“From Jerusalem to Babylon”– Daniel, Lesson 2

*Daniel and his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, were mere youths in Jerusalem who were forced to relocate to Babylon at the tip of their captors’ spears!  A frightening change of life for these boys, but their “Hebrew” or ”Christian Education” in following YHWH would make them stand out among their peers for millennia after that epic journey to Babylon.  In this week’s lesson, we will study the courage and early victory of this team, and how it inspires lives across the centuries since, as well as provide hope for Christians today in a changing world, steeped in ancient Babylonian worship practices.

From Jerusalem to Babylon; Sabbath Afternoon, January 4, 2020

  • Memory Text: “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Dan. 1: 17*
  • Daniel and his three companions were children of the church, they were young, Whitty, and wise! Unfortunately, on account of poor organizational leadership following Israel’s plea for a king, they descended into corruption from one generation to the next, and in the fullness of time, Judah would live under the reign of their profane monarch, Jehoiakim!  Under his reign, YHWH brought a partial end to the political government of Judah, in Jerusalem, and caused their enemies, the Babylonians, to come in, burn the city, palaces, and temple (sanctuary), raped the nation of her finest sacred treasurers,  carted off to Babylon the very flower of the nation—her enterprising youth and educators, the purest and noblest—the seed Royal, the most intellectually cultivated and highly educated, her pious and devoted teachers, to include Levites, spiritual leaders, and prophets; her industrious and patriotic citizens, brilliant scholars, talented artists, and skillful artisans, were all carted off to a foreign land–Babylon.
  • “3  And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4  Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Dan. 1: 3, 4**
  • ** It was in this context that the language of their souls rang out in somber strains of patriotic cadence, “by the rivers of Babylon,” recorded in Psalms 137.
  • “1 ¶ By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3  For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4  How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? 5  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 6  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. 7 ¶  Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation 8  O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. 9  Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Ps. 137: 1-9

God’s Sovereignty; Sun. Jan. 5

  • Lesson Notes: “Daniel make it clear that the defeat of Jerusalem is not credited to the superior power of the Babylonian king; rather, it has occurred because “the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand” ( 1:2, NKJV). Much earlier, God announces that should His people forget Him and break the covenant, He would send them as captives to a foreign land. So, Daniel knows that behind and beyond the military power of Babylon, the God of heaven is leading the march of history. It is this clear view of God’s sovereignty that sustains these young men and gives them strength and courage to face the temptation and pressure of the Babylonian empire.” Adult Lesson Paragraph 2*
  • * “The world sees communism [and Islamic terrorism, including the countries of Russia, China, North Korea] as a hydra-headed monster behind a bush, and the nations are already, so to speak, smiting their knees one against the other while they look at it. Their safety, however, does not depend on fear and armament, nor on the man we elect for president, but on God, on Him Who holds the earth in space, and Who still rules the affairs of mankind.  From the dawn of history till today the great nations that have fallen, fell when they were best armed and most independent of God.  This should be a great lesson to all, but who realizes it!”– V.T. Houteff, 1948, Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 41, p. 17
  • In the current military flare-up with the USA and Iran, the drumbeats of WW3 are echoing louder, and still louder with each passing day. But there is an unseen hand that guides the destinies of nations, which humbles great nations by inferior ones, not because they were militarily incompetent, but because unless “the Lord keeps the city, the watchmen waketh in vain!” (Ps. 127: 1).  In the case of Jerusalem, YHWH had removed his protective care, and they became easy prey to their enemies, but when as a people, Israel, and Judah, by extension, had been true to their God, He deployed just one angel against the Assyrian army (2 Kings, 19: 30-35), and in one night there were 185,000 enemy troops of the Assyrian army slain without their firing even one arrow into Jerusalem!
  • “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Ps. 127: 1**
  • ** No matter how good the intelligence-gathering apparatus of any country, or how effective its defenses, including Nuclear, Electronic, Hypersonic missiles, naval, infantry, etc., unless YHWH keeps that nation’s military, they are easy bread before the enemy!  We will revisit this idea when we are in Daniel chapters 7, 8 & 11.
  • Why does God give Judah and Jerusalem into the hands of the Babylonians?
  • “15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16  But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 17  Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 18  And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. 19  And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. 20  And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia.” 2 Chron. 36: 15-20*
  • From this passage, it becomes abundantly clear that apostasy from God’s statutes, judgments, and commandments stood at the top of His reasons for withholding his protective care from the nation of Judah. They had rejected all his entreaties given through the prophets, for in all this, “they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (v. 16).
  • How do we stand today, as a church? It is clear that there is another Babylonian invasion upon us, not from the ancient Kingdom, which is non-existent, but from the modern, spiritual Babylon of Rev. 17 & 18, the Babylon orchestrated by the Roman Catholic Church, and which has morphed into the Protestant/Evangelical churches of today, whose worship practices mirror that of the ancient metropolis!  Today, as in ancient Judah, our God is looking for leaders who will not compromise the truth, and members who are as true to duty, as the laser to its target and the needle to its pole.

