belittles someone and encourages you to do the same.

  2. b.

    Someone suggests that you listen to some music that you know is inappropriate.

  3. c.

    Someone asks you to go to a restaurant on Sunday after church.

  4. d.

    Someone offers you some alcohol or another substance contrary to the Word of Wisdom.