Daniel 1–12

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 194–98


Introduction

The book of Daniel is a record of events in the life of another prophet who served the people of Judah during their captivity in Babylon. Contrary to the Lord’s counsel through the prophet Jeremiah, the Jews had looked to Egypt for deliverance from the Babylonians (see Jeremiah 27:12–13; 37:7–8). The Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, defeated the Egyptians at Carchemish about 605 B.C. This victory marked the beginning of the end of the Egyptian empire as a world power (see Jeremiah 46:2; 2 Kings 24:7). Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem in about 597 B.C. and carried many soldiers, artisans, and members of noble families, including Daniel, into exile (see 2 Kings 24:8–14; Daniel 1:1–6). The Jews that remained behind rebelled again, and in about 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar returned and destroyed Jerusalem and deported many more Jews into Babylon (see 2 Kings 25).

The book of Daniel demonstrates how to live the gospel even when those around us may not or when our circumstances make it difficult. It also prophesies of the triumph of the kingdom of God over all other powers and kingdoms in the world. An important theme in the book is that God has power over all the earth, both individuals and nations (see also Bible Dictionary, “Daniel” and “Daniel, book of,” pp. 652–53; introduction to Daniel in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 297).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Daniel 1. Obedience to the Lord’s commandments brings temporal and spiritual blessings. (15–20 minutes)

Daniel refusing meat

Show students the picture Daniel Refusing the King’s Meat and Wine (Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 114). Read Daniel 1:1–7 and ask:

  • Why were Daniel and his friends in Babylon?

  • Why were they sent to Nebuchadnezzar’s palace?

Have students read verses 8–13. Ask:

  • What did Daniel ask of the prince of the eunuchs?

  • Why was Daniel’s request a brave one?

  • Why did Daniel and his friends not want to eat the food the king provided?

Help your students understand that Daniel’s devotion to the Lord influenced his refusal to eat things that were forbidden (see the commentary for Daniel 1:8 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 297–98). Read Doctrine and Covenants 89:5, 8–14 and ask:

  • How might those verses relate to the story of Daniel?

  • If Daniel lived in our day, what would he refuse to partake of?

  • How might Daniel’s experience help you when you are faced with pressure to abandon your standards?

Have students read Daniel 1:14–20 and determine the benefits Daniel and his friends experienced for obeying God rather than the king. Compare those blessings with the promises the Lord has made to those who obey the Word of Wisdom today (see D&C 89:1–4, 18–21). Share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“I have come to know that inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound.

“Young people, stay in condition to respond to inspiration.

“I have come to know also 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).

You may wish to share your personal feelings about how keeping the Lord’s commandments, especially the Word of Wisdom, has increased your ability to respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

weekly icon Daniel 1; 3; 6. Great moral courage is necessary to always choose the right. (55–65 minutes)

Display the following three pictures: Daniel Refusing the King’s Meat and Wine, Three Men in the Fiery Furnace, and Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Gospel Art Picture Kit, nos. 114, 116–17). Ask students to think about what those three stories have in common. Tell them you will ask for their answers at the end of the lesson.

Fill a glass jar (quart or liter size) half-full of rice or wheat. Place a small, lightweight ball (like a table tennis ball) in the jar and cover it with a lid. Ask students if they have ever felt like they were being buried by troubles and hardships. Hold up the jar and quickly turn it over so that the ball is on the bottom, covered by the grain. Tell them that today they are going to learn about some young men who might have felt “buried.”

Review Daniel 1:1–7 and discuss how your students would feel about being carried away captive into another country. Read Alma 36:3 and ask what the Lord promised the faithful.

Have your students search Daniel 1:8–20 and tell what the Lord did to fulfill that promise for Daniel and his companions. As you discuss the obedience of these young men and how the Lord blessed them for their faithfulness, shake the bottle and show students how the ball, like Daniel and his friends, rises to the top.

Read together as a class Daniel 3:1–18. Have students rewrite verses 17–18 in their own words. Ask: What do those verses tell us about the character of those young men? Turn the bottle over and shake the ball to the top as you discuss the verses. Invite a student to tell what happened in the rest of the story, or read verses 19–27 together. Ask students:

  • If you were in a similar situation, how difficult might it be to make the right decision?

  • What helps us make the right decisions today?

  • Would the refusal to worship a false god have been worth the three men’s lives if the Lord had not saved them from the flames? Why? (see Alma 14:8–11; 60:13; see also the commentaries for Daniel 3:1–18 and 3:19–23 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 299–300).