Faith Under Pressure Mon. Jan. 6th

  • The social pressure of the group-think nature:
    • “1 ¶ When thou sittest to eat with a ruler [king], consider diligently what is before thee: 2  And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. 3  Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” Prov. 23: 1-3; [added].
  • New Land New Law— “when in Rome, do as the Romans do?
    • “16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Cor. 6: 16, 17.
  • Be like Jesus, in the home or in the throng… and all day long:
    • “And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, *to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,” Ezra 6: 21.

Firm Resolution, Tue, Jan. 7

  • “By their wisdom and justice, by the purity and benevolence of their daily life, by their devotion to the interests of the people, … Joseph and Daniel proved themselves true to the principles of their early training, true to Him whose representatives they were. These men, both in Egypt and in Babylon, the whole nation honored; and in them a heathen people, and all the nations with which they were connected, beheld an illustration of the goodness and beneficence of God, an illustration of the love of Christ. {Ed 56.2}
  • The same mighty truths that were revealed through these men, God desires to reveal through the youth and the children of today. The history of Joseph and Daniel is an illustration of what He will do for those who yield themselves to Him and with the whole heart seek to accomplish His purpose. {Ed 57.2}
  • The greatest want of the world is the want of men–men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. {Ed 57.3}
  • But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature–the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man.  {Ed 57.4}

Unblemished and Wise* Wed. Jan 8th

* Earthly governments today, decorate their cabinets with “Ivy-league-type” University graduates who have scored the highest in their classes, for in so doing it gives an air of power, authenticity, and authority to such specially groomed officials. It was no different in ancient Babylon, and as such the king demanded young men who were sharp, smart, and confident, both intellectually and physically.

In David’s kingdom, for example, he had a wise counselor of whom the Bible states, [2Sam 16:23]

  • “And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.” 2Sam 16:23**
  • ** Were Ahithophel alive today, governments world-over would salivate for his wisdom!  During the Second World War, when the United States was embroiled in conflict with Germany, they secretly harvested the best academics from Germany to aid in the Atomic (Nuclear) Bomb, Jet Propulsion, as well as battle-field intelligence.  When nations today say they are “gathering intelligence,” they are doing just that—they harvest knowledge from the best-positioned individuals in governments, in order to obtain first-hand information about their enemies. The Babylonians had perfected that art of not destroying all their enemies, but harvesting such bits of intelligence for the advancement of their kingdom.
  • Lesson Note: “We also learn that we do not need to isolate ourselves from society and its cultural life in order to serve God. Daniel and his companions not only live amid a culture built on lies and errors and myths, but are schooled on those lies and errors and myths. And yet, they remain faithful.”***
  • *** I find this statement hyper-suggestive and compromising. It is suggesting that we can be effective in God’s service by being “schooled on those lies and errors and myths!”  Daniel and his companions had no choice over their captivity, and as well as over the subjects of study in their captors’ homeland!  We have been duly warned, however, to learn not the ways of the heathen, and do not bow down ourselves to their idols, etc.

Unblemished and Wise (Wed. Jan 8th) SDA’s & The LGBQT+Posture-Shift*

  • In recent years, Seventh-day Adventists have accepted into church fellowship some “doctrines” and “deeds” that God “hates!” And, at least in North America, the Adventist Church has opened itself to accepting members from the LGBTQ+ community into church membership, and has published a working policy manual, Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones, on how to be inclusive in our schools and churches, to church members professing this abominable lifestyle!  While “love” is the badge of Christians under all circumstances, Posture Shift is taking this farther, and in their own words church leadership declare,

 

Guiding Families “We have never — and will never — practice reparative or conversion therapy. Our only objective in spiritual care is to offer safety, acceptance, protection and a place for people to share their story and grow in their faith without judgment.”—Lead Them Home, “What We Offer,” web page.

