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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Daniel 1, 5-6

Story Summary

In the last lesson, we learned about 3 Israelites (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who served in King Nebuchadnezzar's court during the Babylonian captivity. Today, we're going to learn about another Israelite named Daniel who was there with him.

Daniel Sets Himself Apart

Daniel was doing very well for himself serving the king, but he didn't want to defile himself with the king's food. The guy in charge of Daniel was nervous that Daniel would not be as healthy as the other men in his care - and that he would get in trouble with the king for it!  But Daniel convinced him to let him, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego try it for 10 days to see what would happen. The test was successful and the man in charge saw that their diet was actually making them look better than the others, so he let them stay on the diet permanently. Those four continued to learn and grow in wisdom and became the cream of the crop among all the other Israelites. And Daniel had a special skill as well: he could interpret dreams! (remember who else in Israel's history had a special gift for interpreting dreams?)

The Handwriting on the Wall

Remember King Nebuchadnezzar? He is the one who carried Judah away into captivity in Babylon. He was removed from the throne by God because he was proud and had a hard heart towards God. His son, Belshazzar (not to be confused with Belteshazzar, Daniel's Babylonian name...) became King. He did something very bad. His father removed all sorts of items from the temple in Jerusalem - like gold and silver cups. Well, Belshazzar decided to have a big party and drink wine from them! Remember how careful God was to plan out the temple and all the rules and regulations he gave David and Solomon for its use? You can imagine that this was not a good thing Belshazzar was doing.

So, In the middle of his party, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote four words on the wall: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. King Belshazzar was very afraid. His face turned pale and it looked like he saw a ghost! No one could tell him what the words meant - but Daniel. Daniel explained that God was judging him because of his hard heart and because of what he was doing with the things he brought from God's temple. The four words are actually words for currency and weights (in today's words, it might have been, "a couple, a couple, a dime, and a half"). The king's advisors couldn't figure out what they meant. But Daniel was able to look beyond the superficial meaning through God's wisdom:

MENE - God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end
TEKEL - You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. 
PARSIN - Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians

That very night, King Belshazzar was killed and Darius (a Mede) became king.

Daniel in the Lion's Den

Daniel continued to find favor in the kingdom, and the other rulers weren't very happy with him. They were jealous. So, they came up with a plan to trap Daniel. They convinced King Darius to pass a law that everyone in the kingdom must only worship him for the next 30 days. And if they didn't - they would have them thrown in a den of lions to be destroyed. But Daniel was steadfast in his worship of God, and went back to his house and prayed to God. The other rulers were following him, waiting for him to break the law, and it didn't take long. So, they ran back and told King Darius the news. Now, Darius wasn't very happy about this, because he liked Daniel. But he had made the law, and he had to follow through with the punishment.

Of course, the rest of the story is "history", and Daniel was spared in the lion's den. An angel came to protect him overnight (maybe the same one that protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?) and he was unharmed. Then Darius threw the men that accused Daniel into the lions' den, and they weren't protected by an angel...

What You Will Need

Resource Sheet

Daniel Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the 10-day diet Daniel was on (the Roman numerals), the handwriting on the wall (Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin), and Daniel in the lion's den

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

What is your favorite food? Is that food healthy for you?

Today, we are going to learn about a man in the Bible who chose not to eat certain foods because he wanted to stay obedient to God and to be healthy.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Daniel 1:8-16, Daniel 5:1-12, Daniel 6:1-24

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • How did Daniel want to be different than the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court? (he didn't want to eat the food that wasn't allowed by Jewish law)
  • Who else participated in the special diet with him? (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)
  • What was Daniel's name in Babylon? (Belteshazzar)
  • What happened to King Nebuchadnezzar? (God removed him as king because he was prideful and hard hearted towards God)
  • Who became king after him? (Belshazzar, his son)
  • What did Belshazzar do that was wrong? (he threw a party and used items his father stole from the temple in Jerusalem to drink out of)
  • What happened during the party? (a human hand appeared and wrote something on the wall)
  • What words were written on the wall? (mene, mene, tekel, parsin)
  • What did they mean? (God has numbered the days of your kingdom, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, and God has divided your kingdom among the Medes and the Persians)
  • What happened to Belshazzar that night? (he died)
  • Who took over as king after him? (Darius, from Mede)
  • What law did he pass that put Daniel in danger? (he passed a law saying that everyone in his kingdom must only worship him, or be thrown into a lion's den)
  • What happened when Daniel was thrown into the lion's den? (an angel protected him)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Daniel was not afraid to show others that he worshiped God, even though it meant he would get in trouble with the King.
  • What could you do to show others that you follow God and worship Him only?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:11-12

Reinforcement Activities

Cracker lions

Scripture My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:22

Supplies round crackers, peanut butter, icing or squeeze cheese, raisins, carrot shreds or pretzels

  • Spread peanut butter, icing or cheese onto cracker.
  • Add raisins for eyes.
  • Place carrot shreds or broken pretzel sticks around the edges for the lion's mane.

Lion Face

Scripture My God sent his angel. And his angel shut the mouths of the lions. They haven’t hurt me at all. That’s because I haven’t done anything wrong in God’s sight. I’ve never done anything wrong to you either, my king.” Daniel 6:22

Supplies paper plates or construction paper, markers, strips of yellow or brown paper or string, pencils, glue,

  • This activity can be done a lot of ways
  • You can use a paper plate or a round piece of construction paper as the lion's head.
  • The face can be drawn on or made with googly eyes and pom pom balls for nose.
  • The mane is glued to the outside edge of the face, You can use brown and yellow string, strips of paper or squiggly macaroni.
  • If you cut out the center of the lion's head, it can be used as a mask to act out the story.
  • If you use paper strips, wrap them around a pencil to make the curly.

Invisible Ink Message

Heads up! prepare invisible messages before class

Scripture So he sent the hand that wrote on the wall.“Here is what was written. mene, mene, tekel, parsin “And here is what those words mean. Mene means that God has limited the time of your rule. He has brought it to an end. Tekel means that you have been weighed on scales. And you haven’t measured up to God’s standard. Peres means that your authority over your kingdom will be taken away from you. It will be given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:24-28

  • Use invisible ink to reveal the message God had for King Belshazaar.
  • Write the words Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin on a piece of paper using the invisible ink.
  • Reveal the message in front of your class, as you read the story.

Vegetable taste test

Scripture Daniel said to him, “Please test us for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat. And give us only water to drink. Then compare us with the young men who eat the king’s food. See how we look. After that, do what you want to.” So the guard agreed. He tested them for ten days. After the ten days they looked healthy and well fed. In fact, they looked better than any of the young men who ate the king’s food. So the guard didn’t require Daniel and his friends to eat the special food or drink the wine. He gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:12-16

Supplies various vegetables

  • Have students close their eyes and try different vegetables.
  • Have them guess what vegetable they just ate.
  • You might sneak in a trick, like giving them an apple and they might guess it to be a raw potato.