Ask students what sort of “fiery furnaces” they face when they choose not to serve the worldly styles and practices of our day. List responses on the board if desired. Note that the three men were not alone in their affliction (see v. 25). Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77 and discuss the phrase “that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.” Help students understand that, like the three men in the fiery furnace, they do not need to be alone.

You could read Daniel 6 by assigning various students to read the parts of a narrator, a representative of the jealous presidents and princes, King Darius, and Daniel. After reading verses 1–10 ask students:

  • What did Daniel decide to do in spite of the king’s law? (see the first commentary for Daniel 6:10 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 303).

  • Why would that have been a difficult decision?

  • How do you feel about those who are able to make the right decision in such difficult circumstances?

Continue with the remainder of the chapter. Read 1 Nephi 1:20 and Alma 30:60. Ask students which group of people in Daniel 6 the principles in these scriptures apply to and how.

Draw your students’ attention to the three pictures on display and again ask what those stories have in common. Read once more the promise in Alma 36:3 (see also Mosiah 23:21–22; Alma 37:37). Share your testimony of the Lord’s power to help us in times of trouble as we place Him first in our lives.

As an alternate approach to this scripture block, you might consider comparing the experiences of Daniel and his friends with the life of Joseph in Genesis 37; 39–41.

Daniel 2:1–23. The manner in which Daniel sought the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is a pattern for us in seeking the Lord’s help in our lives. (15–20 minutes)

Note: The book of Daniel includes several dreams and visions. Except for Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, this manual will not examine them in detail. Some parts of these visions may be better understood by studying the commentaries in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 297–309). However, keep in mind that much of their meaning was not revealed even to Daniel (see Daniel 12:4, 8–9). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “whenever God gives a vision of an image, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 291). Focus on those visions that the scriptures and prophetic commentary give us the tools to understand.

Tell your students that you had a dream last night and that you want them to describe it to you and tell you what it means. Ask them how they would feel and what they would do if their lives depended on their accurately doing so. Tell them that such a situation is similar to Daniel’s in Daniel 2.

Summarize and read selected verses from Daniel 2:1–13 to help students understand the account. Have students carefully read verses 14–23 and look for what Daniel did to resolve the problem he and others faced. As students read, draw the following diagram on the board, leaving off the words:

As you fill in the words of the diagram, have students retell how Daniel sought the Lord’s help. Help them understand how it provides a pattern for us in seeking answers to our problems. Discuss each element and why it is as important for us as it was for Daniel.

Daniel 2; 4–5; 7–12. The Lord gives His prophets and seers power to prophesy of the future and interpret dreams and signs. (30–40 minutes)

Draw the outline of several road signs on the board. Write in the signs words that mean danger in several languages that your students are not familiar with; for example, gevaar (Dutch), gefahr (German), peligro (Spanish), fara (Swedish), perigo (Portuguese). Ask students if any of them can interpret the meaning of these signs. Ask: Why would it be important to understand the meaning of these signs if you saw them on an unfamiliar road? Read JST, 2 Peter 1:20 and ask:

  • Who has the right to interpret scripture for the Church today?

  • How is a prophet’s ability to interpret scripture like the object lesson with the road signs?

Read with students the following scriptures: Daniel 2:47; 4:4–5, 8–9, 18; 5:10–12. Ask them why people repeatedly called on Daniel to interpret dreams. (They knew he had power from God to understand them.) Help them understand that the Lord has also blessed us with prophets who, like Daniel, have the spirit of prophecy to interpret the events of their days and give appropriate counsel. Because He reveals His will to His prophet, we can follow the prophet with confidence. Share the following statement from a 1980 proclamation of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“We testify that the spirit of prophecy and revelation is among us. ‘We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God’ (Articles of Faith 1:9). The heavens are not sealed; God continues to speak to his children through a prophet empowered to declare his word, now as he did anciently” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 76; or Ensign, May 1980, 52).

Remind students of Daniel’s ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (see the teaching suggestion for Daniel 2:1–23). Read Daniel 2:27–28 with them and ask: What truth about the correct interpretation of dreams did Daniel teach the king?

Read and briefly discuss with students the following three examples of Daniel’s dreams or visions of the future:

  • A vision of the future kingdom of God on the earth (see Daniel 7:13–14; see also the teaching suggestion for Daniel 7:9–14).

  • A vision concerning the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem (see Daniel 9:25).

  • A vision concerning the difference between the wicked and righteous in the last days (see Daniel 12:10).

