20 June, 2024

June 2 Study | Knowledge and Understanding

by | 27 May, 2024 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO THE JUNE LESSONS: How does anyone know anything about God? The answer is simple. God must reveal himself. He does this through creation, through people made in his image, through Jesus, and through the Bible. A fundamental assertion of the Bible is that God has made himself known. He has “unveiled” himself. Even in some of Israel’s darkest hours (captivity and exile in Babylon), God was at work to reveal himself. The major prophet Daniel played a significant role in this revelation. In this unit students will learn how God revealed himself through knowledge, visions, and dreams, through miracles, and through historical events.  

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Unit: Daniel 
Theme: Revealer of Mysteries
Lesson Text: Daniel 1:1-21 
Supplemental Texts: Proverbs 2:1-11; 3:5-8; Psalm 24:1-5, Colossians 1:9-10 
Aim: Resolve to have a heart that trusts the Lord for knowledge and understanding. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_June2_2024.

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Would it be good to learn detective work from Barney Fife? Would it be good to take dancing lessons from Pee Wee Herman? Would it be wise to learn dentistry from Tim Conway? Knowledge is only as good as its source. 

The major prophet Daniel had the challenging task of balancing (or holding in tension) the knowledge he received from Almighty God and the knowledge he acquired from living in captivity. Daniel lived most of his life working for Babylonia and Medo-Persia, two superpowers. His godly convictions remained above reproach, even as he worked in pagan government positions. Daniel was squeaky clean. There was no dirt on Daniel, though he claimed to have sin (Daniel 9:5-6). 

Knowledge Forfeited 
Daniel 1:1-2 

The book of Daniel’s prophecy began with a historical reference. Josiah was the last good king of Judah. But his sons did not follow in the path of their father. Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, and Gedaliah were all disappointments and ultimately caved in to King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 23–25). The king of Babylon began besieging Jerusalem during Jehoiakim’s third year. Nebuchadnezzar starved the great city and burned the temple.  

The southern two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) had not learned the lessons of faithfulness to Yahweh from the ten northern tribes. (Idolatry became the nemesis.) God used wicked governments like Babylon (cf. Habakkuk) to discipline his people and preserve a remnant for the sending of the Messiah. The articles from the temple of God were hauled away to Babylon and placed in the house of Nebuchadnezzar’s god, which was a common practice in the ancient world to show which God was seemingly more powerful. The knowledge of God was forfeited by disobedience (cf. Amos 8:11). 

Knowledge Immersion 
Daniel 1:3-7 

“Immersion experience” is one way to learn a foreign language in a different culture. A person is baptized into a whole new world and forced to learn to survive. That is what happened to Daniel and his three friends. Nebuchadnezzar was vicious, but he was not dumb. He picked the cream of the crop of the exiles to serve him. Ashpenaz led this baptismal indoctrination. 

Daniel and his friends probably had royal blood in their veins. They had no physical defect (blemish or spot) and were handsome (shiny countenance). In addition to that, they were wicked smart. Four cognitive descriptions underlined their brilliance: aptitude, learning, well informed, and quick to understand. This immersion experience did not just include language and literature but also diet—i.e., food and wine from the king’s table. This crash course at “Babylonia University” was to last three years, and then they were to enter the king’s service. The ultimate challenge to the young men’s identities was being given names that centered on false Babylonian gods. The goal was to rid these Yahweh worshippers of anything that smacked of Hebrew. 

Knowledge Tested 
Daniel 1:8-16 

“You can take the boy out of Israel, but you cannot take Israel out of the boy.” Daniel was willing to learn truth from anywhere since, as Arthur Holmes wrote, All Truth Is God’s Truth. But he was unwilling to compromise his religious convictions. Sometimes a person just has to say no (thank you, Nancy Reagan). Daniel resolved not to defile himself. This phrase means that Daniel “set his heart not to pollute” himself with the royal food and wine.  

What was so defiling about the king’s food and wine? Was it not kosher according to the Levitical dietary code? Had it been prayed over to the idol gods and therefore desecrated? Did it just not taste good? The text does not say why Daniel chose this path. It could be for any number of reasons, but Daniel proposed a 10-day test. Vegetables in place of the king’s food for 10 days. 

Ten days would hardly be enough time for such a test to produce proof. The number 10 might be symbolic for a “full amount” of time. Or God’s work for Daniel and his three friends may have been miraculous. Regardless, the test of Daniel’s knowledge over the king’s table was successful. In fact, the test was so successful that it won over the court official, Ashpenaz.  

Knowledge Affirmed 
Daniel 1:17-21 

God was at work through the vegetable test and through his providence. God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning to Daniel and his three friends. This surely included the Hebrew Scriptures but was not limited to them. (The king was super impressed with these young Hebrew boys.) Daniel would face trials over the next 70 years, but he would remain in royal service even into the beginning of the Persian rule of King Cyrus.  

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