 

  • “The two day meeting, titled ‘Loving Well’ is by invitation to Oregon conference educators and pastors and some student leaders… One of the presenters is Bill Henson—author and non-Adventist speaker of ‘Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones’ (GFLGBT+LO). He is giving this advice to Adventist educators, pastors, and family members through his NAD-endorsed book.”—Fulcrum, Jan. 8, 2019. *

Lead Them Home

  • * Isn’t it interesting that Christ should denounce those who held Balaam’s doctrine—an attitude of sexual indiscretion, in the face of our modern church taking on a “shift” in how it addresses these sins? We need to understand that wrong “doctrines” lead to wrong behaviors, and nowhere is it more evident than in the modern attitude of Christians towards the question of human sexuality.   Jesus did not verbally assault the woman of Samaria (John 4: 39), but loved her unto salvation—a changed life!  So, while Christians are not called to “condemn” sinners, neither are we called to “condone” sin, but to lovingly point sinners to the Saviour, to His statutes, judgments, and commandments, and allow Him to bring in the conviction, and the changed life.  This is what Jesus taught and practiced in His earthly ministry, “go thy way and sin no more,” and this is His commission to us also.  But to totally abandon our duty of “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 18),   is to teach and practice that which Christ will not accept into the Holy City! Read 1 Cor. 6: 9-11.

Posture Shift

When God Disagrees with God, Whom Do You Follow? Todd J. Leonard, Pastor

SDA Kinship LogoPastor Todd Leonard

  • “If we see evidence of the Spirit of God at work in the life of a gay man, how do we turn our backs and say, “Because of what God said in the past, I am choosing to not believe what He appears to be doing in the present?” If we are struggling to still explain to ourselves why two lesbians in a committed relationship is incompatible with God’s ethics of fidelity and love for one another because we’ve got half a dozen proof texts that say that it’s wrong, no ifs, ands or buts; isn’t it time that we let go of God’s words in the past because of His obvious action in the present? If accepting bisexual and transgendered individuals into our faith communities seems like something Jesus would do, can’t we just go with the Spirit of Jesus?”…
  • “Those of us who hold to the traditional reading of Leviticus 20:13 have already chosen to disobey God’s command to kill practicing homosexuals. Can’t we just disobey the rest of that verse in light of the ministry of Jesus and how the Spirit is working today in LGBT individuals around the world and welcome them into our midst as spirit-filled men and women of God? It is time to be faithful to God. Not the One whose old words we thought we understood, but the One Who is acting now and is working in your heart and mine. Let us be obedient to the never-ending revelation of God.” http://sdakinship.org
  • Credits: “Todd J. Leonard has been a pastor for 11 years, serving Adventist churches in Georgia and Tennessee.
  • LinkedIn: “Todd J Leonard,  Senior Pastor of Glendale City Church and President of Glendale Communitas Initiative.” linkedin.com

Final Exam; Thur. Jan. 9th

  • Lesson Notes: “Everything comes from God. What a powerful example of what God can do for those who trust Him. We should not fear the overwhelming power of media, governments, and other institutions that may threaten to destroy our identity as God’s children. As we place our confidence in God, we can be sure that He can sustain us in difficult moments and preserve us against all odds. The key is for us to make the right choices when confronted with challenges to our faith.
  • “Looking at Daniel 1, we learn some very important lessons about God: (1) God is in control of history. (2) God gives wisdom so that we can navigate the hostile environment of our culture and society. (3) God honors those who trust in Him through inner conviction and lifestyle.”*
  • “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.” Dan. 1: 21
  • “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Dan. 6:28
  • “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.” Dan. 10:1
  • Commit this Quote to Memory: “We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.”—Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 58. Ω

Thought Questions: 

As a 21st Century Seventh-day Adventist,

  • Do you find our church moving “From Jerusalem to Babylon?
  • Do you possess the courage of Daniel and his three worthies to “stand alone” against the tide of popular opinions and compromises?
  • Will God honor those who stand out today, even when standing out within the Denomination is unpopular and considered “poor taste,” even un-Christian?
  • In our age of political correctness, sensitivity, and inclusion, what will Jesus say of those who pull against the grain to become the Daniels of today?
  • How might the broader Denomination (Church) perceive such individuals?

 Parting Thought:

“The great obstacle both to the acceptance and to the promulgation of truth is the fact that it involves inconvenience and reproach. This is the only argument against the truth which its advocates have never been able to refute. But this does not deter the true followers of Christ. These do not wait for truth to become popular. Being convinced of their duty, they deliberately accept the cross, with the apostle Paul counting that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” with one of old, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 11:26.  {GC 460.1}

“Whatever may be their profession, it is only those who are world servers at heart that act from policy rather than principle in religious things. We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, the world is indebted for its great reforms. By such men the work of reform for this time must be carried forward.”  {GC 460.2} Ὠ

Commentary by Garrick Augustus, January 8, 2020


Adult Sabbath School Lesson Commentary: This is a free service to the public, from Heralds of the King Ministries, and reflects an in-depth Biblical review and commentary on the weekly Adult SDA Sabbath School Quarterly Lessons. Except otherwise noted, all Bible passages are taken from the Authorized King James Version (KJV).  These commentaries are not copyrighted, and may be reproduced, in whole, without further approval from the author, providing the original content is preserved.  If edits are required, permission must be granted from the author (contact information is provided below).

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