Read 1 Nephi 22:2 and ask students how Daniel was able to know of future events. Have them read Mosiah 8:17 silently. Invite one or two students to share what they learned about seers from that verse. Help them understand that some of Daniel’s dreams spoke of the latter days. Daniel recorded those revelations so that they would be preserved until our day. Teach your students that in addition to Daniel, other ancient prophets saw our day and recorded their sacred experiences. These recorded revelations are called scriptures, which we now have and can study. This gift of prophecy allows us to read the scriptures knowing they apply to us.

On the board, list some of the teachings of the current prophet from the most recent general conference. Ask students to think about the counsel they struggle the most to obey. Encourage them to trust in the vision of our prophet and begin today to live by that counsel.

scripture mastery icon Daniel 2:28–45 (Scripture Mastery, Daniel 2:44–45). The Church is the kingdom of God that has been established on earth in the latter days. This kingdom will grow and fill the earth. (25–30 minutes)

On the board, write gold, silver, brass, iron, clay, stone, and mountain. Have students read Daniel 2:31–35, and ask them to draw a picture of the dream (a stick figure will do) and label its parts using the words from the board.

Read Daniel’s interpretation with your students (vv. 36–45) and discuss how it has been fulfilled (see the commentaries for Daniel 2:31–45 and 2:44–45 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 298–99). Have students label what kingdoms the items on the board represent as you discuss the dream’s interpretation. Use the accompanying diagram as a reference:

Discuss how the Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44). Ask students:

  • How is the growth of the Church—from six members in 1830 to millions of members today—like the stone in the king’s dream?

  • What does it mean that the stone was “cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:45)? (The stone, or kingdom of God, is not man-made; see also D&C 65:2.)

  • What does it mean that the kingdom will “never be destroyed” or “left to other people” (Daniel 2:44)? (Ultimately, all human kingdoms will end. Only the kingdom of God will remain forever.)

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley regarding how we can personally help in the fulfillment of that dream:

“To my brethren and sisters everywhere, I call upon you to reaffirm your faith, to move this work forward across the world. You can make it stronger by the manner in which you live. Let the gospel be your sword and your shield. Each of us is a part of the greatest cause on earth. Its doctrine came of revelation. Its priesthood came of divine bestowal. Another witness has been added to its testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is literally the little stone of Daniel’s dream which was ‘cut out of the mountain without hands [to] roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth’ (D&C 65:2)” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 95; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 72).

Ask students what they can do to apply President Hinckley’s counsel “to move this work forward across the world.”

Daniel 7:9–14. Before His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will return to Adam-ondi-Ahman. (25–30 minutes)

Have students turn to photo 10 in the back of their Triple Combinations. Ask if they know where Adam-ondi-Ahman is located (see D&C 116:1 and map 5 in the Triple Combination). Have them read Doctrine and Covenants 107:53–57 and describe what happened there anciently. Tell them that Daniel foresaw an important future event take place there. With the help of latter-day revelation, we may learn more about his prophecy.

Read Daniel 7:9–14 with your students and ask them to describe what will happen at the grand council meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman (see the commentaries for Daniel 7:9–14; 7:13–14; and 7:14 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 305). Ask: How many people will be there? (see v. 10).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–13, which describes a sacrament service Christ will hold in the last days. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that this service “will be a part of the grand council at Adam-ondi-Ahman” (The Millennial Messiah, 587). Ask students:

  • What will happen at this council and who will be there?

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 27:14, who else may be included?

  • How will it be different than a weekly sacrament meeting?

Share with students President Joseph Fielding Smith’s description of this gathering from the commentary for Daniel 7:13–14 in the institute manual (p. 305). Ask:

  • How will this earth be different with the Savior as its ruler?

  • How could you improve—what could you change in your attitudes and behavior?

Daniel 9:1–19. Daniel’s petition to the Lord on behalf of his people provides an example of righteous prayer. (15–20 minutes)

Ask students, based on what they have learned about him, how effective they think Daniel’s communication was with God. Read Daniel 9:1–6, 9–11, 16, 19 and list elements of Daniel’s prayer that can teach us how to make our prayers more effective (see the commentary for Daniel 9:1–19 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 307; see also Bible Dictionary, “prayer,” pp. 752–53). Point out that Daniel received an answer to his prayer (see vv. 20–27).

Share with students President Ezra Taft Benson’s instruction on prayer:

“When you pray—when you talk to your Heavenly Father—do you really talk out your problems with Him? Do you let Him know your feelings, your doubts, your insecurities, your joys, your deepest desires—or is prayer merely an habitual expression with the same words and phrases? Do you ponder what you really mean to say? Do you take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and to listen” (“To ‘the Rising Generation,’” New Era, June 1986, 8).

Invite students to share, either from today’s lesson or from personal experience, what they have learned about making prayers more effective.